Is it obligatory in prayer to do raf` yadain (raising the hands) or not? I am looking in particular for a Sunni perspective.


3 Answers 3


This answer is given from Sunni or Ahlus Sunnah perspective

Praise be to Allah.

Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain, or raising both hands during Salaat is a confirmed Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (SAWS). There are numerous authentic Hadith confirming that Prophet (SAWS) used to do Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain. In fact, Imam Bukhari (Raheemahullah) wrote an entire book on Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain named Juzz Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain which contains a complete compilation of authentic Hadithes regarding Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain. He mentioned there that "Doing Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain once in the prayer is worth 10 neki (thawaab or good deed)".

Of all the Hadithes regarding this issue, the most prominent and most widely used one is the following from Sahih Bukhari:

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ مُقَاتِلٍ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنَا يُونُسُ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، أَخْبَرَنِي سَالِمُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ، رضى الله عنهما قَالَ رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا قَامَ فِي الصَّلاَةِ رَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ حَتَّى يَكُونَا حَذْوَ مَنْكِبَيْهِ، وَكَانَ يَفْعَلُ ذَلِكَ حِينَ يُكَبِّرُ لِلرُّكُوعِ، وَيَفْعَلُ ذَلِكَ إِذَا رَفَعَ رَأْسَهُ مِنَ الرُّكُوعِ وَيَقُولُ ‏ "‏ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ ‏"‏‏.‏ وَلاَ يَفْعَلُ ذَلِكَ فِي السُّجُودِ

Narrated 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar(RA):

"I saw that whenever Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) stood for the prayer, he used to raise both his hands up to the shoulders, and used to do the same on saying the Takbir for bowing and on raising his head from it and used to say, "Sami'allaahu liman hamidah". But he did not do that (i.e. raising his hands) in prostrations.‏" [Sahih Bukhari, Kitabus Salat, no. - 736]

Link to the hadith is given here.

Now the question is, whether it is obligatory to do or not?

Scholars have unanimously agreed that to raise the hands while saying the opening Takbir to begin the Salaat is obligatory. This is the view adopted by all 4 Schools of Thoughts(Mazhaabs) in Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama'ah.

The evidence for this is the hadith by Abu Hurayrah (RA) in Sunan Abu Dawud:

حَدَّثَنَا مُسَدَّدٌ، حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى، عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي ذِئْبٍ، عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ سَمْعَانَ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا دَخَلَ فِي الصَّلاَةِ رَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ مَدًّا ‏

Narrated Abu Hurayrah(RA):

"When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) began his prayer, he raised his hands extensively." [Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitabus Salat, no. - 753]

Link to the hadith is given here


حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ الطَّنَافِسِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو أُسَامَةَ، حَدَّثَنِي عَبْدُ الْحَمِيدِ بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَمْرِو بْنِ عَطَاءٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا حُمَيْدٍ السَّاعِدِيَّ، يَقُولُ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ إِذَا قَامَ إِلَى الصَّلاَّةِ اسْتَقْبَلَ الْقِبْلَةَ وَرَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ وَقَالَ ‏ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ

Muhammad bin 'Amr bin 'Ata said: “I heard Abu Humaid As-Sa’idi say: ‘When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) stood up for prayer, he would face the prayer direction, raise his hands, and say: “Allahu Akbar (Allah is Most Great).” [Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol.-1, Book-5, Hadith-803]

Link is given here

Now, regarding doing Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain at places in Salaat other than that of the opening, scholars have differed, and in fact, it is nowadays a very hot topic and a major fuel to the Salafi vs. Mazhaabi debates.

Position of Hanafi School of Thought:
The Hanafi school of thought holds the view of doing Rafa-'Ul-Yadaain only once during the entire prayer, and that is during the opening of the prayer, saying the Takbir Tahreema. The Hanafis think it is not necessary to raise the hands at any other places of the prayer except at the very beginning.

