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CHAPTER ON THE WAY OF SITTING OF SAYYIDINA RASULULLAH SALLALAHU ALAYHI WA’ALE HI WASALLAM

Hazrat Sheikh-ul Hadeeth Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhelwi (R.A.) explains;  

In this chapter is described the sitting of Sayyidina Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi wa’ale hi Wasallam, and the different postures adopted. 

Three ahaadith are mentioned here.   


(120) Hadith Number 1

Hasrat Qaylah bint Makhramah Radiyallahu 'Anha reports: “I saw Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale hi Wasallam in the masjid (in a very humble posture) sitting in a qarfasaa posture. Due to their awe-inspiring personality, I began shivering”.   

Commentary

The 'ulama differ in the explanation of the word 'qarfasaa'. The most commonly known is, that while sitting on the ground, to lift both thighs in an upright position, and fold both arms around the legs. The reason for the awe was that at this moment Sayyidina Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale hi Wasallam was in some deep thought and worry. Sayyidina Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) never worried over little things but they feared that perhaps a punishment or calamity might descend on the Ummah. This seems to be the hadith that has been mentioned briefly in hadith number twelve in the chapter on the ‘dressing of Sayyidina Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale hi Wasallam’. This hadith has another portion which the author has shortened, where it continues that one among those present, after seeing Sayyidina Qaylah Radiyallahu 'Anha shivering said: 'Oh Rasulullah salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam, this poor woman is trembling'. Sayyidina Qaylah Radiyallahu 'Anha says: 'I was behind Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale hi Wasallam, and they did not look towards me. Sayyidina Rasulullah salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam only said: 'Oh poor woman, be calm'. As soon as Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale hi Wasallam said this all the fear in me vanished'. In some narrations this incident is narrated of a man, as has been mentioned in the chapter on the 'Dressing of Sayyidina Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale hi Wasallam'.

(121) Hadith Number 2

The uncle of 'Hasrat Abbaad bin Tamim, 'Hasrat Abdullah bin Zayd Radiyallahu 'Anhu reports: "I have seen Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale hi Wasallam lying flat on their blessed back in the masjid, with one blessed leg resting on the other.  

Commentary

In a narration of Sahih Muslim it has been prohibited to sleep in this manner. The ulama have summed up both narrations in different ways.
A simple explanation is that there are two different postures of sleeping referred to in this manner, both of which have been verified in separate ahaadith. The first is to put the legs flat and rest the one leg on the other. This manner has been mentioned in the 'Shamaa-il', and there is no harm in adopting it. The second manner is to lie with both knees raised, then rest one leg on another. This verifies the narration of Sahih Muslim. The reason for Sayyidina Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale hi Wasallam prohibiting the second manner is because the izaar was generally worn in 'Arabia at that time, and it is very likely that the private parts would be exposed in this manner.
It has also been argued here that this hadith is not relevant to the sitting of Sayyidina Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale hi Wasallam. The ulama’ – Islamic scholars give different reasons for this. The simplest one is that in this chapter on sitting, the general meaning of both sitting and lying down is taken, although some of the narrations on lying down will be mentioned in the chapter on sleeping. It may also be possible, as Ibn Hajar has explained, that this type of sleeping (despite being prohibited in the narration) is permissible in the masjid. Therefore to sit in different postures should also be permissible.


(122) Hadith Number 3


Hasrat
Abu Sa'eed Khudari Radiyallahu 'Anhu says: "When Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale hi Wasallam sat in the masjid, they sat in the qarfasaa posture'. 
  


Commentary

By Qarfasaa' is meant to sit on the buttocks with both thighs raised, and both arms folded around the thighs. Sometimes instead of the arms a cloth, izaar or a turban is tied around the back, both thighs and legs. This manner of sitting displays humbleness and peacefulness. For this reason, Sayyidina Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale hi Wasallam many a time sat in this posture. The Sahaabah Radiyallahu 'Anhum also sat in this manner, but it was not the object to always sit in this manner. This does not contradict the narration mentioned in Abu Daawud. from which we gather that Sayyidina Rasulullah Salla lahu 'Alayhi Wa’ale Hi Wasallam sat crossed-legged from after fajr till ish-raaq (sunrise) in the masjid. It also does not contradict the other ahaadith narrated on this subject. By sitting in the posture described in the hadith under discussion, besides showing humbleness, one gains rest also. It is said that sitting in a qarfasaa posture is like leaning on a wall for the 'Arabs. This is because in the wilderness there are no walls to lean upon, therefore this manner of sitting is in place of leaning on a wall. Many a time instead of the hands a cloth was tied around (the body and legs) thus affording more rest.
 

Studying Ash-Shaam-il  

The Adab of sitting of Sayyidina Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) 

This chapter discusses the Sunnah of how  Sayyidina Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) would sit. Sayyidina Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) would bring their blessed knees close to their blessed stomach, and would bring their blessed hands around. Aside from this posture, Sayyidina Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) would place their blessed leg on the other but only in front of their close Sahabah (Ra) – companions.
The hadeeth in Abu Daawud, also mentions another posture in which Sayyidina Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) sat cross legged after Fajr salaah upto Ish-raak.
 


Understanding the adab of sitting in Islam 

The beautiful and complete Sunnah – way of our blessed Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) showed us how all the etiquettes we observe in Islam will bring us closer to the pleasure of Allah (swt) and the adab – etiquette is the key to acquiring knowledge. Today, we may have knowledge but do not have adab.  

The extensive hadeeth of Jibrail (as) explained many etiquettes of acquiring knowledge. Angel Jibrail (as) approached Sayyidina Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) in the form of a Bedouin while the companions (ra) were present. Angel Jibrail (as) asked questions to Sayyidina Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) in order to educate the companions (Ra) who were listening, about the principles in Islam. In this very important and greatly discussed hadeeth, the narrations confirm that Angel Jibrail (as) sat in front of the blessed Messenger (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and joined their knees with the blessed knees of the blessed Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam). This is how they close they sat to Sayyidina Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam). The companions (Ra) found this posture quite strange. However this hadeeth explains the etiquettes of acquiring knowledge from your teacher. Closeness and physical touch is the means by which we acquire blessings from our shaykh. Also the posture of sitting in front of a shaykh on your knees is regarded as essential in many places of knowledge. Sayyidina Shaykh al’ Yaqoubi explained how their blessed father even when very elderly, would sit on their knees for many hours while teaching their students. Ofcourse their students would sit in the same way. Unfortunately some of these disciplines are now being lost.

When we are seeking knowledge and are in a blessing gathering, we need to be sitting in a respectful way in which our body is not too relaxed.
 Similarly, we should also refrain from sitting in a dis-respectful manner in front of our elders, for example sitting with our legs stretched in front of us while our elders are present.