On Raising the Hands in Prayer and Turning Them:
Apparently, the statement of the noble tradition, "Make it your practice to
raise your hands during prayer and to turn them," refers to lifting them at the
time of takbirat [i.e. pronouncing "Allahu akbar"] By `turning' them (taqlib) is
probably meant the turning of the palms in the direction of the qiblah. Raising
the hands at the time of saying the takbirat is one of the mustahabbat. Or,
perhaps, that which is meant in the hadith is the raising of hands at the time
of qunut, and that which is meant by turning them is turning the palms upwards
towards the sky, in accordance with the fatwa of the fuqaha', may God's good
pleasure be with them, who have considered it mustahabb, although they disagree
concerning its basis in the sources (dalil), even though no other basis is
needed after the definite practice of the devout who know no other manner of
saying the qunut, and the mere raising of hands in whatever manner is not
sufficient. In any case, that which is more evident (azhar) is that that which
is meant in this sacred tradition is the first probability mentioned.
One should know that the predominant (mashhur) opinion amongst the fuqaha' may
God's good pleasure be with them-is that it is mustahabb to raise one's hands
while saying the takbirat and some of them have held it to be obligatory on the
basis of the apparent import (zahir) of certain prescriptions and traditions
that have been narrated in regard to the interpretation of the sacred verse,
that the word nahr in the command of God, the Exalted, means the raising of the
hands at the time of takbirat.1 But there are many indications in the
traditions which imply its istihbab, such as the reasons that are mentioned
therein, especially in the tradition narrated by al-Fadl ibn Shadhan from
al-Imam al-Rida, may peace be upon him.2 In addition to this, the
sahih tradition of 'Ali ibn Ja'far3 is explicit (nass) on its not
being obligatory, and the apparent import (zahir) of these traditions, without
taking into account the indications to the contrary, is that it is obligatory.
The way to reconcile them is by considering them to imply istihbab by overruling
the zahir in the favour of the nass. And that riwayah, although it exempts
others than the imam from raising the hands-and one may claim that apparently it
applies to both the imam and the ma'mumun and that it is silent about the prayer
offered singly by an individual (furada)-it does not preclude the possibility
that the raising of hands be obligatory for all, and the imam's raising them
exempts the ma'mumun from it, in the same way as the qira'ah of the imam exempts
others from doing their own qira'ah. On the .basis of this probability, which is
the more evident of the probable meanings of the tradition, the objection of
some later authorities, which requires taking of the general in a particular
sense, is also avoided. However, the absence of any opinion to this effect and
the predominant opinion among early and latter day legists, as well as the inner
and external indications leave no room for a debate, and even this much of
detail was outside the scope of these pages. In any case, the raising of hands
is supererogatory and it is not appropriate for one to omit it as far as
possible, especially in a case such as this wherein there are some amongst the 'ulama'
who hold it to be obligatory. Accordingly, it is also required by caution in
religious matters that one should not omit it.
The Secret Behind the Raising of the Hands:
In any case, the raising of the hands during prayer at the time of every
takbirah gives elegance to it, and this is the manner of the prayer of Gabrael,
may peace be upon him, and the angels of the seven heavens, as reported in a
narration by Asbagh ibn Nubatah from Amir al-Mu'minin,4 may peace be
upon him. According to a certain citation from the 'Ilal and the 'Uyun akhbar
al-Rida (A.S.), al-'Imam al-Rida, may peace be upon him, has said, "The
reason for raising the hands at takbirah is that it carries a kind of absorption
(inqita'), sincere dedication (takhlis), and humility (tadarru'). Hence God, the
Exalted, likes His servant to be totally attentive towards Him at the time of
remembering Him and to be humble and sincere. And it is for the reason that
one's attention be focussed by the raising of the hands, thereby becoming alert
in one's intent, with a receptive heart.",5 This statement
accords with that which some gnostics say, that the 'other' [than God] is
rejected behind one's back by means of the raising of the hands and the thorns
in the path of access to Him are removed, cutting one off from everything else
and making one pure and sincere, without a trace of attention towards another,
which is shirk in the creed of love, whereat one proceeds to the real spiritual
ascent (mi'raj) and commences the voyage towards Allah. This voyage and ascent
are not possible without the rejection of the `other' and 'otherness' and
without freedom from the ego and egoism. Hence, with the sevenfold opening
takbirat, all the seven curtains (hujub) of mulk and malakut are removed.
