The Messenger sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Pray as you have seen me praying” And that which is understood from this Hadeeth is that there is no difference between the prayer of the man and the prayer of the woman, not in the standing, the sitting and nor in the prostration. So I have been acting in accordance with that since reaching the age of at-Takleef (burdened/obligated to abide by the Sharee’ah). But we have women in Kenya who quarrel with me and they say that your prayer is not correct because it resembles the man’s prayer. And the examples they mention where the man’s prayer differs from the woman’s prayer are holding the two hands upon the chest and when releasing them both and the keeping of the back level in the bowing position (Rukoo’) and other than that from the issues about which I have conviction. So I would like you to clarify to me is there a difference between the performance of the prayer of the man and the woman?
O questioner, my sister for the sake of Allaah, indeed that which is correct is that there is no difference between the man’s prayer and the woman’s prayer. As for what some of the jurists mention from the difference [in the prayer of the man and the woman] then there is no evidence for it. And the hadeeth that you mentioned in the question being the statement of the prophet may the peace and blessings be upon him:
“Pray as you have seen me praying”1
[This Hadeeth]is a fundamental principle which generally includes everybody and the legislations are in generality for men and women except for when there is established proof making it specific. So the Sunnah for the woman is that she prays as the men pray in the rukoo’ (bowing), the prostration (sujood), the recitation, putting the hands upon the chest and other than that. This is what is best, this is how to put them (hands) upon the knees in the rukoo’, this is how to put them upon the ground in prostration either in level with shoulders or in level with the ears, this how you make your back level in the rukoo’ and this what is said in the rukoo’ and the prostration and after the rising from the rukoo’ and rising up from the prostration and between the two prostrations. All of it is just the same as the men acting in accordance to his (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) statement:
“Pray as you have seen me praying” [Reported by al-Bukhaaree in as-Saheeh.]
1 Reported by al-Bukhaaree in [the book of] al-Adhaan no.595, & ad-Daarimee in [the book of] as-Salaat no.1225.
Shaykh `Abdul-`Azeez Bin Baz
Noorun ‘alaa ad-Darb – Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Maqaalaat al-Mutanawwi’ah Vol.11.
Translated by Abu ‘Abdillaah al-Kashmiree