This small article written by our brother Abū Afnān Muḥammad ʾAbdullah (حفظه الله) is intended to shed light on the issue of a woman’s prayer being characteristically different to that of a man’s and some of the narrations which are used to establish this incorrect ‘principle’.
The doubt that is widely believed and practiced is that a female completes her prayer in a manner that is different to the male and that the movements in her prayer are fundamentally different to his. This is in relation to her raising her hands, bowing in rukūʾ, making sajdah and other movements during the prayer.
However, upon objective investigation of the proofs in light of the science of ḥadīth and the principles of uṣūl al-fiqh, one finds that this is a weak position which is not validated with authentic evidence. And the so called ‘proofs’ to defend it do not stand up to the authenticity of the proofs which establish the general principle that the woman’s prayer is the same as the man’s, except in specific issues wherein there is explicit proof that the woman is commanded to do something different than the man as it relates to the prayer.
“…the eminent scholar Shaykh al-Albānīرحمه الله mentions after describing the entire prayer of the Prophet (ﷺ), from the takbīr to the taslīm, that men and women are the same with regards to the prayer except in issues wherein specific proof has excluded women from certain rulings. Thus, the general understanding of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) statement, ‘Pray as you have seen me pray’ encompasses women. This is also the statement of the tābiʾī, Ibrāhīm al-Nakhaʾī who stated, ‘The woman does what the man does in the prayer’”
“The Permanent Committee for Fatāwá said:
‘There is no difference between the prayer of a man and the prayer of the woman regarding the statements and actions performed in the prayer. However, it is compulsory for the woman to completely cover her entire body except her face if there are no non-maḥram men in her presence. The statement of the Prophet (ﷺ), ‘pray as you have seen me pray’ is a general command for both men and women.”