Importance of proper rows in prayers
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
We all know and should know the importance of Salat in our individual and collective life. Salat is a great and magnificent worship. Prophet (SAW) instructed us to pray in congregation and mentioned limitless rewards on such a worship. “Congregational prayers create among us a bond of love and mutual understanding. This arouses in us the sense of our collective unity and fosters among us an international fraternity. Praying in congregation inculcates in us a deep feeling of brotherhood. Prayers are also a symbol of equality, for the poor and the rich, the low and the high, the rulers and the ruled, the educated and the unlettered, the black and the white, all stand in one row and prostrate before One Lord. Congregational prayers inculcate in us a strong sense of discipline and organization and obedience to the Imam who leads the prayer. In short, prayers train us in all those virtues which make possible the development of a rich individual and collective life.”
One special instruction of Prophet (SAW) mentioned on many occasions was to be very careful about straightening the rows. First the front rows should be filled and then ones in the rear. People who are elderly, responsible and those who are knowledgeable should try to find a place near the Imam. The reason for such instructions was make the congregation more disciplined, organized and effective. There are many traditions in the regard and people who are careless have been warned. It is very sad that either we totally disregard them, or take them very lightly. I am presenting some of the traditions to refresh your memory. We should try to practice them and also share with others for collective awareness.
Jaabir bin Samurah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) once came to us and said, “Why do you not draw yourselves up in rows as the angels do before their Lord?” We asked: “Ya Messenger of Allah! How do angels draw themselves up in rows before their Lord.” He replied, “They fill each row beginning with the first and keep close to one another in the row,” (Muslim).
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “If people came to know the blessing of pronouncing Adhan and the standing in the first row, they could nothing but would draw lots to secure the privileges.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
Abu Hurairah (RA) quotes Prophet (SAW), who said: “The best of the men’s rows [in Salat] is the first row and the worst is the last; but for women’s row is the last and the worst of their rows is the first.” (Muslim)
Abu Said Khudri narrates that when Allah’s Messenger (SAW) perceived a tendency among his companions (RAA) 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. (Remember!) If people continue to fall behind (i.e. in acquiring virtues), Allah puts them behind.” (Muslim).
Abu Masud (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger used to gently pat our shoulders when we were in rows at the time of Salat (prayer) and say, “Keep (the rows) straight; do not differ from each other least 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.” (Muslim)
Anas (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger said: “Keep your rows straight [during Salat (prayer in congregation), for keeping the rows straight is part of the perfection of Salat.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
Anas (RA) narrated that when the Iqamah had been announced, Allah’s Messenger (SAW) turned his face towards us and said: “Make your rows straight and stand close together, for I can see you from behind my back.” (Bukhari)
Abu Numan bin Bashir said that I heard Allah’s Messenger (SAW) saying: “Straighten you rows; otherwise, Allah will create dissension among you.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
Al-Bara bin Azib (RA) said that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) 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.” (Abu Dawood)
Ummul Mumineen Aa’isha (RAnha) narrated that Allah’s Messenger said, “Allah and His angels invoke blessings upon those who are on the right side of the rows.” (AbuDawood) you
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) 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.” (Abu Dawood).
These are just a few Ahaadith (traditions) of our beloved Prophet (SAW) to give an idea about the rewards of congregational prayers. Insha Allah I will discuss other issues and pertinent questions with regards to Salat and its etiquettes later in future Khutbahs.