Differences in the Salah of Men & Women and the Batil Arguments of the La-Madhabiyyah

[Compiled from various sources]

Difference in Salah between men and women

The La-Madhabiyyah (so called ‘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 hadith cannot compare with the other ahadith 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.

The La-Madhabiyyah 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 (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) 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 Jama’ah have explained.

The Shariah has ordained distinct rules for men and women in many important questions of salah.

For example:

1. Jumu’ah 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, ‘Jumu’ah in congregation is an obligatory duty upon every Muslim except four people: a slave, a woman, a child, and one who is sick.’’
[Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith 1067 and Mustadrak Imam Hakim  Hadith, 1062. Imam Hakim declared it sahih and Imam Dhahabi agreed.]

Sayyidatuna Umm ‘Atiyyah (radhiyallahu anha) says as part of a longer hadith, ‘We have been forbidden from following funerals and there is no Jumu’ah upon us.
[Sunan Abi Dawud, 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 Asma (radhiyallahu anha anha) narrates as part of a longer hadith that the Prophet (صلى الله عايه وسالم ) said, ‘There is no adhan, iqamah or Jumu’ah upon women.’ [Sunan Bayhaqi, Hadith no.1921]

Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) says ‘There is no adhan or iqamah upon women.’

ليس على النساء أذان ولا إقامة

[Musannaf Abdur Razaaq,  Sunan  Bayhaqi, Hadith 1920.]

Imam Ibrahim Nakhai [(rahmatullah alayh) d.96 AH] , a great tabi’i and faqih (jurist) of Iraq who was also the teacher of Imam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) 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 (radhiyallahu anha) 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 Dawud, 641, Sunan Tirmidhi, 377, Sahih Ibn Khuzaimah, 775,  Mustadark of Imam Hakim 917 and Sunan Bayhaqi, 3254.

Imam Hakim declared it sahih and Imam Dhahabi agreed.

4.  Women cannot lead men in salah.

Abu Bakr (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

[Musnad Ahmad 19507, Sahih al Bukhari 4163, Sunan Tirmidhi 2262 and  Sunan Nasai 5388.]

Jabir bin Abdullah (رضئ الله عنه) reports as part of a longer hadith 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 Bayhaqi 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 Hurayrah (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 wasallam) 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 Dawud in his al Maraseel  (Muassasah al Risalah edition), and  Sunan Bayhaqi 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 Bayhaqi 3199.]
The above Hadith is reliable due to the fact that it is supported by many other Ahadith.

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

Sayyiduna Wa’il 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 Abu Bakr Haythami says in Majma’ Al-Zawaaid 2/103, ‘Tabarani has narrated it as part of a long hadith on the virtue of Wa’il bin Hujr , with a chain of Maymoonah 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 Sulaym, 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).’
[Abi Dawud 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 Haythami 2/35. Hafidh Haythami 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 Ibn Khuzaimah]

Abdullah bin Mas’ood (radiyallaahu anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) 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 ahadith. 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 hadith 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 the four madhabs 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 (radhiyallaahu 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 contractingthemselves.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 Ibn Abi Shaybah, 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 (radhiyallahu anhu) says, “When a woman prostrates, she must practise ihtifaz and keep her thighs close to her stomach.”
[al-Musannaf 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 Ibn Abi Shayba, vol 2, pg 505, #2794, Al-Majlis al-Ilmi]

3.  Khalid bin al-jalaaj 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 Ibn Abi Shaybah, 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 Safiyyah (radhiyallahu anha) used to perform salat while in the tarabbu’ position.

