One must raise the hands at about the same time he makes the takbir. Nafa’ related that when Ibn ‘Umar would begin his prayer he would say the takbir and raise his hands. The Prophet also did this. (Related by al-Bukhari, an-Nasa’i and Abu Dawud.) He also reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, would raise his hands upon making the takbir until they were parallel to his shoulders or close to that. (Related by Ahmad and others.)
As for raising the hands just before the takbir, Ibn ‘Umar reported, “When the Prophet, upon whom be peace, stood for prayer, he would raise his hands until they were parallel to his shoulders and would make the takbir. (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) A hadith from Malik ibn al-Huwairith has the wording, “Make the takbir and then raise your hands.” (Related by Muslim.) This implies that the takbir comes before the raising of the hands, but Ibn Hajr says, “I have not met anyone who holds that the takbir comes before the raising of the hands.”
It is preferred to raise one’s hands while going to bow and upon coming up from the bow
Twenty-two companions narrated that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, did so. Reported Ibn ‘Umar, “When the Prophet, upon whom be peace, stood to pray, he would raise his hands until they were the same height as his shoulders and then he would make the takbir. When he wanted to bow, he would again raise his hands in a similar fashion. When he raised his head from the bowing, he did the same and said, ‘Allah hears him who praises Him.’ (Related by al-Bukhari, Muslim and al-Baihaqi.) Says al-Bukhari, “He would not do that when he was going to prostrate nor when he came up from his prostration.” Al-Bukhari also says, “He would not raise his hands between the two prostrations.” Al-Baihaqi has the addition, “He did not stop doing that until he met Allah.” Ibn al-Madini said, “In my opinion, that hadith is a proof for the whole creation. Whoever hears it must act by it. There is nothing wrong with its chain.” Al-Bukhari wrote a pamphlet on this topic, and related from al-Hassan and Humaid ibn Hilal that the companions used to (perform their prayers) in this manner.
On the contrary, the Hanafiyyah say that one should only raise his hands at the beginning. This is based on the hadith of Ibn Mas’ud, who reported, “I prayed with the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and he raised his hands only once.” This is a weak opinion, and many hadith scholars have criticized this report. Ibn Hibban, though, said that this is the best report.
The people of Kufah narrated that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, did not raise his hands upon bowing or rising. But, in fact, this is a very weak statement, for it contains many defects and is therefore invalid. Even if we accept it, as at-Tirmizhi did, it does not invalidate the authentic and well-known hadith mentioned earlier. The author of at-Tanqih says that perhaps Ibn Mas’ud forgot that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, raised his hands. Az-Zaila’i writes in Nasb ar-Rayah, quoting the author of at-Tanqih, “It is not strange that Ibn Mas’ud may have forgotten that. Ibn Mas’ud forgot some things from the Qur’an that the Muslims after him never differed about, and those are the last two surahs of the Qur’an. He forgot how two people are to stand behind the imam, that the Prophet prayed the morning prayer on the Day of Sacrifice (during the hajj) at its proper time, how the Prophet, upon whom be peace, combined his prayers at ‘Arafah, the position of the forearms and elbows during the prostration, and how the Prophet, upon whom be peace, recited, ‘And Him who created the male and the female.’ If it is possible that Ibn Mas’ud forgot all of these things concerning the prayer, is it not possible that he also forgot about raising the hands?”
Nafa’ related that when Ibn ‘Umar stood for the third rak’ah, he would raise his hands, an action which he ascribed to the Prophet. (Related by al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud and an-Nasa’i.) While describing the Prophet’s prayer, ‘Ali said that when he stood from the two prostrations, he would raise his hands until they reached his shoulders and make the takbir.
Women have to do this the same way. Says Ash-Shaukani, “Know that this sunnah is to be done by men and women. There is no proof to show that there is any difference between them on this point. There is also no proof to show that they are to raise their hands to different levels.”