How did the Prophet perform Sujud?

Q: There was a dispute between two groups regarding what a performer of Salah (Prayer) should begin with when he descends to prostrate. Should he start Sujud (prostration) descending on his hands then his knees or his knees first then his hands and which is better?

A: The majority of scholars held the view that it is better for the performer of Salah to descend on his knees first before his hands upon prostration and should lift his hands from the ground before his knees when leaving prostration on his way up for the next Rak`ah. They substantiated their view by the Hadith narrated by Wa'il ibn Hujr in which he said: I saw that the Prophet (peace be upon him) placed his knees (on the ground) before placing his hands when he prostrated himself. And when he stood up, he raised his hands before his knees. Related by Abu Dawud, Al-Nasa'y, Al-Tirmidhy, and Ibn Majah. However, it is only Sharik Al-Qady who reported this Hadith in his class but Sharik is not a dependent narrator when alone as in the case of this narration. They also raise evidence by means of the Hadith narrated by Anas (may Allah be pleased with him): (Part No. 6; Page No. 435)  Whenever the Prophet (peace be upon him) descended to prostrate in prayer, his knees preceded his hands. Related by Al-Hakim, Al-Bayhaqy, and Al-Daraqutny. Al-Hakim said: The Hadith is in match with the conditions set by Al-Bukhari and Muslim and I see no weakness in its chain of narration. Al-Daraqutny said: It is narrated solely by Al-`Ala' ibn Isma`il who is anonym. Ibn Abu Hatim reported from his father that it is a Munkar (rejected Hadith reported by a weak narrator whose narration conflicts with an authentic Hadith). There are many Hadiths reported in this context; some of them are Maqtu` (a Hadith narrated from a Follower, the generation after the Companions of the Prophet ) and others are Mursal (a Hadith with no Companion of the Prophet in the chain of narration).Other scholars held the view that it is a desirable act to descend on the hands before the knees for prostration such as Al-Awza`y, Malik and Ibn Hazm. Ibn Abu Dawud said: This is the view of the people of Hadith. They substantiated their view by the Hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: When one of you prostrates himself, he should not kneel like a camel, but he should place his hands before his knees. Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and Al-Nasa'y. According to another narration: He should place his hands (on the ground), and then his knees. However, the chain of narration of this Hadith dubious. Thus, some scholars like Ibn Al-Qayyim in his book: "Zad Al-Ma`ad" gave preference to the Hadith narrated by Wa'il ibn Hujr, and the other Hadiths that convey the same meaning. However, others gave preference to the Hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah and other Hadiths that have the same meaning. Indeed, the issue is submitted to juristic reasoning and it is a flexible matter, so some jurists gave the performers of Salah the choice between both matters either due to the weakness of Hadiths from both sides or their contradiction because none of them overbalances the other in his view. As a result, there is flexibility in the two matters. (Part No. 6; Page No. 436) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.