I've notice a few people (men) at the mosque put their hands on the chest while praying salat.

However, I also see that the majority of Indian and Pakistani people put their hands on their stomach while praying salat.

Why is there such a difference in style? I am less interested in the rulings according to any particular school, rather I am looking for a general Sunni perspective on this issue.


5 Answers 5


There is a difference of opinion (Ikhtilaf) in this issue. This issue is a study of its own. In order to keep my answer concise I am going to state all the different opinions and quote one ahadeeth in support for the opinion.

In general, with regard to placing the right hand upon the left, it comes from the following narration:

Qutaybah narrated to us; Abû al-Ahwas narrated to us; from Sammâk bin Harb; from Qabîsah bin Hulb; from his father [Hulb at-Tâ’î] who said,

The Messenger of Allaah (SAW) used to lead us in prayer and grasp his left hand with his right.(Tuhfatu-l-Ahwadhî bi Sharh Jâmi‘ at-Tirmidhî [2/74])

The people of knowledge among the companions of the prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wassalam) acted upon this hadith and there was a flexibility in this according to them.

The Maliki Madh-hab

The Malikiyyah were of the opinion that one leaves his hands free [by his sides] in prayer (irsâl). Al-Hâfidh ibn al-Qayyim said in I‘lâm after mentioning the ahâdîth concerning placing the hands in prayer,

“these narrations are contradicted by the narration of al-Qâsim from Mâlik that he said, ‘leaving it is more beloved to me’ and I do not know anything else that contradicts them.”

So, the Maliki madh-hab preferred the narration of al-Qasim.

However, from Imam Maalik himself there are three different opinions reported:

  • One does irsâl (most famous opinion)
  • That one places his hands below the chest but above the navel.
  • One has a choice between placing and irsâl.

The Hanafi Madh-hab

The madh-hab of Imam Abu Hanifah has one single opinion without contradictions - man should place his hands below the navel in prayer and the woman upon her chest.

The Shafi'i Madh-hab

There are three reports from Imam Shafi'i:

  • One places them below the chest but above the navel
  • Placing them upon the chest
  • Placing them below the navel

The different opinions are because it is reported by different sources from Imam Shafi'i.

The Hanbali Madh-hab

There are three reports from Imam Ahmad as well:

  • Placing them below the navel
  • Placing them below the chest
  • A choice between the above two

You should know that these differences of opinion is an issue of choice between the Imaams of Islam - May Allah have mercy upon them all. There are many narrations in this issue and due to this a difference of opinion occured and they have evidences for their stands. I am going to quote one hadeeth for each opinion.

Placing the hands below the navel

The hadîth of Wâ’il bin Hujr (RA) reported by ibn Abî Shaybah, Musannaf, from Wakî‘; from Mûsâ bin ‘Umayr; from ‘Alqama bin Wa’il bin Hujr; from his father who said,

‘I saw the Prophet (SAW) placing his right hand over his left below the navel.’

Holding the hands above the navel

Reported by Abû Dâwûd in his Sunan from Jarîr ad-Dabbî who said,

“I saw ‘Alî grasping his left wrist with his right hand above the navel.”

Though this hadith is sahih, the action is not marfu i.e. the action is not reported from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wassalam).

Placing the hands upon the chest

From them the hadîth of Wa’il bin Hujr who said,

“I prayed with the Messenger of Allaah (SAW) and he placed his right hand upon his left on his chest in the prayer.”

Reported by ibn Khuzaymah, and this hadîth is authentic, authenticated by ibn Khuzaymah as was made clear by ibn Sayyid an-Nâs in his Sharh at-Tirmidhî

So, there is valid difference of opinion in this issue.

If you are interested in all the narrations with references and different opinions within the madh-hab, read this treatise.

  • Please change ahadeth to hadeth in the following line: ...different opinions and quote one ahadeeth ...
    – Noah
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 4:52
  • Can you add this hadith too please sunnah.com/tirmidhi/2/235
    – Sohaeb
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 7:00
  • I've read in a Shafi'i book a 4th opinion which is that a-Shafi'i was of the opinion that leaving the hands free is the most prefered, but for those who are afraid of loosing concentration they should put the right hand on the left hand.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 3:29
  • Correct me if I'm wrong with sahih sources, I'm a student of Qur'an and hadith, and as far as I remember, all these hadiths says other than "on chest" and says different place like below the navel are classified as Da'if.
    – the kamilz
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 8:59

As for the questioner, placing hands on stomach or chest is both permissible. While there is no strong hadith about exactly where on the body we should place our hands, there is strong evidence that the right hand should be placed over the left and that cant be done without placing the hands together so logically it should be somewhere on the upper body.