Thus the prayer of the awliya' is such that they remove a curtain with every
takbirah, abandoning the realms associated with these veils, leaving behind the
inmates of these habitats, whereafter another curtain is removed for them and
their hearts receive yet another conditioned epiphany (tajalli taqyidi). But
that does not become an obstacle in their way and it does not engage their
attention or preoccupy their hearts. They remove it with yet another takbirah,
as if from the inner core of their hearts there arises the song:
Allah is greater than that He should manifest Himself with a conditioned
as declared by the mentor and shaykh of the awliya' and the mukhlasun, the
dedicated friend of the All-Beneficent [the Khalil al-Rahman, i.e. the Prophet
Abraham, may peace be upon him] during that journey of gnosis, epiphany and
conditioned tajalliyat. Thus the wayfarer towards Allah, the traveller of the
path of love, and the dedicated traveller of the road of communion removes one
veil after another until he reaches the last takbirah with which he removes the
seventh veil and rejects every `other' and 'otherness,' declaring,
I have turned my face to Him who originated the heavens and the earth, (a man or
pure faith; I am not of the idolaters,) (6:79)
with Abraham, the Khalil. Thereafter, the door is opened for him and lie
experiences the majesties of Divine Glory. Thereat he seeks refuge with God and
enters in the Name of God, the Exalted. To this refers the noble tradition of
Muhammad ibn 'Ali ibn al-Husayn, may God's good pleasure be with him, who
reports with his isnad from Abu al-Hasan, may peace be upon him:
(Al-Shaykh al-Saduq reports) with his isnad from Abu al-Hasan, may peace be upon
him, that he has narrated another reason for it and that is that when the
Prophet, may Allah bless him and his Household, was carried on his celestial
journey, he pierced seven veils (hijab), pronouncing the takbirah at every hi
jab, whereby Allah, Almighty and Glorious, enabled him to attain to the ultimate
nobility (muntaha al-karamah).6
In another hadith nearly the same thing has been narrated from al-Imam Musa ibn
Ja'far,7 may peace be upon them, except that it is mentioned there
that the Messenger of God, may God bless him and his Household, pronounced the
takbirat after the removal of every hijab. This is more in agreement from the
viewpoint of gnostic teaching and the mystic way, for a hijab and curtain is
removed at every raising of the hands, and a takbirah is pronounced on the
manifestation of each of the lights of nobility. And since that is a conditioned
light from among the hijabs of light, it is removed with the raising of the two
hands and cast away until the tajalli becomes absolute and. the ultimate
nobility (muntaha al-karamah), which is the ultimate goal. of the awliya', is
attained. Hence the earlier tradition can be interpreted in the light of the
Whatever the case may be, we are unable to understand these things, to say
nothing of epiphany (shuhud) and communion (wasul). But what is worse and more
unfortunate for us is that we also deny all spiritual stations and degrees and
consider the celestial ascensions (mi'raj) of the awliya' and the prayers of the
pure ones like those of our own, regarding their perfection as similar, though
of a superior degree, to our own performances. The limit of our imagination,
beyond which we are unable to apprehend anything, is to imagine that their salat
is good in its qira'ah and other points of etiquette and free from shirk,
ostentation, and love of fame, or that their worship was not for the sake of the
fear of hell or on account of the craving for paradise. These, of course, are
one of their ordinary stations, and their salat, this spiritual ascension, has
other stations that lie beyond our imagination.
