#135: The Favors of the First Saf

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. I often hear that there are great favors for those who pray in the first saf. Can you explain them?

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.

Allah SWT encourages the Muslim ummah to hasten and race in doing good and ask for His forgiveness. Allah SWT states:

فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ

“So, race to [all that is] good.” [1]

Syeikh al-Maraghi said that racing towards good and piety is taking every opportunity to do good deeds and increase our worships. The reason is successful people in a race are those who are closest to Allah SWT. Hence, in doing any good one should hasten in completing the deed faster than anyone else. [2]

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.” [3]

Ibn Kathir stated the meaning of hastening to forgiveness from Allah SWT is as an encouragement for them to do good and race in obedience which helps to get closer to Allah SWT. [4]

Regarding the above issue, we state the following:

Praying in the first saf, there are numerous favours stated by various narrations. In the following, we share several advantages of the first saf and the priority of praying in it.

First: Allah and the angels offer salutations to the first saf

This is based on a narration from Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Auf, he said, Rasullullah PBUH said:

‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلاَئِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى الصَّفِّ الأَوَّلِ

‘‘God and His angels bless the first row.” [5]

Imam al-Munawi when commenting on this hadith said: Allah and the angels bless them (those who pray in the first saf) by making istighfar for them. [6]

Second: Rasullullah PBUH stated of the great favours that if one has to draw lots for it, they would have done so. Rasullullah PBUH said:

‏ لَوْ يَعْلَمُ النَّاسُ مَا فِي النِّدَاءِ وَالصَّفِّ الأَوَّلِ، ثُمَّ لَمْ يَجِدُوا إِلاَّ أَنْ يَسْتَهِمُوا عَلَيْهِ لاَسْتَهَمُوا

“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.” [7]

According to the above hadith, if a person truly has knowledge of the great rewards and fadhilat of the first saf, surely, they will compete to pray in the first saf. They will fight for it that if there is no other choice but to draw lots for it, they’ll do just that to get to pray in the first saf.

Third: The best saf for men is the first saf

This matter refers to a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, where Rasullullah PBUH said:

خَيْرُ صُفُوفِ الرِّجَالِ أَوَّلُهَا وَشَرُّهَا آخِرُهَا وَخَيْرُ صُفُوفِ النِّسَاءِ آخِرُهَا وَشَرُّهَا أَوَّلُهَا

“The best of the men’s rows is the first and the worst is the last, but the best of the women’s rows is the last and the worst is the first.” [8]

In the above hadith, the best saf for men is the first saf. The reason is the first saf makes us as people who hasten towards good, close to the imam, get to hear the recitation of the imam and take lessons from it as well as has a safer mind from looking at the person in front of him.

What is meant as the worst saf for men and women is: with the least rewards and advantages from what is wanted and asked by syara’.

Here, we state the advantages of the last saf for women is only when the congregational involves men and women. However, if the congregational prayer only involves women, then the situation returns to that the best saf is the first saf and the worst saf is the last.

For a woman congregant, it is best for her to pray in the last saf if the congregational prayer involves men because such will increase the distance between them from mixing, distance them from looking at ajnabi men and hearing their speech. [9]

Thus, let us always strive to pray in the first saf. Avoid having empty spaces in the saf or delay and postpone filling the saf. The reason is there is a truly great reward for it as explained above.

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] (Surah al-Baqarah: 148)

[2] See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 3/1595

[3] (Surah Ali Imran: 133)

[4] See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 3/183

[5] Narrated by Ibn Majah (999)

[6] See Faidh al-Qadir, 2/341

[7] Narrated by al-Bukhari (615)

[8] Narrated by Muslim (440)

[9] See al-Minhaj Syarh Sahih Muslim, 4/158

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