Straightening the Saffs (Rows)

The Qur’aan and Ahaadith are replete with advices of maintaining unity among Muslims. Almighty Allah advises us, ‘And hold firmly the rope of Allah and do not disunite.’ (Surah Aale-Imraan Aayat103) One way of enhancing unity and avoiding disunity is straightening our Saffs in Salaat. Consider the following Ahaadith:

Nu’maan ibn Bashir (radhiallaahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) would straighten our Saffs with such care that even arrow shafts could be straightened with them (by using them as a guide) until he saw that we understood (the importance of straightening the Saffs). Once he came out and stood (on his Musalla) and just before making Takbeer he noticed a person’s chest sticking out of the Saff. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, ‘O Servants of Allah! Straighten your Saffs or else Allah will cause division amongst your hearts.’ (Muslim vol.1 pg.182; Qadeemi)

Jaabir ibn Samurah (Radhiallaahu Anhu) narrates, Once Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) came to us and said, ‘Will you not form your Saffs in the way the Malaaikah form their Saffs by Allah?’ We asked, ‘How do the Malaaikah form their Saffs.’ Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) answered, ‘They complete the first Saff and they stand close to each other.’ (Ibid pg.181)

Together with straightening the Saffs, there should be no gap between the Saffs. Ibn Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, ‘Establish your Saffs, make sure your shoulders and in line and close the gaps. Become soft in the hands of your brothers (i.e. if someone moves you in order to straighten the Saff, then comply with him) and do not leave gaps for Shaytaan. Whoever joins a Saff, Allah joins ties with him and whoever breaks a Saff, Allah breaks off ties with him.’ (Abu Dawud pg.104; Imdaadiya)

Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattaab (Radhiallaahu Anhu) and Sayyiduna Uthmaan ibn Affaan (Radhiallaahu Anhu) in their respective reigns as Khalifas used to appoint someone who would check that all the Saffs are straight and only after confirmation would they commence the Salaat. (Muatta Imaam Maalik Hadith453, 454)

Hence, all Musallees should realise the importance that was attached to this fundamental part of Salaat by Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and his illustrious Khulafaa.

It is desirable for the Imaam to advise the people before Salaat to straighten their Saffs and appoint a person to check the Saffs are straight. (Shaami vol.1 pg.568). The manner in which the Saffs should be straightened is that shoulders and heels should be in line.
 

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