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Refuting The Notion That Prostration By Its Very Nature Is Worship.


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Sajdah (i.e. prostration) in Islam when performed in Salah is worship. Opponents of Muslims believe even if prostration performed out side of Salah to anyone other than Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) without intention of worship, and performing it for a creation without belief of Ilahiyyah/Mabudiyyah, is still act of worship.

Why This Article Was Needed:

It is commonly believed amongst the leaders and common Khawarij that prostration by its very nature is worship in Shari’ah of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam). As a result of this belief the Khariji leadership and their common folk make Takfir of those foolish Muslims who due to ignorant prostrate to a deceased righteous servant of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). Which has primarily resulted from having no education of Islam and also due to excessive reverance for deceased righteous servant of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). Even though the action of foolish Muslim is contempt of Shari’ah because prostration of reverance for anyone other then Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is prohibited in Islam. But charging them of major Shirk on grounds of a action which has been prohibited and which in reality is major sin is also display of excessive. The correct and balance approach in this regard would be to educate the foolish Muslim and inform him that RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) prohibited prostration to ghayrullah and it is major sin. Alhasil objective of article is to establish from Quran and Sunnah that prostration by its very nature is not worship. And to protect the Islam of foolish Muslims as well as their lives and property from the followers of Khariji Shaykh, Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab. They believe it is permissible to take the life, robb the property, and enslave the women of, any Muslim who performs prostration to anyone other than Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) because they believe such a Muslim is guilty of major Shirk, and therefore as become apostate. And yet in Shari’ah of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam), the blood, property and honour of Muslim is protected as long as he professes, there is none worthy of worship except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

Prostration By Very Nature Is Gesture Of Respect:

Sajdah by its very nature is sign of respect but when it is coupled with belief of Ilahiyyah and intention of worship then it becomes worship. As in Islam, belief of Ilahiyyah is affirmed for Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) but if a Muslim does not intend to worship Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) then his action of prostration will not be considered worship. Or if belief of Ilahiyyah is affirmed for a creation of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) but no intention and no action is performed for worship then creation is not worshipped. But despite this person is polytheist because a creation has been associated as a partner with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). Fundamentally in Islam, belief, intention and action all have to be in accordance with Islamic teaching for worship to take place.

Prostration Of Worship Is For Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala):

Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has mentioned faith before the actions of bowing and prostrating: O you who have believed, bow and prostrate and worship your Lord and do good - that you may succeed.” [Ref: 22:77] "For Allah, He is my Lord and your Lord: so worship you Him: this is a Straight Way." [Ref: 43:64] Those who have believed in Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) as their only Rabb and Ilah/Ma’bud have been adressed and told to bow/prostrate to Him. Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is reported to have said: "The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for." [Ref: Bukhari, B1, H1] Therefore intention of worship precede actions of worship and what precedes the intention is belief of Ilahiyyah. In simple words, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) in verse 22:77 mentioned, belief and action, Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) with the Hadith inserted the intention between the two, by saying actions are rewarded upon intentions.

Prostration Of Reverance Performed For Creation:

Numerous verses of Quran state, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) instructed the angels to prostrate of Prophet Adam (alayhis salaam) as a gesture of respect: “And when We said to the angels, "Prostrate before Adam"; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.”  [Ref: 2:34] “And We have certainly created you (O Mankind), and given you (human) form. Then We said to the angels, "Prostrate to Adam"; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was not of those who prostrated.” [Ref: 7:11] “And when We said to the angels, "Prostrate to Adam," and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was of the jinn and departed from the command of his Lord. Then will you take him and his descendants as allies other than Me while they are enemies to you? Wretched it is for the wrongdoers as an exchange.” [Ref: 18:50] As par logic of opponents of Islam, it would be correct to say, the only true monotheist present amongst angels was Iblees the Jinn. In another verse we find Prophet Yaqoob (alayhis salaam) prostrating to his son, Prophet Yusuf (alayhis salaam) as a mark of respect: And he raised his parents high on the throne and they fell down in prostration, (all) before him. He said: "O my father! this is the fulfilment of my vision of old! Allah hath made it come true! He was indeed good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you (all here) out of the desert, (even) after Satan had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Verily my Lord understandeth best the mysteries of all that He planneth to do, for verily He is full of knowledge and wisdom.” [Ref: 12:100] And based on this we say, prostration of reverance is not Shirk had it been Shirk Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) would not have commanded the angels to prostrate to Prophet Adam (alayhis salaam) nor would a sinless Prophet would have prostrated to another sinless Prophet. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) states: “There was certainly in their stories a lesson for those of understanding. Never was the Qur'an a narration invented, but a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.” [Ref: 12:111] What do we learn from the story of angels and Prophet Yaqoob (alayhis salaam) prostrating to his son? Answer me, O Khawarij, if you’re men of understanding. You have no portion of book of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) because you have gone through it like an arrow goes through the games body – and your understanding of it is only little. The righteous men of Ummah of Islam have learnt from these verses that prostration to other then Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) out of reverance is not Shirk. And Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) as part of detailed explanation of these verses has explained that prostration of reverance for creation is prohibited.

Prostration To Ghayrullah Is a Major Sin:

Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) states: “If you avoid the major sins, which you are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins and admit you to a noble entrance (into Paradise)." [Ref: 4:31“Those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, only (committing) slight ones. Indeed, your Lord is vast in forgiveness. He was most knowing of you when He produced you from the earth and when you were fetuses in the wombs of your mothers. So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is most knowing of who fears Him.” [Ref: 53:32] In these verses Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has refferenced actions which result major sin as major sin. See Tafsir Ibn Kathir: “Allah said: ‘If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden to do, We shall remit from you your (small sins).’ Meaning, if you avoid the major evil deeds that you were prohibited We will forgive you the minor evil deeds and will admit you into Paradise.” [Ref: Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 4:31] The verse says, avoid [actions of] major sins, and then says, [actions] which are forbidden. Action of prostration to ghayrullah is prohibited and evidence of it follows. It is recorded in Hadith that when Hadhrat Muadh Ibn Jabal came back from greater Syria (i.e. Shaam) he prostrated to Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) out of respect for him because he had seen Christians prostrating to their Bishops and Patricians: “It was narrated that: Abdullah bin Abu Awfa said “When Muadh bin Jabal came from Sham, he prostrated to the Prophet who said: 'What is this, O Muadh?' He said: 'I went to Sham and saw them prostrating to their bishops and patricians and I wanted to do that for you.” Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) prohibited him from prostrating and said: “Do not do that. If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone other than Allah, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands.” [Ref: Ibn Majah, B9, H1853] These final words of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) are also narrated in another Hadith: “Abu Hurairah narrated that The Prophet said: “If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone, then I would order the wife to prostrate to her husband.” [Ref: Tirmadhi, B7, H1159] Alhasil prostration to ghayrullah is major sin because it is prohibited.


Prostration by very nature is gesture of respect/reverance. If belief of Ilahiyyah is affirmed, and intention of worship is made, and action of prostration is carried out, then that prostration of respect is worship. And in Islam prostration is to anyone other than Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is prohibited and one who engages in it is guilty of major sin. Anyone who claims prostration to ghayrullah with intention of respect is worship has claimed something for which there is no proof.

Wama alayna ilal balaghul mubeen.
Muhammed Ali Razavi

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