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Takattuf (Arabic: التَّکَتُّف) is performing prayer with folded hands so that the palm of the right hand is placed on the back of the left hand and the hands are placed above the navel or on the chest.

Shi'a jurists consider "takattuf" as forbidden and believe that it invalidates the prayer. They cite hadiths that report the Prophet (s) performed prayer without doing "takattuf". There are also narrations from the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in which "takattuf" is mentioned as forbidden. Shi'a jurists consider takattuf permissible in the case of "taqiyyah".

According to most Sunni scholars, "takattuf" is recommended. Some of them consider it obligatory, while others consider it as disliked. There is a difference of opinion among Sunni jurists on how to perform "takattuf", where to place the hands, and the time of "takattuf" in prayer.

For the recommendation of "takattuf", Sunni jurists have cited traditions that indicate the permissibility of "takattuf", but the Shi'as consider some of these narrations and the contents of some others flawed.

The Definition of Takattuf and its Importance among Shias and Sunnis

"Takattuf" means placing the hands on each other and on the chest or stomach while performing prayer.[1] This practice is also referred to as "taktif",[2] "takfir",[3] "qabd",[4] and "wad'".[5] The words "irsal" and "isdal" or "sadl" are used opposite to "takattuf", meaning "to let the hands down".[6]

"Takattuf" is one of the controversial issues between Shia and other Islamic schools.[7] Most Sunnis consider "takattuf" among recommended acts in prayer.[8]

The Manner of Doing Takattuf

'Ayni, a Sunni jurist, considered "takattuf" to include placing the palm of the right hand on the back of the left wrist so that the wrist is in the middle of the right palm, but some other Sunni scholars have chosen to place the left palm on the right forearm so that it is behind the left palm. Some have said to hold the back of the left hand so that the thumb and little finger of the left hand are placed in the palm of the right hand.[9]

Where are the Hands Placed in Takattuf

Types of Takattuf in different Sunni sects

Sunni jurists have different views about where the hands should be placed on the body in "takattuf". Some of them consider the place of the hands below the navel,[10] and others on the chest or below it.[11] The Hanafis and Hanbalis consider placing their hands below the navel, and the Shafi'is consider placing them below the chest as a tradition.[12] Ibn Baz, a Wahhabi scholar, believes that in "takattuf", the hands should be placed on the chest.[13]

Some have also said that men should place their hands below the navel and women on the chest.[14]

Place of Takattuf in Prayer

'Ayni, a Sunni scholar, said that Abu Hanifah and Abu Yusuf consider "takattuf" a tradition when standing up in prayer, while others consider it a tradition when reciting the suras. From 'Ayni's point of view, "takattuf" is to be done in standing postures that involve reciting "ma'thur" dhikrs (a dhikr mentioned in hadiths). According to him, a group of Sunni scholars, to oppose Shia, have considered "takattuf" as a tradition in any standing posture. For this reason, there has been a difference of opinions regarding "takattuf" after "ruku'", during "qunut", in the prayer upon the dead, and between the "takbirs" of the Eid prayers.[15]

It has been reported that the Hanafis and Shafi'is consider placing their hands on the chest after ruku' as an unlawful innovation. Ibn Hanbal, the leader of the Hanbali school, has also been quoted with different opinions in this regard, one of which is whether we are free to do this or not.[16]

Ruling from the Point of View of Shia

According to the famous opinion among Shia jurists, takattuf is forbidden and invalidates the prayer.[17] Al-Sayyid al-Murtada[18] and al-Shaykh al-Tusi claimed that there was a consensus on this ruling.[19] Some Shia jurists have only considered it forbidden, not invalidating the prayer. [20]Muhammad Hasan Najafi has said in his book Jawahir al-kalam that Abu l-Salah al-Halabi considers "takattuf" to be disliked, and al-Iskafi considers it recommended to be abandoned.[21]

Shia jurists' argument for this ruling is the hadiths that reported the Prophet's (s) prayer without doing "takattuf",[22] including a hadith narrated by Abu Hamid al-Sa'idi, in which he explained the prayer of the Prophet (s), but he did not say anything about "takattuf".[23] There are also hadiths from the Imams (a) of the Shi'a, who forbid "takattuf" and "takfir" in prayer.[24] It has been narrated from Imam Ali (a)[25] and Imam al-Baqir (a) that "takattuf" was one of the traditions of the Magi.[26] Muhammad Hasan al-Najafi believes that this tradition was popularized by 'Umar b. al-Khattab in imitation of the manner of Iranian captives.[27]

