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Description of woman’s prayer, alone and in congregation

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher

How does a woman’s salah differ when she is praying alone, in congregation with a female imam, or in congregation with a male imam? At which of these times does a woman say the iqama (call to commence)? What about for a sunna salah?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Women’s Prayer When Praying Alone

The only requirement of prayer in which men and women differ is the covering of nakedness: women must cover everything except their face and hands whereas men do not need to cover as much.

Aside from this, there is no difference between men and women with respect to the obligatory elements and conditions of the prayer. The differences are confined to certain recommended acts and the wisdom behind these diffferences returns to the differing natures of men and women. These differences include the following.

– When bowing or prostrating, it is recommended for men to distance their stomachs from their thighs and their elbows from their sides, whereas it is recommended for women huddle in and keep their stomachs as close as possible to their thighs and their elbows as close as possible to their sides.
– It is recommended for men to recite out loud in certain prayers (even when they are praying alone), such as the fajr, maghrib, isha, and tarawih prayers, whereas this is only recommended for women when there are no unrelated men present.

Women’s Prayer In Congregation

Generally speaking, a woman who is following an imam (whether male or female) in prayer does not do anything specifically different from a male who is following an imam in prayer. Rather, she adheres to the same recommendations and requirements that a male adheres to. These requirements include the following.

– One must intend to follow the imam. Ideally, this intention is made when saying the opening Allahu Akbar.
– One must actually follow the imam by not lagging behind or going ahead too much. If one lags behind the imam by two action-integrals, or goes ahead of the imam by two action-ntegrals, it invalidates one’s prayer.

There are, however, some slight differences between women and men when they follow an imam. These include the following.

– Women praying behind a man stand in the furthest rows from the imam whereas the men stand in the closest rows to the imam.
– It is best for women praying behind a female imam to line up alongside her to the left and right, with their heels slightly behind the heels of the female imam, whereas men who pray behind a male imam optimally line up in a row behind the imam.

Other Issues

Women do not give adhan. It is, however, recommended for them to pronounce the iqama (call to commence) just before the prayer when they are praying one of the five obligatory prayers individually or in a women-only congregation. If, however, there are unrelated men present close by, then it is not recommended for them to pronouns the iqama.

Neither the adhan nor the iqama are pronounced for sunna prayers.

This answer was indexed from Qibla.com, which used to have a repository of Islamic Q&A answered by various scholars. The website is no longer in existence. It has now been transformed into a learning portal with paid Islamic course offering under the brand of Kiflayn.

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