Amongst the etiquette of du’a that is known by all Muslims, young or old, is that of raising one’s hands. Abu Musa al-Ashari, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated:
“The Prophet, peace be upon him, made du’a, and I saw him raise his hands, until I could see the whiteness of his armpits.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari)
Further, Saman al-Farsi, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
“Indeed, Allah is Shy and Beneficient. He is Shy when His servant raises his hands to Him (in du’a) to return them empty, disappointed!” (Recorded in Ahmad)
SubhanAllah! The Lord of the Creation feels Shy when one of His servants lifts his hands up to Him to make du’a! Verily, hearts are filled with love and awe at the Generosity and Beneficence of Allah.
It is important that our palms face upwards, and not the back of one’s hands, because it is not befitting to ask with the palms facing down, which is a sign of arrogance.
There are three different types of motions for du’a that are narrated from the Companions. The first type is to point one’s forefinger without necessarily lifting one’s hands. This action is done when one asks for forgiveness, or makes general dhikr or during tashahhud. The second type is to raise one’s hands to the level of one’s shoulders with the palms facing up. This is done for regular dua’s at any time. The last type of action is only done in extremely severe circumstances, such as asking for rain after drought, or seeking protection from imminent enemy attack. In this case the hands are stretched forth towards the sky, without joining the two palms together. When this is done a person’s armpits are exposed due to the severity of stretching.
The general rule is that one raises one’s hands to make du’a, but there are exceptions. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, did not raise his hands during the Friday khutbah. So for the du’a during the khutbah, it is not Sunnah for the Imam or the people to raise their hands, except if the Imam makes a special prayer for rain. It is also not a Sunnah to raise one’s hands for the various du’as throughout the day.
As to the exact manner in which one’s hands should be raised, it is to the level of the shoulders, hands placed together, with palms towards the sky or one’s own face. The wiping of the face with the hands will be discussed in a later post, inshaAllah.