This is adapted from article of Shaykh Irshad ul Haqq Al-Athari written about the permissibility of wiping hands on the face and a refutation of those who think it is an innovation or only done by ignorant. This article was published in Al-I’tisam and is present in the Shaykh’s “Maqalat” volume 1. Shaykh ‘Abdul Mannan An-Nurpuri also mentioned it in his “Ahkam wa Masail” volume 1.
Hafiz ibn Hajar wrote in “Bulugh Al-Maram” concerning hadith of Umar narrated in At-Tirmidhi about wiping hands on the face after invocation : “Narrated by At-Tirmidhi, and this has Shawahid (witnesses), among them Abu Dawood from Hadith of ibn ‘Abbas and others, and the total requires that it is a Hassan Hadith”
First Hadith: The narration of At-Tirmidhi has Hammad ibn ‘Issa Al-Juhani who is weak, not Matruk or liar (“Tahzib” v 6 p 419)
Second Hadith: The narration of Ibn ‘Abbas in Abu Dawud has Salih ibn Hassaan who is Matruk as said in “At-Taqrib” by Ibn Hajar, but it has a Mutabi’ with ‘Isa ibn Maymun, as mentioned by Imam Muhammad ibn Nasr Al-Marwazi in “Qyam ul-Layl” p 236, but he is also weak as said by Ibn Hajar in “At-Taqrib” p 411.
The narration of ibn ‘Abbas is also narrated by another chain by Abu Dawud from Abdullah ibn Ya’qub from the one who narrated him from Muhammad ibn Ka’b, but this chain has “Abdul Malik ibn Muhammad ibn Yaman who is Majhul (unknown) and the identity of the Shaykh of Abdullah ibn Ya’qub is not known.
Shaykh Albani says about this Hadith in “Silsila As-Sahihah” v 2 p 146 : “The defect is the narrator who is not named, and ibn Majah and others named him Salih ibn Hasaan as I have shown in Mishkat n°2243 and he is very weak (da’if Jiddan)”
In “Irwa ul Ghalil” v 2 p 178 and after, Shaykh Albani said on this Hadith : “The chain is weak, this Abdul Malik has been weakened by Abu Dawood and there is in it the Shaykh of Abdullah ibn Ya’qub who is not named, he is then Majhul, and it is possible that he might be ibn Hasaan …or ibn Maymun”
So this is less accurate than in “Sisilah” where the narrator is told to be Salih ibn Hasaan, here two possibilities are mentioned.
’Allamah Al-Mizzi mentioned in his “Tahzib Al-Kamal” v 22 p 257-258 that this non-named narrator can also be Abu Miqdam.
In all cases, this narrator Mubham (non-identified) is weak, and Abu Miqdam is even Matruk.
But the words of Shaykh Albani that Abu Dawud declared Abdul Malik to be weak is absolutely incorrect. Imam Abu Dawood said: “This way is the most Amthal and it is weak”. Imam ibn Qattan declared Abdul Malik to be Majhul, and ibn Hajar as well declared him Majhul in “At-Tahzib” v 4 p 1419 and “At-Taqrib”.
Another chain is narrated by Al-Hakim in his “Mustadrak”, but it has Muhammad ibn Mu’awiyah who is Matruk, Imam Ad-Daraqutni and others declared him to be a liar.
In conclusion, the narration of ibn ‘Abbas is narrated from many ways, that are all weak, but two are very weak as their narrators are Matruk, and two have weak and Majhul narrators.
( 1 chain in Abu Dawood : Salih ibn Hassan is Matruk
2 chain in Al-Marwazi with ‘Isa ibn Maymun who is weak
3 chain in Abu Dawud, Abdul Malik is Majhul and the Shaykh of Abdullah ibn Ya’qub is Mubham (non identified)
4 chain in Al-Hakim with Muhammad ibn Mu’awiyah who is Matruk)
Third Hadith: Narrated by Yazid ibn Sa’id in Abu Dawud and also Imam Muhammad ibn Khalf Al-Waki’ in “Akhbar Al-Qadha” v 1 p 107, but this chain is weak because of ibn La’ihah who is weak and his Shaykh Hafs ibn Hisham is Majhul.
These are all Shawahid and Mutaba’ah on which Ibn Hajar based himself to declare this Hadith Hasan.
The narration of ‘Umar has a weak narrator.
The narration of Yazid ibn Sa’ib has a weak and a Majhul.
The narration of ibn ‘Abbas has two chains, one with a weak and the other with a Majhul and a Mubham.
So if the total is not Hasan then what is it?
Imam Al-Bukhari narrates in his “Adab Al-Mufrad”: Ibrahim ibn Munzir narrated us, he said Muhammad ibn Falih narrated us, he said: my father informed me from Abu Nua’ym and he is Wahb, he said: “I saw ibn ‘Umar and ibn Zubayr making invocation and they wiped their hands on their faces.”
This Athar is Hasan, and Ibn Hajar even declared it Sahih in “Al-Amali”, and its narrators are all from Al-Bukhari.