The Ruling of Takattuf due to Taqiyya

Shia jurists, including al-Shahid al-Thani and Shaykh Murtada Ansari, have considered "takattuf" due to "taqiyya" permissible and even obligatory.[28] However, Ayatollah Khamenei, among marja's of 15th/21th century, has said that now, "takattuf" is not among the cases of "taqiyya", and it is permissible only in case of emergency.[29]

Ruling from the Point of View of Sunnis

Sunni scholars consider "takattuf" as a sign of humility and submission before God.[30] However, they disagree about its ruling:

  • Optionally recommended: Awza'i (707-774/1307-8 - 1372-3)[32] and Ibn 'Abd al-Birr (368-463/978-9 - 1070-1) believed in the optional recommendation of "takattuf" and "irsal".[33]
  • Obligatory: Al-Albani (1333-1420/1914-1999) and al-Shawkani (1173-1250/1759-1834) believed that "takattuf" is obligatory.[34]
  • Some Sunni jurists consider "takattuf" specific to when the praying person becomes tired due to long-standing.[37]

Sunnis' References for Takattuf

Sunnis have cited traditions to rule about "Takattuf". Some of them are the following hadiths[38]:

  • The hadith narrated by Sahl b. Sa'd: It is mentioned in this hadith that people were ordered to place their right hand on the forearm of their left hand during prayer.[39]
  • The hadith narrated by Wa'il b. Hujr: Wa'il narrates that after saying Takbirat al-ihram, the Prophet (s) put his hands under his clothes and placed his right hand on his left hand.[40]
  • The hadith narrated by Abd Allah b. Mas'ud: Ibn Mas'ud had placed his left hand on his right hand while praying, and the Prophet (s) [saw that and] placed Ibn Mas'ud's right hand on his left hand.[41]
  • The hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas: Ibn Abbas has narrated from the Prophet (s) that he said that the Prophets (a) were ordered to place their right hand over their left hand in prayer.[42]
  • The hadith narrated by Imam Ali (a): According to this narration, one of the traditions in prayer is placing the hands below the navel.[43]

Shiites' Criticisms

Shiites believe that the references of some of these narrations have flaws since there are transmitters in their chain of transmission who are unreliable, even according to Sunni scholars.[44] Also, the content of some other narrations does not suggest that "takattuf" is obligatory or recommended.[45]


The book Sadl al-yadayn fi l-salat written by al-Shanqiti

Some of the books in which the issue of "takattuf" is studied and criticized are as follows:

  • Al-Irsal wa l-takfir bayn al-Sunna wa l-bid'a: it is written by Najm al-Din al-Tabasi as a part of the collection Bayn al-Sunna wa l-bid'a, in which Shia and Sunni conflicting issues, such as "mut'a" (term-based marriage), are examined.[46] This collection has been published as a book titled Dirasat al-fiqhiyya fi masa'il khilafiyya.[47]
  • Tawdih al-maqal fi l-damm wa l-irsal: It was written by Muhammad Yahya Salim 'Azzan, and was published by Dar al-Turath al-Yumna in Sana'a.[48]
  • Al-Qawl al-Fasl fi ta'yid sunnat al-sadl, written by Muhammad 'Abid: This book was written in criticism of "takattuf" and to prove "irsal" (hanging) of hands in prayer, according to Malik b. Anas's school.[49]
  • Risala mukhtasara fi al-sadl, written by 'Abd al-Hamid Mubarak Al Shaykh.[50]
  • Risala fi hukm sadl al-yadayn fi l-salat 'ala madhhab al-Imam Malik, written by Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Maghribi, known as Shanqiti: This book is published by Dar al-Fudayla Publishing Center.[51]

