Answering Al-Albani's Sifah salaah al Nabiyy
(Sall Allahu 'alaihi wa Aalihi wa sallim)
Moving the Finger in Tashahhud
With reference to al-Albani's recently translated book "The Prophet's Prayer described from the beginning to the end as though you see it (Sifah Salah-al-Nabee)", al-Albani claimed (pg. 66):
"Further, the Hadith that he would not move his finger does not have an authentic Isnad, as I have explained in Daeef Abi Daawood (175)."
But when I looked this Hadith up in the English Translation of the Sunan of Imam Abu Dawood (1/984, pg. 252) I found that Abdallah ibn al-Zubair (Allah be pleased with him ) said :
"The Prophet (Peace be upon him) used to point with his finger (at the end of tashahhud) and he would not move it."
But lo and behold, this very Hadith has not been listed In "Daeef Ahadith of Abu Dawud's Sunan", by his followers; which means to the user of this list that this Hadith is acceptable to them, and is either of the rank of SAHIH or HASAN to the user of this list! Imam Muslim (Rahimahullah) also reported Ibn al-Zubair (Allah be pleased with him) narrating from his father: "That when the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) sat for supplication, i.e. Tashahhud, he placed his right hand on his right thigh and his left hand on his left thigh, and pointed with his forefinger, and placed his thumb on his (middle) finger, and covered his knee with the palm of his left hand." (Sahih Muslim, 1/1202, English ed'n)
According to the Hanafi, Hanbali and Shafi'i Madhhabs, one should not continuously make supplications with the fore-finger. It is written in the English translation of Fiqh-us-Sunnah, by As-Sayyid Sabiq, (vol. 1, pg. 157): "Wa'il ibn Hajr (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) would place his left palm on his left thigh and knee. He would place the end of his right elbow upon his right thigh and would then close his right hand, forming a circle. In another narration it states, he would make a circle with his middle finger and thumb and point with his index finger, and (Wa'il) saw him moving it to make supplications (related by Ahmad)." Explaining the Hadith, al-Bayhaqi (Rahimahullah) says, "The implication of 'he would move it' is that he would point with it, not that he would continue to move it." This would be in agreement with the narration of Ibn az-Zubair (Allah be pleased with him), who reported, "The Prophet (Peace be upon him) would point with his finger while supplicating, and he would not move it." This is related by Abu Dawud with a Sahih chain. An-Nawawi also mentioned it
(NB - Both Imams al-Bayhaqi and Nawawi were great Shafi'i scholars of Hadith who followed this Hadith of Ibn al-Zubair, besides so many other scholars of Hadith).
Now, there is also a footnote (no 11) by the translator Jamal Zarabozo who said, "In his notes to Mishkat al-Masabih, al-Albani has discussed the Hadith of Wa'il ibn Hajr and of Ibn az-Zubair. He said that the first Hadith has a Sahih chain. The narrators of the latter Hadith (i.e of Ibn al-Zubair) are all trustworthy. Muhammad ibn Ijlan (a narrator in the chain going back to Ibn az-Zubair) has some weakness due to his memory, but his memory was not so poor as to drop to the rank of hasan (a good Hadith). Therefore, the statement recorded by Sabiq that the chain is Sahih is incorrect (i.e only if you accept al-Albani's classification of Hadith); The important words in the latter Hadith are, 'and he would not move it.' According to al-Albani this addition is irregular and rejected (shadh and munkar)."
And I Say: "al-Albani's followers have not said that it is shadh and munkar in their Daeef Ahadith of Abu Dawud's Sunan !"
Again referring to Fiqh-us-Sunnah (vol. 1, pg. 158), Sabiq says: "According to the Shafiyyah, one points with the finger only once, when saying 'except Allah' in the statement bearing witness. The Hanafiyyah raise the finger in the denial part of the Statement (there is no God) and put it back down during the confirmation part (except Allah). The Malikiyyah (see below for the Maliki view) move the finger to the left and to the right until they finish the prayer. The Hanbaliyyah point with the finger every time they mention Allah, as a reflection to the oneness of Allah, and they do not move it."
Another two Hadith on this issue have been related by Imam Muslim (Rahimahullah) in his Sahih: "Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) reported that when the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) sat for the tashahhud 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. Another version on the authority of Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) says: When the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) sat for the tashahhud, he placed his left hand on his left knee and placed his right hand on his right knee, and he formed a ring like (Arabic number 53) and pointed with his finger of attestation. (Also) Ali ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Mu'awi reported: Abdullah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) saw me playing with pebbles during prayer. After finishing the prayer he forbade me (to do it) and said: Do as the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) used to do. I said: How did Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) do? He said that he (the Messenger of Allah) sat at tashahhud, placed his right palm on the right thigh and closed all his fingers and pointed with the help of the finger next to the thumb, and placed his palm on his right thigh." (Sahih Muslim, 1/1203-4, English ed'n)