Are the sitting postures known as الاحتباء and القرفصاء the same?
عن أبى سعيد الخدرى رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم-كان إذا جلس احتبى بيده
(Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 4846)
عن قيلة بنت مخرمة رضي الله عنها أنها رأت النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو قاعد القرفصاء فلما رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم المختشع – وقال موسى المتخشع فى الجلسة، أرعدت من الفرق
(Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 4847)
The words الاحتباء and القرفصاء are commonly known to have very similar meanings in the Arabic language. There is, however, a slight technical difference.
The word الاحتباء is a posture of sitting (squatting) wherein, with the buttocks on the ground one draws his legs and thighs towards [and even joining them with] his belly; thereafter, using a cloth of some type to confine them together with his back, binding it and making it tight so as to support himself and protect himself from falling. Sometimes the hands and arms are used in place of a cloth. In doing so, one will have achieved similar results to that of leaning against a wall.
(An-Nihayah Fi Gharibil Hadith vol. 1 pg.329, Arabic Lexicon vol. 2 pg. 507, Also see: Sharhu Abi Dawud of Ibn Raslan, Hadith: 8486)
Whilst الاحتباء encompasses both scenarios where either a cloth or a person’s hands and arms are used to perform a specific posture of sitting, the word القرفصاء only refers to that type of الاحتباء where the hands and arms are used, not a cloth.
(See Sahih Bukhari, Subheading: 34, before Hadith: 6272 – Chapter of الاحتباء using the hand and that it is [termed] القرفصاء, An-Nihayah Fi Gharibil Hadith vol. 2 pg. 442, Tajul ‘Urus vol. 9 pg. 333)
Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) has summarized the above by mentioning that every القرفصاء can be termed as الاحتباء but not every الاحتباء will be termed as القرفصاء.
(Fathul Bari, Hadith: 6272)
What has been explained so far is the more widespread and common usage of the word القرفصاء.
Other variations in the meaning of the word القرفصاء have also appeared [most being slightly different, and a few being more drastic]. ‘Allamah Fayruzabadi (rahimahullah) has mentioned the more common definition as stated above, but thereafter added another definition as well. He has mentioned that it could refer to that type of a sitting posture where one sits upon the knees (like in tashahhud), bending down, making the stomach cleave/join to the thighs whilst putting the hands under the arm-pits.
(Al-Qamusul Muhit vol. 2 pg. 478, Fathul Bari, Hadith: 6272, Tajul ‘Urus vol. 9 pg. 333, Also see: Footnotes of Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah on Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 8414)
And Allah Ta’ala knows best
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
This answer was collected from HadithAnswers.com. The answers were either answered or checked by Moulana Haroon Abasoomar (rahimahullah) who was a Shaykhul Hadith in South Africa, or by his son, Moulana Muhammad Abasoomer (hafizahullah), who is a Hadith specialist.