Where Should The Worshiper Look During Salat?
The scholars have differed as to where one should look while standing in prayer. What is well known in the madhab of Imaam Maalik is that the one in prayer looks in front of him and the opinion of Imaam Ahmad is that he looks to the place of prostration and this is also the opinion of Imaam Ash-Shaaf’ee and Abu Haneefah and their proofs is the narration( that is disconnected) of Muhammad bin Sireen who related that the Prophet, sallalaahu ‘alaihi wasallam, “used to lower his head and look down to the place of prostration” due to that being more effective in causing khush’u. Some scholars have said: Verily the Imaam and the one praying alone looks to the place of prostration. As for the Ma’muum ( the personbeing lead in prayer) then he looks at the Imaam and the proofs for that(opinion) is the hadeeths in Al-Bukhaari which states that when the Messenger, alaihi as salaatu was salaam, prayed As-Salaatul Kusuuf he informed his companions that he was shown Jannah and the Hell-fire, so he said to them “that is when you saw me moving forward and moving backwards”.
This a proof that they were looking at him and from the proofs is the hadeeth which narrated that when the Prophet’s, alaihias salaatu was salaam, minbar was made he stood on it [ to prayer), so he would stand and bow on it but however when he wanted to prostratehe would come down to prostrate on the floor and said “indeed I haveonly performed this so you can follow me and learn my prayer”. This is a proof that they were looking at him and also the Sahaabas mentioned that the Messenger used to read in the inaudible prayer, soit was said to them (the sahaabas) “what made you come to know that” so they said “due to the moving of his beard”. All of this is in asSaheeh Al-Bukhaari, so this is a proof that the ma’muum looks at the Imaam due it being more perfectible in following (the Imaam) and due tothe fact that the Imaam could stand or sit forgetfully, so the ma’muum looks at the Imaam it will be more perfective for him in following the Imaam. As for the Imaam and the one praying alone then he looks at the place of prostration.
This opinion is the closest to the truth (in this matter) especially if the ma’muum is need of that (looking at the imam) for example if he is not able to hear (the Imaam) so then helooks at the Imaam so he can follow him or similar to that. However the exception to this is when one is in the sitting positionbecause he should look at his index finger due to the narration ofAbdullah bin Zubair that Prophet, ‘alaihi as salaatu was salaam, never moved his eyes from his index finger. And also some has given an exception to it if he was praying in the Masjid Al-Haraam while it ispossible for him to see the Ka’bah then he looks at the Ka’bah and also if one were praying As-Salaatul Khawf while the enemy is around him so here (in this scenario) he looks at the direction of the enemy but however the correct opinion regarding the matter regarding the Ka’bah is that the prayer does not look at it due to there being no proof for that. Also due to that might be a distraction especially if there is people performing at Tawaaf around him.
[The Reference: Tafseer Suratil Baqarah (2/126-127) Pint: Daar Ibnil Jawzee.]
Translated by Abu Fajr ‘Abdil-Fattaah