Sunday, 14 August 2016

Method of Women Salaah (Namaz)



Method of Women Salaah (Namaz)


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This article shall be based on overwhelming ahadith which establish from Prophet (Peace be upon him), Sahaba, Tabiyeen and great Fuqaha that prayer of woman is different in many ways from prayer of man. 

Proof # 1


عن عبد الله بن عمر قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا جلست المرأة في الصلوة وضعت فخذها على فخذها الاخرى وإذا سجدت الصقت بطنها في فخذيها كالستر ما يكون لها وان الله تعالى ينظر إليها ويقول يا ملائكتى اشهدكم انى قد غفرت لها

Translation: Ibn Umar (ra) narrates that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: When a woman sits in prayer then she should place her one thigh upon the other and attach the stomach to her thighs so that it is more concealing for her. Indeed, Allah looks at her and informs the angels by saying: "O Angels! Be witness that I have forgiven her! [Sunnan al Bayhaqi al-Kubra (3/74)]

This hadith is reliable and also corroborated by many ahadith [I’laal al Sunnan (3/33)]


Note: This article is composed on the basis of "Sound Principle" that even if some hadith is weak in it's chain then it can become "Hasan (fair) or Sahih (correct)" due to many corroborating evidences, hence If some people dispute over a certain hadith then they would be wrong principally as the same matter is proven from many different Turaq which strengthen eachother, hence whole article with all ahadith with different turaq (ways) have to be understood. This is amongst the great principles in science of Hadith classification.


Proof # 2

عن يزيدَ بن أبي حبيب أنَّ رسولَ الله مَرَّ عَلَى امرأتينِ تصليانِ، فقال : «إذَا سَجَدْتُمَا فَضُمَّا بعضَ اللحمِ إلى الأرضِ، فإنَّ المرأةَ لَيْسَتْ في ذلِكَ كالرجلِ

Translation: Narrated by Yazid bin Abi Habib (ra) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) passed by two women while they were performing prayer. He said: When you make prostration  “KEEP YOUR BODY ATTACHED TO THE GROUND BECAUSE WOMEN ARE NOT LIKE MEN IN THIS CASE” [Sunnan al Bayhaqi al-Kubra (3/74)]

In I’laal al Sunnan (3/26) it is said that narrators of this hadith are relied upon and not rejected



Proven from Many Sahaba and Tabiyeen

Proof # 3

عن عليّ قال: إذا سجدت المرأة فلتحتفر ولتضم فخذيها.

Translation: Ameer ul Momineen Sayyidna Ali (RA) said: When a woman goes in prostration then she should “Lean on one side while sitting on her buttocks” and keep her thighs close to eachother [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, (1/302, Hadith # 2773)]

Note:
فخذيها means to lean on side while sitting on the buttocks.

Plus this Athar is narrated with many routes. In Musannaf Abdur Razzaq it comes via route of Isra’il whereas in Ibn Abi Shaybah it came from Abul Ahwaas 


Proof # 4

عن خالد بن اللجلاج قال: كن النساء يؤمرن أن يتربعن إذا جلسن في الصلاة ولا يجلسن جلوس الرجال على أوراكهن

Translation: Khalid ibn Lajlaaj (RA) narrates: Women have been ordered to do “TARABBU” while sitting during prayer and they “SHOULD NOT SIT LIKE MEN” [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayban (1/303)]

Note: Tarabbu means to sit cross legged, remember doing Tarrabu was abrogated later, please see Proof # 7 for more details.


Proof # 5

حدّثنا أبو بكر قال نا أبو خالد عن محمد بن عجلان عن نافع أن صفية كانت تصلي وهي متربعة.

Translation: Nafi’ narrates that Sayyidah Safiyah (RA) used to pray in state of “TARABBU” [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayban (1/303)]



Proof # 6

حدّثنا أبو بكر قال نا وكيع عن العمري عن نافع قال: كن نساء ابن عمر يتربعن في الصلاة.
Translation: Nafi’ narrates that the women of Ibn Umar (ra) i.e. his family used to do “TARABBU” during prayer [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayban (1/303)]



Proven from Leading Tabiyeen

Proof # 7
(عن نافع، عن ابن عمر أنه سئل كيف كن النساء يصلين على عهد رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم أي في زمانه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم (قال: كن يتربعن) أي في حال قعودهن (ثم أمرن أن يحتفزن
Translation: Ibn Umar (ra) was questioned about how women used to sit during the times of Prophet (Peace be upon him)? He said: In the beginning they used to perform “Tarabbu” but later they were commanded to do “IHTIFAAZ” [Musnad Imam Abu Hanifa (1/120)]

Note: Tarabbu became abrogated and Ihtifaaz (i.e. sitting on one side upon buttocks) became the latter practice, even this abrogation itself proves difference of prayer between men and women.


Proof # 8
عن إبراهيم قال: إذا سجدت المرأة فلتلزق بطنها بفخذيها ولا ترفع عجيزتها ولا تجافي كما يجافي الرجل

Translation: Ibrahim (rah) said: When a woman goes in Sajdah she should join the thighs to her stomach and also not raise her posterior and also “NOT STRETCH HER LIMBS OUT LIKE A MALE” [Mussanaf Ibn Abi Shaybah (1/303)]


Proof # 9

عن مجاهد أنه كان يكره أن يضع الرجل بطنه على فخذيه إذا سجد كما تضع المرأة.
Translation: Imam Mujahid (rah) considered it “MAKRUH” for a man to attach his stomach to the thighs “LIKE A WOMAN DOES” [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah (1/303)]



Proof # 10
حدّثنا أبو بكر قال نا ابن مبارك عن هشام عن الحسن قال: المرأة تضم في السجود
Translation: Hasan al Basri (rah) said: A woman should draw herself close together in sajdah [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayban (1/270)]



Proof # 11

وعن وائلِ بنِ حجرٍ قالَ: قالَ لي رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلّم : «يا وائلُ بنَ حجرٍ إِذَا صَلَّيْتَ فَاجْعَلْ يَدَيْكَ حِذَاءَ أُذُنَيْكَ، والمَرْأَةُ تَجْعَلُ يَدَيْهَا حِذَاءَ ثَدْيَيْهَا».
Translation: It is narrated by Wa’il bin Hujr (ra) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to him:..O Wai’l bin Hujr when you (men) start the prayer then raise your hands till your ears”WHEREAS A WOMAN SHOULD RAISE THEM TILL HER SHOULDERS (ONLY)” [Tabrani in his Mu'jam al Kabeer  (22/19), I’laa as-Sunnan (2/156)]

So It is established from Prophet (Peace be upon him), leading Sahaba like Ibn Umar (ra), Ibn Abbas (ra), Hadrat Ali (ra) also leading Tabiyeen like Mujahid (rah), Ibrahim al Nakha’i (rah), Hasan al Basri (rah) that a women should not pray like men do and their prayer is that which is more concealing.

There are many proofs from Fuqaha in this regard including that of Hanafi school which are not mentioned in this article due to brevity issues.



Refuting the misuse of hadith by Albani

A scholar in recent past with the name of Nasir ud-din Albani, who was known for his spurious and off tangent fatwas, he tried to claim that Prayer of woman is exactly similar to that of men, he misused the hadith of Bukhari which states: “PRAY AS YOU HAVE SEEN ME PRAYING” [Sahih Bukhari (1/606)]

This is in actual a gross misinterpretation of the hadith because here the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was referring to men, If we do not accept this condition then Prophet (Peace be upon him) saying that "Pray as you have SEEN me praying" would become illogical because Prophet (Peace be upon him) was “SEEN” praying with turban, so should the women also start wearing turbans? The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was also “SEEN” praying with his ankles exposed, so should women also start exposing their ankels? The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was “SEEN” leading men in prayer, so should women also lead men in prayer? etc… This proves that Albani was ill-mastered in the science of hadith and he gave illogical verdicts by looking at ahadith just apparently.

Here are more proofs which refute the claim that women should also pray just like men

Proof # 1

عن أبي موسى ، عن النبيّ قال : «الْجُمُعَةُ حَقٌ واجِبٌ على كلِّ مُسْلِمٍ في جَماعَةٍ، إِلا أَرْبَعَةٌ عَبْدٌ مَمْلُوكٌ أَوِ امْرأَةٌ أَوْ صَبِيٌّ أَوْ مَريضٌ».

... هذا حديث صحيح على شرط الشيخين،


Translation: The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: Jummah in congregation is Wajib upon every Muslim “EXCEPT”for four (1) A Slave (2) “A WOMAN” (3) a child (4) and one who is sick (Imam Hakim narrated it in his al-Mustadrak ala Sahihayn where Imam Hakim declared it “SAHIH ON CRITERIA OF BUKHARI AND MUSLIM” and Imam Dhahabi“AGREED” with him (1/423 Hadith#1062)]
Had the hadith of Bukhari been mutlaq then according to Salafis the Prophet (Peace be upon him) has Naudhobillah contradicted himself by not making Jummah in mosque to be Wajib upon women.


Proof # 2

Also remember that men should say “Subhan Allah” loudly in order to correct the Imam whereas women should clap their hands.

عن أبي هريرةَ رضيَ اللهُ عنهُ عنِ النبيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلّم قال «التسبيحُ للرجالِ والتَّصفيقُ للنساءِ»

Translation: It is narrated by Abu Hurraira (ra) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: Tasbeeh is for men whereas clapping is for women [Jami us-Sahih al-Bukhari, (1/402)]


So the LA Madhabiyyah people whose thinking works in reverse order, they should from tomorrow start clapping hands just like women.


Proof # 3


ما صلَّتِ امرأَةٌ مِنْ صَلاةٍ أَحَبَّ إِلى الله مِنْ أَشدَّ مكانٍ في بَيْتِها ظُلْمةً.
رواه الطبراني في الكبير ورجاله موثقون.

