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The Importance of Straightening the Rows of Ṣalāh and the Deleterious Effects of Not Doing So

Imām Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī

A reminder of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) command to straighten the rows of ṣalāh, and how not doing so leads to division among the Muslims.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), following the iqāmah, would not say the takbīr except after commanding the people to straighten their rows. He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would command the one who was slightly forward to step back, and command the one who was slightly behind the line to step forward. Until the lines were as straight as the shaft of an arrow—an extremely straight line. Among his statements in this regard which he would say on some occasions: “You must assuredly straighten your rows or Allāh shall cause dissension to occur among your countenances”1, and in another narration: “among your hearts.”2 This is from among the very clear, explicit passages proving that the occurrence of division among the Muslims with regards to their outward appearance or external make-up which leads to the occurrence of divisions in their hearts, and inner dissension among them.

In his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying: “You must assuredly straighten your rows or Allāh shall cause dissension to occur among your countenances”, he has made the differences among the Muslims in keeping their lines straight a reason for the occurrence of differences in their hearts. We see, today, the Muslims show carelessness with regards to keeping their lines straight. While if we were to issue a ruling regarding it, we would suffice to say that it is obligatory. As the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to say, among the many statements he would make with regards to this: “Straighten your lines. For, indeed, straightening the lines allows the attainment of perfection in the ṣalāh.”3 If we were to suffice with just this ḥadīth, we would have to say that the Muslims are quite deficient in the fulfilment of this obligatory aspect of prayer. This deficiency, the lack of care and attention that they show to this obligatory religious rite is a legislative reason for Allāh—the Exalted in Might—allowing differences and dissension to occur among them, all of which represents nought but a resulting punishment for the carelessness they have shown in implementing the command of their Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Such that the result is the sowing of dissension between their hearts, forming groups that continually bicker and differ with one another.

This represents a very magnanimous ḥadīth among the many that attaches the soundness and righteousness of the hearts of the people in the line, to their ability to correct the line itself, not showing carelessness with regards to ordering and systematically straightening it.

[1] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 685 and Muslim: 436
[2] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 717.
[3] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 718 and Muslim: 433.

Source: Fatāwá al-Shaykh al-Albānī 1:151
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: December 23, 2023
Edited: April 28, 2024

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