بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم
Many “Salafis”, particularly those who closely follow the muhaddith Nasir ud-Din al-Albani, consider the near universal practice of Muslims of wiping the face with the hands after raising them in Du’a to be an innovation. This is quite odd since the Salafis claim to follow the Salaf and one of their principles is that any action that is proven from the pious Salaf, especially a Companion of the Prophet (upon whom be peace) cannot, by definition, be considered an innovation. Now it is well known that the eminent and pious Tabi, namely, Hasan al-Basri (d. 110 H), used to wipe his face with his hands after making Du’a, as reported by Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal (Al-‘Ilal al-Mutanaahiyah, 2/840, 841) and other sources. For example, Imam al-Marwazi narrates from Mu’tamar that he saw Aba Ka’b (Abd Rabbihi b. Ubaid al-Azdi) wiping his face with his hands after raising them in Du’a and asked him who he had seen doing so, to which he answered: “al-Hasan (al-Basri) rahimahullah.” Imam Muhammad b. Nasr al-Marwazi goes on to say that he saw Ishaq b. RahuwaihRA (d. 238 H) prefer acting upon these Ahadith. (Qiyam ul-Lail p. 327)
Abu Nu’aym, who is Wahb, narrates:
رَأَيْتُ ابْنَ عُمَرَ ، وَابْنَ الزُّبَيْرِ يَدْعُوَانِ ، يُدِيرَانِ بِالرَّاحَتَيْنِ عَلَى الْوَجْهِ
“I saw Ibn UmarRA and Ibn al-ZubairRA supplicating and they wiped their hands on the face.” (al-Adab al-Mufrad of al-Bukhari)
This is an authentic Athar, as affirmed by Hafidh Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani, as all of its narrators are narrators in the Sahih of Imam al-Bukhari.
There are also a few narrations attributed to the Prophet (upon whom be peace), for example:
عَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ الْخَطَّابِ، رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا رَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ فِي الدُّعَاءِ لَمْ يَحُطَّهُمَا حَتَّى يَمْسَحَ بِهِمَا وَجْهَهُ
Umar bin Al-Khattab [may Allah be pleased with him] narrated: “Whenever the Messenger of Allah would raise his hands in supplication, he would not lower them until he had wiped his face with them.” (Jami al-Tirmidhi #3386)
Though this Hadith is weak due to the narrator Hammad b. Isa al-Juhani. Nevertheless, due to its shawahid narrated by Ibn AbbasRA and Yazid b. Sa’id al-KindiRA as reported in the Sunan of Abi Dawud, in addition to the authentically reported act of the Prophet’s companions Ibn UmarRA and Ibn al-ZubairRA, as well as the pious Tabi, Hasan al-BasriRA, strongly indicate that this act must originate from the Prophet himself (upon whom be peace). It is certainly not an innovation, but something that has been practiced by the masses of the Muslim Umma from generation to generation, and Allah knows best.