Ibn Umarreported that Allaah
(AWJ)'s Messengersaid, Establish your
lines [straight], for indeed the angels [pray] in lines. Align your shoulders, close the
gaps, yield your hands to your brothers, and do not leave any gaps for Shaytaan. Whoever
connects a line, Allaah maintains him, and whoever breaks a line, Allaah cuts him off.
(Ahmad, Aboo Daawood, an-Nasaa`ee and others. See Saheeh ul-Jaami no. 1187)
Anyone who has prayed with different groups of
people will probably have experienced the following situation: When you line up for
prayer, the person next to you prevents your feet from touching theirs. If you try to move
closer to them, they move away, if you persist trouble will most likely erupt.
The evidence for standing four fingers width away?
Most people who stand away from their neighbor
during group prayer do so simply out of custom. It would not be fair to claim that it is
based upon a certain mathhab, for one will not find it taught in any of the source books
for the mathhabs. For example, in the famous Hanafee fiqh book "Haashiyah" by
Ibn `Aabidayn, the only mention of one not touching the feet to their neighbor during
group prayer, is in the case of a man praying with his wife! . Similarly, it is not
mentioned in "al-Um" by ash-Shaaf`ee. However, the opinion stating that it is
allowable for one to stand four fingers width away from the person praying next to them is
collected in some comparative fiqh books.(1) This opinion, we hope to show, is
pure baseless conjecture, and furthermore implementing it violates numerous general and
specific texts which govern how to stand in line for group prayers. Additionally, the
manner in which the companions prayed in the presence of the Prophetis an evidence for the Muslims to follow.
especially when hesaid,
...For surely I can see you from behind my
back... (Al- Bukhaaree)And he said so after commanding the companions to correct their
lines. Were they to have not followed his command properly, or if they were excessive,
then he, being able to see them in that state, surely would have corrected them further.
And this is the argument against those who claim that concern over this matter constitutes
Furthermore, this opinion is one that requires the
praying person to do an additional act, that is - to move away, whereas were he to stand
still when the person next to him put his foot next to his, he would be doing less, and
less action is the rule in prayer unless there is an evidence otherwise! This is
especially true in the light of the texts as we will prove if Allah (AWJ) allows.
The command to straighten the rows and close the
gaps, and that it is Waajib
The Prophetsaid Make good your standing in the rows during prayer.
(Ahmad and Ibn Hibaan. Authenticated by al-Albaanee in Saheeh ul-Jaami no. 195) And, Establish
your lines [straight], and consolidate... (al Bukhaaree, Muslim, and others)
Imaam al-Baghawee comments on the word
"taraassoow" [translated here as consolidate] saying, "His saying
taraassoow means to cling together until there are no gaps between you. As Allaah (AWJ)
said, Surely Allaah loves those who fight in His cause in
ranks as if they were a solidified [marsoosan] wall.
(as-Saff 61:4) meaning they join together with each other. In this is the evidence that
the Imaam should turn towards the people commanding them to straighten their lines."(2)
The Prophetalso said, Straighten your lines, for indeed straightening the
lines is part of the completeness of the prayer. (Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim), about
which Imaam ash-Shawkaanee noted, "From this it is understood that straightening the
lines is waajib." (Nayl ul-Aawtaar)
And hecommanded,Close the gaps... (Ahmad, Aboo Daawood, an-Nasaa`ee and others. See
Saheeh ul-Jaami no. 1187)
Ordering the action by way of a verb accompanied by
the "laam" of command