The Qunoot: Before or After The Rukoo and To Raise or Not To Raise The Hands
Compiled by Abu Hibbaan & Abu Khuzaimah Ansaari
Every year being asked the same questions regarding the Witr has led us to compile this short article, which is no means covers all the elements of this discussion, rather it provides some basic insight. We do not aim to profess a particular opinion but rather just to present some of the texts, if anyone would like to share their readings and research then please do so. And Allaahs Knows best.
Imaam Allaamah Muhibullaah Shaah Raashidee as-Sindhee
Should the supplication of Qunoot be recited before or after the rukoo in the witr prayer and should the hands be raised or fastened whilst supplicating with the Qunoot?
The recitation of the Qunoot in the witr has been transmitted before and after the rukoo as the hadeeth in Sunan Nasa’ee and other books elucidates ie both actions are permissible.
However according to my research from the hadeeth in Bukhaari and in other books of hadeeth, the Qunoot in the witr should be recited before the rukoo most of the time. It should be recited after the rukoo in the obligatory prayer (ie the Qunoot an-Nawaazil). However in light of the ahadeeth both aspects are mentioned (ie before and after the rukoo).
As for the raising of the hands then if the Qunoot is recited before the rukoo then the hands should be fastened (ie not raised) and if it is recited after the rukoo the hands should remain on the side (just as they are after rising from the rukoo)
I have not, even till today come across any narration which mentions the Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) would raise his hands to recite the Qunoot for witr or that he would not raise his hands. However there is an authentic hadeeth which mentions the raising of the hands for reciting the Qunoot in the normal obligatory prayers (ie the Qunoot of Nawaazil ie calamities) and this is cited in the hadeeth found in the Musnad of Ahmad.
Therefore whoever asks me whether they should raise their hands or not in the Qunoot of the Witr then I answer them and say whatever is permissible in the obligatory prayers is also permissible in the optional or supererogatory prayers. So when it is authentically established to raise the hands in the obligatory prayers for the Qunoot an-Naazilah then as for the Witr, which according to the correct methodology of the Quraan and Hadeeth is not obligatory but optional, then raising the hands for the Qunoot in it will also be permissible.
Therefore if someone does raise them we should hold that it is permissible but it should not be considered to be the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) or something that has been transmitted from him. Furthermore we do have reports that some of the companions raised their hands in the witr.
Hence I believe it is just permissible to raise the hands and I just pray the Qunoot after the rukoo once a week and I also raise my hands and Allaah knows best (Fataawa Raashidiyyah pg.333-334)
End of Fatwa
Further clarification notes
Before or After Rukoo
Qunoot in the Witr prayer is established before the rukoo from the Messenger of Allaah (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) and this is what most of the narrations indicate aswell as some reports mentioning it after the rukoo.
It is narrated from Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab RadhiAllaahu Anhu who said, “Verily when the Messenger of Allaah (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) prayed the Witr, he would recite the Qunoot before the Rukoo.” (Ibn Maajah (no.1182), Sunan an-Nasaa’ee (3/235 no.1700), Sunan Daarqutnee (2/31 no.1644), Dhiya Maqdisee has also transmitted this in al-Mukhtarah Imaam al-Albaanee authenticated it refer to Saheeh Ibn Maajah (no.970) and Irwaa ul-Ghaleel (no.462)
Hasan RadhiAllaahu Anhu narrates, “The Messenger of Allaah (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) taught me to recite the following after completing my recitation in the witr prayer: Allaahuma Mahdinee….” (Kitaab at-Tawheed (2/91) of Ibn Mandah and Irwaa ul-Ghaleel (2/168) (meaning the supplication which is the Qunoot is to recited before the rukoo)
Alqamah narrates “Abdullaah ibn Masood RadhiAllaahu Anhu and the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) would recite the Qunoot in the witr before the rukoo.” (Musannaf ibn Abee Shaybah (2/306), The late Albanian hadeeth master, the Allaamah Muhammad Naasir ud deen authenticated this narration and said it chain was Saheeh according to the conditions of Imaam Muslim see Irwaa ul-Ghaleel (2/166). Haafidh Ibn Hajr also authenticated it and said it is Hasan in ad-Diraayah (1/94)
Aasim Ahwal said, “I asked Anas bin Malik about the Qunoot. Anas replied, “Definitely it was (recited)”. I asked, “Before bowing or after it?” Anas replied, “Before bowing.” I added, “So and so has told me that you had informed him that it had been after bowing.” Anas said, “He told an untruth (i.e. “was mistaken,” according to the Hijazi dialect). Allah’s Apostle recited Qunut after bowing for a period of one month.” Anas added, “The Prophet sent about seventy men (who knew the Quran by heart) towards the pagans (of Najd) who were less than they in number and there was a peace treaty between them and Allah’s Apostles (but the Pagans broke the treaty and killed the seventy men). So Allah’s Apostle recited Qunut for a period of one month asking Allah to punish them.” (Bukhaari, the book of war expedition (no.4096), Abu Awaanah (2/285), Daarimee (1/374), Sharh Ma’anee al-Aathaar of Tahaawee (1/143), Sunan al-Kubraa (2/207) of Baihaqee and Musnad Ahmad (3/167)
The narration above proves the Qunoot of Nawaazil ie calamity or wishing good for the Muslim Ummah or cursing the enemies of Islaam ie the mushriks and kaafirs then this is something that is done after the rukoo which is commonly known as Qunoot an-Naazilah. As for the Qunoot before the rukoo then that is more specific to the Qunoot for Witr.
