Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: I have seen people making dua with their hands in different positions than what I was taught and I was wondering if their is a right or wrong way to have your hands or a way that is more sound and correct. Does the position of the hands differ between schools? I was taught to put your hands together with the tips of your fingers at shoulder level while making dua because there is noor (light) that shines into your hands that you wipe on your face after completing the dua. But I have seen some people with their hands apart, about shoulder width and this doesn’t make sense to me.
Answer: wa `alaykum assalam
The basis when it comes to supplication (du`a) is that it is done out of a sense of humility, neediness, and debasement to Allah Most High. This is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would raise his blessed hands in supplication, teaching his community how a servant asks the Lord of the Worlds for his needs.
As for the specific modality of how the hands should be raised during supplication, this is a matter of leeway and not to be made a point of argumentation. Each individual has a natural inclination towards how he stretches his hands out in need to his Creator, Allah, and so slight variations from individual to individual are not surprising. The important thing is to supplicate sincerely with one’s heart and realize who one is asking.
The Prophet’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) Supplication
Regarding the way the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) supplicated, there have been specifics established in certain sound narrations. Among them:
a. He (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would raise both hands, as established in countless reports narrated by the six books.
b. He (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would have his palms facing the sky. One exception to this would be the prayer of rain (salat al-istisqa’) wherein the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would have the palms facing the ground. Imam Nawawi mentions that some scholars regard it as a recommended sunna to have one’s palms facing the sky in supplication when asking for the attainment of something, and to have the palms facing downward towards the ground when asking for the lifting of tribulations.
c. He (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would have his hands stretched in a manner that would reveal the whiteness of his underarms.
d. He (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would have his two hands at the level of his shoulders or chest. Sometimes, such as during the prayer of rain, it would be at the level of his blessed face.
[Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari; Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]
Separating the Hands in Supplication
As for separating the hands during supplication or joining them together, both ways are acceptable. Some scholars advise having a gap between the hands when supplicating, even if slight. [Haskafi, Durr al-Mukhtar; Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
To conclude, one can supplicate with the hands separated or joined together, with them at the level of the chest or the shoulders or even the face, with the arms outstretched or otherwise, and all of these modes are fine. As mentioned before, the important thing is having presence of heart, sincerity, and true neediness towards Allah in one’s supplication.
And Allah knows best
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani