Question # 330: I received a whatsapp message which states that when going for ruku to sujood, one should place the hands on the ground before knees. It also quoted a sahih hadith from Sunan Abu Dawood, “When any one of you prostrates, let him not go down as the camel does; let him put his hands down before his knees.” Can you shed some light on this?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: According to the Hanafis and Shafi’is, one should go down on his knees first, then on his hands based on the hadith of Waa’il ibn Hajar, who said: “I saw the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم), when he did sujood, putting his knees down before his hands…” Ibn Taymiyah, Ibn al-Qayyim and among contemporary scholars Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz and Shaykh ‘Uthaymeen have favored this view. However, this hadith was classified sahih (authentic) by some scholars and da’eef (weak) by others.

On the other hand, the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) who said: “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, ‘When any one of you prostrates, let him not go down as the camel does; let him put his hands down before his knees.’” was classified as sahih by Al-Albani.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah made a valuable comment on this matter: “…If a person wants to go down knees first or hands first, his prayer is valid in either case, according to the consensus of the scholars, but they disputed as to which is preferable.” Hence, the ordinary Muslim should follow the opinion of a scholar whom he trusts.

Long Answer: The scholars have differed as to how one should go down in sujood, whether one should go hands first or knees first. According to the Hanafis, Shafi’is and one opinion narrated from Ahmad, the person who is praying should go down on his knees first, then on his hands. Al-Tirmidhi thought that this was the opinion of the majority of scholars, and said in his Sunan: “This is how it is done according to the majority of scholars: they think that a man should go down on his knees before he puts his hands down, and when he gets up he should raise his hands before his knees. Those who express this opinion take as evidence the hadith of Waa’il ibn Hajar, who said: “I saw the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم), when he did sujood, putting his knees down before his hands, and when he got up he raised his hands before his knees.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Maajah and al-Daaraqutni. He said: The only one who narrated it was Yazeed ibn Haaroon from Shurayk. Nobody reported from ‘Aasim ibn Kulayb except Shurayk, and Shurayk is not qawiy (strong). Al-Bayhaqi said in al-Sunan: its isnad is da’eef (weak). Al-Albani classed it as da’eef in al-Mishkaat and al-Irwa’. Other scholars classed it as sahih, such as Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) in Zaad al-Ma’aad). Among those who thought that one should go down into sujood knees first were Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah and his student Ibn al-Qayyim; contemporary scholars who favor this view include Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz and Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen.

Maalik, al-Awzaa’i and the scholars of hadith thought that one should go into sujood hands first, based on the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) who said: “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, ‘When any one of you prostrates, let him not go down as the camel does; let him put his hands down before his knees.’” (Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi, and al-Nasa’i. Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’: it was reported by Abu Dawood and al-Nasa’i with a jayyid isnad. It was classed as sahih by Shaykh al-Albaani in al-Irwa’, who said: This is a sahih isnad, all of whose men are thiqaat (trustworthy), the men of Muslim, apart from Muhammad ibn ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Hasan, also known as al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah al-‘Alawi, who is thiqah)

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah made a valuable comment on this matter in al-Fataawa: “Praying in both ways is permissible, according to the consensus of the scholars. If a person wants to go down knees first or hands first, his prayer is valid in either case, according to the consensus of the scholars, but they disputed as to which is preferable.” The scholar should act upon whichever opinion he believes is more likely to be correct, and the ordinary Muslim should follow the opinion of a scholar whom he trusts.

(The above reply is based on answer provided by Islamqa.info on the topic)

The following ahadith from the book ‘The Prophet’s Prayer Described by Shaykh Muhammad Nasir al-Albani’ are noteworthy:

  • “He used to place his hands on the ground before his knees.” (Ibn Khuzaymah, ad-Daaraqutnee and al-Haakim, who declared it sahih and adh-Dhahabee agreed. All the ahadith which contradict this are inauthentic. This way has been endorsed by Maalik, and similar is reported from Ahmad in Ibn al-Jawzee’s al-Tahqeeq. Also, al-Marwazee quoted with a sahih isnad, Imaam al-Awzaa`ee in his Masaa’il as saying, “I found the people placing their hands before their knees.”)
  • He used to instruct likewise, saying: “When one of you performs sajdah, he should not kneel like a camel, but should place his hands before his knees.” (Abu Daawood, Tammaam in al-Fawaa’id, and an-Nasa’i in Sunan as-Sughraa and Sunan al-Kubraa with a sahih isnad. `Abdul Haqq declared it sahih in al-Ahkaam, and went on to say in Kitaab at-Tahajjud, “it has a sounder isnad than the previous one”, i.e. the hadith of Waa’il which is the other way around (knees before hands). In fact, the latter hadith, as well as being contradictory to this sahih hadith and the preceding one, is neither authentic in isnad nor in meaning, as I have explained in Silsilah al-Ahaadeeth ad-Da`eefah and al-Irwaa’)

It should be known that the way to differ from the camel is to place the hands before the knees, because the camel places its knees first; a camel’s “knees” are in its forelegs, as defined in Lisaan al-`Arab and other books of the `Arabic language, and as mentioned by at-Tahaawee in Mushkil al-Aathaar and Sharh Ma`aani al-Aathaar. Also, Imaam Qaasim as-Saraqustee (rahima-hullaah) narrated in Ghareeb al-Hadith, with a sahih isnad, Abu Hurayrah’s statement, “No one should kneel the way a runaway camel does”, and then added, “This is in sajdah. He is saying that one should not throw oneself down, as a runaway (or untamed) camel does, hurriedly and without calmness, but he should go down calmly, placing his hands first, followed by his knees, and an explanatory marfoo` hadith has been narrated in this regard.” He then mentioned the hadith above.

As for Ibn al-Qayyim’s extremely strange statement, “These words are incomprehensible, and not understood by the experts of the language”, it is answered by the sources which we have mentioned, and also many others which can be consulted. I have also expanded on this in the refutation against Shaykh at-Tuwayjaree, which may be published.

  • He also used to say: “Verily, the hands prostrate as the face prostrates, so when one of you places his face (on the ground), he should place his hands, and when he raises it, he should raise them.” (Ibn Khuzaymah, Ahmad and Siraaj; al-Haakim declared it sahih and adh-Dhahabee agreed. It is given in Irwaa’)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam