One should sit for the tashahud and place his hands in the following manner:
1. Ibn ‘Umar reported that when the Prophet sat for the tashahud, he would place his left hand on his left knee and his right hand upon his right knee, and he would form a ring like (fifty-three) and point with his index finger. In another narration it is reported, “He would close his hand and point with his index finger.” (Related by Muslim.)
2. Wa’il ibn Hajr reported that the Prophet would place his left palm on his left thigh and knee. He would place the end of his right elbow upon his right thigh and would then close his right hand, forming a circle. In another narration it states, “He would make a circle with his middle finger and thumb and point with his index finger. Then he would raise his finger, and (Wa’il) saw him moving it to make supplications.” (Related by Ahmad.) Explaining the hadith, al-Baihaqi says, “The implication of ‘he would move it’ is that he would point with it, not that he would continue to move it.” This would be in agreement with the narration of Ibn az-Zubair who reported, “The Prophet would point with his finger while supplicating, and he would not move it.” This is related by Abu Dawud with a sahih chain. An-Nawawi also mentioned it.
3. Reported az-Zubair, “When the Prophet sat for tashahud, he would place his right hand on his right thigh and his left hand on his left thigh. He would point with his middle finger, and would not look beyond his pointing.” (Related by Ahmad, Muslim and anNasa’i.) This hadith shows that one is to place the right hand on the right thigh without closing the hand (making a fist), and that he is not to look beyond his pointing.
The preceding three hadith are all authentic, and one may act by any of them.
One should point with one’s right index finger, bending it a little, until one says the salaams at the end of the prayer. Reported Numair al-Khaza’i, “I saw the Messenger of Allah sitting in the prayer with his forearm along his right thigh. His index finger was raised, curved (or bent) a little, and he was supplicating.” This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and Ibn Khuzaimah with a good chain.
Said Anas ibn Malik, “The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, passed by Sa’d while he was making supplications (and using) two fingers. The Prophet said to him, ‘Just one, Sa’d”‘ This is related by Ahmed, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i and al-Hakim.
Ibn ‘Abbas was asked about a man who pointed with his finger while supplicating, and he said, “This is sincere devotion.” Says Anas ibn Malik, “That is imploring.” Mujahid maintains “Doing this hinders Satan.” According to the Shai’iyyah, one points with the finger only once, when saying “except Allah” in the statement bearing witness. The Hanifiyyah raise the finger in the denial part of the statement (there is no god) and put it back down during the confirmation part (except Allah). The Malikiyyah move the finger to the left and right until they finish the prayer. The Hanbaliyyah point with the finger every time they mention Allah, as a reflection of the oneness of Allah, and they do not move it.