Question # 548: Asalamoalaikum wrwbtuhu, brother do we still have to join feet to feet and shoulders to shoulders in taraweeh as it’s not an obligatory prayer. An Auntie in the masjid informed in the recordings from Makkah for taraweeh they show people not joining their feet in their rows. Enlighten us please.
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: One should join feet to feet and shoulders to shoulders with others praying in the row in all congregational prayer, whether fard or nawafil, and this is applicable for men and women equally because the purpose of closing the gaps is not to leave any room for the Shaytaan. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Join your rows and stand shoulder-to-shoulder. I swear by Whose Hands the soul of Muhammad is, I see the devils penetrating between the rows as does a young goat”. He (صلى الله عليه و سلم) also said: “Whoever completes a row, Allah will grant him His mercy, and whoever makes a gap in a row, Allah will cut him off (from His mercy).” Nevertheless, the worshipper should stand in a moderate fashion, not standing with his feet too far apart in order to join the feet. If the people pray with a gap in the row, they have done wrong, but their prayer is still valid.
Long Answer: Straightening rows in prayers means standing closely, shoulders to shoulders and feet to feet, as reported in the Sunnah. The following ahadith are noteworthy in this regard:
- Anas (رضي الله عنه) reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Straighten your rows, for I see you from behind my back.” Anas (رضي الله عنه) added: “Every one of us used to put his shoulder to the shoulder of his companion (i.e., the person standing next to him) and his foot to the foot of his companion.’ (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)
- It is reported in Sunan Abu Dawood that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to order thrice (before starting the prayer): “Straighten your rows. I swear by Allah; you straighten your rows; otherwise, Allah will turn your heart against one another.” The narrator said: “I noticed after that every one of the companions joined his shoulder to the shoulder of the person standing next to him, his knee to his knee and his ankle to his ankle.” Anas (رضي الله عنه) said: ‘If you want to do the same today, people would bolt as if they were balky mules.” (Abu Shaybah)
- The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Straighten your rows and stand close to each other.” He [the Prophet] also said: “Join your rows and stand shoulder-to-shoulder. I swear by Whose Hands the soul of Muhammad is, I see the devils penetrating between the rows as does a young goat”. (Reported by Al-Nasa’i and Abu Daawood)
- It was narrated by Ahmad and Abu Dawood from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Straighten your rows, make your shoulders level, fill the gaps, be gentle in the hands of your brothers, and do not leave any space for the Shaytaan. Whoever completes a row, Allah will grant him His mercy, and whoever makes a gap in a row, Allah will cut him off (from His mercy).” (This hadith was classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood).
- Abu Dawood and an-Nasa’i narrated from Anas (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Form tight rows and make them close together and make your necks in line with one another.” (Classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood)
[According to scholars, “tight rows” in the above hadiths means the following:]
- As-Sindi said: “The words “Form tight rows” refer to standing close to one another in straight rows. “Make them close together” means to make the space between rows small so that the rows are close to one another.”
- Ibn al-Mundhir said: “Ali narrated that Abu ‘Ubayd said: al-Kisaa’i said: Forming tight rows (at-taraass) means that the people stand very close to one another so that there are no gaps between them. One example of a word from the same root may be seen in the verse in which Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “as though they are a [single] structure joined firmly [bunyaan marsoos]”” (Soorah as-Saf, 61:4) (al-Awsat by Ibn al-Mundhir)
- Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said: “…Forming tight rows is part of making the rows perfect. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to enjoin that and recommend his ummah to make their rows like the rows of the angels before their Lord, as they form tight rows and complete the first row, then the next. But what is meant by forming tight rows is not leaving gaps for the devils; it does not mean jostling one another and pushing and shoving, because there is a difference between forming tight rows and jostling one another…” (ash-Sharh al-Mumti‘). [He also said:] “Many imams and worshippers are careless about the matter of making the rows compact, so you will find a row in which there are many gaps that no one fills. This is a mistake because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) instructed the people to make the rows compact and said that the angels before Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) make their rows compact.” (Fataawa Noor ‘ala ad-Darb by Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)
Based on this, …bringing worshippers closer to one another and filling the gap in the row is an act that is prescribed in shari’ah… [and] if the people pray with a gap in the row, they have done wrong; [nevertheless,] their prayer is still valid.
[Furthermore], the worshipper should stand in a moderate fashion, neither standing with his feet together nor making them too far apart, because the further apart he makes them, the further his shoulders will be from his neighbor’s shoulders. Making the rows straight and compact is achieved by standing foot-to-foot and shoulder-to-shoulder.
(The above reply is based on various answers on similar topics provided by:
- Islamqa.info; and
- Islamweb.net, a website belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.