The Differences In The Prayer (Salat) of Men & Women

13th December 2007

Allah (swt) says: ‘He That Obeys Allah And His Rasul (saw), has already attained The Great Victory’ (Surah 33,v71)

There are many ways in which the prayers of both the men & the women differ which are proven from Sahih hadith. For example:

1. For men there is increased reward in praying in the 1st row of the congregational prayers. However, this is not the case with women.

2. Hazrat Aisha (ra) relates: RasulAllah (saw) stated; ‘The prayer of a woman who does not adorn herself with the hijab (covering in accordance to Shariah) is not accepted.’ (Tirmidi & Abu Dawood). However, this is not the case for menfolk.

3. In the Hadith books of both Muslim & Bukhari RasulAllah (saw) has expressed severe displeasure with those men of the Ummah who habitually fail to attend the 5 daily prayers in congregation (in the Masjid). However, Umme Humaid (ra), a female companion, who requested RasulAllah (saw) permission to allow her to pray with him (saw) in congregation in Masjid Nabwi, stating that her husband prevented her from doing so. RasulAllah (saw) replied: ‘Perform the prayer in the inner most portion of your house, it is better than reading the congregational prayer behind me (in my Masjid). Because of this advice, Umme Humaid (ra) for the remainder of her life performed her Salat in the inner most portion of her house. ((Tibrani, Majma’ul Zawahid, Musnad Ahmed)

The main point to mention is that there is such emphasis placed on the hijab (concealment) of a woman that, Azan, Iqamah, Imamat are left out for them. In the same manner, their concealing nature has been cared for in the procedure of performing salat (prayer). Now we will show our proofs in which the prayer of men & women differ (in their performance) from 4 sources. Namely, The orders of the Massenger of Allah (saw), The opinions of the Sahaba(ra), The opinions of the learned amongst the Tabi’een, The opinions of the 4 Imams of the Ummah.

The Hadith of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu,alaihi wa sallam)

1. The order of the Prophet of Allah (saw) which has been recorded by Imam Abu Dawood (rah) in his ‘Kitabul Maraseel’ narrating from Ibn Abi Habib(ra) that on one occasion RasulAllah (saw) passed by 2 women who were both engaged in prayer (salat). RasulAllah (saw) stated: ‘When you (women) prostrate, then join your body with the ground. Verily, in this matter (procedure of performing salat) a woman is not like a man.’ (page 8,Abu Dawood Kitabul Maraseel, Baihaqi)

2. Wail ibn Hujr(ra) narrates that; RasulAllah (saw) told me: ‘When you commence your prayer raise both your hands level with your ears, and the women should raise their hands to their chests.’ (Kanzul Amaal, Majma’ul Zawahid)
Imam Bukhari(rah) has narrated in ‘Juz Raful Yad’ain’ (The Chapter of Raising the Hands) about Umme Darda(ra) that in her prayer she would raise her hands to her shoulders.

3. Ibn Umar(ra) relates: RasulAllah (saw) stated: ‘When a woman sits during prayer she should place one thigh on top of the other, and when she prostrates she should join her stomach with her thighs, this manner is more concealing. Allah (swt) on seeing her says ‘O Angels! Bear witness that I have forgiven this woman.’ (Baihaqi, vol 2, p223)

4. Abu Said Qudri(ra) relates: RasulAllah (saw) used to order the men- ‘Spread your body when prostrating’. And he (saw) would order the women ‘Gather your bodies when prostrating’. (Baihaqi, vol 2, p222)

The Rulings of the Sahaba (ra)

1. Hazrat Ali(ra) stated: ‘When a woman prostrates, then she should gather her body and join her thighs together.’ (Ibn Abi Shayba, Baihaqi)

2. Abdullah Ibn Abbas(ra) was asked about prayer as performed by women. He replied: ‘Women should prostrate by gathering their body and joining its parts.’ (Ibn Abi Shayba)

The Rulings of the Tabi’een (ra)

1. Ibrahim Nakahai(rah) stated: ‘When a woman prostrates then she should stick her stomach to her thighs and should not raise her posterior. She should not spread herself out like the men.’ (Ibn Abi Shayba vol 1, p269-270)

2. Hasan Basri(rah) stated: ‘A woman will join (her body parts) and gather herself when prostrating.’ (Ibn Abi Shayba vol 1, p269)

3. Mujahid(rah) stated: ‘It is disliked (Makrooh) that a man should join his stomach with his thighs whilst praying, in the manner of the women.’ (Ibn Abi Shayba)

The Rulings of the 4 Imams of the Ummah (rah)

1. Imam Noman bin Thabit Abu Hanifa(rah)

‘A woman will gather herself when prostrating, she will stick her stomach and thighs together because this method is more ‘concealing’ for her (which is understood with the proofs of the hadith above).’ (Hidayah vol 1, p110)

2. Imam ‘Darul Hijrat’ Malik bin Anas(rah) – whose school of thoughts foundation was based on the practices of the people of Madinah Munawarrah in their time.
‘The men will separate the knees, the elbows and the thighs from the stomach during prostration in prayer. However, a woman should gather all these parts together.’ (Al Sharhul Saghir, vol 1, p328)

3. Imam Muhammed bin Idress Al Shafi’ (rah) states: ‘Allah (swt) and his Prophet (saw) has shown the women the manner in which to conceal themselves. And I, Imam Shafi (rah), prefer that women join one part of their body with the other during the prostration in prayer. In the same way a woman should do so in Qiyam and Ruku (keep the body parts joined & close together). And women should keep their coverings loose and open so that the shape of the body is not apparent.’ (Kitabul Umm vol 1, p100)

4. Imam Ahmed bin Hambal (rah)
The well known books of the Hambali fiqh ‘Zad’ul Mustakna’ and ‘Al Mughni’ have recorded: Imam Ahmed stated: ‘Women should not spread out when performing the prostration during prayer. The reason being that they are ordered to be concealed and they should therefore gather their bodies together in the prostration. They should place their feet towards the right side whilst prostrating (by doing this, it allows the body to be closer to the ground)…it is also related from Hazrat Ali & Hazrat Abdullah ibn Umar(ra) that they ordered that women should gather their bodies together in prayer. (Al Mughni by Ibn Qadama vol 1, p562)

A hadith in Bukhari and Muslim Pray as you have seen me praying, is usually misunderstood. A sahabi was praying hurriedly when he was told by Prophet of Allah SAW to keep repeating his prayer at the end he was taught how to pray by Rasullah SAW. He was told do ruku, sajda with ease, and not to rush.(this hadith is only about praying with ease and does not prove that there is no difference between the prayer of men and women…In relation to women, it is unanimous amongst the Ulema that the hands should be placed on the chest during Qiyam (standing in prayer).(Al Saayah, vol 2, p156)

We pray that Allah(swt) grants our women the ability to understand and act upon what has been narrated from the Prophet (saw) and the Salaf As saliheen,

Mufti Yusuf Danka (CMIC)