the ruku’ (bowing) in prayer

source: the original sifah salaat in-nabithe prophet’s prayer described (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) – masjid rahmah class no. 39

*translated and explained by abu layla*

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here are some of the benefits from the class focusing on the etiquette of the ruku’ (bowing):

‘Abdullaah bin Mas’ood (radi Allaahu ‘anhu), the noble companion, taught two of the taabi’een (the generation following that of the companions) the ruku’ as placing the  hands between the  legs with both hands intertwined. They (and ibn Mas’ood’s sons), however, have been opposed by the majority of the ‘ulamaa and companions.

Imam an-Nawawi (rahimahullaah) clarified that the sunnah is to place the hands on the knees and that placing them between the legs is disliked. The three men (ibn Mas’ood and the taabi’aan) were unaware of the abrogation, hence it is best to stick to the majority of the ‘ulama. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) left this off and prohibited it, and would place his hands on his two knees; this is what he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) taught the ‘one who prayed badly.’ It is also mentioned in two narrations, one of which is in Saheeh al-Bukhaari/Muslim, that the companions used to do that (place their hands between their knees), but then were prohibited from it.

– ‘Umar (radi Allaahu ‘anhu) said that it is from the Sunnah that one places the hands upon the knees (SaheehTirmithi, Nasaaee; Saheeh – by standards of Muslim). This narration is marfoo’ (raised/traced back to the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)).

Imaam al-Bukhaari (rahimahullaah) narrates that the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), when making ruku’, used to firmly place his hands upon his knees. Other narrations mention that he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did so as if grasping them (SaheehAbu Dawood, Hasan us-Saheeh Tirmithi)

*When Imaam at-Tirmithi (rahimahullaah) calls a hadeethHasan us-Saheeh”, it implies that it is wavering between Hasan (good) and Saheeh (authentic).*

– The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) placed the palms of his hands on his knees and spread the fingers; the narration about spreading the fingers is mentioned by Haakim. Shaykh ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) commented that this is from the recommended aspects of the ruku’, and that if one were to keep the fingers together (not for purpose of worshiping Allaah), then there is no sin upon such an individual – but this is not the sunnah.

– In addition to his palms being upon his knees, the Prophet’s (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) fingers were at times on the shin bone.

It is from the Sunnah to spread the arms apart and spread the elbows from the sides during ruku’. Imaam at-Tirmithi mentioned that this is what the people of knowledge were upon. Shaykh ibn ‘Uthaymeen said that this is a recommended aspect of the prayer. However, if doing so will harm or distract others praying near by, then one should refrain from this. It is also feared that one may as a result falls under Allaah’s statement:

وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ بِغَيْرِ مَا اكْتَسَبُوا
فَقَدِ احْتَمَلُوا بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا

And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly
Bear on themselves the crime of slander and plain sin
(Surat ul-Ahzaab 33:58)

*This harming can be due to a  statement or an action*

– The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to spread and straighten his back such that if water were placed on top, it would stay there. This is a true characteristic of performing a proper ruku’. Shaykh ibn ‘Uthaymeen said that this is accomplished by fulfilling two things: the actual back should be straight and the back should not tilted high or low. ‘Aaisha (radi Allaahu ‘anhaa) narrated that during ruku’, the Prophet’s (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) head would not be lowered or raised, but it would be between that (in line with his back).

– It was said to the ‘one who prayed badly’ to be at ease in the ruku’.

– We know from the authentic Sunnah that the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to be able to see behind him during salaah. Shaykh al-Albaani (rahimahullaah) mentioned that this miracle was specific to the salaah, as there is no daleel (evidence) to claim it to be general.
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