The Excellence of Standing in the First Row (In Salat)
1082. Jabir bin Samurah (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) came out to us (once) and said, "Why do you not stand in rows as the angels do before their Rubb?'' We asked: "O Messenger of Allah! how do the angels stand in rows before their Rubb?'' He (PBUH) replied, "They complete each row beginning with the first and filling all the gaps.''
Commentary: Taras means to stand in the style of a wall, each brick of which is interlocked with another so much so that there is not even the slightest gap between two of its bricks. When people array themselves for Salat, they should keep their feet and shoulders so close with one another on their left and right that there is no gap or space between them. Moreover, the front rows should be completed first. One should never take place in the second row if there is place in the first. Similarly, one should never take place in the third row if there is room in the second line. And so on and so forth.
1083. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "If people came to know the blessing of calling Adhan and the standing in the first row, they could do nothing but would draw lots to secure these privileges.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith has already been mentioned. It is repeated here to emphasize the merits of getting a place in the first row for Salat which is offered in congregation.
1084.Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The best of the men's rows (in Salat) is the first row and the worst is the last; but the best of the woman's row is the last and the worst of their rows is the first.''
Commentary: Islam has strongly condemned the association of men and women and enjoined women to keep away from mixing with men and observe Hijab (veil). The merit and demerit of place, in the rows in prayer, mentioned in this Hadith is with reference to this background because in the days of the Prophet (PBUH) women used to perform Salat in the Prophet's mosque and their rows were at the end of the gathering. There was no gallery nor a separate section for them. Thus, for men the best place for performing Salat in congregation is the first row because it is farthest from women. The best place for women in Salat in congregation is the last row because it is farthest from men. On the contrary, the last row of men was near the first row of women and for this reason it was regarded as the worst one. Every row of the people performing Salat is good but due to the reason just mentioned, the first row of men and the last row of women are more meritorious, while the last row of men and the first row of women have a lesser merit.
1085. Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) perceived a tendency among his Companions to stand in the back rows, he said to them, "Come forward and be close to me and let those who come after you, follow your lead. If people continue to fall behind (i.e., in acquiring virtues), Allah puts them behind.''
Commentary: In the context of the chapter, this Hadith tells us that the Prophet (PBUH) disliked those who occupied a place in the rear rows in Salat offered in congregation, and exhorted people to find a place in the front rows for the reason that by virtue of that place they could closely observe his manner of offering Salat and emulate him, while people in the rear rows could emulate those who were in front of them. In this connection, he used a sentence which has become very common and can also apply to other matters besides Salat. One should not lag behind in the acquisition of knowledge and practice and in matters of merit and honour because those who lag behind in such matters are also pushed back by Allah, while those who strive hard to acquire merit and honour are helped by Allah and He makes their way convenient.
This Hadith also stresses the need to stand close to the Imam and has an inducement for excelling each other in virtues.
1086. Abu Mas`ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to gently pat our shoulders when we were standing in rows at the time of Salat and say, "Keep (the rows) straight; do not differ from each other lest your hearts should suffer from discord. Let those of you who are mature and prudent be nearer to me, and then those who are next to them.''
Commentary: "To gently pat our shoulders'' means that he would set their shoulders right to straighten the row. "Do not differ from each other'' here means that they should stand shoulder to shoulder and ankle to ankle in a straight line. The reason is that disorder will have a spiritual effect and will create discord. The latter would eventually result in the domination of enmity. Thus, we learn from this Hadith that the Imam should stress on his followers the importance of setting their rows straight; and if his exhortation fails, he should go to them personally and set their lines in order. We also learn from this Hadith that men known for wisdom, knowledge and piety should stand in the first row and these should be followed by those who come next to them in these virtues.
1087. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Keep your rows straight (during Salat in congregation), for keeping the rows straight is part of the perfection of Salat.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith also highlights the importance of setting the rows straight. In fact, this is part of the perfection of Salat. In other words, Salat in congregation does not become perfect without setting the rows in order.
1088. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: When the Iqamah had been announced, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) turned his face towards us and said: "Make your rows straight and stand close together, for I can see you from behind my back.''
Commentary: This Hadith mentions a miracle of the Prophet (PBUH), namely that he could see people standing in the back rows when he was leading the Salat in congregation. But it does not mean that he was always capable of doing so, as is being impressed by certain people. The true position is that it was a miracle which happened with the Will of Allah at the time when the Prophet (PBUH) was leading the Salat in congregation. It must be borne in mind that a miracle happens with the Will of Allah only. It is not at all in the power of the Prophet (PBUH). Had he been capable of working a miracle on his own, he would have shown it at his own pleasure. But no Prophet was ever capable of it, nor was the Prophet (PBUH) an exception to this rule.