Translation: The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: The beloved prayer of woman in sight of Allah, is the one which she performs in the darkest place in her house [Al-Haythami in Majmz az-Zawaid (2/156)]


Imam al-Haythami (rah) says after narrating it: It is narrated by At-Tabarani (rah) in his Al-Kabeer and the Rijaal of it are (all)“THIQA” [ibid]



Proof # 4


عن نافع عن ابن عُمَرَ أنَّهُ قَالَ: لَيْسَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ أَذَانٌ وَلاَ إِقَامَةٌ

Translation: Nafi narrates from Ibn Umar (ra) who narrates that Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: Both Azan and Iqamah (for prayer) are not binding upon women[Sunnan al-Bayhaqi al-Kubra (2/169)


Regarding the Athar of Tabi'i Umm ad-Darda (rah)

So all these proofs are also corroborating evidences that prayer of woman is different in many issues from that of men, however Nasir ud-din Albani also misused this Athar as proof
It is narrated in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah: Umm e Darda (rah) used to sit like males in prayer [Musannnaf (1/270)]

Albani showed as if Umm ad-Darda (rah) was amongst the Sahabiyah, which is nothing short of deception

However it is incorrect to use this report for the following 3 reasons:

(a) First of all it “contradicts” another report from Umm ad-Darda (rah) in which Ibrahim Abi Ablah (rah) narrates that he saw: Umm ad-Darda (rah) praying cross legged (ورأيتُ أُمَّ الدَّرْداء تُصلِّـي مُتَربِّعة.) [Imam al-Mizzi in Tahdhib ul Kamaal, (22/468)]

(b) Secondly Imam al Mizzi (rah) has said that this Umm ad-Darda was amongst “Tabi’in [Refer to Tahdhib ul Kamaal (22/64)]. Plus Imam Ibn Hajr al Asqalani (rah) has proven that the narrator of this hadith i.e. Makhul only narrated from Umm al-Darda –As-Sughra (which refers to Tabi’i not Sahabi) Hence practice of a lone Tab’i is not hujjat and Albani had spread deception in this regard.

(c) Third: Imam Ibn Hajr al Asqalani (rah) has also said in his Fath ul Bari: The practice of a Tabi’i alone is “NOT HUJJAT” even if it “DOES NOT GO AGAINST ANY PRINCIPLE” [Fath ul Bari, Sharh Sahih ul Bukhari (2/243)



Imam Badr ud-din Ayni (rah) the great commentator of Bukhari said:

هذه هي الصغرى التابعية، لا أم الدرداء الكبرى الصحابية، لأن مكحولاً أدرك الصغرى دون الكبرى
Translation: This is Umm ad-Darda “AS-SUGHRA” not the Umm ad-Darda “AL KUBRA” who was a Sahabiyah, and Makhul only met As-Sughra (Tabi’i) not the Al-Kubra (i.e. Sahabiyyah)[Umdat ul Qari, Sharh Sahih ul Bukhari (6/101)]


Conclusion with verdict from Imam al-Bayhaqi (rah)

So even If practice of some lone Tabi’i does not go against any principle still it is not hujjat, but the reality is that, this practice goes against known principle amongst Muslim world i.e. Women have to pray in a manner which is “MORE CONCEALING” for her which is proven from many ahadith.

Above all, regarding the hadith of “PRAY AS YOU HAVE SEEN ME PRAYING” none of the major commentators of Bukhari such as Imam Ibn Hajr al Asqalani (rah), Imam Badr ud-din Ayni (rah), Imam Ibn Bataal (rah) etc… have given the pseudo interpretation like Albani did in order to misuse the hadith for his personal agenda.

If some people are still stubborn and do not accept contradiction in reports of Umm ad-Darda, then even the former report “ITSELF” proves that practice of other Muslim women was clearly different from Umm ad-Darda because had they all sat like men then this report would not have specified her.


Hence we would like to conclude this article with this beautiful verdict of Imam al-Bayhaqi (rah)
ما يفارق المرأة فيه الرجل من أحكأم الصلاة راجع إلى الستر
Translation: The “distinction” in ruling regarding prayer of men and women is that the woman prays in a way which is more “CONCEALING" for her [Al-Bayhaqi in As-Sunnan al Kubra (2/222)]




Difference in salah between men and women

Wahabis ( so called “salafis”/ahlul hadith’) are of the view that all the laws of salah are common to both men and women, and that there is no difference between them. They also claim that the hadith 'Pray as you have seen me praying' is general and, therefore, should be applied equally to both men and women. It should be realised, however, that our own interpretation and logical inference of this hadeeth cannot compare with the other ahadeelh of the Messenger of Allah ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) and the verdicts and practice of the Sahabah and Tabi'un ( رضئ الله عنهم ) quoted below.
Wahabis  are of the view that all  hadith should be accepted and understood on the literal meaning. It is because of this fallacy they have fallen in the wrong path of anthropomorphism
( tajsim). If we take the literal meaning of this hadith in which prophet [ sal allahu alayhi wa sallam] said: “ Pray as you have seen me praying” then no human being on the face of this earth can pray , because no one alive today has seen the way of prophet’s prayer. This explains that this hadith has to be understood in a way in which the scholars of ahlus sunnah wal jam’ah have explained.
The Shariah has ordained distinct rules for men and women in many important questions of salah.

For example:

1• Jumuah is fardh upon men but not on women, and the Eid prayer is wajib for men but again not for women.
الجمعة حق واجب على كل مسلم في جماعة إلا أربعة : عبد مملوك أو امرأة أو صبي أو مريض
Sayyiduna Tariq bin Shihab ( رضئ الله عنه ) reports that the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ), said, 'Jumuah in congregation is an obligatory duty upon every Muslim except four people: a slave, a woman, a child, and one who is sick.’'

 [ Sunan AbuDawood  hadith 1067 and  Mustadrak of  Imam Hakim  hadith 1062.  Imam Hakim declared it sahih and Imam Dhahabi agreed.]



Sayyidatuna Umm Atiyyah . says as part of a longer hadith, 'We have been forbidden from following funerals and there is no Jumuah upon us.
[ Sunan Abu Dawood, hadith 1139,  Sahih Ibn Khuzaimah 1722]

2 .Unlike men, women should not give adhan or say the iqamah.
Women are not allowed to call out the adhan whereas men are encouraged to do so.
Sayyidatuna Asmaa (Radi allahu ta’ala anha) narrates as part of a longer hadeeth that the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) said, 'There is no adhan iqamah or Jumuah upon women.'
[  Sunan Baihaqi  hadith no 1921]
Sayyiduna Ibn Umar ( Radi allahu ta’ala anhu) says 'There is no adhan or iqamah upon women.'
ليس على النساء أذان ولا إقامة
[ Musannaf Abdur Razaaq,  Sunan  Baihaqi  hadith 1920.]
 Imam Ibrahim Nakhai  Rahmatullah[ d.96 AH] , a great tabi’i and faqih ( jurist) of Iraq who was also the teacher of Imam Abu Hanfiah( rahmatullah) states that adhan and iqamah are not compulsory upon  women


3.There is a great difference in the awrah of a man and that of a woman in salah. Women must cover their entire body including the hair, leaving only the face, hands and feet exposed.

Ummul Mu'mineen Aisha (R) reports that the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) said, 'Allah does not accept the salah of a mature female without a scarf.'
لا تقبل صلاة حائض إلا بخمار
Musnad Ahmad 24012,  Sunan Ibn Majah 655,  Sunan Abu Dawood 641,  SunanTirmidhi 377,  Sahih Ibn Khuzaima 775,  Mustadark   of ImamHakim 917 and  SunanBaihaqi 3254.
Imam Hakim declared it sahih and Imam Dhahabi agreed


 4.Women cannot lead men in salah.
Abu Bakrah (رضئ الله عنه ) reports that the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) said ‘Never will those people succeed who have appointed a woman over them.
لن يفلح قوم ولوا أمرهم امرأة

[ MusnadAhmad 19507,  Sahih al Bukhari 4163,  SunanTirmidhi 2262 and  Sunan Nasai 5388.]


Jabir bin Abdullah (رضئ الله عنه ) reports as part of a longer hadeeth that the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) said, Know that a woman should not lead a man in salah.'
ولا تؤمن امرأة رجلا

[ Sunan Ibn Majah 1081 and  Sunan Baihaqi 5131.]

5. For the purpose of correcting or deterring someone in salah men should say 'subhanallah' loudly, whilst women are only allowed to clap their hands.

Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (رضئ الله عنه ) reports that the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) said, 'Tasbeeh is for men, and clapping is for women.’

التسبيح للرجال والتصفيق للنساء
[ Sahih Bukhari 1145.]



6. The different postures and positions of the females


The different postures, positions and rulings concerning the prayers of the female are not the invention of a group or an individual but teaching of the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) himself. He was the very first person differentiate between the prayer of a man and a woman.
Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) has clearly differentiated between the sajdah of men and women
Yazid bin Abi Habib reports that the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) passed by two women who were praying salah. He said, 'When you prostrate, let part of your body cling to the earth, for women are unlike men in this regard'.
أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مر على امرأتين تصليان فقال إذا سجدتما فضما بعض اللحم إلى الأرض فإن المرأة ليست في ذلك كالرجل

[Abu Dawood in his al Maraseel  (Muassasah al Risalah edition), and  Sunan Baihaqi 3201]
Sayyiduna Ibn Umar (رضئ الله عنه ) narrates that the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) said, 'When a woman sits in salah she should place one thigh over the other, and when she prostrates she should press her stomach to her thighs in a manner that is the most concealing for her. Indeed Allah looks at her saying, "Oh my angels! I make you witness that I have forgiven her."
عن عبد الله بن عمر قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا جلست المرأة في الصلوة وضعت فخذها على فخذها الاخرى وإذا سجدت الصقت بطنها في فخذيها كالستر ما يكون لها وان الله تعالى ينظر إليها ويقول يا ملائكتى اشهدكم انى قد غفرت لها
 [Sunan Baihaqi 3199.] The above Hadith is reliable due to the fact that it is supported by many other Ahadith



 7. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) has not allowed women to raise their hands up to the ears in salat as men do.

Sayyiduna Wail bin Hujr ( رضئ الله عنه ) reports that the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) said, 'Oh Ibn Hujr! When you pray make your hands level with your ears. And the woman shall raise her hands close to her bosom.'
يا وائل بن حجر إذا صليت فاجعل يديك حذاء أذنيك والمرأة تجعل يديها حذاء ثدييها
[Tabarani in al M'ujam al Kabeer 22/19 no.28. Hafidh Haithami says in Majma’ Al-Zawaaid 2/103, 'Tabarani has narrated it as part of a long hadith on the virtue of Wail bin Hujr , with a chain of Maimoonah bint Hujr narrating from her auntie Umm Yahya bint Abdul Jabbar.]

