Abu Hurayrah (ABPWH) reported that Allāh’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “The prayer of a man in congregation is twenty-five times superior in reward to his prayer at home or in the market, and this is because he who performs ablution and perfects it, and goes to the mosque with the sole purpose of performing the prayer, he does not take a step without being raised a degree and having one of his sins erased. When he prays, as long as he is in the state of purity, the angels keep on praying for him ‘O Allāh, forgive him. O Allāh, accept his repentance,’ and the angles continue this supplication for him as long as he does not do any harm and his ablution is not broken.” (Muslim no. 649)
Abu Hurayrah (ABPWH) narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “When you hear the Iqāmah, walk to the mosque in calmness and poise, and do not rush to catch the prayer. If you catch it from the beginning that is fine. Otherwise, complete the Rak‘ahs that you missed.” (Al-Bukhāriy no. 636, Muslim no. 602)
Al-Imām Un-Nawawiy, may Allāh have mercy upon him, said, “The word Sakeenah (tranquility) mentioned in the above Hadeeth means to walk in calmness and avoid frivolity. Al-Waqār means behaving in dignity and poise, like lowering the gaze, speaking softly, and avoiding looking around with no reason.” (Refer to the explanation of Muslim by An-Nawawiy, no. 602)
Abu Humayd or Abu Usayd (ABPWH) narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (PBUH) said, “When one of you enters the mosque he should say:
« اللّهُمَّ افْتَحْ لِي أَبْوَابَ رَحْمَتِكَ »
‘O Allāh, open for me the gates of Your mercy,’ and when he exits the mosque he should say:
« َاللّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسأَلكَ مِنْ فَضْلك »
‘O Allāh, I ask You out of Your favors.” (Muslim no. 713)
If one comes early to the mosque, it is Sunnah for him not to sit down before offering two Rak‘ahs. Abu Qatādah (ABPWH) narrated that Allāh’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “If one of you enters a mosque, he should not sit until he has offered two Rak‘ahs.” (Al-Bukhāriy no. 1163, Muslim no. 714)
Yet, offering any prayer on entering the mosque before sitting down would do for greeting the mosque. Thus, if one entered the mosque and prayed the two Rak‘ahs before Fajr, Dthuhr, Dhuhā, or any other prayer, then whatever he prayed would count as greeting the mosque, because the purpose is to avoid sitting down before performing prayer, in order to have mosques maintained with prayer.
Abu Hurayrah (ABPWH) reported that Allāh’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “The best of the prayer rows for men are the first rows and the worst are the last rows, and the best of the prayer rows for women are the last rows and the worst are the first rows.” (Muslim no. 440)
The best means having the greatest reward, and the worst means having the least reward.
This Hadeeth applies in the situation when men and women pray together with no separation. Thus, the last row would be the best for women, being furthest away from men’s sight. However, if there was a barrier such as a curtain or a wall, or if there was a separate room for women, the best row for women in this case would be the first row, as they are already separate from men, according to the general reward of the first row as indicated by many Ahādeeth, one of which is:
Abu Hurayrah (ABPWH) narrated that Allāh’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “If the people knew the reward of answering the Adthān and praying in the first row in congregational prayer, and found no other way to obtain this reward except by drawing lots, they would do so, and if they knew the reward of offering Dthuhr prayer early in its specified time, they would compete for it, and if they knew the reward of ‘Ishā’ and Fajr prayers in congregation, they would attend them even if they had to come to prayer crawling.” (Al-Bukhāriy no. 615, Muslim no. 437)
As we already mentioned, it is best to pray in the first row, and it would even be better to be closer to the Imām. Thus, the best position is the nearest to the Imām, whether from the right side or from the left side.
This is indicated by the following Hadeeth:
‘Abudllāh Ibn Mas‘ood (ABPWH) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Let those of you who are mature and prudent be near me.” (Abū Dāwood no. 674 and At-Tirmidthiy no. 228)