Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Mufti Saab,
With respect to Janaza Salah, should there be odd number of lines and that the first line should be longer?
Wa Alaikum Assalaam,
الجواب و بالله التوفيق
Yes, it is evident from narrations to have odd number of lines for Janaza. In fact, the Scholars have mentioned that it is Mustahab to have 3 lines for the Janaza Salah. If there is a need to have more lines (due to the amount of people), then it can be increased to 5 or 7 lines. In a hadith, Malik Bin Hubairah states that the Prophet (S.A.S) said, ‘A person upon whom 3 lines perform Janaza Salah, it will be waajib for this person to get the blessings of Allah.’ (Recorded by Imam Tirmidhi who said, ‘this hadith has also been narrated from Aisha (R.A), Umm Habeeba (R.A), Abu Hurairah (R.A), Maimuna (R.A)’). There are similar traditions with the same meaning.
The Fuqaha have stated, ‘It is on account of this, it is Mustahab to have 3 lines. If there are 7 people, one should go in front as the Imam, 3 should stand in the first line, 2 should stand in the second line and 1 should stand in the third line.’ (Shami Vol.2, Pg.214, H.M Saeed Company, Karachi; Fatawa Hindiya Vol.1, Pg.163 – Chapter 5 on the Salah of Janaza).
And Allah Knows Best.
Mufti Waseem Khan.