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 in Differences in the Salah of Men & Women and the Batil Arguments of the La-Madhabiyyah 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.
ﺑَﺪَﺃَ ﺍﻹِﺳْﻼﻡُ ﻏَﺮِﻳﺒًﺎ ، ﻭَﺳَﻴَﻌُﻮﺩُ ﻛَﻤَﺎ ﺑَﺪَﺃَ ﻏَﺮِﻳﺒًﺎ ، ﻓَﻄُﻮﺑَﻰ ﻟِﻠْﻐُﺮَﺑَﺎﺀِ
“ISLAM BEGAN AS SOMETHING STRANGE AND IT WILL RETURN TO BEING SOMETHING STRANGE, SO BLESSED ARE THE STRANGERS!”
[Hadith of Saheeh Muslim]
By Shaykh Zameelur Rahman (from England)