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AL-KAFI #1574: THE RULING OF PRIORITIZING OTHERS FOR THE FIRST SAF

al kafi 1574

Question:

Assalamualaikum Sahibus Samahah Mufti. I want to ask what is the ruling of a person prioritizing others for the first saf compared to himself?

Hope for an explanation from Mufti. Thank you.

 

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wbt,

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Allah SWT encourages Muslims to always hasten in repentance and race to do good. Allah SWT states:

وَسَارِعُوا إِلَىٰ مَغْفِرَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ

“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous,”

Surah Ali Imran (133)

Allah SWT states:

فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ

“So, race to [all that is] good.”

Surah al-Baqarah (148)

Ibn Kathir in his commentary state that the meaning of hastening towards the forgiveness of Allah SWT is encouraging them to do good and race in obedience and deeds to get closer to Allah SWT. (Refer Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:183)

Furthermore, the Prophet PBUH explained the advantages of those who pray in the first saf in congregational prayer. First, the advantages of congregational prayer itself is great compared to praying alone. The Prophet PBUH said:

صَلَاةُ الْجَمَاعَةِ تَفْضُلُ صَلَاةَ الْفَذِّ بِسَبْعٍ وَعِشْرِينَ دَرَجَةً

"Prayer in congregation is better than the prayer of a man by himself by twenty-seven degrees."

Sahih al-Bukhari (609)

More so if the person performs the congregational prayer in the first saf. In a hadith narrated by Abu Said al-Khudry RA, he said:

أنَّ رَسولَ اللهِ ﷺ رَأى في أصْحابِهِ تَأَخُّرًا فقالَ لهمْ: تَقَدَّمُوا فَأْتَمُّوا بي، ولْيَأْتَمَّ بكُمْ مَن بَعْدَكُمْ، لا يَزالُ قَوْمٌ يَتَأَخَّرُونَ حتّى يُؤَخِّرَهُمُ اللَّهُ

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saw that some of his Companions tended to stand in the rear, so he said: “Come forward and follow me, and let those who are behind you follow your lead. If people continue to lag behind, Allah will put them back.”

Sahih Muslim (438)

Furthermore, the Prophet PBUH state the advantages of the first saf is so great that if they have to draw lots for it, then people would draw lots for it. The Prophet PBUH said:

لَوْ يَعْلَمُ النَّاسُ مَا فِي النِّدَاءِ وَالصَّفِّ الْأَوَّلِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَجِدُوا إِلَّا أَنْ يَسْتَهِمُوا عَلَيْهِ لَاسْتَهَمُوا

“If the people were to know what excellence is there in the Adhan and in the first row, and they could not (get these opportunities) except by drawing lots, they would have definitely done that.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (580)

Coming back to the question asked, the act of prioritizing others over himself is known as ithar (الإيثار). It is a commendable act according to the statement of Allah SWT which praises the Ansar who prioritizes the Muhajirin compared to themselves. Allah SWT states:

وَالَّذِينَ تَبَوَّءُوا الدَّارَ وَالْإِيمَانَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ يُحِبُّونَ مَنْ هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَا يَجِدُونَ فِي صُدُورِهِمْ حَاجَةً مِّمَّا أُوتُوا وَيُؤْثِرُونَ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ ۚ وَمَن يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

“And [also for] those who were settled in al-Madinah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul - it is those who will be the successful.”

Surah al-Hasyr (9)

However, fiqh scholars specify that the act of prioritizing others (ithar) is only commendable in worldly matters such as wealth, food and drink. While ithar in matters of worship is makruh (undesirable) and not sunnah. This is in accordance with the Islamic legal maxim:

الإيثار في القرب مكروه وفي غيرها محبوب

Prioritizing others in matters of worship is makruh, while ithar in other matters is commendable. (Refer al-Asybah wa al-Nazhair Lil Suyuti, 1:117)

Imam al-Nawawi also explained it in syarah Sahih Muslim, where he states:

وقد نص أصحابنا وغيرهم من العلماء على أنه لا يؤثر في القرب، وإنما الإيثار المحمود ما كان في حظوط النفس دون الطاعات، قالوا: فيكره أن يؤثر غيره بموضعه من الصف الأول وكذلك نظائره

Scholars of madhhab al-Syafi’e and others said that it is impermissible to prioritize others (ithar) in terms of worship. While commendable ithar is for what a person wants which is not a form of obedience. They said: “It is makruh to prioritize others for the first saf, the same is applicable for other similar situations.” (Refer Syarh al-Nawawi ala Sahih Muslim, 7:170)

Conclusion

According to the above discussion, we conclude that it is makruh to prioritize others over oneself for the first saf. The reason is we should race in doing good and worship for ourselves first compared to others according the statement of Allah SWT and the hadith of the Prophet PBUH stated above. This is in accordance with the Islamic legal maxim:

الإيثار في القرب مكروه وفي غيرها محبوب

Prioritizing others in matters of worship is makruh, while ithar in other matters is commendable. (Refer al-Asybah wa al-Nazhair Lil Suyuti, 1:117)

Thus, we should hasten to fill the first saf in prayer and strive to be among those who are in the first saf for congregational prayer to gain the great rewards offered by Allah SWT. May Allah SWT give us the correct understanding in His religion and guide us to be able to perform worship with sincerity only for His sake. Amin.

Wallahua’lam.


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