Monday, October 08, 2018

Issued Friday 5 October 2018

 Many hadith have been related which warn against leading a congregation while one is disliked by them. Dislike here relates to one’s religious conduct and is based on a valid reason. Ibn ‘Abbas relates that the Prophet said: “Three people’s prayers will not raise above their head the length of a hand’s span. [They are:] a man who leads a people in salah and they do not like him, a woman who has disobeyed her husband and he is displeased with her and two brothers who are estranged.” This is related by Ibn Majah. Al-’lraqi says its chain is hasan. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr relates that the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “Allah does not accept prayers from three [types of] people: a man who leads a people and they dislike him, a man who attends the prayers after their time is finished, and a man who re-enslaves his freed slave.” This is related by Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah. Elaborating upon it, at-Tirmizhi says: “It is disliked that a man should lead a people in salah while they dislike him. If the imam is not a wrongdoer, then the sin is upon those who don’t like him.”

The Positioning Of The Imam And The Followers 

It is preferred for one person to stand to the right of the imam and for a “group of two (or more)” to stand behind the imam.

Jabir reports: “The Prophet stood to pray and I came and stood on his left. He took me by my hand [and led me] around him until I stood on his right. Then, Jabir ibn Sakhr came and stood on the left of the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu alehi wasallam. He took both of us by our hands and pushed us back until we stood behind him.” This is related by Muslim and Abu Dawud. If a woman is present with the group, then she is to stand in a row by herself behind the men and she is not to join them in their rows. If she did not stand in a separate row, her salah will still be valid according to the opinion of majority. Anas said: “An orphan and I prayed behind the Messenger of Allah in our house and my mother prayed behind us.” In another version it is stated: “He put me and the orphan in a row behind him and the woman behind us.” This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

The Position Of The Imam While Leading The Prayer 

It is preferred for the imam to stand in the center of the rows and the people closest to him should be the people of intellect and understanding. Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “Let the imam stand in the center, and close the gaps in the rows.” This is related by Abu Dawud and both he and al-Munzhiri make no further comment on its authenticity. Ibn Mas’ud reports that the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “Let those who are prudent and sedate be near me, then those who are next to them, then those who are next to them, and beware of the tumult of the market place.” This is related by Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Dawud, and at-Tirmizhi.

Anas said: “The Prophet loved that the emigrants (muhajarin) and helpers (ansar) stand next to him so that they would learn from him.” This is related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud. The wisdom behind having such people close to the imam is that they can correct him if he makes a mistake and it is easy for the imam to appoint one of them in his place if he needs to leave.


The Messenger of Allah placed the men in front of the young boys and the women behind the young boys. This is related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “The best rows for the men are the first rows and the worst rows for them are the last rows. The best rows for the women are the last rows and the worst for them are the front rows.” The last rows are the best for the women because they are farther away from the men as against the first rows that are nearest to men’s rows. This is related by the group except al-Bukhari.


If a person makes his opening takbir behind a row and then he enters the row and performs the ruku’ with the imam, his salah will be valid. Abu Bakra reports that he came to the salah while the Prophet was performing ruku’ and Abu Bakra performed the ruku before he entered the row. He mentioned this to the Prophet and he said: “May Allah increase your love for goodness, but do not repeat that act.” This is related by Ahmad, al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, and anNasa’i.

According to the majority, If a person prays behind the rows by himself, his salah will be valid but disliked. Ahmad, Ishaq, Ahmad, ibn Abu Laila, Waki’, al-Hassan ibn Saleh, an-Nakha’i and Ibn al-Munzhir hold that if a person prays one complete rak’ah behind the rows, his salah will be invalid. Wabsah relates that the Messenger of Allah saw a man praying behind the rows by himself and the Prophet ordered him to repeat his salah. This is related by the five save an-Nasa’i. In Ahmad’s version, the Messenger of Allah was asked about a man who prays by himself behind the rows and he said: “He is to repeat his salah.” At-Tirmizhi called this hadith hasan and Ahmad’s chain is good. ‘Ali ibn Shaiban relates that the Messenger of Allah saw a man praying behind the row and he waited for him and (when he finished) told him: “Go forward (and join the row) for the salah of a person standing alone behind the rows is not valid.” This is related by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and al-Baihaqi. Ahmad says it is hasan. Ibn Sayyid an-Nass said its narrators are well-known, trustworthy people.

The majority stick to the hadith of Abu Bakra who said that he preformed part of the prayer, behind the row, and the Prophet did not order him to repeat his salah. Repeating the salah signifies over zeal in practicing what is recommended and better. Al-Kaman ibn al-Hamam said: “Our scholars are of the opinion that the hadith of Wabsah refers to what is preferred while the hadith of ‘Ali ibn ash-Shaiban underlines failure to practice what is the best and, as such, they are in harmony with the hadith of Abu Bakra. It is clear, then, that it is not necessary to repeat the salah because such an act was not always ordered. If someone comes to the row and does not find sufficient space or a gap to stand in the row, then, according to some, he should stand by himself and it is disliked that he should pull anyone back from the row. Others say that he should pull one, who is aware of the ruling, back from the row after they have performed the opening takbir, and it is preferred for the one who is pulled to join him.”


It is preferred for the imam to order the followers to straighten the rows and fill in any gaps before he starts the salah. Anas relates: “The Prophet would turn his face to us before he began the salah and he would say: ‘Be close together and straighten your rows.’” This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim. He also reported that the Prophet would say: “Make your rows straight for the straightening of the rows is part of the completion of the salah.” An-Nu’man ibn Bashir says: “The Prophet would straighten us in our rows as one straightens an arrow, until he saw that we had learned from him. One day, he saw a person with his chest sticking out and he said: ‘You had better straighten your rows or Allah will cause differences among you.”’ This is related by the five. At-Tirmizhi says it is Sahih. Abu Umamah reports that the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “Straighten your rows and put your shoulders close to each other and be gentle with each other and fill in the gaps for the Satan passes through what is between you like small sheep [are able to pass through gaps].” This is related by Ahmad and at-Tabarani with a chain that has no fault in it. Anas reports that the Messenger of Allah said: “Complete the front row, then the ones after it, and if there is any incompletion, it should be in the last row.” This is related by Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i, and alBaihaqi. Ibn ‘Umar says: “There is no step that carries a greater reward than the step a man takes to an empty gap in a row in order to fill it.” This is related by al-Bazar with a hasan chain. Ibn ‘Umar also related that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever connects a row, Allah will join him. Whoever cuts off a row, Allah will cut him off.” This is related by An-Nasa’i, al-Hakim, and Ibn Khuzaimah.

To be continued