Women’s Prostration & Validity of the Prayer

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Answered by Ustadha Naielah Ackbarali

Question: I have a question regarding the way a woman should pray according to the Hanafi madhab. When a woman is prostrating do her elbows have to touch the ground or not? And if she hasn’t done either one, does her prayer become void?

Answer: Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahimi

The basis of the woman’s prayer in the Hanafi madhhab is that it follows the same rulings as the man’s prayer, and any differences between the two return to the principle of what is most concealing and modest for her. [Radd al Muhtar]

Yazid ibn Abi Habib related that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) passed by two women praying and said, “When you prostrate, draw your limbs closely together. Verily, the woman is not like the man in that action.” [Abu Dawud]

In prostration, it is sunna for a woman to draw all of her limbs closely together in order to achieve maximum modesty. Her abdomen rests on top of her thighs and her upper-arms remain closely at her sides while her forearms lay on the floor. [Bada’i al-Sana’i, Radd al-Muhtar, Maraqi al-Falah, Tabayyin al-Haqaiq Sharh Kanz al-Daqaiq, & al-Bahr al-Raiq Sharh Kanz al-Daqaiq]

It was related that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Straighten yourselves in prostration and none of you should rest his two arms on the floor like a dog.” [Abu Dawud]  There are several hadiths that narrate a similar meaning. In our times, one may hear others quote these narrations, and for the Hanafis, this is definitely the basis for a man’s prayer as the sunna position is for him to not rest his forearms on the floor and he should not keep his arms close to his sides in prostration. However, in regards to the woman’s prayer, she should rest her forearms on the floor while prostrating because this position is more concealing for her body. [Bada’i al-Sana’i]

If a woman’s forearms do not touch the ground in prostration, then her prayer is still valid and complete (i.e. leaving this action does not require a prostration of forgetfulness). There are only five actions that are considered integrals of the prayer and missing one of them would render the prayer invalid. Once one commences the prayer with the opening takbir loud enough such that one can hear himself, the five integrals are: 1. standing in the obligatory and necessary (wajib) prayers, 2. reciting at least one short verse in two rakats of the obligatory prayer and all rakats of the wajib/sunna/nafl prayers, 3. bowing such that his hands reach his knees, 4. prostrating with the obligatory limbs, and 5. sitting in the final sitting for the length of the tashahud. [Maraqi al-Falah]

A previous answer was posted regarding the details of the woman’s prayer and it can be found at this link:

How Should a Woman Sit and Prostrate in Prayer?

Barak Allah fikum
Ustadha Naielah Ackbarali

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