Shoulder to Shoulder, Ankle to Ankle... A much debated topic.
In this post, I'm not going to go into what's right, what's wrong. I'm going to try to resolve some differences and try to bridge some gaps.
Personally, I follow the opinion that in Salah we should make sure that we should have our ankles and shoulders together. Living here in Pakistan, its not quite possible. Since the majority of people here are Hanafi, they do not practice the ankles to ankles part. And like Hanafi's in America(and probably other places) as well, they get offended if you try to practice that Sunnah.
Ankles to Ankles
Especially before Jummah, I hear the (Hanafi) Imam mention the following words in Urdu "Ankle to Ankle". The first time I heard it, I was confused. Has the Imam made another cross-Madhab Fatwa? Later, I realized that what he meant by Ankle to Ankle was not to touch the ankle of your neighbor in Salah but to straighten the rows.
So, I figure that what the Hanafi scholars understand by "ankle to ankle" is not to join ankles but have them aligned in a straight line so that the rows are also straight.
Shoulder to Shoulder
All four madhabs agree that when a person prays, his shoulders should be touching his neighbors, a sign of solidarity. It's a different case in every masjid but I've seen that people often leave huge gaps between each other. Quite a few times, I've actually had to finish the previous row cause there was a huge gap between two people or a person and a wall.
Is it because of the social divide, ignorance or cause the other person smells bad? None of these are good excuses.