A Warning Concerning one of the Satanic Ruses:
A warning is essential at this point and that is that the worst obstacle in the
path of perfection and attainment of spiritual stations, which is also one of
the major masterpieces of Satan, the highwayman, is the negation of the Hidden
spiritual stations and degrees. This negation and denial is the root cause of
all kinds of misguidance and ignorance and the cause of spiritual stagnation and
torpor. It kills the spirit of eagerness, which is the heavenly stead (buraq)
for ascending to spiritual excellences. It extinguishes the fires of love which
represents the angelic wings for undertaking the heavenward spiritual journey
towards perfection, stopping man from making his spiritual quest. On the
contrary, if one has sincere faith in spiritual stations and the lofty ascents
of gnosis, perchance this might help in rekindling the innate fire of love
buried under the dust and ashes of carnal desires and illuminate the torch of
yearning in the depths of the heart, thus gradually prompting one to seek and to
undertake the labours of the quest so that one becomes worthy of Divine guidance
and the assistance of that Sacred Essence. And all praise belongs to God.
On the Merit of Brushing the Teeth:
It should be known that brushing the teeth, which has been enjoined by the
Noblest Messenger, may God bless him and his Household, in this noble tradition,
is absolutely one of the recommended etiquettes of the Shari'ah and has been
stressed for certain particular occasions, such as before wudu' and prayer, at
the time of reciting the Qur'an, at daybreak, and on waking up from sleep. It
has been highly recommended and greatly emphasized in the sacred traditions, and
many a fruitful quality and profitable result is ascribed to it. Here, in these
pages, we shall cite some of them for the sake of tabarruk:
In al-Kafi (al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from Abu `Abd Allah, may peace be
upon him, that he said: "There are twelve qualities associated with the
brushing of teeth: it is part of the Prophet's sunnah (it is mentioned in many
traditions that brushing the teeth is one of the sunnan of the prophets.8),
it purifies the mouth, strengthens eyesight, is pleasing to the Lord, takes away
the phlegm, sharpens the memory, whitens the teeth, doubles the merit of good
acts, stops tooth decay, strengthen the gums, increases appetite and is
delightful to the angels."9
Nearly the same thing is mentioned in another tradition. The tooth decay
mentioned in this noble tradition consists of cavities and pustules formed at
the root of the teeth, which produce a white and bad-smelling pus and burst at
the time of chewing the food. This pus gets mixed with the food and causes many
ailments such as indigestion, etc. Present-day physicians call it pyorrhea and
consider it a serious condition whose remedy may require even pulling out of the
teeth. Hence, aside from the inward Hidden aspects, the most significant of
which is the good pleasure of God, it is good for one to make it a regular
practice for the sake of physical health and cleanliness and to perform this
perpetual sunnah of the prophets. It is mentioned in a tradition that the
Noblest Messenger, may God bless him and his Household, said, "So much did
Gabrael recommend the brushing of teeth to me that I became concerned for my
teeth.."10 And he said, "If it were not for the fear of
hardship I would have made the brushing of the teeth obligatory on my ummah
before every wudu` and every salat."11 The Noblest Messenger, may
God bless him and his Household, used to keep the miswak [the stick used for
brushing the teeth] and the water for wudu` at the head of his bed at night and
he would cover up the vessel containing water. On waking from his sweet sleep he
would brush his teeth, perform wudu', and then offer four rak'ahs of prayer and
go to sleep again. Again he would wake up, brush his teeth, perform wudu' and
offer prayer. After mentioning this practice of the Prophet in a hadith, al-Imam
al-Sadiq, may peace be upon him, declares, "You have a good example to
emulate in the Messenger of God, may God bless him and his Household."12
It is stated in hadith that two rak'ahs of prayer performed after brushing the
teeth is superior to seventy rak'ahs performed without it. It is stated that if
one forgets to brush his teeth before wudu', it is mustahabb to do so after it
and to rinse the mouth thrice with water.13 The number of traditions
on this topic is quite large and anyone who wants to study them should refer to
the works of our companions.14
Moral Virtues and Vices:
Although we have discussed a number of times-in detail and in several relevant
places in these pages, to an extent that appeared appropriate and within easy
reach-the soul's moral dispositions and the method of acquiring ethical virtues
and avoiding vices, here we will give a concise and comprehensive explanation.
