I heard a Hanafi scholar say that raising the hands, saying 'Aamin' out loud, placing the hands on the chest in prayer, and so on should not be done in a country in which the majority of the people are Hanafis, even if one feels that the above-mentioned actions are closer to the Sunnah. These practices can only be performed in a country like Saudi Arabia, where these practices are widespread. Do you agree? If no, then how can we refute this claim?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
The actions that have been mentioned all fall under the category of recommended acts. Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and others held that it is legislated for the Muslim to give up some recommended acts for the purpose of softening the hearts of others. If performing these recommended acts yields dissension and Fitnah (tribulation), then it is better to give them up with greater reason.
The person who believes that these are acts of the Sunnah should gradually invite people to observe them, teaching them these acts, and convincing them with the evidence proving the validity of such acts and that they are subject to different scholarly opinions, and the Muslims should not denounce the person who chooses to perform them even if they persistently believe otherwise. If people understand this and there is no fear for dissension and discord, then he can do whatever he believes to be an act of Sunnah.
Hence, you come to know that the statements of this scholar may be correct if performing such acts incurs dissension and evils; however, it is not correct in general, without restrictions. The basic principle is that the Muslims should adhere to the Sunnah and observe the acts of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, unless it entails guaranteed evils. In the absence of such evils, the Muslim must give precedence to performing the acts of the Sunnah.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz was once asked, “Is it permissible to refrain from saying Aameen out loud in the prayer and not to raise the hands?”
“Yes, if he is among people who do not raise their hands or do not say Aameen out loud, then it is better not to do that so as to soften their hearts and be able to call them to what is good, and so that he can teach them and guide them, and so that he will be able to teach them the right way. That is because if he differs from them, then they will find that objectionable because they think that what they do is the Islamic way, and they think that not raising the hands, apart from the opening Takbeer, is the Islamic way, and they have been used to that all their lives. The same applies to not saying Aameen out loud, which is the subject of a well-known difference of opinion among the scholars; some of them held that it should be said out loud and others maintained that Aameen should not be said out loud. According to the hadeeth, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, raised his voice (i.e. recited Aameen out loud), and according to other ahaadeeth, he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said it quietly. Even though the correct view is that Aameen should be said out loud and it is a recommended act and he will be omitting something recommended in this case, the believer should not perform a recommended act if it will lead to division, disputes, and dissension; rather, the believer should refrain from doing that which is recommended in that case. For the one who is calling people to Allaah, if his refraining from something will serve a greater interest, then he should do so. An example of that is when the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, refrained from demolishing the Ka‘bah and rebuilding it according to the foundations laid by Prophet Ibraaheem (Abraham) so as to spare the Muslims potential evils. He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, ‘Quraysh have only recently left disbelief behind,’ and it is for that reason that he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, left it as it was and did not change it, namely for the realization of the public interest.” [Fataawa Shaykh Ibn Baaz]
Allaah knows best.
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