In this fourteenth century of the Islamic era, a recently mushroomed sect known asthe Salafis, has invented some new rules which they believe are the Sunnat teachingsof Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Inspite of their views being in conflictwith the teachings of the Salf-e-Saaliheen belonging to the Noblest Ages of Islam(Khairul Quroon), they obstinately cling to their misguided opinions. Their method isto subject the Ahadith to their personal understanding. Inspite of the divergencewhich this self-opinion produces from the Way of the Ummah inherited from theSahaabah, the Salafis intransigently cling to their deviation.A little reflection would convince them that it is not possible that the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen who werethe Students of the Sahaabah would propagate acts which are in conflict with the Sunnah. Any actwhich has been accepted and practised by the entire Ummah from the earliest era of Islam cannot bedeviation. Deviation will be the act which is in conflict with this sacred Unanimity.One of the erroneous practices of the Salafis is their act of spreading their legs wide apart duringSalaat. In the bid to touch the toes of the musalli standing adjacent to them, they disfigure their stanceand ruin their composure with the mental preoccupation of touching the toes of the musallis standingon both sides in the Saff during Jamaat Salaat. Even when performing Salaat alone, they stretch thelegs hideously apart. But for this innovation they have absolutely no Shar’i evidence. A solitary Hadithwhich makes reference to ‘foot with foot’ has been grievously misunderstood and misinterpreted bythem. Besides their misinterpretation, they have intentionally ignored all the other Shar’i proofs whichrefute their interpretation.A perusal of the relevant Ahadith on this subject will convince every unbiased Muslim that the Salafiinterpretation of the Hadith is a concoction of the nafs. It is a concoction designed and prepared byshaitaan to create rifts and discord in the Ummah. When people opt to abandon the practices which theAimmah Mujtahideen have reported on the basis of the authority of the Sahaabah, then shaitaanimanipulation is evident.All four Math-habs of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah unanimously refute the Salafi contention on the position to be adopted when standing for Salaat. None of the Math-habs teaches that the legs should bespread out widely when standing for Salaat nor that the toes of the Musalli alongside should betouched. Some of the Salafis go to great lengths in spreading their legs in the bid to touch the nextman’s toes causing annoyance and much irritation.
The Emphasis on Straghtening the Sufoof
Sufoof is the plural of saff which refers to the row of musallis in a Jamaat)
The Ahadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) emphasise the straightening of thesufoof. The emphasis in all the Hadith narrations dealing with this subject is directed to proper saff-formation, not on the feet of the musallis touching the toes of the musalli standingalongside as the Salafis inordinately and inconsiderately practice.In the endeavour to sustain the practice of stretching the legs wide open while performingSalaat, the Salafis have gone to the extreme of adopting this ugly stance even when performingSalaat alone. While a man who is uneducated in the laws of the Shariah may misunderstand the
solitary Hadith in which reference has been made to “foot with foot”, the same mistake cannotand should not be made in so far as Salaat performed alone because the question of “foot withfoot” is not remotely related to infiraadi Salaat, i.e. performing Salaat alone.The Salafis may abortively argue that the aim of spreading the legs wide apart is to ensurestraightness of the sufoof, but what argument do they have for justifying this unbecoming practice when a man is performing Salaat infiraadan(individually)? Furthermore, there is noHadith narration in this regard which could even be misinterpreted to support the case of amunfarid stretching his legs to the extremities of east and west or north and south, depending onthe location of the Qiblah from where he happens to be.The Salafis claim that it is Sunnah to stretch the legs wide apart and for a musalli’s toes to touchthe toes of the musalli standing alongside him in the saff. This ludicrous position is imposed bythe Salafis on even women who are obliged to stand with their legs wide open. What an ugly,miserable and immodest stance for a woman to adopt? A woman is an object of concealmentaccording to the statement of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). When she has to stretchher legs wide open, she adopts the stance of lewd and shameless women. Throughout Salaat, awoman’s postures are to be constricted -- made small and drawn in, not asserted like a manasserts and expresses his actions during Salaat.As far as their stance is concerned for the munfarid, there is not a single Hadith which they cancite in substantiation for their view which anyhow is utterly baseless. All the relevant Ahadithon this topic teach the contrary, namely, that the feet should be held slightly apart -- about four to five inches (10 cm). There also exists consensus of the Four Math-habs on this issue.As far as the feet position for the saff is concerned, the Salafis conveniently overlook all theAhadith which negate their corrupt view and intransigently cling to a view which they haveunderstood to be the method. In taking to this view, they deliberately cast aside what exactly theHadith in question says. They took a single word (namely ‘foot with foot’) out of the context of the Hadith and formulated the practice of stretching the legs wide apart and touching the toes of the musallis standing alongside on either side in the saff. For understanding this issue, it is bestthat we cite all the relevant Ahadith.
1. Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:“Straighten the sufoof, line up the shoulders, close the gaps and become tender in the hands of your brothers. Do not leave any gaps for shaitaan. Whoever joins the saff, Allah will join him.And whoever cuts the saff Allah will cut him.” (Bukhari & Abu Dawood)[Become tender: that is to comply when a brother musalli in the saff touches your shoulder indicating that you should bring it in line with the shoulders of the other musallis in the saff.]2. Hadhrat Baraa’ Bin Aazib (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhiwasallam) used to enter the saff from end to end, touching our chests and our shoulders. Hewould say:“Do not be irregular (in your rows), for then your hearts will become irregular (i.e. discord willovertake you).” He would (also) say:“ Verily, Allah Azza Wa Jal and His Malaaikah dispatch Salaam on the first sufoof”[When the word ‘Salaat’ is related to Allah Ta ‘ala, it denotes Rahmat, i.e. He sends down
mercy. When it is related to the Malaaikah, it means that they supplicate to Allah Ta`ala to sendHis mercy upon His servants.]3. Hadhrat Anas Bin Maalik (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that the Iqaamah for Salaat was given.Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) turned towards us and said: “Straighten your sufoof andstand close together, for verily I see you from behind.” In a narration of Hadhrat Anas(radhiyallahu anhu) it is mentioned: “Everyone among us would put his shoulder with theshoulder of his companion (alongside) and his foot with his foot.”4. Hadhrat Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:“Join your sufoof and stand close together, and stand in line with (your) necks. I take oath byThe Being in Whose power is my life that most certainly I see shaitaan entering the gaps in thesaff as if he is a lamb.” (Abu Dawood)5. Abul Qaasim Jadli (rahmatullah alayh) said :“I heard Nu’maan Bin Basheer (radhiyallahuanhu) say: ‘Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) turned towards the people (the musallis) andsay three times: ‘By Allah! Most certainly, you should straighten your sufoof otherwise Allahwill create discord in your hearts.’ Thereafter I saw that a man would attach his shoulder to theshoulder of his companion (the one standing alongside), his knee to the knee of his companionand his ankle to the ankle of his companion.” (Bukhari & Abu Dawood)6. Nu’maan Bin Basheer (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates: “Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)would arrange (set in order) our sufoof. One day he came out (from his home) and saw a man(in the saff) whose chest was protruding in front of the (chests of) the community (i.e. themusallis). He then commented: ‘Straighten your sufoof otherwise Allah will cast discord in your faces (i.e. in the words coming from your mouths).” (Tirmizi)7. Maalik Ibn Abi Aamir Ansaari (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates: “Uthmaan Bin Affaan(radhiyallahu anhu) would recite in his Khutbah: ‘When the Salaat is ready, arrange the sufoof properly and line up with the shoulders’ (i.e. the shoulders of the musallis should all be in lineand touching).” (Muatta Imaam Muhammad)8. Hadhrat Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated that Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Joinyour sufoof and draw close among yourselves and line up with the necks.” Reported by AbuDawood and Nisai. Authenticated by Ibn Hibbaan. (Bulooghul Maraam)--I’laaus SunnanThese are about all the narrations pertaining to the manner and style of standing in JamaatSalaat. Explaining these Ahadith, Imaam Bukhaari (rahmatullah alayh) states in the sectioncaptioned:
“JOINING SHOULDER TO SHOULDER”:
