Moving or Pointing the Finger in Tashahud
Imam Mullah Ali Qari Vs Imam Al-Albani [رحمهما الله تعالى ]
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
This is a topic that frequently comes up between Muslims and I haven’t really seen anything in detail about it in English. I used to hear the hadith that Imam Al-Albani used for pointing the finger was Shath, but never why then I’d check and found that it was considered as being authentic and the wording for moving the finger was from a trustworthy narrator and his narration didn’t really contradict others. In 2014 I found a book written by an investigator, a researcher, and an Imam ;named Mulla Ali Al-Qari that covered some of the subjects in great detail; however, he didn’t speak on moving the finger or leaving it still and just pointing it. Therefore returning to Imam Al-Albani’s books and joining these two Imam’s opinions I thought it would be great. Not to mention that Imam Al-Albani had some Hanafi Jurisprudence under his belt. I don’t hold that this paper is complete or does it cover every single issue, but for the most part, it highlights and discusses those points of this subject that are asked and perfection belongs to Allah Alone.
Imam Mulla Ali Al-Qari [1014H] mentioned that there were 23 various reports that mention the prayer of the Prophet and that he used to point with his finger when sitting for the Tashahud. Among those reports he cited 1 that mentioned he used to move his finger.
Ibn Umar :
When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) sat for tashahud, he placed his left hand on his left knee and placed his right hand on his right knee, and he formed a ring like (fifty-three) and pointed with his finger of attestation.
Ibn ‘Umar reported that when the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) sat for tashahud he placed his left hand on his left knee. and his right hand on his right knee. and he raised his right finger, which is next to the thumb, making supplication in this way, and he stretched his left hand on his left knee.
He said that he (the Messenger of Allah) sat at tashahud, placed his right palm on the right thigh and closed all his fingers and pointed with the help of finger next to the thumb, and placed his left palm on his left thigh.
He said; ‘This’- and he held his right foot upright and lay his left foot on the ground, and placed his right hand on his right thigh and his left hand on his left thigh, and pointed with his forefinger.”
These are some of the narrations that mention pointing with the finger but not moving it. The narration between Ibn Az-Zubair and Za’id ibn Quddamah
When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) sat in prayer. he placed the left foot between his thigh and shank and stretched the right foot and placed his left hand on his left knee and placed his right hand on his right thigh, and raised his finger.
When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) sat to say the tashahhud, he placed his left hand on his left thigh and pointed with his forefinger, and his gaze did not go beyond the finger with which he was pointing.
His father said: “When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) sat in the second or fourth rak’ah, he would place his hands on his knees and point with his finger.”
The Prophet (ﷺ) used to point with his finger (at the end of the tashahhud) and he would not move it.
These narrations show how the tashahhud is done and there are other reports from Abu Humayd As-Sa’idi, Asim ibn Kulayb, Numayr Al-Kuza-ee, Khufaf Al-Ghifari, Abu Hurayrah, Mu’adh ibn Jabal, Abdur Rahman ibn Abza [ radi Allahu anhum] all have narrations similar to those of Ibn Umar and Ibn Az-Zubair [Radi Allahu anhum].
Imam Mulla Ali Al-Qari said there are an abundant amount of reports which prove the origin is to point the finger. There isn’t any way possible for any Muslim to deviate from these reports.
When looking at these narrations cited from Imam Mulla Ali Al-Qari there are few issues we learn;
1: The Prophet raised his index finger when he wanted to make dua
2: He would raise his finger towards the Qiblah and look at it.
3: He pointed with the index finger.
These points are accepted amongst the Jurists and the contention comes in with the last narration ibn Az-Zubair : The Prophet (ﷺ) used to point with his finger (at the end of the tashahud) and he would not move it.
This hadith plays the argument for those who say it’s not permissible to move the finger when making Tashahhud and therefore any narration that mentions moving the finger is considered Shath.
Imam Al-Albani looked studied the isnad of the hadith of Ibn Az-Zubair. Between Abu Dawud and Ibn Az-Zubair there are 6 people. They are
Abu Dawud —Ibrahim ibnul Hassan—Hajjaj—Ibn Juraj—Ziyad—Muhammad ibn Ajlan—Amr ibn Abdillah—Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair….[Hadith]
Imam Al-Albani mentioned that this hadith was Munkar. One point about that hadith is Muhammad ibn Ajlan has some issues about his credibility in narrations, but most scholars say he’s Hasan. This hadith has some contradictions and one them is trustworthy narrators narrated from Muhammad ibn Ajlan that the finger was pointed and the wording, He would not move it.” wasn’t mentioned.
This resulted from Ziyad ibn Ka’b. He narrated this hadith from Muhammad ibn Ajlan unlike the way others did. Therefore what is affirmed and established here is pointing with the finger and the wording “ He would not move it” isn’t accepted.
On the other side of the argument, there is another hadith which states the finger was moving while the Prophet was doing Tashahud. Imam Al-Albani spoke about these narrations in great detail and compared them to the extra wording found in the hadith of Za’idah ibn Quddamah in the chain.
