14 Nov How to make Dua: Tip #17
Raising One’s Hands
Raising ones hands with the palms facing upwards is an etiquette for dua mentioned in various ahadeeth.
A famous etiquette of dua is to raise the hands, this is known by almost all Muslims, young or old. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said: “As for the Prophet, raising his hands in dua, then this has been narrated in so many ahadith that they cannot be counted!” [Arusi, p.212]
Abu Musa al-Ash’ari narrated: “The Prophet made dua, and I saw him raise his hands, until I could see the whiteness of his armpits”. [al-Bukhari 4323]
Malik ibn Yasar narrated that the Prophet [May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him] said: “If you ask Allah, then ask Him with the palms of your hands outwards, and not the outward portion of the hands (i.e. with the palms facing down)”. [Narrated by Abu Dawud from Malik ibn Yasar, and narrated by Ibn Majah, al-Tabarani, and al-Hakim from Ibn Abbas, in Sahih al-Jami #593]
It is not befitting for a person to ask with his palms facing down, for this is a sign of arrogance, and an indication that he is not really in need for his request.
There are many reasons why raising one’s hands id du’a is beloved to Allah. Of these reasons is that it is an indication of Allah’s complete power and right to be worshiped. It proves-by actions and not words-that Allah is worthy of being asked, and that He is the one Who Hears and Knows everything, for He knows the situation of His servant better than the servants himself. It is a sign that the One being asked is Ever – Merciful (al-Rahim), Loving to His servants (al-Wadud), responding to His slave (Sami al-Du’a). It shows that Allah is the Ever-Generous (al-Karim), the Self-Sustaining (al-Ghani), and that only He deserves to be asked, and only He is capable of responding. It demonstrates that the man is poor and the destitute for his Lord’s blessings, for he has humbled himself in front of the One full of Honour, and raised his hands up to him, indicating his poverty.
In other words, it is a physical manifestation of all that this noble act of du’a embodies.
There are three types of motions that are narrated from the Companions. The first type is to point with one’s forefinger, without necessarily lifting one’s hands. This action is done when one asks for forgiveness, or makes a general dhikr (remembrance of Allah), or while making du’a during the khutbah (sermon), or during the tashahhud (that part of the prayer said in the final sitting position of each cycle of two rak’at).
The second type is to raise one’s hands to the level of one’s shoulders, with the palms facing up. This is done for regular du’as that one makes at any time.
The last type of action is only done be extremely serve circumstances, such as asking for rain after a drought, or seeking protection from an imminent enemy attack. In this case, the hands are stretched forwards to the sky, without joining the two palms together. When this is done, a person’s armpits become exposed due to the severity of the stretching.
This is affirmed by the narration of Ibn ‘Abba, who said: “The asking (of any du’a should be accompanied by) raising your hands to the level of your shoulder, or around that level. The seeking of forgiveness (istighfar) (should be accompanied by) pointing with one finger (i.e the forefinger). Petitioning (is done by) stretching forth your hands totally (above the head, such that the armpit are exposed)”.
The general rule is that when a person makes du’a, he should raise his hands. However there is one case in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not raise his hands, and that was during the Friday khutbah. So for the du’a during, the khutbah, it is not Sunnah for the Imam or the people to raise the hands, expect if the person giving the khutbah makes a special prayer for the rain (istisqa), for it is Sunnah to raise one’s hand for this particualr du’a.
Also, it is not Sunnah to raise ones hands for the general du’as of the day, such as the du’as for entering the mosque and house, and for existing them. As for the exact manner in which the hands should be raised, then note that they should be raised to the level of the shoulders, and placed together. One can either turn ones palms towards the sky (in which case the back of one’s hands will face the earth), or turn the palms to face one’s own face, in which case the back of the hands will face away from him.