“This is what the Jamhoor have said: ‘Verily, the meaning (of joining in this context) iscomplete nearness and lining up, not actual joining (or touching).’” Al-Haafiz said: “Themeaning of this is to emphasise in straightening the saff and closing the gaps.” And Aini too hassaid so. With this, the indication is towards emphasis in straightening the sufoof and closing thegaps. Qustulaani and others have also said this.”(Laamiud Duraari—commentary of Bukhari)In Faidhul Baari it is reported as follows:“It is stated in Sharhul Wiqaayah: ‘The musalli should stand apart (with his feet) so that there isa distance of four fingers in between them, and that is also the view of Imaam Shaafi(rahmatullah alayh), In another view it is said that the distance (between the feet) should be one
hand (i.e. about 10 cm).’ (The author says): I did not find any difference of opinion among theSalf (i.e. Salf-e-Saaliheen) between the stance (of the musalli) in Jama’ah and in infiraad (i.e. performing alone). There is no difference regarding the gap (between the feet). It is not that thespreading of the feet should be more in Jama’ah than when performing Salaat alone.”The summary of this is: When we do not find the Sahaabah and the Taabi-een differentiating intheir standing position between Jama’ah and individual Salaat, then we understand that the onlymeaning of Rasulullah’s statement of ‘joining the shoulders’ is to line up closely and to abstainfrom leaving gaps (between the musallis).The following appears in Laamiud Duraari, Commentary of Saheeh Bukhaari:“The Authorities (the Fuqaha) stated that it is best for the musalli to keep his feet about four fingers apart. They did not say that the feet should be united in ruku’ or sajdah. Aini says inBinaayah: ‘It is appropriate that there be the distance of four fingers between the feet of themusalli, for verily, this is nearest to khushoo.’”Ibn Umar (radhiyallahu anhuma) would not spread (widely) his feet nor would the one foottouch the other, but between this there would be neither much closeness nor much distance.In Raddul Mihtaar it is reported as follows:“The meaning of joining ankles to ankles is that everyone in the Jama’ah should stand alongsidethe other (i.e. in a straight line). So is it said in Fataawa Samarqand).” (I’laaus Sunan)From all the narrations and views of the Muhadditheen and Fuqaha of the Khairul Quroon era itis abundantly clear that the Hadith which mentions joining foot with foot does not have a literalmeaning. It simply means that the feet should be all in line, and this is achieved by the heels of the musallis all being in the same line. This will ensure a straight saff on which the emphasis of all the Ahadith is.
The Salafis of this age, while grabbing the words ‘foot with foot’, ignore ‘neck with neck’,‘shoulder with shoulder’, ‘knee with knee’ and ‘ankle with ankle’. The narrations command joining of the necks just as it instructs joining of the feet. And, in the same way it commands joining of the knees and ankles. How is it possible for the neck of one musalli to touch the neck of the musalli alongside? At most, shoulders can touch. But to achieve the phenomenal act of joining necks, the musallis will have to ruin their Salaat and stand on their toes balancing at a precarious angle to achieve the goal of touching each other’s neck. But no one has ever advocated this ludicrous stance. Similarly, if the literal sense of the ‘ankle with ankle’ has to beaccepted, it will place the musallis under great stress to achieve what is not simple because the protruding heels are barriers for this achievement. Also, if ‘knee against knee’ had to be literallyconsidered, the musallis would have to stand with ugly bandied legs, stretching even their thighshideously in order to join their knees with the knees of their companions? But, not even theSalafis have ventured such ludicrousness.Why do the Salafis choose only ‘foot with foot’ out of the several instructions pertaining to the joining of various bodily parts? For this choice they have only their intransigent nafsaani desire--no daleel whatsoever. What is the determining factor to choose only feet and to ignore necks,knees, shoulders and ankles? On the other hand, the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah -- the followersof the Four Math-habs -- have a mass of evidence to support ‘joining of the shoulders’.
