The Feet Posture Of Men In Salaah.

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The Feet Posture Of Men In Salaah.
Bismihi Ta`alaIt has been said by some people that men should touch the feet of the other musalli while standing in the row/saf of salaah in jamaat/congregation. They take the reference of the following hadiths of Bukhari and Abu Dawood in support:   
باب إلزاق المنكب بالمنكب والقدم بالقدم في الصف وقال النعمان بن بشير رأيت الرجل منا يلزق كعبه بكعب صاحبه

The Chapter of putting together the shoulders and the feet in the saf. Nu`man bin Basheer radhiyallahou `anhou said that we would see people between us that one would put the ankle with the other ankle of the other musalli.(Bukhari)
وكان احدنايلزق منكبه بمنكب صاحبه
و قدمه بقدمه

shoulder to shoulder and feet to feet.”Bukhari.قَالَ سَمِعْتُ النُّعْمَانَ بْنَ بَشِيرٍ يَقُولُ
أَقْبَلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَلَى النَّاسِ بِوَجْهِهِ فَقَالَ أَقِيمُوا صُفُوفَكُمْ ثَلَاثًا وَاللَّهِ لَتُقِيمُنَّ صُفُوفَكُمْ أَوْ لَيُخَالِفَنَّ اللَّهُ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ قَالَ فَرَأَيْتُ الرَّجُلَ يَلْزَقُ مَنْكِبَهُ بِمَنْكِبِ صَاحِبِهِ وَرُكْبَتَهُ بِرُكْبَةِ صَاحِبِهِ وَكَعْبَهُ بِكَعْبِهِ
ابو داود

…”We saw people aligning with each other`s shoulder, knee with the other knee and ankle with the other person`s ankle.”(Abu Dawood)

Unfortunately some people have wrongly taken the meaning of touching the parts of the body with each other. Rather the meaning is to keep the saf straight and allow no space in between the saf.

The meaning is described by the commentators of the ahadiths as an expression of straightness and closeness. Not literally touching each other`s ankle, feet, knee, etc.

Daleelul Faliheen.
(بمنكب صاحبه وقدمه بقدمه) مبالغة في التراص الذي أمروا به
دليل الفالحين

Fathul Qadeer:
قال الحافظ في “الفتح” 2/211 في باب إلزاق المنكب بالمنكب والقدم بالقدم بالصف: المراد بذلك المبالغة في تعديل الصف، وسَدِّ خَلله، وقد ورد في الأمر بسد خَلل الصف والترغيب فيه أحاديث
كثيرة أجمعها حديث ابن عمر، ثم ساق لفظه، وقد سلف برقم (5724) .
فتح القدير

And note that these ahadiths cannot be applied literally in practical:
Because it is possible to touch arms with arms, but impossible to touch shoulders to shoulders at the same time. Because a man cannot touch both arms and shoulders in salaah. Also difficult to touch with each other`s knee. Difficult to stand  reading salaah touching each others` knee. Professional gymnastics also would fail doing a ruku` touching each other`s knee, ankle and feet.  This proves that the angle of the meaning of the hadith is figurative, not literal. Hence recommended to straighten the saf and bring the arms close to the other musalli softly. Rarely we mention the angle of softness of this sunnah:
قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي عَمِّي عُمَارَةُ بْنُ ثَوْبَانَ عَنْ عَطَاءٍ عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ خِيَارُكُمْ أَلْيَنُكُمْ مَنَاكِبَ فِي الصَّلَاةِ
ابو داود