Wa’il bin Hujr said:
“I am going to watch the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and see how he prays. So, I watched him.” And he described (his prayer): “Then he sat and lay his left foot on the ground, and placed his left hand on his left thigh and knee. He put his right elbow on his right thigh, then he made a circle with two fingers of his (right) hand, then he raised his finger and I saw him moving it, supplicating with it.”
This hadith is collected by Imam An-Nasa’I Ahmed [4/318],Ibn Khuzaymah  Ad-Darami
Imam Al-Bayhaqi said: The intended meaning here for moving the finger is pointing and not moving it over and over and this allows the narration to agree with the one from Ibn Az-Zubair.
Imam Al-Albani mentioned that Imam Al-Bayhaqi’s speech has the fiqh of making harmony between two narrations that outwardly contradict each other. When you have two narrations and both are authentic there are some ways to use them both without rejecting one, and if this isn’t possible when we consider one of the narrations as being abrogated and the other as being the one that abrogates, and if this isn’t possible then we can make a distinction on the two reports based on their strength. For example, we have one narration which is Hasan and the other which is Sahih, therefore we give precedence to the report which is Sahih over the one which is Hasan.
Moreover, Imam Al-Albani mentioned the hadith for moving the finger and said it was Sahih. Only Ibn Al-Arabi said the extra wording for moving the finger during Tashahud was weak, and Imam Al-Iraqi corrected him. Imam Al-Iraqi mentioned that Za’idah was trustworthy and if someone of his status mentions a narration that others don’t, then it’s harmless.
Is there a contradiction between moving the finger and pointing?
Imam Mullah Ali Al-Qari mentioned that pointing with the finger was established although some Hanafi scholars rejected it, he didn’t comment on moving the finger, even though he mentioned narrations that showed the Salaf approved of it.
Imam Al-Albani mentioned there’s no contradiction between moving the finger and only pointing with it; as the meaning for moving the finger is included in pointing. For example, if an Arab man said a man pointed to his brother signaling him to come to him, then the right way we understand that he moved his finger or hand.
What’s more, we can add to Imam Al-Albani’s argument is a teacher points to the student warning him to be quiet during the class, can we deny that the teacher didn’t move his finger while pointing to that student?! Also, when a parent disciplines his child with by pointing at him, can we say understand that the parent wasn’t moving his finger while talking to child ?!
After concluding and glancing at the authentic reports where the outward contradictions lie we conclude with Imam Al-Albani’s response to the three previous concerns about the issue is
- The wording he didn’t move his finger is weak and it contradicts the numerous narrations which mentioned he [ﷺ] pointed with his finger.
- There is a way to join and act by two narrations when both are authentic
- Moving the finger doesn’t contradict pointing with it.
- Imam Al-Albani acted on the extra wording found by way of Za’idah ibn Quddamah as being sahih similarly to the way Imam Al-Bayhaqi did.
When does one move the finger or point with it?
Imam Mulla Ali Al-Qari mentioned various opinions from different scholars of Hanafi Jurisprudence about when to move the finger
- Al-Hulwani Al-Hanafi mentioned to index finger should be lifted when one says “ لااله “ and lowered when “الا الله “ is said.
- The Hanifees also say when the person reaches the words of Tawheed he makes a circle with his thumb and middle finger then points with his index finger when he says “There is no God” and lowers it when he says “But Allah”.
- When we check Al-Modowana we find the scholars of Maliki Jurisprudence have no problem pointing with the finger and moving the head when returning the greetings to another Muslim while praying.[ vol1/162]
- Imam Al- Albani commented in Tamamul Minah saying the Shafa’I Jurisprudence concluded the finger should be moved once and the Hanabala go with the pointing from the beginning to the end.
Imam Al-Albani’s opinion is pointing with the finger is an established sunnah based on the multiple hadith and there isn’t anything authentic that denies pointing with the finger isn’t sunnah. According to Imam Al-Albani pointing with the finger from the beginning to the end of the Tashahud is what’s acceptable and rewarded.
How does one move the finger?
We find that some people move their finger up and down. Imam Al-Albani held the view that this wasn’t correct because pointing it to the ground isn’t the direction of the Qiblah. The finger should face the Qiblah. Therefore pointing the finger to the sky or pointing it to the ground has no basis in the Sunnah and Allah knows best. Moreover, it shouldn’t be moved right to left, but merely moved up and down slightly when moving it.
Does one have to move the finger or point?
Imam Mulla Ali al-Qari mentioned that one thing for certain is all the four Imams accepted the narrations for pointing with the finger as being authentic and Imam Al-Albani proved that the great Imams like Al-Iraqi and Al-Bayhaqi accepted the narration for moving the finger. Therefore, we can say and Allah knows best, it acceptable to lift the finger towards the Qiblah and point from the beginning to the end of the Tashahud sometimes and at other times move the finger from beginning to end. This way a person acts by both sunnahs and all the narrations.
- تزيين العبارة لتحسين الاشارة
- التدهين للتزيين على وجه التبيين ( للملا علي القاري)
- جامع تراث في الفقه للعلامة الالباني
Prepared, arranged and written by
Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle
Doha, Qatar© 1439
 Muslim: 580
 Sunan an-Nasa’i 1266
 Sahih Muslim 579
 Sunan an-Nasa’i 1275
 Ibid 1161
 Sunan Abi Dawud 989z