There is however a narration from Anas Ibn Maalik RadhiAllaahu Anhu in which he mentions the saying of the Qunoot before or after the rukoo, then this is pertaining to and is specific to the Qunoot for the Fajr prayer and not for the Witr prayer as is specified in the Hadeeth itself. (Ibn Maajah (no.1184), Imaam al-Albaanee authenticated it refer to Saheeh Ibn Maajah (no.971) and Irwaa ul-Ghaleel (2/160)
There are some reports from Umar RadhiAllaahu Anhu that he would recite the Qunoot after the Rukoo and he would raise his hands to do so. (cited by Imaam Bukhaari in his Juzz Raf ul-Yadain (no.97).
However firstly this narration is weak due to the Narrator Ja’afar Ibn Maimoon who is considered to be weak according to the majority of the scholars of Hadeeth. Secondly according to the categorisation of this Hadeeth by Imaam Ibn Abee Shaybah he understood this narration pertaining to the Qunoot of the Fajr prayer and hence has therefore categorised this Hadeeth to be placed under the chapter heading The Qunoot for the Fajr. (refer to Imaam Ibn Abee Shaybahs Musannaf (2/316 no.7040)
There is another report from Abdullaah Ibn Masood RadhiAllaahu Anhu via Laith ibn Abee Sulaim that Ibn Masood RadhiAllaahu Anhu would raise his hands before the rukoo and recite the Qunoot. (Juzz Raf ul-Yadain pg.173-173 no.99) but this is weak due to Laith ibn Abee Sulaim
There is a narration from Hasan RadhiAllaahu Anhu in Mustadrak al-Haakim (3/172) and Imaam Baihaqees Sunan al-Kubraa (3/38-39) which establishes the Qunoot after the rukoo however this is weak according to some scholars of hadeeth whereas others like the late Albanian Hadeeth Master Muhammad Naasir ud deen authenticated it and graded it Hasan. This may be understood due to the text of the aforementioned hadeeth as the hadeeth has been narrated via other chains and hence him grading it Hasan.
Imaam Tirmidhee said the people of knowledge have differed with regards to the Qunoot of the Witr Abdullaah ibn Masood RadhiAllaahu Anhu opined it should be read before the rukoo and this is position of some of the people of knowledge like Sufyaan ath-Thawree, Ibn al-Mubaarak and Ishaaq (ibn Rahawaihah) and the people of Koofah. (Sunan Tirmidhee, Chapter what is said with regards to the Qunoot for the Witr (1/106)
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “With regard to Qunoot: there are two extreme views and one middle (or moderate) view. Some say that Qunoot should only be recited before bowing and some say that it should only be recited after bowing. The fuqaha’ among the scholars of hadeeth, such as Ahmad and others, say that both are allowed, because both are mentioned in the saheeh Sunnah, but they preferred reciting Qunoot after bowing because this is mentioned more often.” (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (23/100)
Allaamah Imaam al-Albaanee has also opined that the Qunoot should be recited before the rukoo (refer to his Sifah Salaah, Shaikh al-Albaanee goes onto cite further references from the various books of hadeeth)
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said “According to most of the ahaadeeth and according to the opinion of most of the scholars, Qunoot should come after the rukoo’, but if a person recites it before the rukoo’ that is o.k. He has the choice of bowing when he has finished reciting from Qur’aan, and when he stands up from bowing and says “Rabbana wa laka’l hamd,” then he may recite Qunoot, as described in most of the reports from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and as stated by most of the scholars; or he may recite Qunoot when he has finished reciting Qur’aan, then say Allaahu akbar and bow. Both ways were narrated in the Sunnah. (ash-Sharh al-Mumti’ by Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 4/65)
Saying the Qunoot before and after the rukoo is permissible with a preference for before the rukoo based on the texts
Raising The Hands For The Qunoot Of Witr
There is no authentic Hadeeth which establishes or proves that the Messenger of Allaah (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) raised his hands for the Qunoot of the Witr prayer. The evidence for this is the general Hadeeth of Anas Ibn Maalik RadhiAllaahu Anhu in which he says, “The Messenger of Allaah would only raise his hands for Dua in the prayer for the rain.” (Saheeh an-Nasaa’ee no.1649)
A report from Umar RadhiAllaahu Anhu states that he would raise his hands in the Qunoot (cited by Imaam Bukhaari in Juz Raf ul-Yadain no.97). Yet again there are 2 basic problems. Firstly there is no specification that this hadeeth is related to the Qunoot of Witr And therefore it could very well be pertaining to the Qunoot of the Fajr prayer. Secondly it also contains the weak narrator J’afar Ibn Maimoon who is weak.
