UPDATE 4: Mufti Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf analyses the evidence – http://www.zamzamacademy.com/2010/09/feet-to-feet-toe-to-toe/
UPDATE 3: Shaykh Hamza Yusuf explaining the “feet to feet” – the narrator for the hadith was an 8 year old boy as elucidated by Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani. See http://youtu.be/Q8AdSuKKrwY
UPDATE 2: al-Talib’s blog has an excerpt from the 3rd edition of Fiqh al-Imam [published by White Thread Press] by Mufti AbdurRahman ibn Yusuf “Feet to Feet, Toe to Toe?” which discusses the hadith that the Salafis rely on to push their position.
Hanafis are often criticized for not touching toes in congregational prayer (by Salafis), who point to the hadith (I don’t know it off-hand). I understand that it’s not the hadith that is being questioned, but the interpretation.
This is specifically a problem for women, as we have to keep our feet close together, according to our madhab. Please send me details as I am trying to put this across to a salafi sister.”
UPDATE: The blog Dar al-Hadithhas a useful scan of evidences, for those who can understand Arabic. against joining the feet that a lot of Salafis insist on.
I was digging through some of my old emails and knew that I had an old post from the Hanbali Fiqh list when it was active. Anyway, this is something on the subject posted by Sidi Musa Furber:
Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim”Foot-pressing stance” During Prayer
As salaamu alaykum,
Does the foot-pressing stance adopted by our Salafi brethren have sanction in the madhhab of Imam Ahmad?
wa `alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
I have not been able to find anything that explicitly says that people should pray with their feet and shoulders jammed together. The closest that I have found is that rows should be straightened using the ankles and shoulders as a guide to determining straightness, and that that rows should be tightened to remove any gaps. (See Kashshaf al-qina` (1:328), Ghayat al-muntaha (1:120))
And what is explicit regarding the feet is that they should be slightly parted. (See Kashshaf al-qina` (1:372), Nail al-Ma’arib (1:142))
Brothers and sisters who insist on jamming their foot up to their neighbors should realize that if their neighbor keeps moving their foot and they keep moving their foot to get rid of the gap, they run the risk of invalidating their prayer because of excessive needless motion. They should also bear in mind that while it is recommended to gather together the rows, it is prohibited to injure another Muslim without right (and this does happen) and it is offensive to annoy.
And Allah knows best.
wa al-salamu `alaykum