[Hadith] What Does Having the ‘Softest Shoulders’ Mean?

(خِیَارُکُمْ اَلْیَنَکُمْ مَنَاکِبَ فِی الصَّلَاۃِ (ابو داؤد

The best amongst you (i.e. the best amongst you in character) is he who possesses the softest shoulders in Salah.

There are moments in life, which require patience and steadfastness. Moments where one ought to subdue one’s ego and do what is right. This becomes even more important when one happens to be standing in the court of Allah. Even a slight display of pride runs contrary to the nature of ṣalāh where absolute humility is necessary. This ḥadīth teaches us this principle of ridding one’s pride and giving preference to others.

The vague wording of the ḥadīth means that the scholars of ḥadīth have put forward several interpretations, of which:

  1. One is that this ḥadīth refers to the situation where a person is standing in the row and another person instructs him to straighten the row or instead directs him personally by placing his hand on his shoulders and manoeuvres him in line with the rest of the row. In response, the first individual instead of expressing annoyance co-operates and moves as he is directed.
  2. Another interpretation states that this ḥadīth refers to that person who ensures that he remains focused in ṣalāh i.e. he does not fidget or become distracted. According to this interpretation the ḥadīth would therefore read, “The best amongst you is he who is most dignified and focused in ṣalāh.”
  3. It has also been related that the ḥadīth refers to the situation wherein a person does not prevent another Mussalli (who wishes to join the row and fill the gap) from entering the row.

Therefore, if a situation does occur in ṣalāh where one feels wronged, he should swallow the bitter pill and overlook it. Inshā’allāh, this will become a means of becoming beloved in the sight of Allah and the people.

(Mirqāt-ul-Mafātīḥ 3/160)

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