In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
When Should Performers of The Prayer Stand Up to Join The Rows
Shaikh Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbaad [hafidhahullaah] stated: Should they stand up at the beginning of the Iqaama, at the end or when [they hear] Qad qaamatis salaah [i.e. the prayer is about to begin]? Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar [rahimahullaah] transmitted three statements [of the scholars regarding this affair] in Al-Fath 2/120, however what is more evident is that the performers of the prayer should stand up when they hear the beginning of the Iqaamah in order to get ready and straighten the rows for the prayer.
It is reported in Saheeh Muslim from Abu Hurairah [radiyallaahu anhu] who said: “The Iqaamah for the prayer would be called for Allaah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] and the people would form rows before the Prophet stood up.” [Saheeh Muslim 1369]
However, if the Imaam is in the Masjid, the performers of the prayer should stand up when the Iqaamah for the prayer is made and they see him enter the Masjid, because of the Prophet’s [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] statement: “When the Iqaamah is called for the prayer, do not stand up until you see me.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari 637 & Saheeh Muslim 1365]
And in another wording [of this hadeeth] in Saheeh Muslim [the Prophet (sallal laahu alayhi wasallam said)]: “Until you see that I have come out.” [Saheeh Muslim 1366] [Ref 1]
Virtue of The First Rows
Abu Hurairah [radiyallaahu anhu] said that the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said: “The best rows for men are the front ones and the worst are the back ones, and the best rows for women are the back ones and the worst are the front ones.” [Saheeh Muslim’ Number 985]
This shows the virtue of the first rows and then the one after it. [Also] the best rows for the women are the back ones when they are praying with the men and there is no barrier between them [i.e. between them and the men]; but if they are praying on their own or there is a barrier between them and the men, then their first row [i.e. the first one behind the barrier or after the barrier between them and the men] is the best row. The virtue of the first row is also shown in the statement of [Allaah’s Messenger (sallal laahu alayhi wasallam) that]: “If the people knew (the reward for) giving the A’dhaan and for standing in the first row [in congregational prayers] and found no other way to get that except by drawing lots, they would draw lots.”[Bukhaari’ Number 615] [Ref 2]
[Ref 1: Kutub Wa Rasaa’il Abdul Muhsin Bin Hamad Al-Abbaad Al-Badr’ Vol 5. page 127]
[Ref 2: Sharh Aadaabul Mashee Ilas Salaah’ found in the Majmoo’ah of Shaikh Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbaad (hafidhahullaah) Vol 5 page 130]