 Abdu Rabbihi reports: “I saw Ummu Darda raising her hands up to her shoulders in salat”
رأيت أم الدرداء ترفع يديها في الصلاة حذو منكبيها
 (Juz Raf’i Yadain by Imam Bukhari]

8. Woman cannot stand in the Saff (row) of men. They have to stand  behind men.

صليت أنا ويتيم في بيتنا خلف النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم وأمي أم سليم خلفنا

Anas (radiyallaahu anhu) reports: An orphan and I performed salat behind Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam), and my mother, Ummu Sulaim, stood behind us
[Sahih Bukhari]
 This hadith indicates  that even if a woman is alone, she has to stand behind the saffs (rows) of males and still not join the males in their saff (row).
9 . The reward of congregational salat for men is twenty seven times more than that of an individual salat. Contrary to this, the more rewarding salat of a woman is that which is most concealed and performed within the confines of her home and of her innermost living quarters.



Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Mas'ud ( رضئ الله عنه ) reports that the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) said, 'The prayer of a woman in her makhda' (partition) is better than her prayer in her hujrah (chamber), and her prayer in her hujrah is better than her prayer in her bait (house).'
Abu Dawood 570 and Ibn Khuzaimah 1690.
.
Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah ( رضئ الله عنه ) narrates that the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) said, The most beloved salah to Allah of a woman is one that she performs in the darkest spot of her home.'
Ibn Khuzaimah 1691, and Tabarani in al M'ujam al Kabeer as mentioned by Hafidh Haithami 2/35. Hafidh Haithami also says that its narrators are authentic.


صلاة المرأة في مخدعها أفضل من صلاتها في بيتها و صلاتها في بيتها أفضل من صلاتها في حجرتها
[Sahih Ibni Khuzaimah]



Abdullah bin Mas’ood (radiyallaahu anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: The most beloved salat to Allah of a woman is the one that she performs in the darkest spot of her home.
ما صلت امرأة من صلاة أحب إلى الله من أشد مكان في بيتها ظلمة
[Majma’ Al-Zawaaid- Hafidh Haythami has classified all the narrators as authentic]



We derive some very important and fundamental principles about the prayer of a woman from all the above ahadeeth. The laws of salah are not always the same for men and women.

The sunnah posture of a female in any position of salah is that which is the most concealing for her.

The following chapters of hadeeth explain this meaning in detail.

As mentioned earlier, this variation in the salah of a woman has been prescribed by none other than the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ) himself.
It has remained the practice of the whole ummah till this day and is also reflected in the rulings of the Sahabah and Tabi'un.

The ulama and fuqaha of all four schools have always recognised this difference, and, as is evident in their books of fiqh, have always observed the above principles whenever making a ruling about the salah of a woman.

Following are a few narrations detailing the verdicts and practice of the Sahabah and together with the verdicts of some of the Tabi 'un and the ulama of the different schools of fiqh.
Verdicts and practice of the Sahabah ( رضئ الله عنهم )

1  Ali (radiyallaahu anhu) said: When a woman makes sajdah (prostrates) , she should practise ihtifaaz and keep her thighs close together.
["Ihtifaaz": where a woman draws herself close together and leans onto one side by resting on their left buttocks and completely contracting themselves.To draw out the right leg to one side of the body and place the left leg beneath one's right thigh. In this way the posterior will come to rest on the ground rather than on the left leg. She would, therefore, not be resting on her legs, but on her posterior as mentioned in the narration of Sayyiduna Ali]
عن علي ، قال : إذا سجدت المرأة فلتحتفز ، ولتضم فخذيها

[Musannaf Ibni Abi Shayba, vol 2, pg 504, #2793, Al-Majlis al-Ilmi]

Abdur-Razzaq has taken it from Isra'il from Abu Is'haq from Harith from Ali and Ibn Abi Shaybah took it from Abul-Ahwas from Abu Is'haq and Bayhaqi took it from Abul-Ahwas, with the mentioned sanad.

Imam Abdur-Razzaq has quoted the following hadith in his Musannaf:
Ali says, "When a woman prostrates, she must practise ihtifaz and keep her thighs close to her stomach."

(al-Musannaf li-Abdir-Razzaq: vol. 3 p 138)

2. Ibn Abbas (radiyallaahu anhu) was asked about the salaah of a woman; he replied: She must draw herself close together and do Ihtifaz.
عن ابن عباس ؛ أنه سئل عن صلاة المرأة ؟ فقال : تجتمع وتحتفز
[Musannaf Ibni Abi Shayba, vol 2, pg 505, #2794, Al-Majlis al-Ilmi]

3 Khalid bin lajlaaj reports: Women were commanded to do tarabbu' when they sat in salah and that they should not sit like men on their buttocks.
عن خالد بن اللجلاج ، قال : كن النساء يؤمرن أن يتربعن إذا جلسن في الصلاة ، ولا يجلسن جلوس الرجال على أوراكهن
[Musannaf Ibni Abi Shayba, vol 2, pg 506, #2799, Al-Majlis al-Ilmi]

[“Tarabbu'”: to sit cross legged, that is, to draw out one's right leg towards the right side of the body and to place the left leg beneath the right leg.]

4   Nafi’ reports that Safiyya (radiyallaahu anha) used to perform salat while in the tarabbu’ position.
عن نافع ؛ أن صفية كانت تصلي وهي متربعة
[Musannaf Ibni Abi Shayba, vol 2, pg 506, #2800, Al-Majlis al-Ilmi]

5. Nafi’ reports: The womenfolk of Ibn Umar would do tarabbu’ while in salat.

عن نافع ، قال : كن نساء ابن عمر يتربعن في الصلاة.

[Musannaf Ibni Abi Shayba, vol 2, pg 507, #2805, Al-Majlis al-Ilmi]


6  Abdullah ibn Umar was asked: how women performed their salah during the era of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam)? He replied: Initially they performed tarabbu, then they were ordered to do Ihtifaz.

عن ابن عمر أنه سئل كيف كن النساء يصلين على عهد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : كن يتربعن ثم أمرن أن يحتفزن
[Sharh Musnad Abi Hanifa, pg 191, Ilmiyya, Jaami' ul-Masaaneed: vol. 1 p 400)

Note: 1 This Hadith clearly indicates that the practice of “Tarabbu’” was abrogated and women were not allowed to sit in the “Tarabbu’” posture anymore.
2. The chains of narrators in the above Hadith are authentic.

Verdicts of the Tabi'un and other ulama.

1 Ibn Jurayj reports, 'I asked Ataa: Should a woman motion with her hands at the time of takbeer as a man does? He replied, "she should not raise her hands with takbeer in the manner of men." Ataa then demonstrated (the way in which she should.) He placed his hands very low and then pulled them towards him. He then said, "the posture of a woman in salah is not that of a man."
[ Musannaf Abdul Razzaq 5066 and  Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah 2474]
Hammad ibn Salamah al-Basri used to say that a woman should raise her hands parallel to her breast when beginning salah.
[ al-Musannaf li-Ibn Abi Shaybah]
2. Ataa also says, 'A woman should pull herself together when she bows down into ruk'u: she should bring up her arms to her stomach and pull herself together as much as possible. When she prostrates she should bring up her arms close to her and press her bosom and stomach against her thighs: she should pull herself together as much as possible.
 [Musannaf Abdul Razzaq 5069]
 3. Hasan al Basri[Rh]says: a woman should pull herself close together in sujud.
 [ Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah 2781]

4. Hasan al basri  and Qatadah both say, "when a woman prostrates she should pull herself together as much as possible. She should not allow for any space between her limbs so that her posterior is not raised."
[ Musannaf Abdul Razzaq 5068.]

5. According to the narration of Abu Dawood, Imam Ahmad was asked about how a woman should sit in salah. He replied, "she should press her thighs together."


 6. Imam Mujahid used to dislike that a man attach his stomach to his thighs as a woman does.

[al-Musannaf li-Ibn Abi Shaybah vol. 1 p 270]
7. Imam Ahmad was asked about how a woman should prostrate and sit for tashahhud. He replied, "she should do whatever is more concealing for her." He added, "she should do tarabb'u in tashahhud and draw her legs to one side."
[Masaail of Imam Ahmad narrated by his son Abdullah ]
8. Imam Baihaqi says,"all of the laws of salah in which a woman differs from a man are based on the principle of satr (concealment). This means that the woman is instructed to do all that which is more concealing for her."
قال الشيخ) رحمه الله وجماع ما يفارق المرأة فيه الرجل من احكام الصلوة راجع إلى الستر وهو انها مامورة بكل ماكان استر لها
[Sunan Al-Kubra al-Baihaqi, vol 2, pg 222, Idarat Al-Talifaat]

9. Qadhi Iyadh has also quoted from some Salaf that the sunnah for women is tarabb'u.
 [Awjaz al Masalik 2/119.]

All the above quite clearly demonstrates that the prayer of a woman is different in some aspects from that of a man, and that this distinction was first made by none other than the Prophet ( صلى الله عايه وسالم ), and then maintained by the prominent Sahabi and Tabi'un. Furthermore, as can be seen in their works, there is almost an universal agreement amongst the scholars of all schools of fiqh on this issue.

List of differences between the prayer of a man and a woman.
Some of the differences as mentioned in the books of fiqh are listed below.
In all the postures and movements of salah, including qiyam, ruk'u, sajdah, and tashahhud a woman should adopt that which is the most modest and concealing for her.
 Raising hand:
At the beginning of salah a woman should not raise her hands to her ears but only to her shoulders or close to her bosom.  Men raise their hands all the way to the ear for Takbeer while women raise their hands only up to their shoulders.
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal also says that she should raise them slightly and, according to one narration, she should not raise them at all.

 Qayam (The standing posture)

(1)In Qayam (the standing posture) Men place their hands below Navel while women place their hands on their chest .In qiyam,(the standing posture) women are to place their hands on their bosoms. They can fasten them in any one of the different ways 'akdh' (grasping) or 'wadh' (placing), or they can simply rest the right palm on the left one.

Ruku (The bowing posture)
In Ruku (the bowing posture) Men’s back is horizontal while women suppose to bend their back only far enough to touch their knees. Looking from far it will look like a bow arc. They won’t flatten their back.
Unlike men, in ruk'u, women should tuck their arms into the body and not spread them outward. They should also merely place their hands over their knees with closed fingers, and not grasp them with the fingers spread wide open.
In some books of Hanafi fiqh it has been suggested that in ruk'u they should also bend their backs and knees slightly. The Hanbali scholar Imam Kharqi also says as part of a longer statement, "the woman should gather herself in ruk'u and sujud." (al Mughni 1/134.)


