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The Best Row in Prayer

Q: Which is the best row to stand in for men and women?

A: The first row is the best and most rewarding for the men. The first row is the row immediately behind the Imam even if it is interrupted by the minbar. Though this issue is respectfully debated, many scholars have deemed this the first row and not the first uninterrupted row after the minbar. Accordingly, there is no requirement that the first row be uninterrupted.

This is also the case for women praying in a separate area alone or apart from the men. The best row for them in this case is the first row, just like the men, even if it is interrupted by a structure.

If women are praying in the same space as the men, the best row is the furthest row based on the ḥadīth, “The best row for the men is the first and the worst is the last. The best row for the women is the last and the worst is the first” (Muslim & al-Tirmidhi).

Standing in the first row is a recommendation and not a requirement of prayer. Prayer is valid in any row, regardless of where it is, so long as the basic rules of forming rows are met. It is, however, disliked to intentionally abandon the first row when space is available.

Allāh knows best.

Source: Sharh al-Muntaha, Kashshaf al-Qina, al-Insaf, Matalib Uli al-Nuha

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