Standing in salah

Standing in salah at Kaohsiung Mosque in Taiwan.

Standing (Arabic: قيام) is an integral part of the Islamic salah. The prayer begins in the standing position and some prayers only require the standing position, such as Salat al-Janazah.

In the Quran

To "Stand before God" is sometimes used in the Quran in reference to the Islamic prayer.

Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers, especially the Middle Prayer; and stand before Allah in a devout (frame of mind).

Quran, (2:238)


A general unit or cycle of salah called raka'ah is commenced while standing and saying the takbir, which is الله أَكْبَر (transliteration "Allahu-akbar", meaning God is Greater). The hands are raised level with shoulders or level with top of the ears, with fingers apart and not spaced out or together.[1][2] It is in this position that sections of the Quran are recited.[1]

I'tidal is standing again after ruku'. The back is straightened and the following is said سمع الله لمن حمده (transliteration “Sami' Allaahu liman hamidah”, meaning “Allah listens and responds to the one who praises him”).[1][2] Additionally, some of many praises to God for this situation is said such as ربنا لك الحمد (transliteration “Rabbanaa wa lakal-hamd”, meaning “O our Lord! And all praise is for You”).[2] The takbir is said again and the worshipper moves into prostration.[2]

Types of prayers

In the five daily prayers, sunnah salat (the voluntary, additional prayers) and most other prayers, standing is one part of the prayer.

In salat al-Janazah, the Islamic funeral prayer which is part of the Islamic funeral ritual, the entire prayer consists of standing.

Sayings during standing

Most of the reciting of the Quran that occurs during Islamic prayer is done while in standing position. The first chapter of the Quran, Surah Al-Fatiha, is recited while standing.[1][2] Sahih Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said, «مَنْ صَلَى صَلَاةً لَمْ يَقْرَأْ فِيهَا أُمَّ الْقُرْآنِ فَهِيَ خِدَاجٌ ثَلَاثًا غَيْرُ تَمَامٍ» (Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not read Umm Al-Qur'an, then his prayer is incomplete.)

Additionally, recitations from any other section from the Quran of choice is followed in the first or second raka’ah.[1][2]

Position of hands while standing

Where the hands are placed while standing varies among the different Islamic schools and branches.[3] These differences have manifested into the qabd-sadl dispute. Among Sunnis, several hadith indicate that qabd (praying with arms crossed) is desirable, if not obligatory; however, sadl (arms hanging by the sides) is still preferred among many Malikis.[4] The debate predominantly exists in Maliki-practicing areas, such as Northern Nigeria, due to the influence of other Sunni schools.[5][6]

Sunni View


Unique among Sunnis, Malikis put their hands on the thighs or by their sides. However, this practice is not universal among Malikis, and scholars such as Qadi Ayyad, in his Qawa'id al-Islam, believed the practice was unsupported by any authentic hadith.[7][8]


Shafi'is put their hands above the navel and under the chest.


For Hanafis, men put their hands on the navel; women put their hands on their chest.


Like the Hanafis, men put their hands on the navel; women put their hands on their chest.

Shia View

Twelver Shia

Twelvers put their hands on the thighs or on their side.

Zaydi Shia

Zaydis place their hands on the thighs or at their sides.

Salafi View

According to Salafi writer Nasir al-Albani, the right hand is to be placed over the left hand positioned on the chest.

Straightening Prayer Rows

A number of ahadith exist regarding the need to straighten the rows when standing during the prayer.[9] For example, the companion Anas relates that the Prophet ﷺ said: "Stand close together in your rows, keep them near each other and stand neck to neck. By Him in whose hand is my life, I see the devil entering between the gaps as do the small lambs."[10][11]

Similarly, Abu Umamah relates the Prophet ﷺ saying: "Straighten your rows, stand shoulder to shoulder, be soft upon your brother and fill the gaps, for the devil enters through the gaps like the small lambs."[12][11]

Al-Shawkani explains the above which orders to "stand shoulder to shoulder" to mean: "Aligning the body parts with one another so that the shoulders of each person praying are arranged and in line with the shoulders of others. In this way, shoulders and necks will be aligned."[13][11]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck; Smith, Jane I. (2014-01-01). The Oxford Handbook of American Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 162. ISBN 9780199862634.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Shaikh Muhammad Ilyas Faisal, "Sifatus Salat: The Method of Salat in Light of the Authentic Ahadith." Madinat al-Munawwara. 08, October, 2014.
  3. Roman Loimeier (2013). Muslim Societies in Africa: A Historical Anthropology. Indiana University Press. pp. 23–4. ISBN 9780253007971.
  4. Marloes Janson (2013). Islam, Youth and Modernity in the Gambia: The Tablighi Jama'at (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 83. ISBN 9781107040571.
  5. Gomez-Perez, Muriel, ed. (2005). L'islam politique au sud du Sahara: identités, discours et enjeux. KARTHALA Editions. p. 344. ISBN 9782845866157.
  6. Roman Loimeier (2011). Islamic Reform and Political Change in Northern Nigeria (illustrated, reprint ed.). Northwestern University Press. pp. 79–83. ISBN 9780810128101.
  7. Ibrahim Ado-Kurawa (2000). Shariʼah and the press in Nigeria: Islam versus Western Christian civilization. Kurawa Holdings Ltd. p. 219. ISBN 9789783091078.
  8. Zachary Valentine Wright (2015). Living Knowledge in West African Islam: The Sufi Community of Ibrāhīm Niasse. BRILL. p. 227. ISBN 9789004289468.
  9. Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck; Smith, Jane I. (2014-01-01). The Oxford Handbook of American Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 163. ISBN 9780199862634.
  10. Abu Dawud, no.667; al-Nasa’i, no.814, with a sahih chain. al-Nawawi, al-Majmu‘ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 2000), 4:227; al-Arna’ut, Sunan Abi Dawud (Damascus: Dar al-Risalah al-‘Alamiyyah, 2009), 2:9.
  11. 1 2 3 Abu Aaliyah, "Joining Feet to Straighten Prayer-Rows: Is it a Sunnah?" 15 March 2016
  12. Ahmad, Musnad, no.21760. It was confirmed as authentic (sahih) in al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami‘ al-Saghir (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1986), no.1840.
  13. Nayl al-Awtar (Riyadh: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 2006), 6:113.
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