See Also


  1. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 11, p. 15; Zuḥaylī, al-Fiqh al-islāmī wa adillatuh, vol. 2, p. 873.
  2. Ibn al-ʿArabī, al-Futūḥāt al-makkiyya, vol. 1, p. 419.
  3. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 11, p. 15.
  4. Ṭabasī, Dirāsāt fiqhīyya, vol. 1, p. 195.
  5. Mughnīya, al-Fiqh ʿalā al-madhāhib al-khamsa, vol. 1, p. 110.
  6. Mubārakfūrī, Tuḥfat al-aḥwadhī, vol. 2, p. 73.
  7. A group of authors, Fī riḥāb Ahl al-Bayt, vol. 21, p. 11.
  8. Ibn Jibrīn, Sharḥ ʿumdat al-aḥkām, vol. 13, p. 47.
  9. ʿAynī, al-Bināya, vol. 2, p. 181.
  10. Ibn Bāz, Majmūʿ fatāwā, vol. 29, p. 240.
  11. ʿAynī, al-Bināya, vol. 2, p. 181.
  12. Ṭayyār, al-Fiqh al-muyassar, vol. 1, p. 283.
  13. Ibn Bāz, Majmūʿ fatāwā, vol. 29, p. 240.
  14. Ḥanafī Rāzī, Tuḥfat al-mulūk, p. 69.
  15. ʿAynī, al-Bināya, vol. 2, p. 183.
  16. Sālim, Sharh Bulūgh al-marām, vol. 61, p. 6.
  17. Group of authors, Fī riḥāb Ahl al-Bayt, vol. 21, p. 12.
  18. Sayyid Murtaḍā, Rasāʾil al-sharīf al-Murtaḍā, vol. 1, p. 219.
  19. Ṭūsī, Al-Khilāf, vol. 1, p. 322.
  20. Mughnīya, al-Fiqh ʿalā al-madhāhib al-khamsa, vol. 1, p. 111,
  21. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 11, p. 15.
  22. Group of authors, Fī riḥāb Ahl al-Bayt, vol. 21, p. 22.
  23. Tirmidhī, al-Jāmiʿ al-ṣaḥīḥ, vol. 2, p. 84
  24. Ḥimyarī, Qurb al-isnād, p. 208; Ṭūsī, Tahdhīb al-aḥkām, vol. 2, p. 84.
  25. Ṣadūq, al-Khiṣāl, vol. 2, p. 622.
  26. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 7, p. 265.
  27. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 11, p. 19.
  28. Shahīd al-Thānī, Rawḍ al-jinān, vol. 2, p. 423; Sabziwārī, Muhadhdhab al-aḥkām, vol. 2, p. 391; Anṣārī, Rasāʾil fiqhīyya, vol.1 , p. 96.
  29. Khāmeneʾī, Ajwabat al-istiftāʾāt, vol. 1, p. 160.
  30. ʿAynī, al-Bināya, vol. 2, p. 183.
  31. ʿAynī, al-Bināya, vol. 2, p. 180.
  32. ʿAynī, al-Bināya, vol. 2, p. 180.
  33. Sarāwī, al-Quṭūf al-dānīyya, vol. 2, p. 37.
  34. ʿAwāyisha, al-Musūʿa al-fiqhīyya al-muyassara, vol. 2, p. 9; Shawkānī, Nayl al-awṭār, vol. 2, p. 217.
  35. Qurṭubī, Bidāyat al-mujtahid, vol. 1, p. 146.
  36. Nawawī, al-Majmūʿ, vol. 3, p. 311.
  37. ʿAynī, al-Bināya, vol. 2, p. 181.
  38. Group of authors, Fī riḥāb Ahl al-Bayt, vol. 21, p. 15.
  39. Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, vol. 1, p. 148.
  40. Nayshābūrī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Muslim, vol. 1, p. 301; Mullā al-Hirawī, Mirqāt al-Jinān, vol. 2, p. 657.
  41. Abū Dāwūd, Sunan Abī Dāwūd, vol. 1, p. 200.
  42. Ṭabarānī, al-Muʿjam al-kabīr, vol. 11, p. 199.
  43. Dāraquṭnī, Sunan al-Dāraquṭnī, vol. 2, p. 34.
  44. Group of authors, Fī riḥāb Ahl al-Bayt, vol. 21, p. 21.
  45. Group of authors, Fī riḥāb Ahl al-Bayt, vol. 16, p. 19; Subḥānī, al-Iʿtiṣām bi-l-kitāb wa al-sunna, p. 67.
  46. Al-Irsal wa al-takfir bayn al-Sunna wa l-bid'a (Arabic).
  47. Dirasat al-fiqhiyya fi masa'il khilafiyya (Persian).
  48. Tawdih al-maqal fi al-damm wa l-irsal(Arabic).
  49. Al-Qawl al-Fasl fi ta'yid sunnat al-sadl (Arabic).
  50. Risala mukhtasara fi al-sadl (Arabic).
  51. Risala fi hukm sadl al-yadayn fi al-salat 'ala madhhab al-Imam Malik (Arabic).
  52. Fi rihab Ahl al-Bayt (a); Al-Qabd fi al-sala; al-Takattuf (Arabic).


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