Assalamualaikum, is it necessary for me to raise my hands when I’m reciting the supplication before I go to sleep?
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt,
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Supplicating to Allah SWT is an encouraged worship. Scholars have stated several reasons that will help a supplication to be accepted and granted. Among the reasons is by raising one’s hands when a person is supplicating. This is in accordance with a hadith narrated by Salman al-Farisi RA, where he said the Prophet PBUH said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ حَيِيٌّ كَرِيمٌ يَسْتَحِي إِذَا رَفَعَ الرَّجُلُ إِلَيْهِ يَدَيْهِ أَنْ يَرُدَّهُمَا صِفْرًا خَائِبَتَيْنِ
“Indeed, Allah is Hayy, Generous, when a man raises his hands to Him, He feels too shy to return them to him empty and rejected.”
Sunan al-Tirmizi (3556)
Syeikh ‘Ubaidullah al-Mubarakfuri in his commentary on the above hadith said: In the hadith, there is an encouragement to raise a person’s hands when he is supplicating and place both hands close together. Refer Mir’aat al-Mafatih Syarah Misykat al-Masabih (7/363).
Coming back to the question presented, we will state the general act of raising one’s hands when supplicating is divided into three categories as the following:
First: Supplication Where It Is Encouraged to Raise One’s Hands
In several syarak evidences, several categories of which a person is commanded to raise his hands while supplicating are explained. Among them is the istisqa’ supplication (asking for rain from Allah SWT). This is according to a hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik RA, where he said:
أَنَّ نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ لاَ يَرْفَعُ يَدَيْهِ فِي شَىْءٍ مِنْ دُعَائِهِ إِلاَّ فِي الاِسْتِسْقَاءِ حَتَّى يُرَى بَيَاضُ إِبْطَيْهِ
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was not accustomed to raise his hands in any supplication he made except when praying for rain. (He would then raise [his hands] high enough) that the whiteness of his armpits became visible.
Sahih Muslim (895)
Imam Ibn Battal when commenting on the hadith cited the following opinion: Raising one’s hands for istisqa’ supplication is mustahab (encouraged). The reason is it showcases a person’s humbleness and humility, bowing in front of Allah SWT. Refer Syarah Sahih al-Bukhari, Ibn Battal (3/21).
While for the statement that the Prophet PBUH did not raise his hands except for istisqa’ supplication, Imam al-Nawawi said: “The reality is not as such. For there are numerous narrations sabit from the Prophet PBUH, where the Prophet PBUH raise his hands when supplicating for other than istisqa’ supplication. Thus, the meaning of the hadith is that the Prophet PBUH did not raise his hands so high that the whiteness of his armpits is visible for supplication other than istisqa’ supplication.” Refer Syarah Al-Nawawi ‘ala Muslim (6/190).
Second: Supplication Where It Is Not Encouraged to Raise One’s Hands
Whereas there are several types of supplications where it is not encouraged to raise a person’s hands. Among them are the supplication of istiftah or iftitah recited in the beginning of prayer. The same for the supplication in the sixth verse of al-Fatihah and supplications recited in prostration. It is not encouraged to raise one’s hands for all these supplications.
Third: Supplication Where It Is Neither Encouraged nor Prohibited to Raise One’s Hands
In this category, it refers to the majority of supplications where it is encouraged to supplicate but it is not stated whether the Prophet PBUH raised his hands or not. Supplication before sleeping is included in this category of du’a. Supplicating before sleeping is encouraged in syarak and sabit from the action of the Prophet PBUH. This is in accordance with a hadith narrated by Huzaifah Ibn al-Yaman RA, where he said: The Prophet PBUH went to bed reciting:
اللَّهُمَّ بِاسْمِكَ أَحْيَا وَأَمُوتُ
"O Allah, it is with Thine Name that I live and it is with Thine Name that I die."
Sahih al-Bukhari (7394)
Nevertheless, all these categories of du’a is basically encouraged to be recited with raised hands. The reason is raising one’s hands showcases the humbleness and humility of a person soul in front of Allah SWT. It is also included as one of the reasons a person’s supplication is accepted and granted by Allah SWT.
To conclude, after analysing the above evidences and arguments, we would like to state that it is sunnah for a person to raise his hands when he is supplicating before sleeping to showcase his humbleness and humility in front of Allah SWT. Although, if a person just recites the du’a without raising his hands, it is not an issue.
Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT to be given the correct understanding in religion. Amin.