The action of Hasan Al-Basri:
Imam Muhammad ibn Nasr Al-Marwazi narrates from Mu’tamar that he saw Abu Ka’b Abd Rabihi ibn Ubayd Al-Azdi, the author of Tahrir, invoking raising his hands and then he was wiping them on his face after finishing. I asked him why he was doing and he answered that Hasan Al-Basri was doing this. (“Qyam ul-Layl” p 236)
Imam Ahmad was asked about wiping hands on face in Witr and he answered : “It is narrated from Al-Hasan that he was wiping them on his face in his invocation” (“Masail Imam Ahmad” from narration of ibn Abdillah v 2 p 300)
Hafiz ibn Hajar said in Al-Amali : “But this Hadith has Mawsul, Mursal witnesses and the total shows that the Hadith has a basis, and this is also supported by what comes from Al-Hasan Al-Basri with a Hasan chain, and there is in it a refutation for those who consider that as an innovation, and Al-Bukhari narrated in his “Adab Al-Mufrad” from Wahb ibn Kaysan, he said : he said : “I saw ibn ‘Umar and ibn Zubayr making invocation and they wiped their hands on their faces.” And this is Mawquf Sahih and this strengthens the refutation of those who disapprove of that.”
The Mursal narration to which ibn Hajar was making a sign in “Al-Amali” is probably that of Az-Zuhri mentioned in AbdurRazaq saying : “The Prophet (saw) would raise his hands to the level of his chest when he would invoking and then would wipe them on his face”
Scholars who favoured this practice:
The great Muhadith Faqih Ishaq ibn Rahawayah was approving action on these Ahadith as said by Muhammad ibn Nasr Al-Marwazi : “I saw Ishaq liking action on these Ahadith” (“Qyam Al-Layl” p 232)
There are two narrations from Ahmad on this topic, one is that after invocation of Witr this should not be done as narrated from Imam Abu Dawud, and the second is that it is recommended as mentioned by ibn Qudamah on “Al-Mughni” v 1 p 786 and Shamsudin ibn Qudamah in “Sharh ul-Kabir” v 1 p 724, see Al-Qil’ v 1 p 185. Al-Marwazi said that hands should be wiped on the face and: “This is the Madhab of Imam Ahmad, he was doing that”. The author of “Majma’ Al-Bahrayn” said this narration is stronger, and in “Al-Kafi”, it is said that it is better. (“Al-Insaf” v 3 p 173)
Hafiz ibnul Qayim mentioned that Imam Ahmad was asked about wiping hands on the face, and he answered: “I hope there is no harm, and when Al-Hasan was invoking, he was wiping them on his face, and he said: my father was asked about raising hands in Qunut and wiping them on the face, he said: There is no harm in doing this, wiping them on the face. Abdullah said that he did not see his father wiping them on the face” ( “Bada’i ul-Fawaid” v 4 p 113)
Imam Ibnul Qayim commented this : “Abu Abdillah (Imam Ahmad) made the matter easy, and he considered this similar to the fact of wiping the face outside the prayer, and this is a small action of obedience and Abu Abdillah decided to leave it.”
So according to the apparent saying of ibnul Qayim, Imam Ahmad did not leave that outside prayer, but only in prayer, he was not acting according to this in the prayer, yet he did not see any harm.
‘Allamah Al-Manawi in “Faydh ul-Qadir” v 1 p 369 rejected the saying of ‘Izz ibn AbdiSalam that only ignorant person does this, saying it is a bid mistake.
The strange matter is that Shaykh Al-Albani in his “Al-Irwa” v 2 p 182 said that An-Nawawi in his “Majmu” agreed with Izz ibn AbdisSalam and he declared this non recommended, while An-Nawawi said in his “Sharh Al-Muhazzab” v 3 p 501-505 that doing this in Witr is not recommended, and he said that Al-Bayhaqi and Ar-Rafi’i also said that, but he did not say that it was not recommended outside the prayer, rather in the end of his book “Al-Azkar”, he mentioned among etiquettes of invocation : “facing the Qiblah, and raising the hands and wiping them on the face…”
And also Al-Bayhaqi only disapproved of that in prayer, not outside the prayer. He said in his “Sunan ul-Kubra” v 2 p 212: “As for wiping hands on the face after invocation, I do not know this from any Salaf in the invocation of the Qunut, although it is narrated by some about invocation outside the prayer.”
Among Shawafi’ Qadhi Abu Tayib, Imam ul-Haramayn, ibn Sabagh, Al-Mutawali, Shaykh Nasr, Al-Ghazali and Abul Khayr all agreed on wiping hands in Qunut basing on general narrations. Imam Al-Bayhaqi said at the end: “The best is not to do it (wiping the hands on the face in the prayer)”
And Shaykh Irshad ul Haqq Al-Athari concluded that best is not to do wipe his hands on the face in the Qunut of Witr as there are no Hadith about that, this is why Imam Ahmad left that yet he did not declare that doing it in prayer was an innovation, he said there is no Harm.
May Allah send Salah and Salam on the Prophet (saw), his household, companions and those who follow them.
Compiled by Ali Hassan Khan