Rasouloullah Swalallahou `Alaihi Wasallam said: ‘‘The best amongst you is the one who has the softest(approach) of his shoulder in salaah.’’(Abu Dawood)
We brought this riwayah on our Masjid board Alhamdulillah.
Furthermore, all commentators of hadith agree that the meaning of hadiths ankle to ankle, feet to feet, knee to knee, shoulder to shoulder, etc have the meaning of describing the straight saf and closeness to each other. The crux is that saf should be straightened and no gaps should be left in between the arms.
Those who touch the feet to the other feet is doing contrary to the sunnah. In fact it is against the etiquette of standing respectfully. Would anyone stand opened legged in front of the president/king of his country. One would stand respectfully lightly spaced between the feet. Opening legs is generally a posture of disrespect and a warring posture. When we are in front of King of Kings, Allah Ta`ala, then we should have more respect and not open the space between the feet.
In fact know that the sunnah provides enough space between the musallis to put the slippers(sandals/chappals). Either on the left of the feet, or at the right but best between them.(Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah) As such there are spaces between the feet of a man`s salaah, spaces on the left of the feet and spaces enough to put slippers between the right feet and the other person`s feet. This is clear proof that feet should not be touched with other in salaah, but rather have a space between them.
Note that the salaah of ladies is different from men. Overhere we are discussing men`s salaahs.
عَنْ يُوسُفَ بْنِ مَاهَكَ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ
أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِذَا صَلَّى أَحَدُكُمْ فَلَا يَضَعْ نَعْلَيْهِ عَنْ يَمِينِهِ وَلَا عَنْ يَسَارِهِ فَتَكُونَ عَنْ يَمِينِ غَيْرِهِ إِلَّا أَنْ لَا يَكُونَ عَنْ يَسَارِهِ أَحَدٌ وَلْيَضَعْهُمَا بَيْنَ رِجْلَيْهِ
ابو داود

Rasouloullah Swalallahou `Alaihi Wasallam said: ‘’When someone is reading salaah, he should not put his slippers/sandals on his right nor on his left. Because this will be on the right of the other musalli. Unless no one on his left. But rather he should put the slippers/sandals between his feet.(Abu Dawood)  
This means that there should be a space between the feet of the musallis and their feet should be spaced slightly in between. All these 3 spaces should be enough to accommodate sleepers(Chappal). Also this riwayah is one of the proofs that salaah should be done without shoes and slippers.
Fuqahas described about 4 fingers the space in between the feet and approved that the ahadiths of feet to feet, knee to knee.. are of figurative meaning of straightness and closeness:(Shami)
وَيَنْبَغِي أَنْ يَكُونَ بَيْنَهُمَا مِقْدَارُ أَرْبَعِ أَصَابِعِ الْيَدِ لِأَنَّهُ أَقْرَبُ إلَى الْخُشُوعِ ، هَكَذَا رُوِيَ عَنْ أَبِي نَصْرٍ الدَّبُوسِيِّ إنَّهُ كَانَ يَفْعَلُهُ كَذَا فِي الْكُبْرَى .
وَمَا رُوِيَ أَنَّهُمْ أَلْصَقُوا الْكِعَابَ بِالْكِعَابِ أُرِيدَ بِهَا الْجَمَاعَةُ أَيْ قَامَ كُلُّ وَاحِدٍ بِجَانِبِ الْآخَرِ كَذَا فِي فَتَاوَى سَمَرْقَنْدَ
*‘’…and about the reports mentioning joining ankle with ankle are meant to describe jama`ah(standing together). That is to stand straight with each other.’’(Shami)*

*Hence ulamas throughout the centuries understood the hadith like that. Never will we take any other meanings. Because people close to our centuries are more liable to mistake and less knowledgeable. Rasouloullah Swalallahou `Alaihio wasallam said:  ‘’The best of people are in my era(the sahabahs). Then the next best are the generation after them. Then after them are the generation after them. Then after these will come people that their testimony will exceed their oath, and their oath will exceed their testimony.’’(Bukhari)*
عن عبيدة عن عبد الله رضي الله عنه
أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال خير الناس قرني ثم الذين يلونهم ثم الذين يلونهم ثم يجيء قوم تسبق شهادة أحدهم يمينه ويمينه شهادته

*That is why my dearest brothers and sisters, for us not to get lost, let`s anchor our taqleed and following pattern on a lighthouse of the first 3 generations.*

Mufti Mackoojee
Twitter: @MuftiMackoojee
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