بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم
وعلى آله واهل بيته اجمعين
One of the serious errors of the Maliki madhhab is concerning the gaze of the worshiper in the Salat. According to the Malikis, the worshiper’s gaze should be fixed toward the Qibla, looking straight ahead, as in the fatwa of the contemporary Maliki Shaykh Rami Nsour:
“According to Imam Malik, one has the face towards the Qibla as Allah says, ‘So turn your faces towards the Sacred Mosque’ (Quran 2:144). So, during sitting and standing, one would face the Qibla. During the Ruku, one looks straight down. Although there is a sound Hadith saying that one should look at the place of prostration, the reasoning of Imam Malik is that to abrogate or set a condition to an ayah would require a proof as strong as an ayah. You can have a strong Hadith (sahih) but if its chain is single (ahaad), then it cannot abrogate an verse of the Quran which is at the level of mutwattir and thus stronger than ahaad.”
They cite the Ayah of the Qur’an al-Karim as proof:
فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ
So turn your face [O Prophet] toward the Sacred Mosque. And wheverever you all are [O Believers] turn your faces toward it.
However, this Ayah cannot be used as a proof for where one’s gaze should be fixed. This Ayah simply instructs the Believers to face the Qibla, the direction of the Sacred Mosque, while in Salat, but not necessarily to fix one’s gaze upon it.
Now the Malikis fix their gaze straight toward the Qibla while standing and sitting, but while in Ruku (bowing position) they look straight down. This means that even they do not act upon their own [faulty] understanding of the above cited Ayah of the Qur’an.
The actual Sunna is to fix one’s gaze toward the place of prostration while standing in prayer, as sayyida A’ishaRA narrates:
دَخَلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْكَعْبَةَ مَا خَلَفَ بَصَرُهُ مَوْضِعَ سُجُودِهِ حَتَّى خَرَجَ مِنْهَا
The Messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – entered the Ka’ba and his gaze did not go beyond the place of his prostration until he came out from it. (Mustadrak al-Hakim)
The Sunna is to keep one’s gaze fixed on the index finger of the right hand while in the seated position, as narrated by Abd Allah b. al-ZubayrRA:
لاَ يُجَاوِزُ بَصَرُهُ إِشَارَتَهُ
“His [the Prophet’s] gaze would not go beyond his pointing (with his finger)” (Sunan Abi Dawud #990)