It should be known that 'disposition' (khulq) is a state of the soul that
inclines it to action without the need of thought or reflection. For instance,
someone who has the disposition of generosity is induced by it to give and
expend generously without any preliminary thoughts and without reflecting on the
preponderants on each side. He acts as if it were one of his natural acts, like
seeing and hearing. In the same way, a soul that is chaste, for which the
attribute of chastity has become a disposition, preserves itself with such ease
as if that were part of its natural behaviour. Until the soul does not attain to
this station through self-discipline, reflection, and repeated action, it cannot
attain a disposition and the spiritual perfection associated with it. Otherwise,
the danger always remains, if the trait be one of moral perfections, that it be
eroded and overwhelmed by vicious dispositions. However, if it were to become
like one of the natural activities and should one's faculties and organs be
brought under control and were the rule and sovereignty of God to manifest
itself within the soul, its decline would be difficult, and such a thing happens
The ethicians have stated that this state and disposition of the soul is at
times innate in human beings. Whether good or evil, felicitous or wretched, it
is based on the original nature and related to temperament. As is well known,
some persons are disposed towards goodness from infancy and some are inclined
towards evil. Some are enraged at the smallest annoyance or are alarmed by a
trivial matter, or panic at the slightest cause. Others are quite the opposite.
At other times these psychic dispositions are acquired through habit, social
intercourse, thought and reflection. Sometimes they are first acquired by means
of thought and reflection until they become habitual. In this regard there is a
difference of opinion amongst them, to discuss which and to engage with whose
details would take us beyond the scope of these pages and divert us from our
main aim. We shall mention here only that which is appropriate and beneficial in
It should be known that when it is said that a disposition is natural or innate
it does not mean that it is essential (dhati) and unchangeable. Rather, all
habits (malikat) and psychic dispositions are capable of change. As long as the
soul remains in this world of change and transition, it is subject to time and
renewal; and as long as it is associated with matter (hayula) and potentiality (quwwah),
the human being can change all its dispositions and transform them into their
opposites. This claim is affirmed, besides metaphysical proof (burhan), by
experience, as well as by the summons of the prophets and the true religions to
noble dispositions and their restraining people from the opposite qualities.
It should be known that the experts of ethics have divided all virtues of the
soul under four heads, which are: wisdom (hikmah), chastity ('iffah), courage (shaja'ah),
and justice ('adalah). Wisdom is regarded as the virtue of the rational
discerning soul (nafs-e natiqah-ye mumayyizah); courage as a virtue of the
irascible soul (nafs-e ghadabiyyah); chastity as a virtue of the appetitive soul
(nafs-e shahwiyyah), and justice as a state of moderation of these threefold
virtues. All other virtues are considered derived from these four. However, the
definition and details of each one of them lie outside the scope of these pages
and are not that useful for the likes of us. That which must be known is that in
accordance with this tradition narrated from the Noblest Messenger, may Allah
bless him and his Household,
I have been sent to perfect noble dispositions,15
the purpose and result of the summons of the Seal of the Prophets, may Allah
bless him and his Household, is the perfection of morality. In the noble
traditions, both that are brief and those which are elaborate, moral excellences
have been given more importance than anything else after doctrinal teachings (ma'arif).
Hereafter, we will cite some of them, God willing. Their importance is greater
than what we are capable of explaining adequately, but that which we know for
certain is that the asset of the everlasting life of the hereafter and the
capital asset of the life of that abode is the acquisition of noble dispositions
and the possession of moral excellences. The paradise which is given to man for
the sake of moral excellence, is the paradise of Attributes, incomparable to the
physical paradise of Act, wherein the greatest and the fairest of physical
bounties and delights are present. Similarly, the darkness and the terrors that
seize man due to evil deeds are more terrible than any torture.
As long as man is in this world, he can liberate himself from this darkness and
attain those lights. Yes, he can do that, but not with this half -heartedness,
slackness, torpor, feebleness, and negligence of ours, who, as we see ourselves,
retain every ugly disposition and undesirable trait with which we have grown up
since our childhood days or have acquired in improper company and friendship.
