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In the Name of God بسم الله

I don’t know which way to pray

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I was born a sunni muslim but have been exploring shia islam a lot recently and i’m kind of in a limbo where I don’t know which sect to be in. I believe I am a follower of the Ahlulbayt and also the sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) as they aren’t mutually exclusive. 

I am having a bit of difficulty in regards to prayer. I know both the shia and sunni methods of offering salah, and since I don’t really know which sect to follow yet I was wondering can I switch between sunni and shia prayer. It sounds so strange I know but i’ve had these situations where one day I feel really connected to sunni islam and pray like them but other days where I want to pray the shia way with a turbah and hands down. I guess for I want to see which style of prayer I feel more connected to, as that might be a big indicator in what sect to choose. 

So yeah i basically want to ask is it valid to pray one prayer with hands folded and the next one with hands by my side. I know it’s really strange but I just can’t make my mind up yet. Also from hadith and evidence I have seen the prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) used to change the way he prayed so I just wanted to ask.

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If you pray according to sunni fiqh, is it invalid under shia fiqh? If you pray according to shia fiqh is it invalid under sunni fiqh? The differences are fairly small. 

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11 hours ago, Guest unknown said:

Also from hadith and evidence I have seen the prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) used to change the way he prayed so I just wanted to ask.

Salam prophet (Pbu) used to pray  just only one method of prayers which even majority of Sunni Hadith prove he has prayed in shia way which a single fabricated hadith about folding his hand couldn't be an evidence for following this innovation . 

Why do the Shia pray with open hands while the Sunnis pray with their hands closed? How would the holy prophet of Islam pray? Are there any hadiths on this subject?


Concise answer
Because of the many hadiths they have regarding this matter, the Shia pray with open hands in order to have followed the tradition of the holy prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) and the imams (عليه السلام). These hadiths express that the prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) and the imams (عليه السلام) would pray with their hands open and at their sides, and that praying with closed hands resembles the Maji.



Detailed Answer

Abi Hamid Sae'di has described the prophet's ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) prayer in a hadith in full detail, from the beginning of the tahbiratul-ihram till the end of the salam, yet hasn't mentioned anything about him closing his hands, and instead says that after saying the takbiratul-ihram, he brought his hands down by his sides[4].

[4] Sunan Beyhaqi, vol.2, pp. 72, 73, 101, 102; Sunan Abi Dawud, vol.1, pg.194.

In yet another hadith, Hammad ibn Isa asks Imam Sadiq (عليه السلام) to portray the full and correct prayer for him. The imam (عليه السلام) stood towards the Qiblah, observing all of the mustahabb acts, said the takbiratul-ihram and began reciting and went on to finish the prayer the way the Shia currently pray, ending it with the salam[5]. In this hadith, the imam (عليه السلام) was showing Hammad how the prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) would pray, yet there is no sign of the closing of the hands

[5] Al-Wasa’el, vol.4, first chapter of the chapters on the actions of prayer, hadith 1.




Leading Sunni scholars like Ibn Rushd in Bidayat al-Mujtahid page 323 admitted that there is no evidence at all that the Prophet (SAWA) ever folded his hands or arms during praying.
Sunni well know scholar Malik ibn Anas who is the founder of Maliki Sunni sect refused this practice of folding hands while praying.

'Many well known Sahaba (Companions) refused folding hands like Ibn Abbas, Ibn Mas'ood, and above all and most importantly Imam Ali (عليه السلام) who was ordering Muslims to do this practice which is from non Muslims.



This bidah started by Omar, when Persia was conquered by the forces of Islam.

[1]        See Abu Dawud, vol. 1 Chapter 327, etc.
[2]        Sahih Muslim, vol. 1., p. 275, Kitab- As-Salat


The Persian princes and princesses were brought to Medina as captives. In accordance with the rules of the palace in Persia (Protocol) the captives were holding their hands on their belly/chest. (It’s still a custom among the people of Central Asia like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, etc. that the people stand with the folded hands in front of their leaders, superiors, landlords, especially the governors, ministers and the kings or the queens).

This was part of the Persian etiquette or the protocol which are observed in many regions of the world, including among the European royalty, even today. The other norms of the etiquette, aside from folding one’s hands in front of a dignitary, especially a king or a queen, are as follow:

1)      Holding a parasol over the head of a king or a queen.

2)      Asking the people to stand up while the king, queen, a minister or a judge is entering the court, etc.