In fact, women should try to keep their fingers close together in all the postures of salah.

Prostation

During prostration men should allow for some space and distance between their stomachs and thighs, and arms and the side of the body, whilst women should press these limbs together. Again in prostration, men should raise their arms off the ground and allow for some distance but women should let them cling to the ground.
In Sajdah men’s back portion is raised from ground and hands apart from body and fingers of feet twisted while women suppose to be gathered in a way so that all their body parts are close together and abdomen placed over her thighs. Both feet and ankles sticking out to the right and lower portion of back touching the ground.

Sitting in between two prostrations and sitting to recite Tashahhud

During Jalsa and Qaida (sitting between Sajdah and during Attahyat) men sit on their left ankle and their right foot’s fingers are twisted while women sit on floor and their both ankles and feet sticking out towards right hand side.
During the sitting of tashahhud, men are to rest on their legs and raise their right foot with the toes facing qiblah, whereas women are to take out both their legs towards the right hand side of the body and rest on the posterior without raising their right foot.


Statements of Imams of Fiqh concerning salah of women

 Hanafi Fiqh

Imam Muhammed Amin Ibn Abidin  As- Shami  Rahmatullah [ d.1252 AH] writes:
A woman should raise her hands till her shoulders. She should not take her hands out of her sleeves. She must place her one palm over the other on her breast. She must bend slightly in ruku. She will not spread her fingers out in ruku but rather keep them close together and place her palms on her knees without clasping them. She must bend her knees slightly. She must contract herself in ruku and sajdah. She must place her arms flat on the ground. She must sit with her legs out and resting on her posterior in tashahhud. In tashahhud she must  keep her fingers close together. If any mistake occurs in salah, she must clap her  hands without uttering anything. She cannot make Imamat of a male.It is makruh to have female only congregation. The female Imam will stand in their midst. It is makruh for her to attend the congregation. In a mixed congregation the females will stand at the rear. Jumah is not obligatory on her but if she attends it, she will be absolved of responsibility. Neither is (salah of)Eid compulsory on her nor the takbir of tashriq. It is  not mustahab for her to perform fajr when it brightens up. In the loud salahs, she will not raise her voice.

[Radd al-Muhtar ala ad-Dur al-Mukhtar Vol 1, page 504. With reference from Bahrur Raiq and Ghunyat al-mutamalli fi Sharh Munyat al-musalli]



 Imam Muhammed Amin Ibn Abidin  As- Shami  Rahmatullah writes:
A woman should bend slightly in ruku without spreading her fingers out completely. However,she must contract herself and place her palms on her knees and bend them slightly. She must not spread out her arms as this I more concealing her.
[Radd al-Muhtar ala ad-Dur al-Mukhtar, Vol1, p504]

 Mulla Ali Qari (rahmatullah) [ d. 1014 AH] writes:
A woman will raise her hands till her shoulders (when performing takbir e tahrimah).
[ Sharh Niqaya,Vol 1 p 239]

 Imam Badrud din Aini [d.855 AH] writes:
According to Ummud-Darda, Ata, Zuhri and Hammad, the ustadh of  Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmatullah), a woman should raise her hands till her breasts.
[al-Binaya fi sharh al-Hidayah, Vol 2, p 187]

 Muhammed Ibn Muqatil narrates the same verdict from the hanafi jurists.
[ as above]

Imam Burham Uddin Ali bin Ali B. Marghinani Rahmatullah [ d. 511 AH], the author of Al- Hidayah states that this is the correct and accepted version.
[ Al hidayah,Vol 1 , p 50]

Imam Abu Jafar At-Tahawi Rahmatullah [ d. 321 Ah] writes:
As for woman, our scholars (hanafi) state that she must sit in a manner that is most concealing.
[Mukhtasar Ikhtelaf al-Ulama, Vol 1, p 212]

It is stated in the Fataawaa Aalamgiriyyah:

As for a female she must bend slightly in ruku' without spreading her fingers out. She must keep them together on her knees by merely placing the palms. She must bend her knees slightly and not spread her arms out.

A female should not spread out in ruku' and sajdah while she will sit on her legs. In sajdah she will make her stomach rest on her thighs.

A woman will sit on her left buttock and position her legs out to the right side.

(al-Fataawaa al-Alamgiriyyah: vol. 1 p 75)


Imam Abu Ja'far at-Tahaawi rahimahullah:

As for a woman, our scholars (Hanafi) state that she should sit in a manner that is most concealing.

(Mukhtasar ikhtilaaf al-ulamaa': vol. 1 p212)

 

Maliki Fiqh

Imam Dardir writes in Sharh al –sahgir:
As for a woman she will remain contracted in all postures.
[ Sharh al saghir,Vol1 , p 329]

 Imam Abu Zayd Qayrawani (rahmatullah) [ d.386 AH] writes in his book Ar-Risala:
A woman should contract herself during sajdah (prostration).

Shafi’I Fiqh
Imam Abu Zakariyya An Nawawi rahmatullah (d.676 AH) writes:
A woman will join her limbs together.
[al-Majmu' sharh al-Muhadhdhab]

Hafiz Ibn Abdal Barr [d.463 AH] writes:
Imam Shafi rahmatullah [d.204AH] said:
A woman should sit in the most concealing position.
[Al –Istidhkar,Vol 4,P 268]

Imam  Ibn Hajar al asqalani rahmatullah [d.852AH] writes:
A woman should not spread her limbs out (during prostration).
[ Talkhisul Habir, Vol 1 ,p 252]

Hanbali Fiqh
 Imam Abdullah Ibn Qudamah Al Maqdisi( rahmatullah )[620 AH] writes:
A woman should draw her legs out to her right side. Imam Ahmed bin hanbal rahmatullah preferred this position for women.
[Al mughni, Vol 1, p 562]

 Imam Ibn Qudamah writes further:
Concealment is preferred for a woman. It is for this reason that extending the limbs out is not mustahab for a female.
[ Al mughni, Vol 2, p 202]


 The ahadith and the statements of the jurists indicate that a woman should contract herself completely during salah and try to conceal her as much as possible. From the ahadith it can be seen that Rasul- Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) has clearly differentiated between the sajdah of men and women and also other postures in the salah (prayer).
The companions, tabi’i, tabe tabi, all of them have accepted and practiced this method of salah for women. There has been no difference of opinion in this ummah on this issue.  There is no statement of any sahaba, tabi’I or jurist that declares the salah of males and females as the same.
Recently a deviant sect known as wahabi ( ahle hadith/ salafi) have started to propagate  the view that salah of males and females is one and the same. This has no basis from Quran, sunnah or the actions of the salaf as saliheen.

 Objection and its refutation

Wahabi scholar Albani  who died in  1420 AH/1999 wrote a book “Sifat Salat al Nabi”[ Prayers of the prophet] . This book has many mistakes and it contains rulings which are against quran and sunnah. In this book Albani has expressed his view that the salah of males and females is one and the same. This view of Albani is against ahadith of the prophet(sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam), and actions of the companions.
 Analysis of wahabi evidence and its refutation.
Wahabi [ Ahle hadith] evidence No1:
 Hadith of the prophet [ sal allahu alayhi wa sallam] says “صلوا كما رأيتموني أصلي (pray as you have seen me pray). This hadith is a general hadith and does not distinguish between salah of male and female. Hence male and female should perfom salah with same postures. [Sifat Salat al-Nabi, p. 189]

 Analysis and Refutation:

 If we take  literal meaning of the hadith ‘Pray as you have seen me pray’, it will mean no human being on face of this earth can pray because none among us have seen with our eyes the method of prophet’s prayer.
This Hadith cannot be used to prove that women are like men in all aspects of Deen. The Ahadith above are sufficient evidence to show that men and women are not equal in all aspects of Deen. The meaning of the above Hadith is that women resemble men with regards to their body constitution. This is because Hawwa (alayhas salaam) was created from Adam (alayhis salam) and thereof the progeny of men and women began.
The general principle is that women are equal to men in all religious rulings, because of the hadith: Women are counterparts of men(reported by Imam Ahmad bin hanbal), except when there is evidence of a specific ruling which applies only to women. One of the cases in which the scholars mention specific rules for women is Prayer (salah). Since a specific ruling overtakes a general ruling, all those ahadith which differentiates between salah of males and females will be accepted and acted upon.
Not a single traditional Muhaddith and expert commentator of Hadith has interpreted the above Hadith as it is interpreted by wahabis. Thus, it will be illogical for us to accept this new wahabi interpretation.

Even if we had to accept this “principle” that women are like men in all aspects, then this principle only applies to those cases where there are no proofs indicating to the contrary. In the issue of women’s salat, there are many Ahadith in which Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) differentiated between the salat of both genders.

Wahabi (Ahle hadith) evidence No 2:

Albani writes:

وهو قول إبراهيم النخعي قال
( تفعل المرأة في الصلاة كما يفعل الرجل )

أخرجه ابن أبي شيبة ( 1 / 75 / 2 ) بسند صحيح عنه


This is the view of Ibrahim An-Nakha'i who said:

تفعل المرأة في الصلاة كما يفعل الرجل

A woman does in prayer as does a man.

It has been transmitted by Ibn Abi Shaybah with an authentic chain. (Sifatu Salatin Nabi by Albani)

 Analysis and Refutation:
Ibrahim An Nakhai (rahmatullah) was a famous tabi’i. By quoting him Albani is trying to prove Ibrahim Nakahi was of the opinion that salah of male and a female is one and the same.
 Albani has misquoted Ibrahim An Nakhai!
Actual hadith found in the Musannaf of Imam Ibn Abi  Shaybah is
تقعد المرأة في الصلاة كما يقعد الرجل which means "A woman sits in prayer as sits a man"

As a side note, this athar of An-Nakha'i actually means it is only permissible for a woman to sit in the same posture of a man. This quotation indicates permissibility.

