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Question Summary:
Is there any report from Nabi (saw), Sahaba, or Tabiin that a woman must fold their hands on the bossom and not bend completely into ruku?

Question Detail:

Is there any report from Nabi (saw), Sahaba, or Tabiin that a woman must fold their hands on the bossom and not bend completely into ruku?

Answer :

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
It has been the practice of the Muslims throughout the centuries to have trust and confidence upon the Pious Jurists of the past.  Unfortunately this trust and confident has been shaken by some groups that are prevalent in today’s time.  These groups have caused doubts and uncertainties to creep into the hearts of simple hearted Muslims.  One such issue is the salat of a woman.  They claim that the salat of a female does not differ at all from the salat of a male and both will perform it in the exact same manner.  They also claim that the Jurist of the past have differentiated between the salat of a female and male without any bases from the Qur’an and hadith.
The difference of salat between males and females can be understood from the following narrations:
وعن وائل بن حجر قال قال لي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يا وائل بن حجر إذا صليت فاجعل يديك حذاء أذنيك والمرأة تجعل يديها حذاء ثدييها – المعجم الكبير للطبرانى
Wa’il bin Hujr says that Rasulullah (Sallalahu 'Alayhi Wasallam) said, “O Wa’il, when you pray then raise your hands till your ears and a woman should raise the hands till her chest.  (al-Mu’jam al-Kabir of Tabrini)
عن أبى هريرة رضى الله عنه عن النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم قال التسبيح للرجال والتصفيق للنساء – رواه البجارى
Abu Hurayra (Radiyallahu 'Anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallalahu 'Alayhi Wasallam) said, “Tasbeeh is for man and clapping is for women.” – al-Bukhari
عن يزيد بن أبي حبيب أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مر على امرأتين تصليان فقال إذا سجدتما فضما بعض اللحم إلى الأرض فإن المرأة ليست في ذلك كالرجل – أبو داود فى مراسله
Yazid bin Abi Habib narrates that Rasulullah (Sallalahu 'Alayhi Wasallam) passed by two women praying salat.  He said, “When you prostrate, then let part of your body cling to the earth for verily a women in this aspect are not like men. – Abu Dawud in his Marasil
عن عبد ربه بن زيتون قال رأيت أم الدرداء ترفع كفيها حذو منكبيها حين تفتتح الصلاة –  ابن أبى شيبة فى مصنفه
‘Abd Rabbih bin Zaytun said that he say Umme al-Darda’ raising her hands till her shoulders when beginning the salat. – Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf
عن علي قال إذا سجدت المرأة فلتحتفر ولتضم فخذيها - ابن أبى شيبة فى مصنفه
It is narrated that Ali (Radiyallahu 'Anhu) said, “When a woman performs salat, then let her make ihtifaz (lean on one side and rest on her posterior) and keep her thighs close together. - Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf
عن إبراهيم قال إذا سجدت المرأة فلتضم فخذيها ولتضع بطنها عليهما - ابن أبى شيبة فى مصنفه
It is narrated that Ibrahim al-Nakhi’ee said, “When a woman prostrates then let her join her thighs to her stomach.” - Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf
عن بن عباس أنه سئل عن صلاة المرأة فقال تجتمع وتحتفر- ابن أبى شيبة فى مصنفه
Ibn Abbas was asked about the salat of a woman.  He replied, “She should draw herself close together and lean on one side by resting on her left buttocks. - Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf
We have mentioned only a few narrations for brevity.
Imam Bayhaqi explains the reason for this difference in his Sunan:
وجماع ما يفارق المرأة فيه الرجل من احكام الصلوة راجع إلى الستر وهو انها مامورة بكل ماكان استر لها والابواب التى تلى هذه تكشف عن معناه – السنن الكبرى للبيهقى
The differentiating factor between the laws of salat of males and females is concealment.  A woman is commanded to do all those actions which are more concealing for her.  The succeeding chapters will reveal this distinction. – al-Sunan al-Kubra of Bayhaqi
Therefore, one can understand from the above from where the Fuqha have derived the difference in laws of salat for women; it being due to concealment.
Also, one of the proofs used in Shari’a is Ijma’ (consensus).  All the four Schools of Fiqh are unanimous that the salat of women will differ from the salat of men.  Imam ‘Abdul Hayy al-Lucknowi says regarding the placing of hands:
اتفقوا على أن السنة لهن وضع اليدين على الصدر لأنه أستر لها – السعاية
The Jurists are unanimous that the sunna for woman is to place the hands on their chest, since this is more concealing for them. – al-Si’aya
It should be borne in mind that not every single law explicitly mentioned in Qur’an and Hadith.  It is through the blessing of the Imams of Fiqh that through their efforts and hard work, they derived further laws from the original sources, making it easier for the Umma to practice upon Shari’a.  May Allah shower the Jurists with his blessings and bounties and give us the abilities to refrain from questioning the proofs of the madhhab, Ameen.
And Allah knows best
Ml. Ehzaz Ajmeri,
Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by:
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In'aamiyyah

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