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Closing One’s Eyes in Prayer: A Detailed Answer

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: What is the ruling of closing one’s eyes in prayer? Where should one look when praying?

Answer: Walaikum assalam

To close one’s eyes in prayer is somewhat disliked. This is because:

  • it entails leaving the sunna of looking at the place of prostration,
  • it resembles the worship of the Jews, and
  • it is reported from the early Muslims that they disliked this.

There is a weak hadith regarding this, which is not sufficient as proof (in itself), but supports these other considerations.

However:

  • if one does not gain full attentiveness or is distracted in prayer if one s eyes are open, then it would be permitted (or, perhaps, even better) to close one s eyes.

The Position of the Four Schools:

The above is a summary of what Imam Haskafi said in Durr al-Mukhtar, Ibn Abidin in Radd al-Muhtar, Ibn Nujaym in al-Bahr al-Ra iq, and Imam Kasani in Bada i` al-Sana i`, in Hanafi fiqh.

This ruling was also confirmed by what Imam Buhuti said in Kashshaf al-Qina` in Hanbali fiqh; and Imam Dardir in al-Sharh al-Saghir in Maliki fiqh.

Within the Shafi`i school, it is transmitted that it is disliked to close one s eyes. However, Imam Nawawi chose that it is not disliked in his Majmu` and also in his Minhaj, which some interpreted as saying it is absolutely permitted to close one s eyes, and others that it is better not to (khilaf al-awla), unless it aid s one s presence of heart.

Reason for Dislikedness & the Place of the Eyes in Prayer

Imam Buhuti mentioned in his Kashshaf al-Qina` that a reason for its being disliked is that it can be a means for one becoming drowsy, such as when praying at night.

Imam Kasani explained in his Bada i` that the reason for looking at one s place of prostration is that each limb of the body has a share in the prayer s worship. Imam Ibn Nujaym mentioned that one does not close one s eyes in prostration, either, and mentioned that, “A number of Sufis (may Allah benefit us through them) said that one keeps one s eyes open because the eyes too prostrate.”

Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned in his magnificent Qur anic tafsir of the verses relating to legal rulings, Ahkam al-Qur an, explaining the words of Allah Most High in Surat al-Mu minin, “Successful indeed are the believers, who are reverent in prayer”, (23: 1-2) that:

  • Muhammad Ibn Sirin reported that the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) used to look up to the sky while praying. After this verse, he used to keep his head lowered.
  • It has also been reported from him that after this verse was revealed, the Companions would lower their gazes until their eyes did not go beyond their place of prostration.
  • It has been reported from Ibrahim, Mujahid and Zuhri that they said, “Reverenece (khushu`) is being still.”
  • It has been reported that Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said, “Reverence is in the heart  and to avoid distractions in prayer.”
  • Hasan al-Basri said, “The reverent are the fearful.”
  • Abu Bakr al-Jassas commented: “Reverence (khushru) is all these meanings: being still in prayer, humble, not getting distracted, not looking around or moving, being fearful of Allah.”
  • This is why it is reported that Sayyiduna Ibn Mas`ud (Allah be pleased with him) would be like a thrown garment (in his stillness, and once in prayer, he would lower his voice, body, and gaze.)

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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