The following is a rebuttal to the article on RevisitingtheSalaf.org, published on the 5th of February, 2012, which can be viewed here.
In this article, RTS quotes narrations in which Aisha would extend her legs in front of the Messenger (pbuh) while he prayed:
Saheeh Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Number 379: Narrated Abu Salama: ‘Aisha the wife of the Prophet said, “I used to sleep in front of Allah’s Apostle and my legs were opposite his Qibla and in prostration he pushed my legs and I withdrew then and when he stood, I stretched them.’ ‘Aisha added, “In those days the houses were without lights.”
Saheeh Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Number 380: Narrated ‘Aisha: Allah Apostle prayed while I was lying like a dead body on his family bed between him and his Qibla.
Saheeh Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Number 381: Narrated ‘Urwa: The Prophet prayed while ‘Aisha was lying between him and his Qibla on the bed on which they used to sleep.
Saheeh Bukhari Volume 1, Book 9, Number 492: Narrated ‘Aisha: the wife of the Prophet, “I used to sleep in front of Allah’s Apostle with my legs opposite his Qibla (facing him); and whenever he prostrated, he pushed my feet and I withdrew them and whenever he stood, I stretched them.” ‘Aisha added, “In those days there were no lamps in the houses.”
Saheeh Bukhari Volume 1, Book 9, Number 498: Narrated ‘Aisha: It is not good that you people have made us (women) equal to dogs and donkeys. No doubt I saw Allah’s Apostle praying while I used to lie between him and the Qibla and when he wanted to prostrate, he pushed my legs and I withdrew them.
Saheeh Bukhari Volume 2, Book 22, Number 300: Narrated Aisha: I used to stretch my legs towards the Qibla of the Prophet while he was praying; whenever he prostrated he touched me, and I would withdraw my legs, and whenever he stood up, I would restretch my legs.
RTS then comments:
We appeal to justice what picture of Islam and the life of the immaculate Prophet (saw) has Aisha sought to paint through these traditions? Consider how shameless these narrations are he if offering Salat whilst his wife is spread out before and even touches her all this contact is occurring whilst the Prophet (saw) is seeking to prostrate. We are sure that no illiterate woman would act in such a disrespectful manner, nor would any man see seek to pray with his wife laid out in front of him, with his wife’s legs spread out in the direction of the Qibla! The entire tradition seeks to lower the station of the Prophet (saw). No normal believer would contemplate offering such a form of salat, since this is that act wherein the believer stands purely before Allah (swt) free of impediments, after all Rasulullah (saw) said ‘Salat is the Miraj of the believers’ – so would he seek to acquire this by offering his prayers before his sleeping wife, whose feet would be situate before the Qibla thus disrupting his ability to perform a proper prostration?
Ironically, if we return to the narrations of the Imams of the Shias, we find them quoting a similar event to show that the actions in the narrations above are permissible.
In Man La Yahdharhu Al-Faqeeh (p. 119) (Dar Al-Murtadha, 1427, first edition) we find the following hadith:
وروى جميل عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام أنه قال: لا بأس أن تصلي المرأة بحذاء الرجل وهو يصلي فإن النبي صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم كان يصلي وعائشة مضطجعة بين يديه وهي حائض، وكان إذا أراد أن يسجد غمز رجليها فرفعت رجليها حتى يسجد.
Jameel narrated from Abi Abdullah (as) that he said: It is fine for a woman to pray next to a man while he is praying, for the Prophet (pbuh) used to pray with Aisha laying down in front of him, during her menses, and if he wanted to prostrate, he would poke her legs, and she would raise them so that he would prostrate.
The path of Ibn Babawaih to Jameel is reliable according to Al-Khoei which can be found in the bottom of this link.
Furthermore, a good number of Shia scholars have authenticated this narration:
Kalaam Javed also adds some more narrations that show the permissibly of this action from Shia books:
The Shia Muhaddith, Hurr al-Aamili titled a chapter in ‘The book of Salaat’ in his compilation ‘Wasail al-Shia’ as following:
باب جواز صلاة الرجل وان كانت المرأة قدامه أو خلفه أو إلى جانبه وهي لا تصلى ولو كانت جنبا أو حائضا وكذا المرأة
Chapter ‘The permissibility of praying of a man if a woman is present in front of him or his back or his (left or right) side, while she is not praying, even though she is junub, or haidh, and similarly a woman (can pray as well).
The first tradition is actually taken from al-Kafi:
محمد بن يعقوب، عن محمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن جعفر بن بشير، عن حماد بن عثمان، عن إدريس بن عبد الله القمي قال: سألت أبا عبد الله (ع) عن الرجل يصلي وبحياله امرأة قائمة على فراشها جنبا، فقال: إن كانت قاعدة فلا يضرك وإن كانت تصلي فلا
Idrees ibn Abdullah al-Qummi asked Imam Jafar Sadiq about a person who prays Salaat while his wife is present on the bed in the state of junub. He said : If she is only sitting, than there is no problem, but if she is praying as well, than it is not allowed.
The fifth tradtion of this chapter is as following:
وباسناده عن محمد بن أحمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن الحسن، عن عمرو بن سعيد، عن مصدق، عن عمار، عن أبي عبد الله (ع) (في حديث) أنه سئل عن الرجل يستقيم له أن يصلي وبين يديه امرأة تصلي؟ فقال: إن كانت المرأة قاعدة أو نائمة أو قائمة في غير صلاة فلا بأس حيث كانت
Ammar narrates from Imam Jafar that he was asked about a person who prayed while a woman prayed in front of him. He said: If the woman is sitting, or sleeping, or standing while she is not praying, than it doesn’t matter wherever she is.
أحمد بن محمد البرقي في (المحاسن) عن أبيه، عن حماد بن عيسى، و فضالة، عن معاوية بن عمار قال: قلت لأبي عبد الله (ع): أقوم أصلي والمرأة جالسة بين يدي أو مارة، قال: لا بأس بذلك إنما سميت بكة لأنه تبك فيها الرجال والنساء
Muawiya ibn Ammar says that I asked Imam Jafar that I pray while a woman is sitting in front of me, or passing (in front of me). He said : No problem, for Mecca is called Becca for the reason that males and females intermingle over there.
This narration is also present in al-Kafi Vol. 4, p. 526 and it has been graded Hasan by Majlisi in Mirat ul Ukul Vol. 18, p. 222 , and Sahih by Behbudi in Sahih Kitab al-Kafi Vol. 2, p. 256
RTS also adds another argument by quoting the following from Tabaqaat Ibn Sa’ad:
“He used to pray whilst I lie down front of him, and he never done so with his other wives”
RTS is implying that Aisha narrated this in order to establish her superiority over the other wives of the Messenger (pbuh). However, upon studying the chain, we find that the narration includes Eisa bin Maymoon and Hajjaj bin Naseer; both are weak. Refer to Tahtheeb Al-Tahtheeb 3/370 and 1/362 (Mu’asasat Al-Risala, 1429, first edition) for ample statements from Rijal scholars about their unreliability.