There are various Hadith that Hanafi scholars use as evidence. One of them is the following one:

أَخْبَرَنَا سُوَيْدُ بْنُ نَصْرٍ، قَالَ أَنْبَأَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ الْمُبَارَكِ، عَنْ سُفْيَانَ، عَنْ عَاصِمِ بْنِ كُلَيْبٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ الأَسْوَدِ، عَنْ عَلْقَمَةَ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ أَلاَ أُخْبِرُكُمْ بِصَلاَةِ، رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ فَقَامَ فَرَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ ثُمَّ لَمْ يُعِدْ

It was narrated from 'Alqamah, that Abdullah ibn Mas'ood(RA) said: "Shall I not tell you about the prayer of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)? He stood and raised his hands the first time and then he did not do that again." [Sunan Nasa'i, Hadith - 1026]

Link given.

Some scholars, mostly from among the Salafis, say this hadeeth is Da'eef (weak).

However, interestingly, the two most noted students of Imam Abu Haneefah - Imam Abu Yousuf and Imam Muhammad used to do Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain in places other than the beginning of Salaat.

Position of Shafi'i School of Thought:
Scholars of the Shafi'i school of thought approve of doing Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain in the majority of the Salaat. The places where Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain can be done are:

  1. During the beginning of the prayer.
  2. Before going to Ruku'.
  3. After standing up for "Sami'allahuliman Hamidah" from Ruku'.
  4. After standing up for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Raka'at.

But many Shafi'i scholars do not support no.4. They think it's not necessary to raise the hands after standing up for 2nd, 3rd or 4th raka'at.

Interstingly, Imam Shafi'i himself has mentioned clearly in his book Risalah Usool Al-Fiqh, which is considered as the encyclopedia of the Shafi'i Fiqh, that "IT IS NOT WAAJIB TO DO RAFA'-UL-YADAAIN EXCEPT DURING SAYING THE OPENING TAKBIR."

Position of Maliki School of Thought:
Same as Hanafi School of Thought. They don't consider doing Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain as necessary in places other than that of the beginning of the prayer.

Position of Hambali School of Thought:
Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal and majority of the Hambali scholars supported doing Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain during 3 more places in the prayer other than only at the beginning.

  1. Before going to Ruku'.
  2. After standing up from Ruku' saying "Sami'allahuliman Hamidah".
  3. After standing up for the 3rd Raka'at from the sitting position after the 2nd raka'at.

The evidence is the Hadith of 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar(RA) described in Sahih Bukhari:

حَدَّثَنَا عَيَّاشٌ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الأَعْلَى، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ، عَنْ نَافِعٍ، أَنَّ ابْنَ عُمَرَ، كَانَ إِذَا دَخَلَ فِي الصَّلاَةِ كَبَّرَ وَرَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ، وَإِذَا رَكَعَ رَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ، وَإِذَا قَالَ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ‏.‏ رَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ، وَإِذَا قَامَ مِنَ الرَّكْعَتَيْنِ رَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ‏.‏ وَرَفَعَ ذَلِكَ ابْنُ عُمَرَ إِلَى نَبِيِّ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏ رَوَاهُ حَمَّادُ بْنُ سَلَمَةَ عَنْ أَيُّوبَ عَنْ نَافِعٍ عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏ وَرَوَاهُ ابْنُ طَهْمَانَ عَنْ أَيُّوبَ وَمُوسَى بْنِ عُقْبَةَ مُخْتَصَرًا‏.‏

Narrated Nafi':

Whenever Ibn 'Umar(RA) started the prayer with Takbir, he used to raise his hands: whenever he bowed, he used to raise his hands (before bowing) and also used to raise his hands on saying, "Sami'allahu liman hamidah", and he used to do the same on rising from the second rak'aat (for the 3rd rak'aat). Ibn 'Umar(RA) said: "The Prophet (ﷺ) used to do the same." [Sahih Bukhari, Hadith - 739]

Link to the Hadith.