Rather, we keep on adding to this burden every day, as if we didn't believe that
there is another world and another phase of lasting existence:
Woe, if there be a tomorrow after this!16
As if the summons of the prophets and the awliya', may peace be upon them, have
nothing to do with us. Who knows, where these dispositions and conduct of us
will take us and in what form we shall be resurrected? We would wake up at a
time when we could do nothing and regret and shame would be our lot, and we
shall have none to reproach except ourselves. The prophets, may peace be upon
them, have shown the path of felicity and the learned and the wise have
expounded their statements for us and described the method of curing inner
diseases, translating these teachings into every language and disseminating them
in various forms. But these things did not enter our ears, and we closed our
eyes, ears, and our hearts to them. Therefore, all blame rests on our own
shoulders, as stated by the Messenger of God, may God bless him and his
Household, in the present tradition in whose exposition we are engaged. So
replete with exhortation for acquisition of moral virtues and abstention from
vices are the traditions and reports that its extent is incalculable, yet we
neglect even to refer to their books.
And you, my dear! If you are used to traditions and narrations, refer to the
sacred works of tradition, especially the noble al-Kafi. If you are used to
scientific discourse and the jargon of scholars, refer to such ethical texts as
the Taharat al-a'raq,17 and the books of marhum al-Fayd al-Kashani,
al-Majlisi and the two Naraqis.18 And if you do not consider yourself
to be in need of acquiring [the knowledge of ethical principles] or do not
consider the acquisition of noble dispositions and abstention from vicious
dispositions as essential, then find a remedy for your ignorance which is the
mother of all diseases.
We conclude this topic with the mention of some noble traditions related to this
theme for tabarruk's sake:
In Man La yahduruh al-faqih, (al-Shaykh al-Saduq reports) with his isnad from
Abu 'Abd Allah, may peace be upon him, that he said, "Verily, God favoured
His Messenger, may God bless him and his Household, with noble dispositions. So
test yourselves and if you find them in yourselves, thank God and turn to Him
that He may increase you therein." Then he mentioned ten of them: conviction
(yaqin), contentment (qina'ah), patience (sabr), gratitude (shukr), mildness (hilm),
geniality (husn al-khulq), generosity (sakha'), sense of honour (ghayrah),
courage (shajaah), magnanimity (muru'ah).19
This tradition has been transmitted through several chains (turuq), except that
rida (satisfaction), instead of hilm,20 occurs in the citation from
the Ma'ani al-'akhbar. In al-Wafi this tradition has been cited with a slightly
different wording from al-Kafi.21
In al-Majalis (al-Shaykh al-Saduq reports) with his isnad from Ja'far ibn
Muhammad, may peace be upon them, that he said, "Acquire moral virtues, for,
verily, God loves them, and beware of blameworthy conduct for God hates it".
..... "Accustom yourselves to fairness of disposition, for it raises one who
possesses it to the rank of those who fast (perpetually) and stand in prayer
(through the night, constantly) . . . "22
In al-Kafi (al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from Abu Ja'far, may peace be
upon him, that he said: "Among believers the most perfect in faith is the one
who is the most fairly disposed amongst them."23
(Al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from 'Ali ibn al-Hussein, may peace be upon
them, that he said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and his
Household, said, `There will be nothing superior to fairness of disposition in
the balance of a person's works on the Day of Resurrection.' " 24
Also the Prophet, may God bless him and his Household, has said, "(Of all
qualities) that which will take most of my ummah to paradise is God-fearing (taqwa)
and a fair disposition."25 And al-'Imam al-Sadiq, may peace be
upon him, said, "Verily, virtuousness and fairness of disposition make homes
flourish and extend the spans of lives."26 He also said,
"Verily, God, the Exalted and the Blessed, rewards a servant for his fair
disposition in a measure equal to what He grants to someone who fights day and
night in the way of God.."27
There are many traditions on this subject. In the same way as good nature and
fairness of disposition lead to the perfection of faith, add to the weight of
one's deeds in the Balance, and take one into paradise, so also ill- naturedness,
on the contrary, corrupts one's faith and subjects one to Divine chastisement,
as pointed out in the sacred traditions:
In al-Kafi (al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from Abu 'Abd Allah, may peace be
upon him, that he said, "Verily, ill-naturedness destroys one's faith in the
same way as vinegar destroys honey (on being mixed with it)."28
It is mentioned in another tradition that ill-naturedness destroys one's works
in the way vinegar destroys honey.29 It is narrated from the
Messenger of God, may God bless him and his Household, that God does not accept
the repentance of an ill-natured person. When asked about its reason, he
replied: "That is because as soon as he repents for a sin, he falls into a sin
worse than the earlier one".30 It is stated in a tradition that one
who becomes ill-natured subjects himself thereby to Divine chastisement.31
It is evident that ill-nature continually torments one who possesses it and is
the cause of hardship, darkness, and adversity in the next phases of life, as
mentioned in some of the traditions cited. And all praise is God's, at every
beginning and end.