When Omar saw such a sophisticated manner from the “civilized” Persians — something that did not exist among the Arabs of the desert, he said:

“If they (the Persians) could have so much respect for their kings, why shouldn’t we respect the King of all kings, Allah ((سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).) by folding our hands in front of Him, as the true slaves of Allah?”

Since that day, those who followed Omar started folding their hands during the prayers. This was only one of the more than 70 new rules that Omar added to the Islamic practices (like the addition of “Assalato Khairom Minan Naum”…. Prayer is better than sleeping! in the morning Azan, the Tarawih prayers the prevention of Mot’ah, etc.).



We read in Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 664:

Narrated ‘Aisha:
That she used to hate that one should keep his hands on his flanks while praying. She said that the Jew used to do so


Prophet (s) didn’t teach the folding of Hands during prayers

Imam Shawkani records the following statement of Ibn Manzar who was one of the teachers of Imam Bukhari:

قال ابن المنذر في بعض تصانيفه‏:‏ لم يثبت عن النبي صلى اللَّه عليه وآله وسلم في ذلك شيء فهو مخير‏

“There is no such proven tradition from Holy Prophet (s) in regard to folding of hands, therefore it is up to the worshipper [whether he offers the prayers with either folded or unfolded hands]”.
1. Nayl al Awtar, Volume 2, page 203
2. Aun al-Ma’bood, Sharh Sunan Abi Daud, volume 2, page 322, published by Dar ul-Kutb e Ilmia, Beirut.



Prophet (s) tought Sahaba to offer prayers without folded hands

Imam Ahmed reocrds:

حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي ثنا أبو معاوية ثنا الأعمش عن مسيب بن رافع عن تميم بن طرفة عن جابر بن سمرة قال : خرج علينا رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم ذات يوم فقال ما لي أراكم رافعي أيديكم كأنها أذناب خيل شمس أسكنوا في الصلاة

Jabi bin Samara said: ‘Once Allah’s messenger (s came to us andid: ‘Why you fold your hands as the tails of horses, you have to settle in prayer’’.
Musnad Ahmed bin Hanbal, Volume 5 page 93 Hadith 20905

Shaykh Shoib Al-Aranut stated about this Hadith:

‘The chain is Sahih according to Muslim’s standard’



Logical deduction that the Holy Prophet (s) prayed Salat with open hands

We read in Sahih al Bukhari, Chapter on the Virtues of the Prayer Hall (Sutra of the Musalla) Volume 1, Book 9, Number 495:

Narrated Abu Qatada Al-Ansari:
Allah’s Apostle was praying and he was carrying Umama the daughters of Zainab, the daughter of Allah’s Apostle and she was the daughter of ‘As bin Rabi’a bin ‘AbduShams. When he prostrated, he put her down and when he stood, he carried her (on his neck).

We read Sharh Sahih Muslim by Nawawi Volume 1 page 205:



Clear tradition proving that the Holy Prophet (s) prayed Salat with open hands

Ibn Hajr Asqalani writes in ‘Talkhees al-Habeer fee Takhreej Ahadeeth’ Volume 1 page 333, Bab Sifat al Salat:

الطَّبَرَانِيُّ مِنْ حَدِيثِ مُعَاذٍ ،أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ إذَا كَانَ فِي صَلَاتِهِ رَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ قُبَالَ أُذُنَيْهِ ، فَإِذَا كَبَّرَ أَرْسَلَهُمَا ثُمَّ سَكَتَ

“Maaz narrates that when the Prophet (s) would stand for Salat, he would raise both hands to his ears, and after saying Takbeer would then drop his hands”.
Online ‘Talkhees al Habeer fee Takhreej Ahadeeth’ by Ibn Hajar Asqalani – (Cached)



The well known scholar of Ahl Hadeeth cult namely Allamah Waheed uz Zaman Khan writes:

“Whoever says that offering prayers with unfolded hands is a custom related to Shi’as, that person is at fault in this regard, because not only the Shi’as but the whole Muslim Ummah offered the prayers in the same way, especially during the life time of Holy Prophet (s) the companions did it the same way and no one knew about the folding of hands.”
Hadiyatul Mahdi, by Maulana Waheed uz Zaman, Volume 1, page 126



Sahih Bukhari, Virtues of the Prayer Hall Volume 1, Book 12, Number 751:

Narrated Imran bin Husain:
I offered the prayer with ‘Ali in Basra and he made us remember the prayer which we used to pray with Allah’s Apostle. ‘Ali said Takbir on each rising and bowing.



