On the Excellence of the first row and the command to complete the first rows and make them straight and close together

Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous)

by Imam Nawawi

194. Chapter: On the Excellence of the first row and the command to complete the first rows and make them straight and close together

1082. Jabir ibn Samura said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out to us and said, 'Do you not want to line up as the angels line up in the presence of their Lord?' We said, 'Messenger of Allah, how can we line up as the angels line up in the presence of their Lord?' He said, 'They fill up the first rows and press together in them." [Muslim]

1083. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If people only knew what was in the call to prayer and the first row, and could find no other way to get it than drawing lots for it, they would certainly draw lots for it." [Agreed upon]

1084. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The best of the rows for the men is the first row and the worst is the last row. The best of the rows for the women is the last row and the worst is the first row." [Muslim]

1085. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saw people hanging back and he said to them, "Come forward and complete the row behind me and let those behind you complete your row. If people persist in hanging back, Allah will set them back." [Muslim]

1086. Abu Mas'ud said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to put his hand on our shoulders in the prayer and say, 'Keep straight and do not be disunified or your hearts will become disunified. Let those among you who have maturity and intelligence stand nearest to me and then those who are closest to them and then those closest to them." [Muslim]

1087. Anas stated that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Make your rows straight. Straightening the row is part of the perfection of the prayer." [Agreed upon]

In a variant of al-Bukhari, "Straightening the row is part of establishing the prayer."

1088. Anas said, "When the iqama for the prayer was given, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, would turn round and face us. He said, 'Straighten your rows and stand close together for I can see you behind my back.'" [al-Bukhari]

In one variant of al-Bukhari, "We used to stand shoulder to shoulder and foot to foot."

1089. An-Nu'man ibn Bashir who said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, "Make your rows straight or Allah will cause disagreements between you." [Agreed upon]

In a variant in Muslim, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to straighten our rows to such an extent that it was as arrows could be straightened by them. This continued until he saw that we had understood that. Then one day he came out to us and stood for the prayer until he was about to say the takbir. Then he saw the chest of a bedouin man protruding from the line. He said, 'Slaves of Allah! Make your rows straight or Allah will cause disagreements between you.'"

1090. Al-Bara' ibn 'Azib said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to go between the rows from one end to the other, pushing our chests and shoulders. He would say, 'Do not be disunified or your hearts will become disunified.' He used to say, 'Allah and the his angels bless the first row.'"

1091. Ibn 'Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Make the rows straight, stand shoulder to shoulder and close up the gaps. Give way to your brothers and do not leave any openings for Shaytan. Allah will connect with anyone who connects up the row and Allah will break off from anyone who makes a break in a row." [Abu Dawud]

1092. Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Press together in your rows, drawing close to one another and making your shoulders touch. By the One in whose hand my soul is, I see Shaytan coming through the gaps in the row as if he was a small black goat." [Abu Dawud]

1093. Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Complete the front row and then the one behind it. The only row to be incomplete should be the last row." [Abu Dawud]

1094. 'A'isha reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah and the angels bless those on the right hand side of the rows." [Abu Dawud]

1095. Al-Bara' said, "When we prayed behind the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, we wanted to be on his right so that his face would turn towards us. I heard him say, 'Lord, protect me from Your punishment on the day You raise up – or You gather – Your slaves.'" [Muslim]

1096. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Put the Imam in the middle and fill up the gaps." [Abu Dawud]