Furthermore, joining or lining up of the shoulders is simple, rational and fulfills in the best waythe instruction of straightening the saff.It should be noted that the emphasis is on closing the gaps. There should be no gap between twomusallis standing in the saff. But, the wider the legs are spread apart, the more the distance between the shoulders will increase. Thus, spreading the legs wide apart defeats the verycommand issued in the Hadith to close the gaps and straighten the sufoof.In order to achieve ‘foot with foot’ literally, the Salafis are constrained to turn their feet atangles away from the Qiblah. In this hideous exercise they manage only to touch the toes of theadjacent musalli with much difficulty and irritation to those whose peace of mind is disturbedwith the unruly encroachment of his companion’s toes. When the toes are made to touch withthe feet in diagonal positions, the shoulders cannot touch, the knees, ankles, necks, etc. arethrown completely out of alignment.When shoulders are not lined up, it is impossible to achieve straight sufoof. It is for this reasonthat the Hadith emphasises more on shoulders. Feet are mentioned only once. The Sahaabah andthe Taabi-een relate the instruction ‘to line up’ and straighten the saff to the shoulders, necks,knees, ankles and the feet. In other words, all these should be in line, not out of alignment. It isfor this reason that the Hadith clearly mentions that the Khulafa-e-Raashideen, in factRasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) himself, would order protruding chests to recede intoline. Never did any of the Authorities of the Shariah speak about feet which should touch.In the adoption of the Salafi mode, the movement is excessive in Salaat. Neither is proper Ruku’nor proper Sajdah possible if this hideous posture has to be retained throughout Salaat. In factSajdah is not at all possible with the feet spread wide apart. Therefore, the Salafis areconstrained to shift positions repeatedly when going to ruku’. This excessive movement inSalaat in negatory of khushoo’.
THE FOUR MATH-HABS
While the case of the Four Math-habs is logical, the actual daleel (proof) for our view is notrational interpretation, but is narrational evidence. Such evidence has been transmitted down thecenturies from the Sahaabah. It should be understood that the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen -- theImaams of the Math-habs -- had acquired their knowledge of Islam from either the Sahaabah or the Taabi-een who were the Students of the Sahaabah. Whatever they taught is therefore, whatthe Sahaabah had instructed. It is the height of folly and deviation to differ with them and tochoose a way which is at variance with what they had disseminated.It is not conceivable that the Salf-e-Saaliheen -- all the Imaams of the Math-bas were amongthem -- were in deviation and the present-day Salafis are on Rectitude. This is unacceptable toany Muslim who is prepared to reflect a bit. The greatest daleel for the view of the Math-habs isthat whatever they teach has been acquired directly from either the Sahaabah or the Taabi-een.The Salafi practice of spreading the feet wide apart and the irritating attempt to touch the nextman’s toes are in conflict with the Sunnah as the aforegoing Shar’i evidences have established.
1. According to the Hambali Math-hab there should be a ‘small’ gap between the feet of themusalli.2. According to the Maaliki Math-hab, the distance should be moderate, neither together nor so
wide apart which is considered repugnant.3. According to the Shaafi Math-hab, the gap between the feet should be one hand. It isMakrooh to spread the feet wider than this.4. According to the Hanafi Math-hab, the distance between the feet should be four fingers.This is the Sunnah and the Way of the Salf-e-Saaliheen. The Salafis have no authority from theSalf-e-Saaliheen to substantiate its view of bid’ah.
The Feet in Salaat
By Mujlisul Ulama of South AfricaP.O. Box 3393Port Elizabeth, 6056South AfricaPrinted and Published by
P.O. Box 18594Actonville, Benoni, 1506Gauteng, South Africa