In fact another narration shows Ibrahim An-Nakha'i said that a woman should sit to her side (which Al-Albani conveniently overlooked):

إبْرَاهِيمَ قَالَ : تَجْلِسُ الْمَرْأَةُ مِنْ جَانِبٍ فِي الصَّلَاةِ

Ibrahim said "A woman sits to the side in prayer."[ Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah]

Wahabi (Ahle hadith) evidence No 3:

Imam Bukhari reported in at-Taareekh as-Sagheer (p.95) with a sahih sanad from Umm ad-Dardaa', "that she used to sit in her prayer just as a man sits, and she was a woman of understanding.”
Analysis and Refutation:

Imam Bukhari has quoted this narration without any chain of narration. Hence it cannot be accepted.
However Imam Ibn Abi Shaybah has also quoted this hadith in his musannaf. Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates: Makhul reports that Umm ud-Dardaa used to sit like males in salaah.
[al-Musannafli-Ibn Abi Shaybah: vol. 1 p 270]
It is incorrect to use this narration for the following reasons:

1. Hafizh Jamaal ud-Din Yusuf al-Mizzi has mentioned her among the Taabi'in. (Tahzheeb al-Kamaal fi-Asmaa ir-Rijaal: vol.22 p 464).The practice of a lone tabi'i is incorrect to adopt even if it may not be contrary to the principles.
Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalaani states in Fath ul-Baari:
The practice of a lone Tabi'i, even though it may not contradict any principle, will not be used as proof. (Fath ul-Baari: vol. 2 p 243)

Al-Haafiz stated in Fath al-Baari that Abu’l-Darda’ had two wives, both of whom were called Umm al-Darda’.Hafizh Ibn Hajar has only counted her among the Taabi'in. He says:

It can be realised from the narration of Makhul that that narration refers to the younger Umm ud-Dardaa, the Tabi'iyyah, not the elder sahabiyyah because Makhul met the former not the latter. (Ibid)


2. Even if it accepted that she was a Sahabiyyah, then the narration becomes munqati'[broken] and will not be acceptable according to the principles of the Muhaddithin. It will also be regarded as her opinion. She did not encourage anyone else to follow her practice. Neither did she present any action or statement of Rasulullah nor the fatwa of any Khalifah.

Accordingly, with regard to the salah of women, the position of this opinion in the face of the practically adopted method of the ummah (tawaatur) is like the position of shaaz  qira'a has opposed to mutawaatir qira'ah. It is very clear that no muslim leaves the mutawaatir qira'ah for the shaaz  qira'ah.

3. Furthermore, if one examines the words of this narration carefully, it supports the view of the majority. The sitting posture of Umm ud-Dardaa has been compared to the posture of males in this narration which infers that the posture of the other Sahaabiyyaat was different as mentioned previously.
4. Imam Abu Ja'far at-Tahaawi rahimahullah has narrated the following hadith:
Ibrahim Abi Abalah reports that he saw Umm ud-Dardaa performing salaah cross-legged.

[Tuhfat al-Akhyaarbi-Tarteebi SharhMushkil al-Aathaar li-Abi Ja'farat-Tahaawi: vol. 2 p 338, and Hafizh Mizzi has narrated this atharin Tahzheeb al-Kamaal: vol. 22 p 468]

قال رأيت أم الدرداء تصلي متربعة

Ibrahim bin Abi Ablah narrates: I saw Ummu Darda performing salat in the Tarabbu’ position. (Tuhfa Al-Akhyaar, vol 2, pg 338, Dar Balansiyya)

This narration contradicts the one mentioned by Ibn Abi Shaybah rahimahullah.
It will accordingly not remain worthy of substantiating any Shar'i law. In another narration of Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah (vol. 1 p270), one finds the following words:
Ibrahim said: A woman should sit in salah as a man does.

Wahabi (Ahle hadith) evidence No 4: 

The  hadith of Abu Mutee’ al-Hakam ibn ‘Abd-Allaah al-Balkhi from ‘Umar ibn Dharr from Mujaahid from ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: When a woman sits during the prayer she should place one thigh against the other and when she prostrates she should press her stomach against her thighs, compressing herself in the most concealing manner, for Allaah looks at her and says: O My angels, I call you to bear witness that I have forgiven her. 
 [Sunan al-Bayhaqi al-Kubra, 2/222.]

This hadeeth is da’eef,[ weak] because it was narrated by Abu Mutee’ al-Balkhi.



Ibn Hajar said:

Ibn Mu’een said: He is nothing. On one occasion he said: He is da’eef. Al-Bukhaari said: He is da’eef. Al-Nasaa’i said: He is da’eef.  

[Lisaan al-Mizaan, 2/334. ]

Ibn ‘Adiyy said: It is clear that Abu Mutee’ is da’eef in his ahaadeeth and everything that he narrated, and for most of his narrations there are no corroborating reports.

[Al-Kaamil fi Du’afa’ al-Rijaal, 2/214 ]
Analysis and Refutation:

According to the principles of “hadith”, laid down by the Fuqaha and Muhadithun, this hadith can be relied on, since it is supported by many other Ahadith and verdicts of Sahaba, who were the students of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam). It is supported by many “Shawahid” (a term of Usul al  Hadith).

Wahabi (Ahle hadith) evidence No 5: 

A third hadith was narrated from Yazeed ibn Abi Habeeb, saying that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) passed by two women who were praying. He said: “When you prostrate, press some of your flesh to the ground, for women are not like men in that.”

This was narrated by Abu Dawood in al-Maraaseel (p. 118) and by al-Bayhaqi (2/223).

This hadeeth is mursal, which is a category of da’eef (weak).


Analysis and Refutation:

The issue of woman’s salat is purely a fiqhi issue and has to be dealt with in the light of what the Fuqaha state. They were masters in understanding the meanings of the Ahadith as stated by the great Muhadith and student of Imam Bukhari, Imam Tirmidhi (rahimahullah). The Fuqaha of all four madaahib accept “Mursal” ahadith, but obviously with certain conditions (Athar Al-Hadith al-Shareef). Therefore, it will be totally incorrect to blatantly state that “this hadeeth is mursal, which is a category of da’eef (weak)”, indirectly inferring that this hadith cannot be accepted.

Wahabi (Ahle hadith) evidence No 6: 
The only evidence that counts is the words of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
Analysis and Refutation:

It is incorrect to state “but the only evidence that counts is the words of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)”.This statement infers that the statements of Tabi’un and Ulama cannot be accepted. This is totally incorrect and goes against the teachings of the Quran and the Ahadith. Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ

“O those who believe obey Allah and obey his messenger and those in authority amongst you” (Sura Nisa: 59)

Early commentators of Quran such as Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and Hasan Basri have stated that “those in authority amongst you” refer to the Fuhaqa and Ulama (Ma’arif Al-Quran). We are commanded to follow the teachings of Tabi’un and Ulama for their teachings are based on the Quran and Ahadith.


