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Jurisprudence: The Difference Between a Man’s Prayer and a Woman’s

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Mathabah.org
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Answered by Shaykh Omar Subedar

Question:

I wanted to inquire on whether there is any difference in the method of performing salah (ie. posture, composure, gestures) between a man and a woman; and what each of the madhabs (whether there are any differences or not) say on this matter.

Answer:

There are differences found in the prayer method of both the male and female which according to the various math’habs are as follows;

The Hanafi School

  1. A man will raise his hands to his earlobes when commencing the prayer while a woman will only raise her hands to her shoulders.
  2. A man will tie his left hand with his right hand below the naval. The woman will tie both hands on her chest.
  3. A man will keep his fingers spread apart when performing ruku’ while a woman will keep them joined.
  4. A man will keep his stomach away from his thighs and his elbows away from his flanks when prostrating. A woman on the other hand will join her stomach to her thighs while observing this position.
  5. When a man sits between the two prostrations and for the middle and/or final sitting he will place his buttocks on his left foot and keep his right foot erect with his toes facing towards the Qibla. The woman will sit on her buttocks, place her right thigh over her left and extend her left leg towards her right beneath her right leg.

The Mäliki School

  1. A man will keep his elbows away from his flanks in a manner that they resemble wings when performing ruku’. A woman will join her elbows with her flanks.
  2. A man will keep his stomach away from his thighs and his elbows away from his flanks and knees when prostrating. A woman on the other hand will join her stomach to her thighs while prostrating.
  3. A man will keep his thighs spread apart when sitting in the prayer. A woman will keep them joined.

The Shäfi’ë School

  1. A man will keep his elbows away from his flanks and his stomach away from his thighs while performing ruku’ and prostration. A woman on the other hand will join her stomach to her thighs and will join her knees and feet together during ruku’ and prostration.
  2. A man will recite audibly and silently where required while a woman will only recite silently when praying in the presence of men who are strangers in order to avert any potential evil.
  3. If the Imam happens to make a mistake during the prayer the male congregants may rectify or remind him by uttering SubhänAllah while the female congregants will clap the palm of their right hand on the back of their left hand.

The Hanbali School

Apparently there is no difference between the prayer of a male and female in this school.

(Source: Al Fiqh Al Islamë wa Adillatuhu, Wahba Al Zuhailë)

And Allah Knows Best

This answer was collected from Mathabah.org. It’s an Islamic educational institute based in Canada. The questions are generally answered by Sheikh Yusuf Badat and Sheikh Omar Subedar.

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