However we do find the action of the illustrious companion Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood raising his hands as Imaam Bukhaari has cited in his Juzz Raf ul-Yadain (no.99) as cited by Imaam Abdur Rahmaan Mubaarakpooree in his monumental explanation of Tirmidhee (refer to his Tuhfatul Ahwadhee 2/580) yet this narration is weak due to problems contained in it’s chain due to Laith Ibn Abee Sulaim whose memory deteriorated and he was also accused of being a mudallis narrator.
Aamir bin Shibal al-Jarmee narrates that he saw Abu Qilaabah raise his hands for the Qunoot.(Abu Qilaabah was a trustworthy successor) (Sunan al-Kubraa 3/41)
Abu Haatim ar-Raazee (d.277H) said, “Abu Zur’ah ar-Raazee (d.264H) asked me, “Do you raise your hands for Qunoot (of witr)? I replied, “No” and then I asked him do you raise your hands and he replied yes. So I asked him what is your evidence?
Abu Zur’ah said: the hadeeth of ibn Mas’ood
Abu Haatim said: Laith ibn Abee Sulaim narrated it (ie a weak narrator)
Abu Zur’ah said: the hadeeth of Abu Hurairah
Abu Haatim said: Ibn Laheeya’ah narrated it (ie again a weak narrator)
Abu Zur’ah said: the hadeeth if Ibn Abbaas
Abu Haatim said: A’uf has narrated it (again a weak narrator)
Then Abu Zur’ah asked me. “what is your evidence for not raising your hands?”
Abu Haatim said: the hadeeth of Anas that verily the Messenger of Allaah (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) would never raise his hands for any dua except in the rain prayer , and then he (Abu Zur’ah) remained silent.
(Taareekh Baghdaad (2/76 no.455) and also cited by Imaam Dhahabee in Siyaar al-A’laan an-Nabula 13/253)
The Imaam of Ahlus Sunnah Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Imaam Ishaaq ibn Rahawaihah opined in the raising of the hands for the Qunoot (Masaa’il Abee Dawood pg.66, Masaa’il Ahmad Waa Ishaaq 1/211 no.465 and 2/59 no.3468 narrated via Ishaaq ibn Mansoor al-Kausaj also Masaa’il pg.23 of Marwazee as cited by Allaamah al-Albaanee)
Imaam al-Albaanee has cited the opinion of Imaam Ahmad and Ishaaq ibn Rahawaihah with reference to the raising the hands for the Qunoot an-Nawaazil as their is authentic evidence for this as can be read from his Sifah Salah.
So it seems like some scholars raised their hands and other did not, based on their understanding of the texts but the opinion with precedence is not raising the hands due to the hadeeth of Anas ibn Maalik RadhiAllaahu Anhu and other texts.
The people who raise their hands in the Qunoot of Witr and supplicate, do so based on analogical reasoning on the Qunoot an-Nawaazil (in which raising the hands is established)
There is no direct clear authentic evidence which mentions the Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam) raised his hands for the Qunoot of witr but if someone wishes to do so based on analogical reasoning then this is also permissible as the Scholars have said.
Raising the hands for the Qunoot of calamities is established from the Sunnah. (Musnad Ahmad (3/137 no.12429)