Proofs for the Differences in the Prayer of a Man and Woman
A common criticism made by Salafis against the Hanafi madhhab is that it differentiates between the Salah of a man and woman. They claim that this is not supported by any evidence, and in fact opposes the clear and general words of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “Pray as you have seen me praying” (صلوا كما رأيتموني أصلي), a hadith reported the Sahih of al-Bukhari. In the following, an attempt will be made to answer this criticism.
The Positions of the Four Madhhabs
The Hanafi madhhab considers the Salah of a man and woman equal in all respects, except that she is to adopt the postures that are most concealing for her, by bringing her limbs and parts together in all the actions of Salah, and not separating between them as a man does.
Some people are under the impression that this is an isolated Hanafi opinion. However, the truth is that the vast majority of the scholars and jurists of Islam held the view that the Salah of a woman differs from a man’s in this respect. It is the favoured view of all four madhhabs which have been followed by the great majority of Muslims throughout most of Islamic history. It would, therefore, be extremely naive and farfetched to assume that a practice of Salah that received widespread acceptance and went unchallenged and uncontested by the major scholars of the ummah is totally devoid of any sound basis in the sources of Shari‘ah.
In order to highlight this point, I will quote below statements from the other three madhhabs (Shafi‘i, Hanbali and Maliki).
The Shafi‘i Madhhab
Imam al-Nawawi (631 – 676 H), the great Shafi‘i muhaqqiq, said:
قال الشافعي رحمه الله فى المختصر: ولا فرق بين الرجال والنساء في عمل الصلاة، إلا أن المرأة يستحب لها أن تضم بعضها إلى بعض وأن تلصق بطنها بفخذيها فى السجود كأستر ما يكون، وأحب ذلك فى الركوع وفي جميع الصلاة، وأن تكثف جلبابها وتجافيه راكعة وساجدة لئلا يصفها ثيابها، وأن تخفض صوتها وإن نابها شيء في صلاتها صفقت، هذا نصه.
قال أصحابنا: المرأة كالرجل في أركان الصلاة وشروطها وأبعاضها وأما الهيئات المسنونات فهي كالرجل في معظمها وتخالفه فيما ذكره الشافعي، وىخالف النساء الرجال في صلاة الجماعة في أشياء
“Al-Shafi‘i – may Allah have mercy on him – said in al-Mukhtasar: ‘There is no distinction between men and women in the actions of Salah, except that it is preferable for the woman that part of her clings to a part, and her stomach clings to her thighs in prostration in a manner that is most concealing (for her), and I prefer this in bowing and in the entire Salah; and that she makes her jilbab thick and she separates it (from her body) while bowing and prostrating so that her clothing does not describe her (i.e. her shape and form); and that she lowers her voice and if something occurs to her in her Salah (while in congregation), she claps (i.e. to alert the imam to the mistake).’ This is his (i.e. al-Shafi‘i’s) statement.
“Our companions said: The woman is like the man in the integrals of Salah, its conditions and its parts. As for the prescribed postures, she is like the man in most of them and she differs from him in what al-Shafi‘i mentioned. And women differ from men in congregational prayer in some things…” (al-Majmu‘ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, 3:495)
The Hanbali Madhhab
Muwaffaq al-Din Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi (541 – 620 H), the great Hanbali muhaqqiq, said:
مسألة: قال: والرجل والمرأة في ذلك سواء إلا أن المرأة تجمع نفسها فى الركوع والسجود وتجلس متربعة أو تسدل رجليها فتجعلهما في جانب يمينها.
الأصل أن يثبت في حق المرأة من أحكام الصلاة ما يثبت للرجال لأن الخطاب يشملهما، غير أنها خالفته في ترك التجافي لأنها عورة فاستحب لها جمع نفسها ليكون أستر لها، فإنه لا يؤمن أن يبدو منها شيء حال التجافي. وكذلك فى الافتراش.
قال أحمد: والسدل أعجب إلي. واختاره الخلال. قال علي رضي الله عنه: إذا صلت المرأة فلتحتفز ولتضم فخذيها وعن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما أنه كان يأمر النساء أن يتربعن فى الصلاة
“Ruling: He (i.e. Abu l-Qasim al-Khiraqi al-Hanbali, (d. 334 H)) said: ‘And the man and woman are equal in this (i.e. the description of Salah) except that the woman collects herself when bowing and prostrating and she sits in the tarabbu‘ position (inserting the left foot between the thigh and shin of the right leg) or she practises sadl by placing them both to her right side.’
“The default is that whatever is established for men from the rules of Salah is established with respect to a woman because the address (of the Shari‘ah) encompasses both of them; except that she differs from him in not separating (her limbs) because she is ‘awrah (as established in hadith). Hence, it is preferred for her to collect herself so that it is more concealing for her, because there is no surety that something will not appear from her in the situation of separating (her limbs), and likewise when (sitting in) the iftirash position (i.e. erecting the right foot so the toes point towards the qiblah and sitting on the left foot).
“Ahmad said: ‘Sadl is more appealing to me.’ Al-Khallal preferred this. ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘When the woman prays, she should draw (herself) together, and join her thighs,” and (it was narrated) from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that he would order the women to adopt the tarabbu‘  position in Salah.” (Mughni, Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 2:258-9)
Imam Ahmad’s son, ‘Abd Allah, narrates:
قلت: كيف تسجد المرأة وكيف تقعد للتشهد؟ قال: كيف كان أستر
“I said (to Imam Ahmad): ‘How does a woman prostrate and how does she sit for Tashahhud?’ He said: ‘However is most concealing (for her).’” (Masa’il al-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal Riwayat Ibnihi ‘Abdillah ibn Ahmad, al-Maktab al-Islami, p. 79)
The Maliki Madhhab
Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (d. 386) – known as “little Malik” – stated in his treatise on Maliki fiqh:
وهي في هيئة الصلاة مثله غير أنها تنضم ولا تفرج فخذيها ولا عضديها في جلوسها وسجودها وأمرها كله
“And she (i.e. the woman) in the posture(s) of Salah is like him (i.e. the man), except that she draws (herself) together and she does not part her thighs, nor her upper arms during her sitting, her prostration and her entire affair.”
‘Ali ibn Khalaf al-Manufi al-Maliki’s (857 – 939 H) comments on this passage:
وما ذكره رواية ابن زياد عن مالك وهو خلاف قول ابن القاسم فى المدونة لأنه ساوى بين الرجل والمرأة فى الهيئة
“What he (i.e. Ibn Abi Zayd) stated is the narration of Ibn Ziyad from Malik and it is contrary to the narration of Ibn al-Qasim in al-Mudawwanah because he equated between the man and woman in the posture(s).”
And al-‘Adawi (d. 1189 H) said in his marginalia to this work:
الراجح كلام المصنف الذي هو رواية ابن زياد، ورواية ابن القاسم ضعيف كما هو المفهوم من خليل وشراحه
“The preferred (view) is the opinion of the author (Ibn Abi Zayd) which is the narration of Ibn Ziyad (from Malik); and the narration of Ibn al-Qasim is weak as is understood from (the Mukhtasar of) Khalil and its commentators.”
(Kifayat al-Talib al-Rabbani, Matba‘ah al-Madani, 1:551-2)
In summary, there are two views in the Maliki madhhab both narrated from Imam Malik. One, that a woman is exactly the same as a man in the postures of Salah. And the second that a woman differs from him in that she draws herself together and does not separate her limbs in all the postures of Salah. The favoured view of the madhhab is the latter, making it equivalent to the other madhhabs.
Hence, all of the four madhhabs agree that a woman differs from a man in the postures of salah, in that she adopts the positions that are most concealing for.
Evidences
Below I will present evidences for the view of the vast majority of the scholars and jurists of the ummah on this issue from the sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the practice and fatwas of the earliest and best generations of Muslims (Sahabah and Tabi‘in).
Marfu‘ Hadiths
Hadith One
Imam Abu Dawud narrates in his Marasil:
حدثنا سليمان بن داود، نا ابن وهب، أنا حيوة بن شريح، عن سالم بن غيلان، عن يزيد بن أبي حبيب، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مر على امرأتين تصليان، فقال: إذا سجدتما فضما بعض اللحم إلى الأرض فإن المرأة ليست في ذلك كالرجل
“Sulayman ibn Dawud narrated to us: Ibn Wahb narrated to us: Haywah ibn Shurayh reported to us from Salim ibn Ghaylan from Yazid ibn Abi Habib that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) passed by two women praying, whereupon he said: ‘When you two pray, then join part of the flesh to the earth, as the woman is not like the man in that.’” (Marasil Abi Dawud, ed. ‘Abd Allah ibn Musa‘id ibn Khadran al-Zahrani, no. 89)
This is an authentic mursal hadith. A mursal hadith is one in which the Tabi‘i narrates directly from the Prophet (peace be upon him) without mentioning his source. Here is a brief analysis of the narrators of the chain:
  1. Sulayman ibn Dawud ibn Hammad al-Mahri (178 – 253 H) was declared thiqah by al-Nasa’i and al-‘Asqalani, and he is mentioned in Ibn Hibban’s al-Thiqat.
  2. ‘Abd Allah ibn Wahb ibn Muslim (125 – 197 H) is a narrator found in all six collections of hadith and an undisputed hadith authority from the students of Imam Malik
  3. Haywah ibn Shurayh (d. 157 H) is also a narrator of hadith found in all six collections of hadith and an accepted authority in hadith.
  4. Salim ibn Ghaylan (d. 151 H) was a jurist from the companions of Yazid ibn Abi Habib, and he was declared thiqah by al-‘Ijli and Ibn Bukaryr; while Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’i and Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani said there is no harm in him (equivalent to saduq); and Ibn Hibban and Ibn Shahin included him in their Kitab al-Thiqats. (Tahdhib al-Kamal, Mu’assasat al-Risalah, 10:169; Tahrir al-Taqrib, Mu’assasat al-Risalah, 2:8)
  5. Yazid ibn Abi Habib (51 – 128 H) is a narrator found in all six collections of hadith, and was a great mufti and scholar of Egypt, said to have introduced the science of jurisprudence in Egypt. He heard from the great Sahabi, ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Harith ibn Jaz’ al-Zubaydi (86 H) who settled and died in Egypt. He was declared thiqah by Ibn Sa‘d, al-‘Ijli and Abu Zur‘ah. (Tahdhib al-Kamal, 32:102-6)
The editor of Marasil therefore concludes: “Its chain is hasan up to the one who did irsal of it (i.e. Yazid ibn Habib).” (Marasil Abi Dawud, p. 191)
Mursal hadiths are accepted as a proof (hujjah) by the majority of jurists, including Imams Abu Hanifah, Malik and Ahmad ibn Hanbal in the most famous narration from him (Tadrib al-Rawi, Dar al-Hadith, p. 161). Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d. 310 H), in fact, stated that it was the consensus opinion of the Tabi‘in that mursal reports are accepted (ibid. p. 162) Hence, for most jurists, this hadith would function as an authentic proof differentiating between the Salah of a man and woman in very clear terms.
Furthermore, even if it is conceded that it is weak based on the view of those who regard mursal hadiths as weak, a weak hadith is elevated to the level of hasan or sahih if the ummah have acted upon it (see ibid. p. 49), and here this is the case as will be demonstrated later. Either way, therefore, the scholars and jurists who adhere to the evidence of this hadith are justified in doing so.
Hadith Two
Hafiz ‘Ali ibn Abi Bakr al-Haythami (d. 807 H) says:
عن وائل بن حجر قال: قال لي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: يا وائل بن حجر إذا صليت فاجعل يديك حذاء أذنيك، والمرأة تجعل يديها حذاء ثدييها
“[It was narrated] from Wa’il ibn Hujr, he said: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said to me: ‘O Wa’il ibn Hujr! When you pray, position your hands in line with your ears, and the woman positions her hands in line with her chest.’”
Al-Haythami then said: “Al-Tabrani narrated it in a long hadith on the virtues of Wa’il through the route of Maymunah bint Hujr from her aunt Umm Yahya bint ‘Abd al-Jabbar, and I do not recognise her, and the remainder of its narrators are trustworthy.” (Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, no. 2594)
