Odd number of rows for janazah salaat
Is there any basis for the practice of having an odd number of rows for janazah salaat?
Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem.
Alhamdulillaahi was salaatu was salaamu `alaa Rasoolillaahi wa `alaa aalihi wa sahbihi wa man waalaahu, wa ba`d:
The practice of making three rows is based on the Hadeeth of Hadhrat Maalik Ibn Hubayrah Radhiallaahu `Anhu which Imaam At-Tirmidhi Rahimahullaah and others report, the narration which is reported in the Sunan of Imaam At-Tirmidhi Rahimahullaah is:
“Marthad Ibn `Abdillaah Al-Yazani said: “When (Hadhrat) Maalik Ibn Hubayrah (Radhiallaahu `Anhu) would perform the Janaazah Salaah and the people were few, he would divide them into three rows, then he said: “Rasoolullaah Sallallaahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam said: “Whoever has three rows (of people) perform Salaah over him, then he is guaranteed (Jannah).”” [i]
Imaam Badruddeen Al-`Ayni Rahimahullaah comments on a similar Hadeeth in `Umdatul Qaari and says: “In it (i.e. the hadeeth, and what we learn from it) is performing Salaah on the deceased in rows, and that it has an effect, and the Sahaabi (Hadhrat) Maalik Ibn Hubayrah Radhiallaahu Ta`aalaa `Anhu would form the people present for the Janaazah into three rows, regardless of whether they were a little or a lot.” [ii]
Imaam Ibn `Aabideen Rahimahullaah mentions in Raddul Muhtaar: “For this reason it is mentioned in Al-Muheet: “It is preferable to have three rows, so much so that if they are seven people, one will go forward to lead the Salaah, then three shall stand behind him, then two behind them, and then one (in the last row).”” [iii]
So both the Hadeeth and the action of Hadhrat Maalik Radhiallaahu `Anhu points out to the virtue of having three rows, this special virtue is not attached to “an odd number” although odd numbers in general are good based on the Hadeeth of Saheeh Muslim which says:
“Allaah has ninety-nine Names, whoever memorises it shall enter Jannah, and indeed Allaah is One and He loves odd numbers.” [iv]
To make any other number of rows will also be permissible.
Imaam As-Sughdi Rahimahullaah says in An-Nutafu Fil Fataawaa:
“As for the people, when they stand over the deceased (for Salaah), they should form three rows even if they are few in number, because that is best and it has been mentioned in narrations, but if they stand contrary to that then it will be permissible.” [v]
So in conclusion, the Sunnah method is to have three rows, not five or seven or any other odd number, but if a different odd number is made then it will be permissible but the special virtues mentioned in the Hadeeth will not apply to it, and lastly even if an even number of rows is made then too it will be permissible. But the best is to have three rows.
And Allaah knows best.
Ubaidullah Ibn Adam Aal-Ebrahim.
Checked and Approved by:
Mufti Rashid Ahmed Moosagie.
Monday 3rd Dhul Qa`dah 1434 – 9th September 2013.
[i]عَنْ مَرْثَدِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللهِ اليَزَنِيِّ، قَالَ: كَانَ مَالِكُ بْنُ هُبَيْرَةَ، إِذَا صَلَّى عَلَى جَنَازَةٍ، فَتَقَالَّ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا، جَزَّأَهُمْ ثَلاَثَةَ أَجْزَاءٍ، ثُمَّ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: مَنْ صَلَّى عَلَيْهِ ثَلاَثَةُ صُفُوفٍ فَقَدْ أَوْجَبَ. – رواه الإمام الترمذي رحمه الله في سننه وحسنه.
[ii]فِيهِ الصَّلَاة على الْجِنَازَة بالصفوف، وَأَن لَهَا تَأْثِيرا، وَكَانَ مَالك بن هُبَيْرَة الصَّحَابِيّ، رَضِي الله تَعَالَى عَنهُ، يصف من يحضر الصَّلَاة على الْجِنَازَة ثَلَاثَة صُفُوف، سَوَاء قلوا أَو كَثُرُوا. – قاله الإمام بدر الدين العيني رحمه الله في كتابه عمدة القاري شرح صحيح البخاري.
[iii]وَلِهَذَا قَالَ فِي الْمُحِيطِ: وَيُسْتَحَبُّ أَنْ يُصَفَّ ثَلَاثَةُ صُفُوفٍ، حَتَّى لَوْ كَانُوا سَبْعَةً يَتَقَدَّمُ أَحَدُهُمْ لِلْإِمَامَةِ، وَيَقِفُ وَرَاءَهُ ثَلَاثَةٌ ثُمَّ اثْنَانِ ثُمَّ وَاحِدٌ. قاله الإمام ابن عابدين رحمه الله في كتابه رد المحتار على الدر المختار.
[iv]«لِلَّهِ تِسْعَةٌ وَتِسْعُونَ اسْمًا، مَنْ حَفِظَهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ، وَإِنَّ اللهَ وِتْرٌ، يُحِبُّ الْوِتْرَ». – رواه الإمام مسلم رحمه الله في صحيحه.