Whether the Hambalis regard doing Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain in the above mentioned 3 places as Waajib or not, is not certain.

Based on the above discussion, we can summarize it into the following points:

  1. Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain is a confirmed Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWS)
  2. It is absolutely sure that he(SAWS) used to do it at the beginning of the prayer. Almost all Hadtihes attributed to Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain support this fact.
  3. It is not obligatory to do it in other places in the prayer. It's Mustahabb or recommended, and it will bring great reward, but it's not obligatory.
  4. If someone does it in other places in the prayer, he/she can't be blamed, becaue he/she's just following a Sunnah. Again if he/she refrains from doing it in other places in the prayer, then he/she can't be blamed either, as it's not obligatory to do so.
  5. We should be open-minded and accept these differences of opinion regarding this issue and stop blaming/fighting each other. This is a very small issue, it's just a Sunnah!!! It's no big deal!!!!Differences of opinion remained even among the Sahabah. Yet they had mutual love and compassion and unwavering respect for each other.

And Allah knows Best, and Verily He is the Best Guardian of the Believers.

  • Thank you. In short you mean that it's not obligatory but still praiseworthy....
    – Babra Ejaz
    May 24, 2014 at 11:48
  • 1
    Yes dear sister, you understood perfectly. May Allah bless you. Ameen. May 25, 2014 at 9:36
  • Great answer and very good approach to a very controversial issue. Thank you.
    – user14305
    Mar 23, 2016 at 9:15

You can look at it from two angles.

1 - There's no doubt that Rasolullah did Raf Yadain in prayer and he commanded us to "pray as you see me pray". This would make Raf Yadain obligatory and a must part of prayer.

2 - The Prophet didn't specify in his own words that Raf Yadain is obligatory, yet he still did it in prayer. This would make it something praiseworthy to do.

The best approach is to do Raf Yadain as this is how Rasolullah prayed.

  • Thanks for the answer. It is not obligatory but is still praiseworthy....Right
    – Babra Ejaz
    May 24, 2014 at 11:46
  • @BabraEjaz I don't believe it's obligatory because Rasolullah never verbally told us to do it, if it was fard, he would tell us. Yet, he did do it during prayer and never left it. So, it's best to pray in the same manner and praiseworthy.
    – Sayyid
    May 24, 2014 at 18:25
  • Thank you, That's what I said it isn't fard, but is praiseworthy. Better to do.... I think this time I got your point....
    – Babra Ejaz
    May 25, 2014 at 9:22
  • "There's no doubt that Rasolullah did Raf Yadain in prayer and he commanded us to "pray as you see me pray". This would make Raf Yadain obligatory and a must part of prayer." - Yes, even if someone doesn't do Rafa'-Ul-Yadaain, still we can't discard his/her possibilities of "praying as the Prophet(S) prayed", because just leaving one or two "Sunnah Zaaidah" (extended Sunnah) doesn't make someone's prayer different from the Prophet's (S). Hence, it's not an obligatory thing to do, as Imam Shafi'i has stated clearly. May 25, 2014 at 9:39
  • The hadith is part of a longer version and it was addressing a certain group of people. You have to read the full hadith to understand that the command wasn't general for all people. Don't worry about Shafi'i, he wasn't a Prophet, mentioning him is irrelevant.
    – Sayyid
    May 25, 2014 at 18:50

Rafayadien in Sunni islam is recommended. its Sunnah of prophet Muhammad and there are plenty of hadith about this.

The hadeeth to which the questioner refers was narrated by al-Bukhaari (735) and Muslim (390) from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both), who said that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to raise his hands to shoulder level when he started to pray, when he said “Allaahu akbar” before bowing in rukoo’, and when he raised his head from rukoo’.

The majority of scholars followed this hadeeth and said that it is mustahabb for the worshipper to raise his hands at the points mentioned in the hadeeth.

Source: http://islamqa.info/en/21439


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