بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم
Nasir ud-Din al-Albani (d. 1999) considered both the acts of clasping the hands after Ruku (instead of leaving them hanging at one’s sides) and pointing the index finger between the two prostrations as reprehensible innovations. It is, perhaps, more accurate to say that this is an issue of valid ikhtilaf and a matter of Ijtihad. I do agree that there isn’t any solid basis for doing these two acts, especially considering the fact that the vast majority of the Muslim Umma, from generation to generation, i.e., Amal al-Tawatur don’t do it. The deceased “Grand Mufti” of Saudi Arabia, Abd ul-Aziz bin Baz (d. 1999), along with Ibn Uthaymin (d. 2001), propagated these “innovations”, and many of the Hanbalis of Saudi Arabia practice these acts during the Salat. At times, a Salafi or Hanbali who practices these acts draws attention to himself while praying in a congregation outside Saudi Arabia. Those who advocate clasping the hands after rising up from Ruku confess that they have no specific evidence for doing so, but only general statements from the Hadith of the Prophet (upon whom be peace), such as the narration of Sahl b. Sa’dRA: “The people were ordered to place the right hand upon the left forearm in the Salat.” (Sahih al-Bukhari #740) Some of them quote another narration:
ثُمَّ قَامَ فَرَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ وَاسْتَوَى حَتَّى رَجَعَ كُلُّ عَظْمٍ إِلَى مَوْضِعِهِ
“Then he stood up and raised his hands, and stood straight until every bone returned to its place.” (Sunan Ibn Maja)
However, this Hadith is referring to the bones of the spine, returning to their place, meaning the Prophet (upon whom be peace) stood up straight, as Albani has explained. Nevertheless, Imam Ahmad b. HanbalRA reportedly said a person is at liberty to either leave his hands at the sides or place them back upon each other after rising from Ruku.
Concerning the pointing of the index finger in the sitting between the two prostrations, the following narration of Wa’il b. HujrRA is quoted:
ثُمَّ جَلَسَ ، فَافْتَرَشَ رِجْلَهُ الْيُسْرَى ، ثُمَّ وَضَعَ يَدَهُ الْيُسْرَى عَلَى رُكْبَتِهِ الْيُسْرَى ، وَوَضَعَ ذِرَاعَهُ الْيُمْنَى عَلَى فَخِذِهِ الْيُمْنَى ، ثُمَّ أَشَارَ بِسَبَّابَتِهِ ، وَوَضَعَ الَإبْهَامَ عَلَى الْوُسْطَى ، وَقَبَضَ سَائِرَ أَصَابِعِهِ ، ثُمَّ سَجَدَ فَكَانَتْ يَدَاهُ حِذَاءَ أُذُنَيْهِ
“…then he (Prophet) sat and spread his left leg, then placed his left hand upon his left knee, and placed his right forearm upon his right thigh, then he pointed with his index finger, placing his thumb upon his middle finger in a circular form and he clenched the rest of his fingers, then he prostrated and his hands were parallel to his ears.” (Musnad Ahmad)
Ibn al-Qayyim favored this practice, as is evident in his citation of this narration in his Zad al-Ma’d. Nevertheless, Albani considered the wording of this narration as mistaken, based on extra wording that opposes the more numerous narrations and versions of this Hadith which state that the Prophet (upon whom be peace) pointed with his index finger during the Tashahhud with no mention of pointing in the sitting between the two prostrations. The practice of the vast majority of Muslims, from generation to generation, of not pointing in the sitting between the two prostrations, should be given greater consideration as opposed to an isolated narration, and Allah knows best.