This hadith is therefore weak due to the unidentified narrator, but the weakness is only slight so it may be supported by the practice of the ummah, and other general indications.
Hadith Three
It is reported in Sahih Muslim that ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said:
وينهى أن يفترش الرجل ذراعيه افتراش السبع
“And he (the Prophet) forbade that a man spreads out his arms like a wild animal spreads (them) out.” (Fath al-Mulhim, 3:488-9)
This implicitly indicates that a woman is exempt from this ruling, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) singles out a man for this prohibition (especially since the very same hadith in its complete form mentions other general prohibitions that do not single out “a man”). Hence, there is an implicit indication that a woman spreads out her arms during prostration.
Hadith Four
Imam al-Bukhari narrated in his Sahih that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
التسبيح للرجال والتصفيق للنساء
Tasbih is for men and clapping is for women.” (Fath al-Bari, 3:100)
The hadith means that when in congregation the imam makes a mistake, men are to say tasbih (subhanAllah) and women are to clap their hands to alert the imam to the error. This is a clear and authentic hadith on a specific difference between the Salah of a man and woman (which Salafi scholars also accept). Hence, it should not be farfetched that there are other minor differences between them.
There are many other differences between the Salah of a man and woman recorded in authentic marfu‘ hadiths, although they are not specifically regarding the postures of Salah. For example, the hadiths that state that a woman is not obligated to attend Jumu‘ah, that her house is better for her, and that her prayer is not accepted without a scarf.
All of these hadiths suggest a basic principle, which is that although a woman’s Salah is similar to man’s, she differs slightly from him in certain aspects of Salah based on the added requirement of concealment and modesty for her. Based on this, the majority of the jurists of all madhhabs have reached consensus that there are small differences in the postures of a man and woman. This is also proven from the practice and fatwas of the Sahabah and Tabi‘in.
Practice and Statements of the Sahabah
Narration One
Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates in his Musannaf:
حدثنا أبو الأحوص عن أبي إسحاق عن الحارث عن علي قال: إذا سجدت المرأة فلتحتفز، ولتضم فخذيها
“Abu l-Ahwas narrated to us from Abu Ishaq (al-Sabi‘i) from al-Harith from ‘Ali, he said: ‘When a woman prostrates, she should draw (herself) together, and join her thighs.’” (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, ed. Muhammad ‘Awwamah, 2:504, no.2793)
Abu l-Ahwas (d. 179 H) and his teacher Abu Ishaq al-Sabi‘i (33 – 127 H) are both recognised authorities of hadith found in all the six major collections.
Al-Harith ibn ‘Abd Allah al-A‘war (d. 65 H) is a narrator of hadith found in the four Sunans, and was a companion of ‘Ali and Ibn Mas‘ud. Ibn Ma‘in and Ahmad ibn Salih described him as thiqah and al-Nasa’i said there is no harm in him. Some critics referred to him as a “liar” but the commentators have explained that this was due to his Shiite leanings, not about his integrity in transmission. Nonetheless, there is also some degree of weakness in his narration, as al-Dhahabi and Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani pointed out.
Mawlana Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani said after citing this report and discussing the condition of al-Harith al-A‘war, “Hence, the hadith is hasan, and the statement of a Sahabi is a proof according to us, and it is also strengthened by the marfu‘ (hadith) [i.e. hadith one above].” (I‘la’ al-Sunan, Idarat al-Qur’an, 3:32)
Narration Two
حدثنا أبو عبد الرحمن المقرئ، عن سعيد بن أبي أيوب، عن يزيد بن أبي حبيب، عن بكير بن عبد الله بن الأشج، عن ابن عباس أنه سئل عن صلاة المرأة فقال: تجتمع وتحتفز
“Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman (‘Abd Allah ibn Yazid) al-Muqri’ narrated to us from Sa‘id ibn Abi Ayyub from Yazid ibn Abi Habib from Bukayr ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Ashajj from Ibn ‘Abbas that he was asked about the Salah of a woman, and he said: ‘She huddles up and draws (herself) together.’” (Musannaf, 2:505, 2794)
This is an authentic chain up to Bukayr, but it is unlikely Bukayr met Ibn ‘Abbas.
Narration Three
Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates:
حدثنا جرير عن ليث عن مجاهد أنه كان يكره أن يضع الرجل بطنه على فخذيه إذا سجد كما يصنع المرأة
“Jarir (ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid) narrated to us from Layth (ibn Abi Sulaym) from Mujahid (ibn Jabr) that he would detest that a man puts his belly on his thighs when he prostrates, as a woman does.” (Musannaf, 2:505, 2796)
Jarir ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Dabbi (110 – 188 H) is a narrator of hadith found in all six collections of hadith, an undisputed hadith authority.
The narrations of Layth ibn Abi Sulaym (d. 140 H) were used as supporting evidence in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, though not as independent proof. His narrations are found in the four Sunan, and many prominent authorities of hadith took hadith from him, including Shu‘bah ibn al-Hajjaj and Sufyan al-Thawri. Yahya ibn Ma‘in said “there is no harm in him” (which for him is equivalent to thiqah). Imam al-Tirmidhi graded some of his hadiths hasan, and he reported from his teacher, Imam al-Bukhari, that he said, “Layth ibn Abi Sulaym is reliable (saduq) and sometimes he would err in something” (al-Jami‘ al-Kabir, Dar al-Ma‘arif, 4:497). However, most critics said there is weakness in his hadiths as he would mix-up his narrations, sometimes making a mawquf hadith marfu‘ or narrating from ‘Ata’, Mujahid and Tawus what he only heard from one of them. In fact, al-Daraqutni (d. 385) stated that this confusion in the chain was the only reason why many scholars disapproved of him (Fath al-Mulhim, 1:314). Hence, his weakness is only slight. Based on this, Mawlana Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani concluded that his hadiths are hasan.
Mujahid ibn Jabr (19 – 102 H) is a senior Tabi‘i and one of the foremost students of ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas in Tafsir, and he studied under a number of Sahabah including ‘A’ishah, Ibn ‘Umar, Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas, Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri and others.
This narration proves that it was a well-known and common practice at the time of the Sahabah and senior Tabi‘in for a woman to pray differently from a man by compressing herself and drawing herself together during prostration. This is why Mujahid said “like a woman does,” using this practice of a woman as the act on which he drew his comparison; and it is known in the rules of language that an example is only drawn on something commonly known and recognised.
The great early jurists like Abu Hanifah and Malik would take inherited practice – ta‘amul – into account in reaching their juristic conclusions, as they lived close to the time of the Sahabah and senior Tabi‘in, so the practice was purest at that time and best reflected the teachings of Islam as taught by the Prophet (peace be upon him). In fact, the prevalent practice was an important tool in their jurisprudence for determining the strength and weakness of narrations. (see: Al-Imam Ibn Majah wa Kitabuh al-Sunan, ed. ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, pp. 86-91)
Reports from the Tabi‘in
Report One
Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates:
حدثنا محمد بن بكر، عن ابن جريج قال: قلت لعطاء: تشير المرأة بيديها بالتكبير كالرجل؟ قال: لا ترفع بذلك يديها كالرجل، وأشار: فخفض يديه جدا، وجمعهما إليه جدا، وقال: إن للمرأة هيئة ليست للرجال، وإن تركت ذلك فلا حرج
“Muhammad ibn Bakr narrated to us from (‘Abd al-Malik ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz) ibn Jurayj, he said: I said to ‘Ata’: ‘Does a woman gesture with (i.e. raise) her hands in takbir like a man?’ He said: ‘She does not raise her hands in that like a man.’ And he gestured (with his hands), lowering his hands excessively and he brought them together to himself excessively, and he said: ‘A woman has a posture that men do not have, and if she leaves that there is no blame (i.e. sin on her).’” (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 2:421, no. 2498)
This is an authentic chain. Muhammad ibn Bakr, a narrator found in all six collections of hadith, was declared thiqah by Ibn Ma‘in, Ibn Qani‘, Abu Dawud, al-‘Ijli, Ibn Sa‘d and al-Dhahabi (Tahrir al-Taqrib, 3:218). Furthermore ‘Abd al-Razzaq narrates this in his Musannaf directly from his teacher, the great hadith authority, ‘Abd al-Malik ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Jurayj (Musannaf ‘Abd al-Razzaq, ed. Habib al-Rahman al-A‘zami, 3:137, no. 5066)
There is an indication in this narration that according to ‘Ata’, the woman fastens her hands near her chest as the narrator says, “he brought them together to himself excessively” which is only conceivable at the chest.
‘Abd al-Razzaq also narrated from Ibn Jurayj from ‘Ata that he said:
تجتمع المرأة إذا ركعت، ترفع يديها إلى بطنها، وتجتمع ما استطاعت، فإذا سجدت فلتضم يديها إليها، وتضم بطنها إلى فخذيها، وتجتمع ما استطاعت
“The woman huddles up when she bows. She raises her hands to her stomach, and she draws (herself) together as much as she can. When she prostrates, she should bring together her hands to herself, and join her belly and her chest to her thights, and huddle up as much as she can.” (Musannaf, 3:137, no. 5069)
This is also an authentic narration from ‘Ata’ just like the previous one. ‘Abd al-Razzaq also narrates with the same chain that ‘Ata’ said:
تجمع المرأة يديها فى القيام ما استطاعت
“A woman gathers her hands in the standing position as much as she can.” (Musannaf, no. 5067)
Ibn Abi Shaybah also reports (Musannaf, 2:421, no. 2486) with a chain containing slight weakness from ‘Ata’ that a woman raises her hands to her chest.
‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah (27 – 115 H) was one of the greatest scholars and muftis from the senior Tabi‘in who lived and taught in Makkah. He was one of the many teachers of Imam Abu Hanifah, and was by Abu Hanifah’s own testimony, his greatest teacher. He has many narrations found in all six of the famous collections of hadith. One of the scholars said: “‘Ata’ was black, blind in one eye, snub-nosed, lame and limp and then he became blind after this. Yet he was trustworthy, a jurist and scholar possessing many hadiths!” (Tahdhib al-Kamal, 20:76). He met over 200 Sahabah and he would issue fatwa in the presence of the Sahabah, at which he became so adept that even the great jurist of the Sahabah, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas, would say to questioners: “O people of Makkah! Do you collect your questions to me, when Ibn Abi Rabah is amongst you?!” (ibid. 20:77)
Mawlana Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani writes that although the opinion and fatwa of a Tabi‘i is not an authoratative proof (hujjah) according to the majority of the scholars, it is a proof according to the most correct position of the Hanafi madhhab when he is a senior Tabi‘i whose fatwas became widespread and well-known in the time of the Sahabah (I‘la al-Sunan, 2:192). ‘Ata’ certainly fits this description. Hence, his verdicts will be regarded as proof according to the Hanafis. And for non-Hanafis, they will count as important fatwas by a major early jurist that support the hadiths and narrations documented earlier.
Report Two
Ibn Abi Shaybah narrated:
حدثنا ابن المبارك عن هشام عن الحسن قال: المرأة تضطم فى السجود
“Ibn al-Mubarak narrated to us from Hisham (al-Dastawa’i) from al-Hasan (al-Basri), he said: ‘The woman huddles up in prostration.’” (Musannaf, 2:505, 2797)
This is an authentic chain. Al-Hasan al-Basri (22 – 110 H) is one of the most famous scholars, imams, jurists and ascetics amongst the senior Tabi‘in.
Report Three
