Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Once Allah’s Apostle fell off a horse and his leg or shoulder got injured. He swore that he would not go to his wives for one month and he stayed in a Mashruba (attic room) having stairs made of date palm trunks. So his companions came to visit him, and he led them in prayer sitting, whereas his companions were standing. When he finished the prayer, he said, “Imam is meant to be followed, so when he says ‘Allahu Akbar,’ say ‘Allahu Akbar’ and when he bows, bow and when he prostrates, prostrate and if he prays standing, pray standing. After the 29th day the Prophet came down (from the attic room) and the people asked him, “O Allah’s Apostle! You swore that you will not go to your wives for one month.” He said, “The month is 29 days.”
The incidence mentioned in the first part of the Hadith is from the Battle of Trench/Khandaq (Ahzaab). When victories and wealth were coming in Madinah, the wives of the Prophet (SAW) wished to raise their standards of living a bit better because, well, it was affordable now. Prophet (SAW) didn’t like that. It was at this time that he swore to not see his wives for a whole month. Read more about it in Surah al-Ahzaab from Tafsir Ibn Kathir here.
The next part of the Hadith is about following the Imaam. Muslims are made to practice this in Salah (congregation) so that they can do it in other matters as well. For example, obeying the head of the family and giving your boss the respect he deserves.
When we’re offering Salah in congregation, we have to keep a few things in mind. One of them is: ALWAYS follow the Imaam. Say Allahu Akbar after he says Allahu Akbar. Bow after he bows. Not with him (simultaneously), not before him.
The phrase “ if he prays standing, pray standing” implies that if he prays sitting, then pray sitting. This, as we get to know from other Ahadith, is an abrogated ruling. Prophet (SAW), during his last days, led the prayer while sitting but he did not ask the people behind him to sit. Rather, the muqtadis (individuals behind the Imaam) prayed standing. This will come in later Ahadith too, we’ll discuss it then inshaAllah.
The last part of the Hadith has humor. As in, a joke that Prophet (SAW) made. Since he swore that he wouldn’t visit his wives for a month, people commonly assumed that it would take him 30 days to come back. But he came after 29 days and everyone asked him why he did so. His reply implied that a month has 29 days too.
NOTE: he cracked a joke, but it wasn’t a lie.
We joke around too, to make other people laugh. But how much of it is true?