According to these two following narrations what is the position of the feets during the salah (qiyam) in Islam:
1. Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said: “When any one of you performs Salah then he should not place his shoes on his right hand side nor on his left hand side. This is because his left hand side is the right hand side of another person, unless there is no person on his left hand side. He should place them in between his legs.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 654)
(Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, Hadith; 1016 -with slight variation in the wording- and Sahih Ibn Hibban; Al Ihsan, Hadith: 2188)
2. The narration of Mamar contains the following wording, ‘Anas bin Maalik said, “If I was to try and carry out this practice i.e. The joining of the ankles with the ankles of the next person, the people would run away like restive mules.” (Fathul Bari Pg.247 Vol.2) (sahih narration)
Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) has referenced this version to: Mustakhraj of Imam Isma’ily (rahimahullah)
Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar also managed to locate it in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah.
(Fathul Bari, Hadith: 725 & Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, Hadith: 3544)
Wa Alaikum As Salaam,
The first tradition mentions that the Prophet (s.a.s) said, ‘When one of you performs salah, he should not place his shoes on his right side and must not place them on his left side, since this will be the right side of a person except that there is no one on his left. Let him place it between his feet’ (Sunan of Abu Dawood Hadith No.652).
While explaining this hadith, the great scholar Allama Khaleel Ahmad (A.R) writes that what is meant by placing the shoes between the feet is that there should be a space between the feet in which one can place his shoes. This is done so that one may not cause harm to another person who stands to his right or left or one who may stand behind him(Bazhul Majhood Sharh of Sunan Abu Dawood Vol.3 pgs 600,601 Darul Bashaa’ir Al Islamiya Beirut 2006).
The above tradition does not does not indicate to any special position of the feet or distance between the feet in salah. It simply speaks about not causing harm to others by putting your shoes on your right and left side while in Salah.
The other tradition containing the narration of Mamar mentions the statement of Anas (R.A) in which he said, ‘If I was to try and carry out this practice, the people would run away like restive mules’. This is an addition which Mamar has given in his narration, as being a statement of Anas (R.A) after narrating the hadith which was narrated by Imam Bukhari –(Fathul Bari Vol.2 pg.269 Qadimi Kutub Khana).
In the narration, the practice which Anas (R.A) referred to was that of joining the ankles with the ankles of the next person in Salah. It is about this, Anas (R.A) said that if he was to do that practice at the time he was living in,(with the people), they will run away like restive mules, since it will be strange to them.
From this narration, some may derive the understanding that while in Salah, one needs to touch the ankles of the other person in Salah to straighten the lines. This however, is not the case. The tradition which was recorded before this statement was that of the Prophet (S.A.W) in which he said “Straighten your lines, For certainly I see you from behind my back.” Anas (R.A) recorded this and he then said, “And one of us used to touch his shoulder to the shoulder of his companion and touch his feet to his feet.”(Bukhari,Hadith No.725,pg.142, Darussalam)
After recording this, Hafiz Ibn Hajar states that this was the statement of Anas (R.A) which simply showed the emphasis they placed upon straightening the lines and closing the gaps in the lines for salah.(Fathul Baari-Commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari,pg.268, Vol.2, Qadimi Kutub Khana). A similar explanation has been given by Hafiz Badrudeen Aini in his commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari (Umdatul Qaari, pg.259, Maktaba Rashidiya, Queta, Pakistan).
Another tradition by Imam Bukhari states that the act of placing one’s shoulder and feet close to another was in reality the practice of some Sahabahs in order to straighten their lines and fill the gaps, and was not a directive from the prophet (S.A)
In the ‘Chapter of touching of the shoulder’, the statement of the companion Numaan bin Basheer (R.A) is recorded where he states, “I saw a person from amongst us touching his ankle to the ankle of his companion.”
After recording this, the Commentators of Sahih Al Bukhari, namely Ibn Hajar and Aini have stated, “Some are of the opinion that this statement is upon its real meaning, but it is not so. Instead, it was an exaggeration on the part of the narrator to describe the straight lines as well as the closeness of the Musalis in the lines. (Fathul Baari – Commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari, Pg.268, Vol.2, Qadimi Kutub Khana /Umdatul Qaari, Pg.259, Vol.5. Maktaba Rashidiya, Queta, Pakistan).
While commenting on this act, the great Muhadith – Allama Yusuf Al Binori, author of Ma’rifus Sunan (Commentary of Tirmirzi) states in his book, “The explanation of these scholars refute the action adopted by some who lay great emphasis on touching their ankles and feet to each other in forming the lines while attributing it to a ‘Sunnah’ practice. Those who adopt this practice, wrongfully link it back to a directive from the Prophet (S.A.). Due to their exaggeration in this habit, they are forced to adopt unusual forms in their Salaat which are contradictory to the standing posture in Salaat. It is often seen that their legs are kept wide apart and a large gap and space is created between their feet, bringing about an unnatural manner of the standing posture. This action is mainly due to one’s ignorance in understanding the real purpose of the statement of the Sahabahs, and therefore, adopts only the literal meaning, one which the followers of the Dhaahiri Mazhab have done”.
“As for the space which must exist between the both feet of the Musali while in Salaat, there is no fixed limit established from the traditions. It has been entrusted to the Musali to keep his feet apart in a comfortable position which enables him/her to have full concentration, humility, sincerity and devotion in Salaat”. (Ma’rifus Sunan, Pg.297, Vol.2, H.M. Saeed Company, Karachi 1983).
It is also recorded that according to the majority of the former scholars along with four Imams of Fiqh, ‘touching of the shoulders and feet in Salaat’ simply indicated to the rule that there should be no gaps between the Musalis in Salaat.
No one from amongst them adopted the literal meaning of any of those traditions. (Faidhul Baari – Commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari by the great Muhadith and Faqih, Allama Shah Anwaar Al-Kashmiri, Pg.236, Vol.2, Maktaba Rasheediya, Queta).
In summary, what is required from the Musalis is that they should ensure that the lines are straight and that there is no gap and space between the lines. These are the guidelines which are narrated from the Prophet (S.A.) and are recorded in many books of Ahadith. Statements such as: ‘Fill the gaps’, ‘do not leave any space for Satan’, ‘stand straight and be close to each other’ are mentioned, and there is no statement or directive from the Prophet (S.A.) which requires a person to touch his ankles and feet in Salaat.
And Allah Knows best
Mufti Waseem Khan
This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.