The second point that we learn from this Hadith is that of setting the rows straight, which, in practical terms, means that those who stand up for offering Salat in congregation must stand so close to each other that their shoulders and feet are in touch. The Prophet (PBUH) used the word "Tarassu" to describe this position which means that they should stand like a brick wall, each unit of which is riveted with the other. This is the meaning which the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) understood from it and this is what they actually practised. Many people nowadays do not stand in Salat shoulder to shoulder and foot to foot. Some people dislike this practice. May Allah grant guidance to the Muslims so that they can offer Salat according to the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH).
1089. An-Nu`man bin Bashir (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "Straighten your rows; otherwise, Allah will create dissension among you.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
The narration in Muslim is: An-Nu`man bin Bashir (May Allah be pleased with them) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) directed us to keep our rows as straight as arrows. He continued stressing this until he realized that we had learnt it from him (recognized its significance). One day he came into the mosque and stood up. He was just about to say Takbir (Allah is Greater) when he noticed a man whose chest was projected from the row, so he said, "O slaves of Allah, you must straighten your rows or Allah will certainly put your faces in opposite directions.''
Commentary: This Hadith has been mentioned earlier and is repeated here for its being germane to this chapter. "Put your faces in opposite directions'' signifies that "Allah will create enmity in you'', which will create dissension rather than unity, weakness rather than strength and power, and the Muslims will then be overwhelmed with the fear and terror of their enemies. This phrase can also have a literal meaning, that is in consequence of confusion in your ranks, Allah will turn your face towards the napes of your necks and distort them. May Allah save the Muslims from both these punishments.
1090. Al-Bara' bin `Azib (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to pass between the rows from one end to the other, touching our chest and shoulders (i.e., arranging the rows) in line and saying, "Do not be out of line; otherwise your hearts will be in disagreement''. He would add, "Allah and His angels invoke blessings upon the first rows.''
1091. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Arrange the rows in order, stand shoulder to shoulder, close the gaps, be accommodating to your brothers, and do not leave gaps for Satan. Whoever joins up a row, he will be joined to Allah (i.e., to the Mercy of Allah); and whoever cuts off a row, he will be cut off from Allah (i.e., from His Mercy).''
Commentary: This Hadith also tells us about the straightening of rows. Here the phrase "be accommodating to your brothers'' means that one must cooperate with him who tries to set the rows in order, and rather than feeling annoyance on his action, one should happily set the rows right according to his instructions.
This Hadith tells us that leaving gaps in rows amounts to leaving space for Satan to get in them. To join rows means that no space should be left between the two persons who stand in a line. Similarly, a second row should not be started without completing the first one. To break a row means to leave space in it or start the second row without completing the first."Break him and Join him" can be the words of prayer as well as imprecation, for what they mean is "May Allah join him or break him.'' This is a prayer from the Prophet (PBUH) for the person who straightens the rows as well as an imprecation for the one who breaks the rows.
1092. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Stand close together in your rows, keep nearer to one another, and put your necks in line, for by Him in Whose Hands my soul is, I see the Satan entering through the opening in the row like Al-hadhaf (i.e., a type of small black sheep found in Yemen).''
Commentary: This Hadith stresses that the rows made for Salat should not only be integrated like a solid wall but be set vertically close to each other also. This means that there should not be much space between the two rows. The maximum space allowed for it is three spans. Space in excess of this is disapproved and takes away the merit of offering Salat in congregation. This formula does not apply to the rows of women because a larger distance between the rows of men and women is more meritorious. (Ibn `Allan).
"Put your necks in line'' here means to stand shoulder to shoulder - a point which has already been stressed. Viewing Satan secretly entering into the space left in the rows can be correct literally as well as technically. In the former case, it is a miracle of the Prophet (PBUH) while in the latter it is Wahy (Revelation). Almighty Allah informed him that Satan enters the rows of the people offering prayers through the spaces left by them in their rows. Satan is pleased to see these gaps as they make his task of creating doubts in the minds of worshippers easy.
1093. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Fill (complete) the first row, then the one next to it; and if there is any deficiency (incompleteness), it should be in the last row.''
Commentary: This Hadith tells us that completion of rows in their sequence is essential, that is to say, first of all the first row should be completed, then the second, then the third, and so on and so forth. The last row may be left incomplete if it is short of a full row.
1094.`Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Allah and His angels invoke blessings upon those who are on the right side of the rows.''
1095. Al-Bara' (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Whenever we performed Salat behind the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), we liked to be on his right side so that his face might turn towards us (at the end of the Salat). One day, I heard Messenger of Allah (PBUH) supplicating, "O my Rubb! Shield me from Your Torment on the Day when You will gather (or said, `resurrect') Your slaves.''
Commentary: This Hadith describes the merit of standing on the right side of the Imam and tells us that for the Imam it is Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) to sit after the congregational Salat with his face towards his followers.
1096. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him)reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Let the Imam stand in the middle (so that those praying behind him should be standing both on his right and his left) and close the gaps.''
Commentary: Sheikh Al-Albani has stated that two narrators of this Hadith are Majhul (unknown). The second part of it, however, is correct because it is supported by a narration of Ibn `Umar quoted earlier.