It was narrated that Sahl ibn Sa’d said: The people were commanded to put the right hand over the left forearm when praying.

Abu Haazim said: I only know that this is attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 707).

“[The Prophet] (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to place his right hand on his left hand.” (Narrated by Muslim, 401).

The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) passed by a man who was praying, and who had placed his left hand on his right hand. He grabbed his arms and put his right hand on his left.” (Ahmad, no. 12671)

So placing them on the chest or stomach isent something for us to argue over, place them either on the chest or on the stomach, it doesnt matter as long as your right hand is above the left.

  • 1
    Salam and Welcome, we suggest you read the FAQ. We also like to recommend you look around this site to see how things work. We also invite you to look at the meta site, for it is the place where this site is built. Lastly, there is a hadith which says: "The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) used to place his right hand on his left hand, then he folded them strictly on his chest in prayer" sunnah.com/abudawud/2#369
    – مجاهد
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 18:28

Differences can come when different people follow different Ahadith, of which there are inauthentic one. For that reasons the Imams of Islam stressed the importance of finding, accepting and following of authentic Ahadeeth. Coming to your question, the correct place of the hands in Salat is on the chest, for that is where the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) placed his hands during the salat, and he ordered us to pray as he was seen praying. Placing the hands on the chest in salat was also the teaching of the previous Prophet's (May peace be upon them), as well as the placing of the hands on the chest in salat, is what was ordered:

كَانَ النَّاسُ يُؤْمَرُونَ أَنْ يَضَعَ الرَّجُلُ الْيَدَ الْيُمْنَى عَلَى ذِرَاعِهِ الْيُسْرَى فِي الصَّلاَةِ

The people were ordered to place the right hand on the left forearm in the prayer


Furthermore, the Ahadith which say to place the hands in a place other then the chest, are inauthentic, some are weak while others are fabricated. May Allah grant us understanding of our religion, and may He guide us all.

  • It sounds like the belief held by Shafi'i Mazhab (based of Abdullah's answer). Right? Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 20:26
  • @hus787 yes, and as is mentioned in his answer as well is that there are three reports from the Shafi'i Madhab of placing the hands in salat, but the correct one is placing it on the chest as is clear from Authentic Ahadeeth.
    – مجاهد
    Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 21:16

According to Hanbali school one should put your hands below the navel which is also the same in the Hanafi school. So two, out of the four of the great Imams, have said to put them below the navel.

My opinion is that to putting them below the navel wouldn't be wrong, but one can choose to put them above the navel or on the chest. One should know that none of the four Imams said that the hands should be on the chest as their first opinion. Only Shafi stated that in his second opinion and Hanafi stated that only for the women.

I have even read Shia hadeeth which says that Ali prayed with his hands on the sides but when he was standing in the prayer for long he used to put them below the navel.

I think it is easiest and most comfortable to put them below the navel.

  • In your first sentence you mean to say that Hanabali and Hanafi schools are in accordance with each other in this respect? Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 19:05
  • Yes that's what I mean. And correct me if I am wrong;)
    – Ilmy
    Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 10:22

The holy prophet(SAW) placed his arms on the chest but most people's opinions are to place the arm below the navel.

I will give the hadith of placing arms on chest later inshallah.

  • As written, this is sorely lacking in any details and barely even answers the actual question. I would strongly recommend you check out the advice in our help centre on "How do I write a good answer?" for advice on how to write the sort of answer that is encouraged in the Stack Exchange model.
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 0:44
  • Note also that we are a focussed Q&A site, and not an Islamic forum; answers are expected to be fully self-contained, while greetings and such are discouraged here.
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 0:45
  • In addition, giving a fatwa based on a vague description of a single hadith is not particularly recommended. See relevant meta discussion here: meta.islam.stackexchange.com/a/610/22
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 0:48

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