It is established from several ahadith that the saff (row) should be absolutely straight and no gaps should be left between the musallis (worshippers). However, some people insist on spreading their feet and standing in such a manner that their ankles touch the ankles of their neighbour. What is the reality of standing in this fashion?
Those who stand in this way base their practice upon a hadith narrated by Nu’maan bin Basheer (radhiallahu anhu). He says: "Once Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) faced us and said: "Straighten your rows". He repeated this thrice. He then said: "By Allah, you must most certainly straighten your rows or else Allah Ta’ala will disunite your hearts". Hazrat Nu’maan bin Basheer (radhiallahu anhu) says: "I then saw the people joining together their shoulders and ankles". [Abu Dawood, Sahih ibn Khuzaima]
The concluding statement of Hazrat Nu’maan (radhiallahu anhu) is also reported in Sahih Bukhari.
However, upon analysing this hadith, several points come to light: Firstly, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) never commanded the joining of the ankles. No hadith has yet been found wherein Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) himself instructed the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhu) to join their ankles. The Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhu) had themselves adopted this manner in order to fulfil the command of straightening the saff. Secondly, this hadithradhiallahu anhu) saw the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhu) doing this PRIOR to the commencement of the salaah. There is no mention of this position being maintained even after the salaah had commenced. Therefore we find that great muhadditheen such as Hafiz ibn Hajar (R.A.) and Allama Shawkani (R.A.) have regarded this as an extreme measure which was occasionally adopted by the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhu) to ensure that the saff is straight. clearly mentions that Nu’maan bin Basheer (
In fact, a hadith of Hazrat Anas (radhiallahu anhu) makes it absolutely clear that this practice was merely a measure adopted BEFORE the salaah to ensure the straightening of the saff. He says: "If I had to do that (join the ankles) with anyone of them (the taabi’een) today, they would run like wild mules". [Fath al-Bari, Vol.2, pg.176]
This simply means that the taabi’een severely disliked that anybody should join their ankles with them. Several points are understood from this: Firstly, Hazrat Anas (radhiallahu anhu) had stopped doing this completely. Had this been a sunnah and not just a manner of ensuring that the saff was straight, it is impossible that Hazrat Anas (radhiallahu anhu) would have left it out merely upon somebody disliking it.
Secondly, the taabi’een would never have disliked it if they had observed many of the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum) continuously practicing upon this. It was only due to the fact that they had not generally observed the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum) adopting this procedure that they disliked it. Hence this makes it crystal clear that the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum) had only occasionally adopted this practice to ensure the straightening of the saff. It was not a sunnah in itself, otherwise they would never have left it out.
It has already been made clear that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) never himself instructed the joining of the ankles, nor is there any mention of the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum) having maintained this position even IN salaah. However, if for a moment we do accept that this position must be adopted during the course of the salaah as well, the question is: In which posture of salaah must this position be maintained? Must it be maintained during qiyaam, ruku, sajdah and qa’dah or in only some of these postures? If one says that the ankles should be joined only in the qiyaam posture, on what basis were the other postures excluded? If it is argued that it is difficult to do so in ruku and sajdah, the same could be said for qiyaam, since to stand with one’s feet spread apart is naturally awkward and hence it presents a certain amount of difficulty and uneasiness for many people. In short, this practice is not established as a sunnah of salaah. It was merely adopted initially by the Sahaaba (radiallahu anhum) BEFORE the commencement of salaah to ensure that the rows are straight.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best.
Reference : The Method of Salaah in the Light of Authentic Ahadith by Shaikh Muhammad Ilyas Faisal Madina of al-Munawwara. Translated By Maulana Abdul Qadir Vawda (Madrasah Taleemuddeen), http://alhaadi.org.za
According to the Shaafi Math-hab, the gap between the feet should be one hand. It is Makrooh to spread the feet wider than this.( THE FEET IN SALAAT A SALAFI ERROR BY MAJLIS UL ULAMA SOUTH AFRICA)