In addition to raising one’s hands in prayer when pronouncing Takbir al-Ihraam (the first Takbir), it is Mustahab (i.e. a recommended act) to raise one’s hands at three other times during Salaah (the Muslim prayer):
(i) just before bowing in Rukoo’,
(ii) when rising from Rukoo’,
(iii) when standing up after the first Tashahhud.
The reports of raising of the hands are ‘mutawaatir’, which means they are reported by so many narrators to so many that it is inconceivable that they could all have agreed on a lie.
Whenever Ibn ‘Umar started the prayer with Takbir, he used to raise his hands: whenever he bowed, he used to raise his hands (before bowing) and he also used to raise his hands on saying, “Sami a-l-lahu Liman hamida”, and he used to do the same on rising from the second Rak’a (for the 3rd Rak’a). Ibn ‘Umar said: “The Prophet used to do the same.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol.1 Hadith No.739]
Imam al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) wrote a separate book on this issue, which he called ‘Juz’ fi Raf’ al-Yadayn’ (Section on Raising the Hands), in which he proved that the hands should be raised at these points in the prayer.
Raising the hands in prayer was a well-known practice amongst the companions of the Prophet (pbuh). Imam al-Bukhari said:
“Al-Hasan and Humayd ibn Hilaal said: ‘The Companions of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) all used to raise their hands, without exception.” [Juz’ raf’ al-yadayn, page 26].
There are no less than four Ahadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari and six in Sahih Muslim with respect to raising the hands before and after Rukoo’ (bowing), besides several other authentic traditions in other Ahadith compilations.
The traditions of not raising hands at these instances are classified as da’eef (weak) by the scholars of Hadith. It is important for us to remind ourselves that once the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) becomes clear to a person, it is not permissible for him/her to ignore it in favour of the opinion of anyone, since we all are Ummatis and followers of the Prophet (pbuh).
Hence, a Muslim should not fail to raise his hands at the points in prayer described in the Sunnah. Every Muslim should strive to make his prayer like the prayer of the Prophet (pbuh) who said:
“Pray as you have seen me praying.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol.1 Hadith No.631].
And Allah knows the best.