Taken from “Fiqh al-Imam-Key Proofs In Hanafi Fiqh” By Shaykh Abdur Rahman Ibn Yusuf (Hafidullah) [White Thread Press]
The Differences Found in the Narrations
The hadiths regarding raf’ al-yadayn are of three types:
(1) There are those which clearly mentioned that the Messenger of Allah salalahu alayhi wa salam raised his hands at the time of ruku’.
(2) There are those which mentioned that the Messenger of Allah sallahau alayhi wa salam never raised his hands except when uttering the opening takbir.
(3) There are those which described the complete prayer of the Messenger of Allah salalahu alayhi wa salam, but do not mention whether or not he raised his hands after the opening takbir.
The hadiths of the first category stand as evidence for group one, whose opinion is of raising the hands; whereas the second category of hadiths stand as evidence for those whose opinion is not to raise the hands. Although the hadiths of the first category seem to outnumber those of the second, this does not mean anything, because the hadiths of the third category could also be used in conjunction with the second as evidence for not raising the hands. The reason for this is that not mentioning something only evidences that it was not a popular practice. It is also very difficult to accept that while demonstrating the prayer of the Messenger salalahu alayhi wa salam, a narrator could have failed to mention something as significant as raising the hands, had it been an important aspect of the prayer. Hence, along with the hadiths of the third category, which are supplementary evidence for those of the second category, the hadiths in support of not raising the hands would actually outnumber those in support of it.
To elaborate futher, it must be understood that the Messenger’s salalahu alayhi wa salam not raising his hands is a “nonexistent” action, and people do not mention nonexistent actions in their conversations. For instance, if an individual returning home from the masjid, happened to fall down and hurt himself, the report would state, “He fell down,” since his falling down became an existent action (something that actually took place). On the other hand, if this same person arrived home without any accident, nobody would remark, “He did not fall,” since this is a nonexistent action. It is just another one of several hundred other such incidents that did not occur.
The case of these hadiths is similar because, since the messenger of Allah salalahu alayhi wa salam did not raise his hands at all, the narrators did not report it. If it had been a regular practice of the Messenger salalahu alayhi wa salam that he failed to do sometimes, the narrator would certaintly have mentioned it.
This can be likened to the example of a person who has a fixed time for eating. If, for some reason, he failed to eat at that time, someone could remark that he did not eat, since eating at that time should have been an existent action for him but did not occur. Nobody would comment on his not eating at any other time, since eating at other times is normally a nonexistent action for this person, and nonexistent actions are normally not mentioned.
Now, the hadiths of the third category do not mention anything about the raising of the hands being a habitual action of Allah’s Messenger salalahu alayhi wa salam. As a result, these hadiths can also be used as evidence, along with those of the second category, for the Hanafi point of view. This would significantly increase the number of hadiths in favor of the Hanafi opinion, causing them to outnumber the hadiths of the first category.
Another complicating aspect of this issue is that there are other hadiths which inform the Messenger salalahu alayhi wa salam raising his hands at various other instances within the prayer. More specifically, there are seven instances in the salat where the Messenger salalhau alyahi wa salam is reported to have raised his hands at one time or another: 1) at the initial takbir: 2) before and after bowing [ruku’] 3) before descending into prostration [sajdah]; 4) between two prostrations [sujud]; 5) when beginning the second rak’a; 6) when beginning the third rak’a; 7) in fact, some narrations mention that he raised his hands at the change of every new posture in prayer.
The opinion of group one is that one should raise his hands at the first and second instnaces mentioned above, while the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa rahimahullah and Imam malik rahimahullah is that one should raise his hands at the first instnace only. The question that arises here is: “Why has group one adopted the first two instnaces only and not the others?” Whatever their reason is for adopting only two instances and abandoning the rest will be the reason for Imam Abu Hanifa rahimahullah and Imam Malik rahimahullah adopting the first instance only and abandoning the others.
Undoubtedly, all of the Imams have their reasons for not classifying the raising of the hands as being sunna in all seven instances, inspite of the hadiths which mention that the Messenger salalahu alayhi wa salam frequently raised his hands during salat. By the end of this chapter, it should become clear why such a practice was discarded, and why the raising of the hands was restricted to the opening takbir only.
Inshaallah more to come soon