عن نافع ؛ أن صفية كانت تصلي وهي متربعة
[Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 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 Ibn Abi Shaybah, vol 2, pg 507, #2805, Al-Majlis al-Ilmi]

6.  Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) was asked: how women performed their salah during the era of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)? 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: 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 move 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 Shaybah 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 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 (rahmatullah alayh) says: a woman should pull herself close together in sujud.
[Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 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 Dawud, Imam Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh) 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 Ibn Abi Shaybah vol. 1, p 270]

7. Imam Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh) 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 tarabbu’ in tashahhud and draw her legs to one side.”
[Masaail of Imam Ahmad narrated by his son Abdullah]

8. Imam Bayhaqi 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-Bayhaqi, vol 2, pg 222, Idarat Al-Talifaat]

9. Qadhi ‘Iyadh (rahmatullah alayh) has also quoted from some Salaf that the sunnah for women is tarabbu’.
[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 Sahaabi 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 qiyaam, ruku’, 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 (rahmatullah alayh) also says that she should raise them slightly and, according to one narration, she should not raise them at all.

Qiyam (The standing posture)

(1) In Qiyam (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 ruku’ 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 ruku’ and sujud.” [al Mughni 1/134]

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

Sujud (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 alayh) 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. Jumu’ah 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 alMuhtar ala ad-Dur al-Mukhtar Vol 1, page 504]. With reference from Bahrur Raiq and Ghunyat almutamalli fi Sharh Munyat al-musalli]

Imam Muhammed Amin Ibn Abidin As- Shami (rahmatullah alayh) 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.
[Radd alMuhtar ala ad-Dur al-Mukhtar, Vol.1, p504]

Mulla Ali Qari [(rahmatullah alayh) 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 Ayni [d.855 AH] writes:

According to Ummud-Darda, Ata, Zuhri and Hammad, the ustadh of  Imam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh), a woman should raise her hands till her breasts.
[alBinaya fi sharh alHidayah, Vol 2, p 187]

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

Imam Burhan Uddin Ali bin Ali Marghinani [(rahimahullah) 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  [(rahimahullah) d. 321 AH] writes:

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

[Mukhtasar Ikhtelaf alUlama, 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 p.212]

Maliki Fiqh

Imam Dardir writes in Sharh al –saghir:

As for a woman she will remain contracted in all postures.
[Sharh al saghir, Vol.1, 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 alayh (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 [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 alayh)[620 AH] writes:

A woman should draw her legs out to her right side. Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal  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 Rasulullah (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 ‘ahle hadith’ have started to propagate the view that salah of males and females is one and the same. This has no basis from Qur’an, sunnah or the actions of the salaf as saliheen.

Their Objection and its refutation

Ghayr Muqallid 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 Qur’an 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 (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), and actions of the companions.

Analysis of Ghayr Muqallid’s evidence and its refutation

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’ (alayhis salaam) was created from Adam (alayhis salaam) 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 Ghayr Muqallideen. 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.

La-Madhabiyyah 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. [Sifatus Salat al Nabi by Albani)

Analysis and Refutation:

Ibrahim An Nakh’ai (rahmatullah alayh) was a famous tabi’i. By quoting him Albani is trying to prove Ibrahim Nakh’ai was of the opinion that salah of male and a female is one and the same.

Albani has misquoted Ibrahim Al 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 (rahimahullah) 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]

La-Madhabiyyah 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 (rahimahullah) 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-Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah: vol. 1 p 270]

It is incorrect to use this narration for the following reasons:

1. Hafiz 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’ (radhiyallahu anhu) had two wives, both of whom were called Umm al-Darda’. Haafiz Ibn Hajar has only counted her among the Taabi’in. He says:

It can be realised from the narration of Makhul that it 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’ah as 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 Sharh Mushkil al-Aathaar li-Abi Ja’farat-Tahaawi: vol. 2 p 338, and Hafizh Mizzi has narrated this athar in 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.

Ghayr Muqallid 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).

Ghayr Muqallid 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 Muhaddith and student of Imam Bukhari, Imam Tirmidhi (rahimahumullah). The Fuqaha of all four madhaahib accept “Mursal” ahadith, but obviously with certain conditions (Athar Al-Hadith). 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.

La-Madhabiyyah 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 Qur’an and the Ahadith. Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Qur’an:

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

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