Ash-Shaikh Rabee’ bin Haadee Al-Madkhalee (hafidhahullaah)
Question: This questioner is from Britain and he says, “There is an Imaam in one of the masjids who announced after the Salaah (prayer) that whoever contradicts him in the matter of placing the hands on the chest after rising from the Rukoo’ (bowing), then such a person is a cause of dividing the Musalleen (those who are praying). (i.e. Whoever places the hands on the chest is causing division in the Salaah.) So does he have the right to say the likes of these matters. And with what do you advise the one who prays in that masjid and he thinks that the Sunnah is to place the hands (on the chest) after rising from the Rukoo’?”
Answer: These issues are issues where there has been a difference concerning them. And Al-Imaam Ahmad said, “The matter regarding it is easy (i.e. not something to be harsh about).” The difference of opinion was something very easy (i.e. not a big deal) in that time regarding the matter of placing the two hands on the chest after rising from the Rukoo’. So Al-Imaam Ahmad was asked about that and he said: “The matter regarding it is easy.”
And it is not appropriate for this Imaam to make the likes of this announcement. For indeed we have not heard of a fitnah (trial, trouble) occurring – meaning in this matter – O Allaah, except for if there are some Malikees (followers of the Maalikiyyah math-hab) who feel harmed, or some Rawaafidh (Rafidhite Shi’ites), or some Zaydees (followers of the Zaydiyyah math-hab) who feel that they are being harmed by the placing of the hands on the chest, even in the first standing – may Allaah bless you. And we advise this Imaam to abandon the likes of these things, O Allaah, unless there was some fitnah that really occurred in this matter between Ahlus-Sunnah, for example. Then in that case it (putting the hands on the chest after Rukoo’) should be left off. And Ibn Taymiyyah has authored some very good research works regarding this, and he included it in the matter of giving regard to the harms and the benefits (Al-Mafaasid wal-Masaalih). For example, if a person was praying behind a person who doesn’t raise his hands (between the positions when saying Allaahu Akbar), or a person who does not clasp his hands (right over left), or for example he believes that touching the woman does not break the Wudhoo’ (ablution), or (he believes) that touching the private part does not break the Wudhoo’, and he knows that the Imaam fell into this Mukhaalifah (infraction, thing that is incorrect) – meaning that he (the Imaam) made Wudhoo’ and then his wife touched him, or he touched his private part then goes and leads the people in the prayer – is it correct for the one following in prayer to pray behind him? He (Ibn Taymiyyah) said, “Yes. He prays behind him even though he believes that his (the Imaam’s) prayer is erroneous. He prays behind him and his prayer is correct.” And he used as a proof the hadeeth: “They (the Imaams) will lead you in prayer. So if they pray properly, it is for you (the reward), and if they error (i.e. don’t pray properly), then it is for you (the reward), and upon them (the sin or error).” [Reported by Al-Bukhaaree, no. 662]
And all of the math-habs (schools of Islamic jurisprudence) are upon this manner – and all praise is due to Allaah. And that is that if you disagree with the Imaam in some things, you believe they are obligatory, and he does not believe they are obligatory, and you believe that the prayer is nullified by leaving these things off, and he (the Imaam) does not believe that, and he goes forward to lead the prayer, then pray behind him. Because Islaam has a tremendous goal, and it is gathering the statement of the Muslims (i.e. unity). So if the door was opened for the Muslims, such that every one who opposed him he considered his deed invalid, the word of the Muslims would be divided. And this is a tremendous corruption, which there is no corruption after it (comparable to it). So most of the Imaams (of the Fiqh math-habs) held the view that you pray behind whoever opposes your opinion, even if you believe his Salaah (prayer) is not correct. O Allaah, unless he did not perform Wudhoo’ (ablution), then this person, his prayer is not correct according to the unanimous agreement of the scholars (Al-Ijmaa’). That prayer is never correct (i.e. it is invalid). Or a person who prays while he is sexually defiled (junub), and the people know that he is sexually defiled, and he prays without Wudhoo’ and without Tayammum as well, for example. This person, his prayer is not valid according to the consensus of the scholars, and he is not to be prayed behind (in this state). However, in reference to these issues of differing opinions, then you are to pray behind this Imaam.
For example someone who believes this (placing the hands on the chest after Rukoo’) is an innovation, he seeks Allaah’s forgiveness. But in regards to the people then they must pray behind him even if you believe that he is mistaken. And it (the placing of the hands on the chest after Rukoo’) is a matter that there is ease regarding it – if Allaah wills – as we have already said. And if for example the matter is as I have stated, that placing of the hands (on the chest) in this situation, in this circumstance, and that is after rising from the Rukoo’, if it leads to fitnah (trials, problems), then it is obligatory upon whoever adheres to it to leave it off in order to repel the problems, and mend the rift, and unite the word of the Muslims. Refer to the speech of Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah regarding this matter.
Answered by Ash-Shaikh Rabee’ bin Haadee Al-Madkhalee
Translated by Aqeel Walker