It is commendable to separate the feet while performing Prayer, but it is blameworthy to separate them widely. However, the main concern of one while performing Prayer should be sincerity. One should be pious and sincere while imploring his Lord.
In his book Nail Al-Awtar, as-Shawkani states the following: “Abu Hamid reported the following on how the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to perform Prayer: ‘When he (the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prostrated, he separated his two thighs from each other, and did not stick his body to either of them.’ (Reported by Abu Dawud) This means that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not stick his two thighs to each other, nor did he stick the knees or the feet (together). The followers of the Shafi`i School say that there should be a space about equal to a span of the hand between the feet.”
In his book Mawaheb Al-Jaleel, based on the Maliki School, al-Hattab gives the following opinion:
“It is reported: There is nothing wrong in resting one of the feet from time to time while performing Prayer. Yet, it is blameworthy for one to stick the feet together depending (i.e. putting the full weight) on both of them.
Ibn Naji reported that `Ayyad said: ‘This means that one should not join his feet relying on both of them together. Rather, one should separate his feet during Prayer and rely on each one or on both of them from time to time; this is to relieve his legs while praying.”
It is also said: Resting on one foot after the other should be applied in Prayer to avoid joining of the feet, as it is prohibited in Prayer. A man who joins his feet together in Prayer is doing something wrong.
“In his book Al-Mukhtasar, he mentions that separating the feet in Prayer is a wrong deed. He left it open, and some scholars see that he contradicts himself. But I see no contradiction in this opinion. Meaning, it is prohibited to make joining of the feet a habit in Prayer, and the same is true in making separation of the feet a habit in Prayer. Rather the matter is left open; one is to do what is easier for him in Prayer without sticking to one position making it a habit. That is all.”
Iman Nawawi says in his book Al-Majmu`:
“If one relies on one foot only while performing Prayer, then his Prayer is valid, but he is blameworthy. If he has a legal excuse to do so, then there is no blame on him. It is also blameworthy for one to join the feet in Prayer; it is rather commendable to separate them. Moreover, it is blameworthy to put one foot behind the other; the two feet should be beside each other and the toes pointing to the Qiblah.”
It is also stated in the book Ka
shaf Al-Qina` based on the Hanafi School:
“It is not blameworthy for one to rest each foot from time to time while performing Prayer; rather, it is commendable. Al-Athram reported from Abu `Ubadah that `Abdullah once saw a man performing Prayer and joining his feet together. Hence, he said: ‘If this man separates his feet, it will be better.’ The same incident was narrated by an-Nasa’i, who quotes `Abdullah as saying: ‘This man mistakes the Sunnah. If he separates his feet, it will be better.’ So it is commendable to separate the feet in Prayer. Al-Athram added: ‘I saw Abu `Abdullah ibn Hanbal (in Prayer) separating his feet and resting on one after the other.’ Nevertheless, it is blameworthy to be excessive in the times of resting the feet. In this concern, al-Bukhari reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Whenever one of you stands for prayer, he should stop moving his limbs. Do not lean like the Jews.’
“It is reported in the book Sharhu-l-Muntaha that the hadith here means that one who is performing Prayer should not do excessive movements like resting the legs from time to time if one will not stay in Prayer for a long time.”
In his book on Maliki Fiqh, ad-Dusuqi states the following:
“The earlier Maliki scholars agreed on the blameworthiness of joining the feet in Prayer. Yet contemporary scholars dispute about what is meant by joining the feet. Some say that it means sticking the feet to each other as if they are shackled, whether one depends on them together or not.
Other scholars say that it means to depend on both of them together, whether they are joined side by side or separated. This is blameworthy if one who is performing Prayer believes that joining the feet in such a way is an essential ritual of Prayer. So if he does not believe so, there will be nothing w
rong in it. Hereby, joining the feet in Prayer is blameworthy as it may remove one from Prayer.”
In short, the first group agrees that there is nothing wrong in separating the feet in Prayer, whether one depends on them together or not. But one should not stand with them far apart, otherwise it would be blameworthy. Accordingly, it is blameworthy to join the feet together in Prayer whether one depends on both of them or not.
On the other hand, the second group sees that it is blameworthy to rely on both feet together all the time, whether one joins them or not, if one believes that it is an act of Sunnah. However, if one does not believe so and does not rely on both his feet all the time, i.e. joining them for a while and separating them for another, then there is nothing wrong.