* Book: Forty Hadith (An Exposition on 40 ahadith narrated through the
Prophet (pbuhh&hh) and his Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.)). By Imam Ruhullah al-Musawi al-Khumayni.
Translated by: Mahliqa Qara'i (late) and Ali Quli Qara'i.
1- Tafsir Nur al-Thaqalayn,
vol. v, pp. 683-684, the exegesis of Surat al-Kawthar, hadith 17-19.
2- See under note no. 110
3- Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. iv, p. 726, "kitab al-salat" bab 9.
4- Majma' al-bayan, the exegesis of Surat al-Kawthar.
5- Wasail al-Shi'ah, vol. iv, p. 727, "kitab al-salat," "abwab takbirat
al-ihram," bab 9, hadith 11.
6- Ibid., bab 7, hadith 5.
7- Ibid., bab 7, pp. 722-723, hadith 7.
8- Al-Khisal, vol. ii, p. 449, bab 10, hadith 51.
9- Furu' al-Kafi, vol. vi, pp. 495-496, "kitab al-zayy wa al-tajammul," "bab al-siwak,"
10- Ibid., p. 496, hadith 8.
11- Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. i, p. 355, "kitab al-taharah," "abwab al-siwak," bab
5, hadith 3.
12- Ibid., p. 356, bab 6, hadith 1.
13- Bihar al-'anwar, vol. 73, pp. 132-133, "kitab al-adab wa al-sunan," "bab al-siwak
wa al-hathth 'alayh," hadith 32-34.
14- Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. i, pp. 353, 355-356, "kitab al-taharah," bab 3, 5-6.
15- Majma' al-bayan, exegesis of verse 4 of Surat al-Qalam.
16- Adapted from the following couplet of Hafiz: كر مسلمانى از اين است كه حافظ
دارد آه اكر از بى امروز بود فردايى
17- By Miskawayh, ethical philosopher and historian of the 5th/11th century.
18- Among these works are Muhajjat al-bayda', al-Kalimat al-maknunah, and al-Ilayal
al-jawid by al-Fayd al-Kashani, Haqq al-yaqin by al-Allamah al-Majlisi, Jami'
al-sa'adat by Mulla Mahdi al-Naraqi and Mi'raj al-sa'adah by Mulla Ahmad al-Naraqi.
19- Al-Khisal, vol. ii, p. 431, bab 10, hadith 12.
20- Ma'ani al-'akhbar, p. 191, "bab fi makarim al-akhlaq," hadith 3.
21- Al-Wafi, vol. iv, p. 264, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab jawami' al-makarim,"
22- Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, al-Amali, majlis 57; Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. xi, p. 156,
"kitab al-jihad," "abwab jihad al-nafs," bab 6, hadith 8.
23- Usul al-Kafi, vol. ii, p. 99, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab husn al-khulq,"
24- Ibid., hadith 2.
25- Ibid., hadith 6.
26- Ibid., hadith 8.
27- Ibid., hadith 12.
28- Ibid., vol. ii, p. 321, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab su' al-khulq,"
29- Ibid., hadith 1.
30- Ibid., hadith 2.
31- Ibid., hadith 4.