‘Abd al-Razzaq narrates from his teacher, the great imam in hadith Ma‘mar ibn Rashid (95 – 153 H), from his teachers, al-Hasan and Qatadah, that they said:
إذا سجدت المرأة فإنها تنضم ما استطاعت ولا تتجافى لكيلا ترفع عجيزتها
“When a woman prostrates, she huddles up as much as she can and she does not separate (her limbs) so that she does not lift her posterior.” (Musannaf ‘Abd al-Razzaq, 3:137)
Qatadah is Qatadah ibn Di‘amah (d. 110 H), a narrator found in all six collections in hadith, described by al-Dhahabi as the “exemplar of the mufassirin and muhaddithin.” He was known for his excellent memory. And it is also known about him that he would not issue a verdict or ruling based on his personal opinion. (Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala’, Mu’assasat al-Risalah, 5:269 – 83) Hence, he must have received this ruling from the Sahabah and senior Tabi‘in.
Report Four
Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates:
حدثنا وكيع عن سفيان عن منصور عن إبراهيم قال: إذا سجدت المرأة فلتلتزق بطنها بفخذيها ولا ترفع عجيزتها ولا تجافي كما يجافى الرجل
“Waki‘ (ibn al-Jarrah) narrated to us from Sufyan (al-Thawri) from Mansur (ibn al-Mu‘tamir) from Ibrahim (al-Nakha‘i), he said: ‘When a woman prostrates, her belly should cling to her thighs, and she is not to raise her posterior, nor spread out (her arms) as a man spreads (them) out.’” (Musannaf, 2:505, 2798)
This is an authentic narration (and in fact, was regarded by some muhaddithin as the most authentic chain of transmission).
Ibrahim (ca. 45 – 96 H) was the foremost jurist of Iraq in his time. His narrations are found in all six of the famous collections of hadith, and he was the most learned of the jurisprudential school of ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud. Hence, the rulings issued by him are given great weight in the Hanafi madhhab. He heard from the great Sahabi, Anas ibn Malik (d. 93 H), as stated by Ibn Hibban in his Thiqat (4:10).
However, this was not merely a personal opinion of Ibrahim al-Nakha‘i, but something he received from his teachers as made clear in another version of this narration. ‘Abdar Razzaq narrates it in his Musannaf as follows:
عبد الرزاق عن معمر والثوري عن منصور عن إبراهيم قال: كانت تؤمر المرأة أن تضع ذرايعيها وبطنها على فخذيها إذا سجدت، ولا تتجافى كما يتجافى الرجل لكيلا ترفع عجيزتها
“Abdur Razzaq from Ma‘mar and al-Thawri from Mansur from Ibrahim, he said: ‘The woman used to be ordered to place her arms and her belly on her thigh when she prostrates and not spread out as a man spreads out, so that she does not raise her posterior.’” (Musannaf, 3:138, no. 5071)
Here, Ibrahim al-Nakha‘i clearly says that this was the instruction given to women by the scholars of his time, that is the Sahabah and the senior Tabi‘in.
Report Five
Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates:
حدثنا وكيع عن سفيان عن منصور عن إبراهيم قال: تجلس المرأة من جانب الصلاة
“Waki‘ narrated to us from Sufyan from Mansur from Ibrahim, he said: ‘The woman sits to the side in Salah.’” (Musannaf, 2:508, no. 2808)
‘Abd al-Razzaq also narrates it with the same chain, that Ibrahim said:
تؤمر المرأة فى الصلاة في مثنى أن تضم فخذيها من جانب
“A woman is ordered in Salah in (the sitting of) two (rak‘ahs) to join her thighs to one side.” (Musannaf, 3:131)
This is what was described as “sadl” in the report from Ahmad cited in the passage from al-Mughni quoted earlier.
Report Six
Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates:
حدثنا أبو خالد عن محمد بن عجلان عن نافع أن صفية كانت تصلي وهي متربعة
“Abu Khalid (al-Ahmar) narrated to us from Muhammad ibn ‘Ajlan from Nafi‘ that Safiyyah would pray while in the tarabbu‘ position.” (Musannaf, 2:506, no. 2800)
This is an authentic chain: all the narrators are unquestionably trustworthy, and each heard from the other.
Safiyyah is Safiyyah bint Abi ‘Ubayd, the wife of ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar. She was a learned Tabi‘i.
Ibn Abi Shaybah also narrates:
حدثنا وكيع عن العمري عن نافع قال: كن نساء ابن عمر يتربعن فى الصلاة
“Waki‘ narrated to us from (‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar) al-‘Umari from Nafi‘, he said: ‘The wives of Ibn ‘Umar would adopt the tarabbu‘ position in Salah.’” (2805 2:507)
‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar al-‘Umari (d. 171 H) is a narrator found in Sahih Muslim and the four Sunans. He was declared thiqah by Ya‘qub ibn Shaybah, Ahmad ibn Yunus and al-Khalili. Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, “there is no harm in him.” Yahya ibn Ma‘in said, “there is no harm in him” (which for him is equivalent to thiqah). Ibn ‘Adi said, “There is no harm in his narrations, reliable.” However, many critics regarded him as weak due to his memory. (Tahdhib al-Kamal, 15:327 – 32) Al-Dhahabi concluded he is reliable and hasan in hadith. (Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala, pp. 339 – 41) Furthermore, al-‘Umari was specialised in the narrations of Nafi‘, so he had better recollection of them than he did the hadiths he narrated from his other teachers. This narration, therefore, ought to be graded hasan.
These reports are particularly interesting and worthy of note because it is established from ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar that he said the sunnah in Salah is iftirash as reported in Sahih al-Bukhari (Fath al-Mulhim, 3:486), which means he must have observed the Prophet (peace be upon him) praying in this way. Since his wives would sit in the tarabbu‘ position despite Ibn ‘Umar’s established view, this is an indication that Ibn ‘Umar must have learned from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that a woman’s posture while sitting is different from a man’s, as he would have, otherwise, corrected his wives.
The Hadith, “Pray as you have seen me praying.”
As for the hadith “pray as you have seen me praying,” it should be noted firstly that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said this to a group of young men who came to learn their religion, as reported by the Sahabi, Malik ibn al-Huwayrith, in Sahih al-Bukhari (Fath al-Bari, 3:291). Secondly, this is a general statement about the basic components and requirements of Salah, in which everyone is equal. Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari wrote in his commentary of Mishkat al-Masabih, “‘Pray as you have seen me praying,’ meaning in observing the conditions and integrals.” It is not about every aspect and detail of Salah. Otherwise, the imam and muqtadi should also be equal in every aspect of Salah. Yet the muqtadi differs from the imam in that he does not say the takbir out loud, nor does he say sami‘ Allahu liman hamidah, and according to the majority, he does not recite when the imam recites aloud in Salah. Hence, this is proof that this general statement does not negate specific exceptions that are established from other evidences.
Furthermore, the general evidence of imitating the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in his Salah is countered by the general evidence of the need for a woman to be modest and keep herself concealed in all affairs. Hence, it is in this respect that there is a distinction between the Salah of a man and woman. Imam al-Bayhaqi (d. 458 H), the great Shafi‘i hadith-scholar, said:
 وجماع ما يفارق المرأة فيه الرجل من أحكام الصلاة راجع إلى الستر، وهو أنها مأمورة بكل ما كان أستر لها
“All of that in which the woman parts from the man in the rulings of Salah goes back to [the obligation of] concealment, which is that she is commanded to (do) all that is most concealing for her.” (al-Sunan al-Kubra, 2:314)
Hence, when there is a clash between the two general evidences, we must make an attempt at harmonising between them, which may be done in the manner described above. And in terms of specific evidences, and the views and practices of the Sahabah and early jurists, there are many proofs that there exist small differences in the postures of a man and woman as documented above.
Did Ibrahim al-Nakha‘i say, “A woman does in Salah as a man does?” – A Refutation of Nasir al-Din al-Albani
The late Salafi scholar and preacher, Nasir al-Din al-Albani, wrote in his popular book Sifatu Salat al-Nabi when arguing that the Salah of a woman does not differ in any way from the Salah of a man:
كل ما تقدم من صفة صلاته صلى الله عليه وسلم يستوي فيه الرجال والنساء ولم يرد فى السنة ما يقتضي استثناء النساء من بعض ذلك، بل إن عموم قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم صلوا كما رأيتموني أصلي يشملهن، وهو قول إبراهيم النخعي قال: تفعل المرأة فى الصلاة كما يفعل الرجل. أخرجه ابن أبي شيبة بسند صحيح عنه.
“All that has come earlier of the description of his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prayer, men and women are equal therein, and nothing has come in the Sunnah that demands the exemption of women in any of this. Rather, the generality of his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) saying: ‘Pray as you have seen me praying’ includes them. And this is the view of Ibrahim al-Nakha‘i. He said: ‘A woman does in Salah as a man does.’ Ibn Abi Shaybah transmitted it with a sahih chain from him.” (Sifatu Salat al-Nabi, Maktabat al-Ma‘arif, p. 189)
It has already been demonstrated above that it is proven from the Sunnah and the practice of the early generations that a woman’s Salah differs slightly from a man’s in the areas that were discussed. Hence, the claim that there is no proof from the Sunnah differentiating between the Salah of a man and woman is incorrect. Moreover, a brief analysis of the hadith “pray as you have seen me praying,” has also been discussed above in light of the background to the hadith and the interpretation of it offered by one of the commentators.
As for the view of Ibrahim al-Nakha‘i, al-Albani’s quotation from him is incorrect on two counts.
Firstly, even supposing this narration was authentic, it contradicts the other authentic narrations from him. See reports four and five above under the section, “Reports from the Tabi‘in.” These reports are found in the very same section of Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah from which al-Albani quoted it. Yet, overlooking those narrations, he asserted that this report from him is his established “view” (qawl)!
Secondly, this is a baseless narration, as it is not found in any reliable manuscript of Ibn Abi Shaybah’s Musannaf. In fact, what is found in the Musannaf is the following narration:
حدثنا غندر عن شعبة عن منصور عن إبراهيم قال: تقعد المرأة فى الصلاة كما يقعد الرجل
“Ghundar narrated to us from Shu‘bah from Mansur from Ibrahim, he said: ‘A woman sits in Salah as a man sits.’” (Musannaf, 2:506)
(Note: Al-Nakha‘i is probably asserting the permissibility of this, not that it is preferred. See report five above where it clearly states with an equally authentic chain that al-Nakha‘i said a woman is ordered to sit to one side – that is, unlike a man. Hence, the added emphasis in that narration ought to give it preference.)
Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah, whose critical edition of Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah is the best to date, writes in a footnote to this narration:
“This is how the word, ‘she sits’ appears, twice, in all manuscripts. There is a textual corruption in the Zahiriyyah manuscript which is a redaction of the Musannaf, in which is, ‘the woman does.’ This is in opposition to all the manuscripts, and does not accord with the chapter heading (‘on how the woman sits in Salah’), and is contrary to what has passed under number 2798 (from Ibrahim al-Nakha‘i) that a woman has a particular posture in some parts of her Salah in which she differs from a man.
“The author of Sifat Salat al-Nabi has fallen into this textual corruption in the conclusion he wrote to this book of his – p. 207 of the second edition – and he erred in ascribing this statement to the Musannaf. It appears that he believed the manuscript of the redaction is the original?!” (ibid.)
This should serve as a lesson to those who unquestioningly accept al-Albani’s documentation and his conclusions based on them, as he and his book are far from error-free.

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