Straight Lines In Congregational Prayers

Often we find the lines behind the Imam of prayers at congregational (Jama`ah) prayers to be quite slack. More often than not they are more like semi-circles rather than straight lines. The consequences of neglecting its importance is quite severe and very reflective of the situation of the Shias today. We read an authentic hadith related to us by The Messenger of Allah (swt) via the Imams (as).

Imam al-Sadiq (as) said: The Messenger of Allah (sawa) said: Oh People, establish straight lines! And touch shoulders so that among you there is strong friendship. And do not separate lest Allah (swt) puts seperation in your hearts! Verily, I can see you from behind me.

In some texts and variations of this hadith (such as in `Aqaab al-A`maal of al-Sadooq) the Prophet (sawa) says: (أراكم من خلفي كما أراكم من بين يدي) I see you behind me just as I would see you in front of me.

[Thawaab al-A`maal, al-Sadooq, Page 230; Wasaa’il al-Shi`a, al-Hurr, Volume 8, Page 423-424, Hadith #7; Bihaar al-Anwaar, al-Majlisi, Volume 85 (88 in other editions), Chapter 2, Page 99, Hadith #79 ; al-Mahaasin, Page 80, in another chain of narrators ]

In seeing this hadith, is it any wonder why there is so much discord and enmity amongst the Shias and Muslims in general? The advice of the Prophet (sawa) has been neglected as we neglect the importance of straight lines in Congregational Salah. Straight lines means our standing positions should be in-line so that the line is straight if one were to look at it from the side – and our shoulders should have minimal space between them to ensure we are close to one another, and each row should be parallel to one another facing the Qibla. If we do not find this important and neglect, then do not be surprised that within our hearts enmity grows between the believers.