Standing Foot-To-Foot in Salaah
Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem.
This issue of standing foot to foot in salaah that some people insist on doing, it should be borne in mind that there is no basis whatsoever for it, and that has been the unanimous verdict of the ‘ulamaa of all four madhaahib.
It has only appeared in latter days amongst some salafis that insist on it claiming it is from the sunnah, while it is not from the sunnah.
The ‘ulamaa – particularly the hanafi ‘ulamaa – have dealt quite adequately with this issue, explaining it from all angles and pointing out the discrepancies that arises from the opinion of standing foot to foot, but we can deal with that at a later stage In-Shaa Allaah.
What these salafis do not realise is that it is not even the unanimous verdict of all salafi scholars, two famous salafi scholars who did not accept it are shaykh ibn uthaymeen and shaykh bakr abu zaid.
The following is the fatwaa of shaykh ibn uthaymeen:
س234: ما المعتمد في إقامة الصفوف؟ وهل يشرع للمصلي أن يلصق كعبه بكعب من بجانبه؟ أفتونا مأجورين؟
الجواب: الصحيح أن المعتمد في تسوية الصف محاذاة الكعبين بعضهما بعضاً، لا رؤوس الأصابع، وذلك لأن البدن مركب على الكعب، والأصابع تختلف الأقدام فيها، فهناك القدم الطويل، وهناك القدم القصير، فلا يمكن ضبط التساوي إلا بالكعب .
وأما إلصاق الكعبين بعضهما ببعض فلا شك أنه وارد عن الصحابة –رضي الله عنهم- فإنهم كانا يسوون الصفوف بإلصاق الكعبين بعضهما ببعض ، أي أن كل واحد منهم يلصق كعبه بكعب جاره لتحقق المحاذاة وتسوية الصف، فهو ليس مقصوداً لذاته لكنه مقصود لغيره كما ذكر بعض أهل العلم، ولهذا إذا تمت الصفوف وقام الناس ينبغي لكل واحد أن يلصق كعبه بكعب صاحبه لتحقق المساواة، وليس معنى ذلك أن يلازم هذا الإلصاق ويبقى ملازماً له في جميع الصلاة .
ومن الغلو في هذه المسألة ما يفعله بعض الناس من كونه يلصق كعبه بكعب صاحبه ويفتح قدميه فيما بينهما حتى يكون بينه وبين جاره في المناكب فرجة فيخالف السنة في ذلك، والمقصود أن المناكب والأكعب تتساوى
Question: What is the relied-upon position regarding the straightening of the rows (sufuf)? Is it prescribed for the praying person to join his ankle (ka’b) to the ankle of the person next to him? Please give us the fatwa, may you be rewarded.
Answer: That which is correct is that the relied-upon position regarding the straightening of the row is that the ankles should be in line with each other, not the ends of the toes, and that is because the body is supported upon the ankle, and the feet differ in regard to the toes, because some feet are long, and some feet are short. So it is impossible to ensure straightness except by the ankles (i.e. by the ankles being in line with each other).
As for joining the ankles to the ankles of the others, then no doubt this is reported from the Sahabah, radhiyallahu ‘anhum, for they would straighten the rows by joining ankles, that is, every one of them would join his ankle with the ankle of his neighbour to ensure being line, and the straightness of the row. So it is not meant as an aim in itself, but rather as a means of achieving another aim, as some of the people of knowledge have mentioned. Therefore, when the rows are completed and the people are standing, it is befitting for every one of them to join his ankle to the ankle of his companion to ensure straightness. It does not mean that he should continue this joining and remain so for the whole salah.
From the extremism that has occurred with regard to this issue is what is done by some people in that one of them will join his ankle to the ankle of his companion, and he will spread his feet so far apart until there is a gap between his shoulder and the shoulder of his companion, so he will oppose the Sunnah by doing that. But the aim is that the shoulders and ankles should be in line with each other.
And this is the fatwaa of shaykh bakr abu zaid:
One of the new things that we see some people doing, with no evidence in sharee’ah, is that in prayer they try to align themselves with a person on the right if they are on the right hand side of the row, or to align themselves with a person on their left if they are on the left hand side of the row, and they turn their feet inward so that their ankles are touching the ankles of the people next to them.
This is something for which there is no basis in sharee’ah and it is going to the extreme in implementing the Sunnah. This is wrong on two counts.
The alignment of the row should begin from where the imam is standing. Whoever is on the right of the row should align himself by looking at those who are to his left (i.e., closer to the imam). Thus the line will be straightened and the gaps will be filled. Alignment is done by lining up necks, shoulders and ankles, and by completing the front rows.
But to try to spread the legs wide and turn the feet inward so that one’s ankles touch one’s neighbours’ ankles is an obvious mistake and an exaggeration, and a new interpretation which is indicative of going to extremes in trying to apply the Sunnah. It causes annoyance and is not prescribed in sharee’ah, and it widens the gaps between people standing in prayer.
That becomes apparent when the people prostrate, and when they stand up again they become distracted in trying to fill the gaps and turning their feet to make their ankles touch their neighbours’ ankles, which makes them miss out on what they should be doing, which is to make the toes point in the direction of the qiblah.
Doing that is like competing with one’s neighbour and trying to take his place. All of that is not prescribed in sharee’ah.
So from this it is clear to see that this opinion of standing foot to foot is something strange to islaam and has never been the practice of the muslims, this opinion stems from a misunderstanding of the hadeeth, Wallaahul Musta’aan.