The way in which women pray ====================================== The way in which women pray is the same as the way in which men pray in every part of the prayer, prostration, sitting, and so on. This is based on the following evidence: 1 – The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Pray as you have seen me praying.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari. This is addressed to both men and woman. Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Everything that we have said above about the way in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) prayed applies equally to men and women. There is nothing narrated in the Sunnah which implies that women are exempted from any of that. Rather the general meaning of the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Pray as you have seen me praying,” include women too. Sifat Salaat al-Nabi, p. 189 2 – The general meaning of the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Women are the twin halves of men.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, 204; al-Tirmidhi, 105, from the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah. Also narrated by al-Daarimi, 764, from the hadeeth of Anas. Al-‘Ajlooni said: Ibn Qattaan said: The isnaad from ‘Aa’ishah is da’eef (weak), but the isnaad from Anas is saheeh (sound). Kashf al-Khafa’, 1/248 Al-Khattaabi said: What we understand from this is: If something is said in the masculine, it is addressed to women too, except in cases where there is evidence to indicate that it applies only to women. Some of the scholars said that a woman should not sit as a man sits (in prayer), and they quoted two da’eef (weak) hadeeths as evidence for that. Al-Bayhaqi said: Two da’eef hadeeth were narrated concerning that, the like of which cannot be taken as evidence. The first is the hadeeth of ‘Ata’ ibn al-‘Ajlaan from Abu Nadrah al-‘Abdi from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, the companion of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), that he used to command the men to spread out their arms in their prostration and he used to tell the women to keep their arms close to their sides in their prostration. He used to tell the men to spread their left foot along the ground (and sit on it) and place the right foot upright during the tashahhud and he used to tell the women to sit, kneeling, on their heels.” Then al-Bayyhaqi said: This is a munkar hadeeth. The other is the hadeeth of Abu Mutee’ al-Hakam ibn ‘Abd-Allaah al-Balkhi from ‘Umar ibn Dharr from Mujaahid from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar who said: The Messenger of Allaah (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, 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 A third hadeeth 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). In al-Musannaf (1/242), Ibn Abi Shaybah narrated some reports from some of the salaf which suggest that there is a difference in the way women and men sit (in prayer), but the only evidence that counts is the words of Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Then he narrated from some of the salaf that the way in which men and women pray is the same. Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Umm al-Darda’ used to sit in prayer as a man sits and she was a scholarly woman. Al-Haafiz stated in Fath al-Baari that Abu’l-Darda’ had two wives, both of whom were called Umm al-Darda’. The older one was a Sahaabiyyah and the younger one was a Taabi’iyyah. He suggested that the one who was referred to here by al-Bukhaari was the younger one. Finally : Some of the scholars are of the view that men and woman should pray differently, and they quote a number of ahaadeeth as evidence for that, but these are all da’eef (weak) and cannot be taken as evidence. But the correct view is that there is no difference in the way men and women pray. Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen said, refuting the view of the fuqaha’ that “women should not spread their arms out, rather they should keep them close to their sides and when they prostrate they should press their stomachs to their thighs and their thighs to their calves… because they should conceal themselves, and compressing themselves is more concealing than spreading out.” Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This may be answered in several ways: 1 – This reason cannot stand up against the general meaning of the texts which indicate that women are like men with regard to rulings, especially since the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Pray as you have seen me praying,” and this is addressed in general terms, including both men and women. 2 – This reason is redundant because usually, as is prescribed, women pray alone in their houses with no men present. In that case there is no need for them to compress themselves, so long as no men can see them. 3 – You say that she raises her hands, and raising the hands is more likely to uncover than spreading the arms when prostrating. But despite that you say that it is Sunnah for her to raise her hands, because the basic principle is that the rulings apply equally to men and women. The correct view is: Women should do the same things that men do in the prayer, so they should raise their hands and spread their arms out when prostrating, and make their backs level when bowing and lift their stomachs up off their thighs, and their thighs up off their calves, when prostrating… they should sit on the left foot with the right foot held upright when sitting between the two prostrations and in the first tashahhud. In the last tashahhud of the prayer there is only one tashahhud, and they should sit mutawarrikan (with the left upper thigh on the ground and both feet protruding from one (the right) side) during the final tashahhud of three- and four-rak’ah prayers. There are no exceptions for women in any of these matters. Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 3/304, 303 Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, at the end of his book Sifat Salaat al-Nabi (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) (The Prophet’s Prayer Described): “All that has been mentioned of the description of the Prophet's prayer (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) applies equally to men and women, for there is nothing in the Sunnah to necessitate the exception of women from any of these descriptions; in fact, the generality of his statement (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), ‘Pray as you have seen me praying’, includes women” If we assume that a woman is praying in a public place where men may see her, such as in the Haram in Makkah, or in a park – if she has to pray there – then she should be careful with regard to every action that may lead to uncovering any part of her, and take extra precautions in this case. And Allaah knows best.