Looking at the Place of Prostration

It was reported from ‘Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, that:

“…the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, used to pray with his head tilted forward and his gaze lowered, looking at the ground.” (al-Hakim 1/479)

When the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, entered the Ka’bah, his eyes never left the place of his prostration until he came out again. (al-Hakim 1/479)

When a person sits for Tashahhud, they should look at the finger with which they are pointing as they are moving it, as it was reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him:

‘…would point with the finger next to the thumb towards the qiblah, and focus his gaze upon it.’ (Ibn Khuzaymah 1/355 no.719)

According to another report, he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him:

“…pointed with his index finger and did not allow his gaze to wonder beyond it.” (Ahmad 4/3)

There is a question in the minds of some people who pray which is: what is the ruling on closing the eyes during prayer, especially when a person feels it increases the khushu? The answer is that this goes against the Sunnah that was recorded from the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Closing the eyes means that the person misses out on the Sunnah of looking at the place of prostration and the finger. But there is more to the matter than this.

Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘It is not part of the Prophet’s teaching to close the eyes during prayer. We have already mentioned how he used to look at his finger during the Tashahhud and the du’a, and he would not let his gaze wonder beyond his finger… Another indication [of the fact that he kept his eyes open] is the fact that he stretched his hand forth to take a bunch of grapes when he saw Paradise, and he also saw Hell and the woman (who had tormented) the cat… Likewise he pushed away the animal that wanted to pass in front of him whilst he was praying… He used to wave to those whom he saw greeting him (whilst praying)… From these ahadith and other we learn that he did not close his eyes when he prayed, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. The fuqaha differ as the whether closing the eys during prayer is makruh [disliked]. Imam Ahmad and others did count it as makruh, and said, ‘This is the action of the Jews,’ but others allowed it and did not count it as makruh. The correct view is that if keeping the eyes open does not affect a person’s khushu, then it is better, but if keeping the eyes open affects a person’s khushu because of decorations, adornments etc in front of him, which distract him, then it is not makruh at all for him to close his eyes. The opinion that indeed it is mustahabb [recommended] in this case is closer to the principles and aims of the shariah than saying it is makruh. And Allah knows best.’ (Zad al-Ma’ad 1/293)

Thus it is clear that the Sunnah is not to close one’s eyes, unless it is necessary to do so in order to avoid something that may adversely affect one’s khushu.

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