I came across this interesting discussion on where the hands should be placed in the prayer. It is from Allamah Ibn Taymiyyah’s commentary on Imam Ibn al-Qudama’s Hanbali fiqh matn entitled ‘Al-Umdah’. Reading it I reflected back on how interesting it would have been to have had access to this back in the 1990’s when we were desperately looking for material in defence of the Hanafi position of placing the hands under the navel.
I was unsure of how to translate the last line of this discussion, thus it is omitted, however it does not change the meaning of the passage. There was also a typo (as far as I can tell) which I have corrected when translating.
Allamah Ibn Taymiyyah said p.67 onwards:
“And he places them both below his navel, or below his chest without either of them being disliked.
The first [placing the hands below the navel] is superior in one of the narrations from him [Imam Ahmad], which was chosen by al-Khiraqi, al-Qadi and others. It is reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and al-Darqutni from Abu Juhaifah that he said: Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said,”From the sunnah is the placing of the hand upon the other hand below the navel”. And this [placing right hand over the left] is mentioned from the hadith of Ibn Masud from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), and was relied upon by Imam Ahmad.
And Ibn Battah relates from Abu Hurayrah (Allah be pleased with him) that he said, “From the sunnah is that he place his right hand in the prayer below the navel”. And a companion if he says ‘sunnah’ it is applied to the sunnah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). And because this is far from the placing of hands upon the chest [takfir] which is disliked.
And in the other (narration) below the chest is superior which was chosen by a group of our companions due to that which is related by Jarir al-Dabbi who said,”I saw Ali grasping his left with his right on his wrist above his navel”, it was reported by Abu Dawud. And Qubaysah bin Hulb relates from his father that he said: “I saw the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) placing these on his chest.” And Yahys bin Saeed placed his “Right hand over the left above the joint” reported by Ahmad.
The third narration: They are both equal, it was chosen by Ibn Abi Musa and others due to the conflicting narrations in regards to it.
As for placing them both on the chest it is disliked, as was stated. Abi Ayub reports from Abi Mashar that he said, “It is disliked to make takfir in the prayer” and he said, “Takfir is to place the right hand upon the chest in the prayer”…”