It is preferable sunnah to point with the forefinger and move it during the tashahhud.
It is sunnah to point with the forefinger and move it during the tashahhud because of the reports:
- It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr said: When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sat during the prayer, he would place his left foot between his thigh and calf, and tuck his right foot underneath him, and place his left hand on his left knee, and place his right hand on his right thigh, and point with his finger. [Narrated by Muslim, 579].
In al-Nasaa’i (1270) and Abu Dawood (989) it says: “He used to point with his finger when making du’aa’ but he did not move it.”
This addition – “but he did not move it” – was classed as da’eef by Ibn al-Qayyim in Zaad al-Ma’aad, 1/238. It was also classed as da’eef by al-Albaani in Tamaam al-Minnah, p. 218.
- It was narrated that Waa’il ibn Hajar said: I said: I will certainly watch how the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) prays. So I watched him and he stood up and said takbeer (“Allaahu akbar”), and raised his hands until they were level with his ears. Then he placed his right hand on his left hand, wrist and lower forearm. When he wanted to bow, he raised his hands likewise, and put his hands on his knees, and when he raised his head he raised his hands likewise. Then he prostrated and put his hands level with his ears, then he sat with his left foot tucked underneath him and put his left hand on his left thigh and knee, and he put the edge of his right elbow on his right thigh. Then he held two of his fingers and made a circle, then he raised his forefinger and moved it, making du’aa’ with it.
[Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 889; classed as saheeh by Ibn Khuzaymah, 1/354; Ibn Maajah, 5/170; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 367].
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen quoted this hadeeth – “moving it, making du’aa’ with it” – as evidence that moving the forefinger during the tashahhud should be done with every phrase of the du’aa’. He said in al-Sharh al-Mumti’:
The Sunnah indicates that he should point with it when making du’aa’, because the wording of the hadeeth is “moving it, making du’aa’ with it”. So every time you make du’aa’, move your finger thus indicating the exalted nature of the One to Whom you are addressing your du’aa’s. So we say:
“As-salaamu ‘alayka ayyuha’l-Nabiyyu (peace be upon you, O Prophet)” – you should point your finger because this salaam is a kind of du’aa’. “Al-salaamu ‘alayna (peace be upon us)” – you should point your finger. “Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad (O Allaah, send blessings upon Muhammad)” – you should point your finger. “Allaahumma baarik ‘ala Muhammad) O Allaah, send blessings upon Muhammad)” – you should point your finger. ‘A’oodhu Billaahi min ‘adhaab jahannam (I seek refuge with Allaah from the torment of Hell)” – you should point your finger. “Wa min ‘adhaab al-qabr (and from the torment of the grave)” – you should point your finger. “Wa min fitnat il-mahya wa’l-mamaat (and from the trials of life and death)” – you should point your finger. “Wa min fitnat il-maseeh il-dajjaal (and from the tribulation of the Dajjaal) – you should point your finger. Every time you make du’aa’ you should point your finger, indicating the greatness of the One to Whom you are making du’aa’. This is closer to the Sunnah.
- Al-Nasaa’i (1273) narrated that Sa’d said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) passed by me whilst I was making du’aa’ with my fingers and he said, “One, one,” and pointed with his index finger. Meaning: point with one finger, namely the index finger.
- Ahmad (5964) narrated that Naafi’ said: When ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar sat during the prayer, he would put his hands on his thighs and point with his finger whilst looking at it. Then he said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “It is harder on the Shaytaan than iron,” meaning the index finger. This hadeeth was classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Sifat Salaat al-Nabi (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), p. 159.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: It is mustahabb to point with one finger during “the tashahhud and supplication (du‘aa’)”. [Al-Ikhtiyaaraat, 38.]
The ahaadeeth above indicate two things:
- That one should point with the finger throughout the entire Tashahhud
- That one should move it when making du’aa’.
It is Sunnah when pointing to look at your finger.
Al-Nawawi said: The Sunnah is not to let your gaze go beyond the pointing finger. There is a saheeh hadeeth concerning this in Sunan Abi Dawood. You should point in the direction of the qiblah and intend when pointing to affirm the Oneness of Allaah and exclusive devotion to Him. [Sharh Muslim, 5/81].
The hadeeth to which al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) referred is the hadeeth of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr quoted above. The version narrated by Abu Dawood is (989): “And he should not let his gaze go beyond his pointing finger.” [Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood].
It is Sunnah to point with it towards the qiblah.
It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar that he saw a man moving pebbles with his hand whilst he was praying. When he finished, ‘Abd-Allaah said to him: “Do not move pebbles whilst you are praying, for that comes from the Shaytaan. Rather do what the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to do. He put his right hand on his thigh and pointed with the finger that is next to the thumb towards the qiblah, and he fixed his gaze on it.” Then he said: “This is what I saw the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) doing.” Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 1160; Ibn Khuzaymah, 1/355; Ibn Hibbaan, 5/273. classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah (7/56):
Pointing with the finger throughout the tashahhud and moving it when offering supplication (du‘aa’), and clenching the other fingers should continue until the salaam. End quote.
Whatever the case, the matter is subject to ijtihaad and is something concerning which the scholars differed. The different opinions concerning it may have to do with slight differences in the way the prayer is performed, so there is nothing wrong with differing from this ijtihaad and following what one thinks is more correct on the basis of evidence.
It also says in Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah (5/368):
Raising the forefinger in the tashahhud is Sunnah, and the reason behind it is to indicate the Oneness of Allah. Whoever wishes may move it and whoever wishes may not move it. This matter should not lead to division and discord between seekers of knowledge. If a person does not raise it at all, or he raises it but does not move it, this is a minor matter that should not lead to denunciation and resentment. However the Sunnah is to raise it throughout the shahaadatayn, until the worshippers says the salaam, as an affirmation of divine Oneness. With regard to moving it, that should be when reciting the supplication, as is narrated in the saheeh Sunnah.
End quote from Fataawa al-Lajnah, 5/368
And Allah Almighty knows best.
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