“The opening of the arms in Salat is in the Madhab of the Rafidi, we fold our arms and the reason is to oppose the Shi’a”


Kifaya Sharh Hidayah, Volume 1 page 250 Dhikr Salat

Comment [challenge from Shiapen]

 Kashf al Ghimma Volume 1 page 87 Part 2

“Umar used to kill knits whilst offereing Salat, to the extent that knits were clearly visible on his hands, Maaz bin Jabeel was a leader in this field”.

We challenge the Nasibi’s to demonstrate how you can kill knits whilst praying with the arms folded. You can’t even kill one, then how did Umar kill so many? He must have done this with his arms open. It is not possible to kill knits and pray with the hands folded at the same time, Umar’s act of killing knits whilst praying is clear proof that he prayed with his hands open.


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Assalaamun Alaykum,

Insha'Allah the prayers of all Muslims will be accepted.

Regarding the question specifically, the first thing to ask yourself is this, Wudhu is a condition for Salaat and although the method of Salaat is not mentioned in the Quran, the way to perform Wudhu is: The advice would be to investigate the way the wudhu is performed and this should give you your answer how to proceed from there towards the Salaat and which method is authentic Sunnah.

Surah 5 verse 6: يٰۤـاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اِذَا قُمۡتُمۡ اِلَى الصَّلٰوةِ فَاغۡسِلُوۡا وُجُوۡهَكُمۡ وَاَيۡدِيَكُمۡ اِلَى الۡمَرَافِقِ وَامۡسَحُوۡا بِرُءُوۡسِكُمۡ وَاَرۡجُلَكُمۡ اِلَى الۡـكَعۡبَيۡ

O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles;

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21 hours ago, notme said:

If you pray according to sunni fiqh, is it invalid under shia fiqh? If you pray according to shia fiqh is it invalid under sunni fiqh? The differences are fairly small. 

If you are a Shi'i and you pray under their Fiqh, that is invalid (without taqiya coming into play). The differences are not small at all, they are enough to make their salat void to us.

However, if you were a Sunni and then converted to Shi'ism, your former prayers will be accepted.

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Does God accept or reject our prayers because of our actions during prayer?  If this is the case I feel it reduces prayer to a performance.

The thing is, you do not worship God like how you wish to, but how He wishes to. Metaphorically speaking, you can't legally enter a house by climbing on the roof-top without the house's owner's permission.  

The following are important differences in Sunni-Shia prayers:

1. Most Shia scholars view folding hands as being forbidden and nullifies the prayer. Scholars who do not (who are a minority) view this action as being makruh. Note that this practice only gained fame decades after the Prophet's death, which many Sunni Maliki scholars affirm (which they declare so by the consensus of Madina's scholars, which is a valid source for Islamic law in Malikism). 

2. Saying amen after the fatiha, which Sunnis usually do loudly. This is merely due to our traditions revoking it.

3. Saying the salam before the tashahud, especially "assalamu alaynah wa wala aibadi allahi al saliheen", which Sunnis do as they follow what ibn Masoud did and is considered a mistake by him in Shiaism. 

4. Doing sujud on something not from Earth or from its plants. Ironically, Sunnis have traditions that the prophet used to prostrate on khumrah or sa'eed, which are made from plants (but instead of declaring that praying on them is permissible, they take it to imply that this allows praying on everything). The Quran also praises the Prophet's companions for the marks on their foreheads, which cannot happen from praying on prayer carpets and rugs. 

5. Few scholars declare the resting sitting after the second sujud in each rakat to be obligatory, which Sunnis don't usually do.

6. Our tashahud is slightly different. 

Bear in mind that this is merely an issue when you pray alone or in a Shia mosque, when praying with Sunnis you can do what normally nullifies your prayer (especially the sujud part) as taqiyah is allowed and ordered (in a mustahab manner) by God in our traditions, hence you aren't doing something that God does not want for your prayers to be invalid. And when praying with Sunni Muslims, the vast majority of scholars do not require you to be afraid from imminent harm to do so (this doesn't apply to other sects, hence you can't pray like how Ibadis and Zaydis do or prostrate on prayer rugs in their mosques unless you are under real danger that forces you to).

Also, I cannot stress this enough but the Sunni wudhu is definitely invalid in Shiaism with no exceptions whatsoever, unless you are in a taqiyyah circumstance (and the scholars who allow praying without imminent danger from and with Sunnis might not allow so for the wudhu, like Sayyed Sistani who distinguishes between the two).

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