November 14, 2019
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Prostration Method (Salah) for Men and Women | Javed Ahmad Ghamidi

I have spent a long time in Saudi Arabia where
I observed women prostrating like men. I recently came to Pakistan and discussed the issue with some
people telling them how they prostrate with that much difficulty. They rejected this method of Arabs saying they are following
the method advised by Imam Abu Hanifah. They said Imam Abu Hanifah says that women should
prostrate in a way that their elbows touch the ground. When we were college students, we read a Hadith that implied that
one must not prostrate like a dog, touching his elbow to the ground. In the recent visit, when I visited Pashawar,
I offered prayer in Qissa Khani Bazar mosque. There, I observed a conflict about
the verdict of Imam Abu Hanifah. The statement ascribed to Imam Abu Hanifah read that
women should prostate touching their elbows to the ground. My question is about Abu Hanifah.
Did he really say so? The problem relates to the
confusion of culture and religion. Our jurists, Abu Hanifah is one of them, have
included many cultural elements into the religion. I can give you many
examples of such practices. Such elements are made part of the religion on
the principle that it may lead to a conflict later on. Considering possible conflicts,
they issue some specific directions. What Imam Abu Hanifah has said about
this particular issue is a different thing. But the Hanafi principle is the
same that you have described. It is not necessary that every statement ascribed to
Hanafi school of thought has come from Imam Abu Hanifah. Abu Hanifah initiated the practice. He
was followed by many religious scholars. A complete structure of
the fiqh was established. That structure is associated to Imam Abu Hanifah and
the issues related to it are also ascribed to the Imam. The Holy Quran does not necessitate any such thing. The Prophet
(sws) never commanded women to offer prayer differently from men. What is the general guidance regarding method
of offering prayer that the Prophet provided? He said: Offer your prayers the
way you see me offer my prayer. You know that the Prophet was a male. But he
issued this statement for both, men and women. The majority of Pakistani citizens believe
Arab women prostrate in a wrong way. What is the standard to decide between right and wrong?
The standard is the commandment of God and His messenger. Therefore, it is only a cultural factor. In our society, particularly in the recent decades,
the attitude towards women has been quite different. People emphasised on not letting
anyone see or stare at women. You should read the work of a great Indian Scholar,
Mr Ashraf Ali Thanvi, who had written a book ‘Bahishti Zaiwar’. If you read this book, you learn
how culture enters religion. In the book, the author advises that women
should be taught to read and not to write. If they learn to write, they will write
love letters to men in their neighbors. It is not a religion but a culture or
civilization which leads to such practices. We have seen that in our old
culture of Dehli, women were told not to soak their clothes in the courtyard
fearing a stranger might see those clothes. This is not the command of God or His messenger.
But such things entered the religion. Therefore, there are many factors that are related to
culture but religious people enter them into the religion in the light of the principle that God and His
messenger want men and women to be cautious. One aspect of this caution is that if a woman spreads her
hands, she will expose her armpits and undergarments to strangers. These laws are made considering such elements.
Otherwise, they have nothing to do with religious teachings. The standard principle that has been explained clearly
requires that women should offer prayers just like men. If women wish to observe extra
caution, they are welcome to do so. However, they should observe the limits prescribed for
prayer. There might be a slight difference in movement. Everyone has his own style of moving and sitting. For
example, I may be standing differently from someone else. It is quite permissible in matters where God
has not enforced any specific restrictions. For example, some people
observed the Prophet offering prayer. One thing is the law we follow while offering
a prayer that I have explained to you earlier. It does not differentiate
men from women. People observed the Prophet offering
prayer at different occasions. Some people observed that the Prophet sat
for a while before standing up after prostration. Others saw him standing right up from the
prostration. We see people arguing on this issue. Such minor differences are visible in almost
everything. They are of no significance. There is nothing wrong with keeping elbows
on the ground or observing any other caution. There is no difference between methods
of offering prayer, fasting, Hajj, and Umrah. Women can perform all
these worships just like men.

Jean Kelley



  1. Hassan NAviwala Posted on October 7, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Here we have sunnat e mutwara that women perform prayer differently.

  2. zala noor Posted on October 7, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Thank you Sir for guiding me ,to use & clear the term "culture" as I m a teacher,& guiding students since from many years with almawrid,but I can't extract the word culture in. Religion.

  3. Snaabufuwad Ansari Posted on October 7, 2019 at 10:22 am

    کاکو شاہ قرآن کے ذریعے پہلے صلوۃ کی کیفیت بیان کریں
    اس کے بعد اس کی باریکیوں پر تبصرہ کریں تو زیادہ بہتر ہوگا،
    کیونکہ بقول کاکو شاہ کے حدیث تو صرف ایک تاریخ ہے اور تاریخ کو تاریخ تک ہی محدود رکھنا چاہئے،
    اور تاریخ سے شریعت کی کوئی بات تھوڑی ثابت ہوتی ہے ۔

    أعوذباللہ السمیع العلیم من الشیطٰن الرجیم من ھمزہ ونفخہ ونفثہ،

    آمین ثم آمین یارب العالمین

  4. Malik Imtiaz Posted on October 7, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Jazak Allah!! Nice explained

  5. Tahir Hassnain Posted on October 7, 2019 at 4:54 pm


  6. Ashraf Estate Posted on October 7, 2019 at 5:45 pm

  7. Fairy tale Posted on October 7, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Jazakallah. Correction of such things is very important, we need a right direction pls keep guiding us.

  8. Mohammad Shadab Posted on October 7, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    What a great person ghamidi Sahab.