[ This is Part Two of the article, Splitting into Groups and Parties, by Shaykh Muhammad Naasir ad-Deen al-Albaanee (d.1420) – may Allaah have Mercy on him. Here, the shaykh stresses the importance of applying the understanding of the Companions in an issue of fiqh, and how that will unify the people. ]
…One sign of the saved sect, one that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) described clearly when he was asked about it, is found in his statement:
“It is what I and my Companions are upon this day.” 
Therefore this hadeeth gives the concerned researcher a firm awareness that this Straight Path of Allaah must be sought upon knowledge of two very, very important affairs: (1) what the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was upon and (2) what his Companions were upon. That is firstly because the noble Companions were the ones who brought his guidance (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) to us, his Sunnah. Secondly, they were best of the people in truly applying this Sunnah of his. So when the affair is like this, it is not possible for us to properly understand the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) in a way other than the way his Companions understood it.
As known to people of knowledge, the Sunnah is broken down into Al-Qowliyyah (statements), Al-Fi’liyyah (actions), and At-Taqreeriyyah (approvals). As for As-Sunnah Al-Qowliyyah, then it is easily understood, it is the statements that the Companions reported from him (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). As-Sunnah Al-Fi’liyyah is what they reported regarding his actions (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). As for As-Sunnah At-Taqreeriyyah, it is what the Companions reported about each other, not from his actions (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), but he saw the action and remained silent about it. This silence is not considered from his statements (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), nor from his actions, rather it is his approval.
From here, it is appropriate for me that I stress the importance of joining together these two affairs that we have mentioned here. It is not sufficient for any Islaamic group that ascribes to the Truth, claiming to work by the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, that they summarize Islaam to be based only on the Book and the Sunnah. Rather they must also have a clear awareness of how the Companions of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) implemented his Sunnah.
There are many, many examples that make the importance of combining of these two affairs easily understood. I have mentioned a conglomeration of them during previous speeches and in my answers to people’s questions. Another example has come to me now – verily it is what is found in Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, the Sunan of Abee Daawood, and other books, and it comes by more than one route, that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) used to order his Companions to straighten the lines during the establishment of the prayer. Nu’maan ibn Basheer and others said, “One of us would connect his foot to his companion’s foot and his shoulder to his companions shoulder.”  This is something that actually took place among the Companions; it was how they carried out the order of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) to straighten the rows.
There is no uncertainty and no doubt that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) could not possibly have been unaware of what his Companions were doing directly behind him as they followed him in prayer. It was not possible for this consolidation that his Companions practiced to be hidden from him, as they were carrying out his order (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) to straighten and consolidate the rows. For verily, from the amazing things that were specific to him, from his miracles, he was able to see what was behind him just as he could see what was in front of him during the prayer. 
So if straightening and consolidating the rows in this fashion, connecting the feet and shoulders, had not been legislated, then it would have been takalluf (overburdening oneself, excessiveness). And if it was takalluf, then the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) would have forbidden them from it. That is because, as in the authentic hadeeth, he prohibited takalluf. 
If it is said that maybe it was possible that this was done without his knowledge (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), then I say that the avenues of ‘maybe’ are very expansive indeed, however this issue we are discussing can not be like that due to two reasons. I have mentioned one of them, that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) used to see what was behind him just as he could see what was in front of him.
The second reason is that if it so happened that he (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) had not witnessed this thing that the Companions were doing behind him in prayer, then verily no secret affair on Earth nor in the Heavens was ever hidden from the Lord of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). So, as I have said about our Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) before, he had no duty other than conveying Allaah’s Message. So, firstly and quite decisively, it should be said about the Lord of our Messenger, Blessed and Exalted – If He, the One whom no secret affair on Earth nor in the Heavens is hidden from, did not want to legislate this manner of straightening and consolidating the rows for His believing servants, then He would have ordered His Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) to prohibit them from this takalluf.
Therefore, it is not befitting for the Muslim to understand his silence (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) about something as anything other than something our Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, was aware of, and, furthermore, Allaah’s approval for His Prophet to allow that thing to take place…
Translated by: Moosaa Richardson 
 An authentic hadeeth collected by At-Tirmithee, see Saheeh Sunan At-Tirmithee (#2641) of Al-Albaanee.
 An authentic hadeeth collected by Aboo Daawood, see Saheeh Sunan Abee Daawood (#662). Al-Bukhaaree referred to it in the heading of his chapter, Joining Shoulders and Feet in the Row (Chapter #76 of the Book of the Athaan). A similar statement was also reported on Anas ibn Maalik in the same chapter, and Anas added, “If I did this with one of them today, he would flee like an untamed donkey!” See Fat-hul-Baaree (2/260).
 As he (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said, on the authority of Anas:
“Establish your rows, for verily I see you from behind my back.”
It was collected by Al-Bukhaaree (#718, 2/255 of Fathul-Baaree). Also, it is important to mention that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), when ordering the Companions to straighten their rows and consolidate, he would turn and face them to ensure that their lines were straight, as found in Saheeh Muslim (#978) and Sunan Abee Daawood (#662 of Saheeh Sunan Abee Daawood) for example, and the reports are many. So this action of the Companions (placing their feet and shoulders together) was done as he faced them, for why would the Companions wait for him (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) to turn around and begin praying to implement his order? Can you imagine the Companions not carrying out an order from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) immediately upon hearing it?! Therefore, firstly and foremostly, their action should be considered from As-Sunnah At-Taqreeriyyah, as it was their immediate, collective reaction to a command issued to them while he (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was in front of them, looking at them. And for those who will not accept this, then it would still be considered As-Sunnah At-Taqreeriyyah due to this excellent point of the shaykh, may Allaah have Mercy on him, that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) could actually see them during the prayer from behind his back.
 As Anas (may Allaah be pleases with him) said, “We have been prohibited from takalluf,” in an authentic hadeeth collected by Al-Bukhaaree (#7293).
 Source: Recording no. 602 of the Silsilah al-Hudaa wan-Noor series.