The importance of making rows straight and right in Salah
So this is not for angels only. Human beings too have been induced to and bound with the need to make their rows straight and right during ‘Ibaadah.
According to a narration of Sayyiduna Jabir Ibn Samurah (radhiyallahu anhu), the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said to him and those with him, “Why do you not align yourself in perfect rows (while offering Salah) as do the angels before their Lord?”
The Sahabah asked, ‘How do the angels form their rows before their Lord?’
He (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said , “They complete the rows and stand compactly (that is, leave no gap in between the row).” (Tafsir Mazhari)
So many Ahadith stressing on the need to make rows complete and keep them straight in Salah have appeared that they could fill an independent treatise on the subject.
Sayyiduna Aboo Mas’ood al-Badri (radhiyallahu anhu) says that the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would touch our shoulders with his blessed hand during Salah and say, “Stand straight, do not step ahead or fall behind, otherwise, it will cause dissension to creep up into your hearts.” (Jam’ al-Fawa’id, with reference to Muslim and an-Nasa’i, p. 91, v.1)
2. The second attribute of the angels has been described as: “faz-zaajiraati zajran” (those who prevent firmly). This word has been derived from “zajr” which means to hold in check, block, prevent or restrain, also to drive back, repel or reprimand. Maulana Thanavi has translated it in the sense of those who place an impregnable check – which comprehends every possible sense of the word.
Now, what is that against which the angels place their check? In view of the context of the Holy Qur’an, most commentators have answered it by saying that the enforcing of check at this place means the act of angels through which they stop the satans from reaching the higher levels, a detailed description of which is going to appear a little later in the Qur’an itself.
3. The third attribute is: “fat-taaliyaati dhikran”, that is, these angels are those who recite the ‘dhikr’. The core sense of ‘dhikr’ is a ‘word of good counsel’ as well as ‘the remembrance of Allah.’ In the first instance, it would mean that these angels are those who recite everything Allah Ta’ala has revealed as a word of good counsel through the Scriptures. And this recitation could be as a means of earning barakah and also as an act of “ibadah’.
Then, it is also possible that it means the angels who bring wahy (revelation) to the prophets, since they recite these Scriptures carrying good counsel before the prophets (alayhimus salaam) and thus they convey the message of Allah to them. And in the second instance, if ‘dhikr’ were to be taken to mean the remembrance of Allah, then, it would mean that they keep busy reciting those words – words that prove their commitment to the glory and sanctity of Allah.
At this place, by mentioning these three attributes of angels, the noble Qur’an has put together all essential qualities of ideal servitude. To sum up:
(1) Stand in perfect linear formation for “ibadah’,
(2) preventing rebellious forces from disobedience to Allah
(3) Recite the good counsel and commandments of Allah in person as well as to communicate to others.
It is obvious that no act of servitude can remain devoid of these three departments. Hence, the sense of all four verses (37:1-4) turns out to be: ‘By the angels who imbibe in them all ideal attributes of servitude, your true Lord is but One.’
Why has the statement been sworn by the angels? The reason why angels have been sworn by in the Surah particularly – as already submitted – lies in the central theme of this Surah. It aims at refuting the peculiar kind of shirk (ascribing of partners in the pure divinity of Allah) based on which the people of Makkah used to call angels the daughters of Allah. Accordingly, at the very beginning of the Surah, while swearing in the name of the angels, their unique attributes were described that demonstrated their perfect servitude. In other words, the sense is that should you ponder over these angelic attributes of servitude, they will themselves become a witness before you that their relationship with Allah Ta’ala is not that of a father and daughter, instead, it is that of servants and the Master.
Injunctions about sworn statement of Allah Ta’ala: Three questions and their answers In the noble Qur’an
There are statements in which Allah Ta’ala has sworn in various ways in order to lay emphasis on many matters of principles relating to faith and its articles. At some places, it is that of His own Being while, at other places, it is that of particular things out of what He has created. This raises many questions. Therefore, it has become a detailed issue in the science of the Tafsir (exegesis) of the noble Qur’an. Hafiz Ibn Qaiyyim has written a regular book on the subject entitled “at-Tibyan fi Aqsam-il-Qur’an”. ‘Allamah as-Suyuti has, in his book “al-Itqaan” on the principle of Tafsir has discussed it in details in the sixty-seventh category of discussions. Some necessary components are being given here:
When Allah Ta’ala makes a sworn statement, a question naturally arises: Is it not that Allah Ta’ala is the most free of needof all? Why would he need to strengthen His statement with an oath in order to make someone believe? Abul Qasim al-Qushairi has answered this question by saying that Allah needs not to swear before anyone, but His compassion towards His servants invited Him to do so in the hope that they, after hearing such a sworn statement made by Allah Ta’ala, may tend to accept the truth and save themselves from the punishment. When an Arab bedouin heard the verse:
(And in heaven is your provision, and that you are promised, it is surely true as that you have speech – 51:22-23)
where Allah Ta’ala has sworn by ‘the Lord of the heavens and the earth’, he remarked, “Who has annoyed the Almighty to make Him swear an oath?”
In short, as said earlier, this is something necessitated by Divine compassion for His creation. Is it not that we have with us a recognized method of settling disagreements and differences? A witness is presented to support a claim. If there is no witness, a sworn statement is offered. Similarly, Allah Ta’ala has elected to go by this familiar way of human beings in their interest.
On occasions, He has laid stress on the subject by using the word: “??????” (witness) as in:
(Allah bears witness that there is no god but He – And [so do] the angels and the men of knowledge – ‘Al-‘Imran, 3:18).
Then, there are occasions when words of ??????? oath have beeq used as in:
(Yes, by my Lord, it is true – ???????, 10:53).