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Argument: Major Shirk Is From Major Sins. So How Do You Justify Exclusion Of Prostration Of Reverance From Major Shirk?

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Khawarij believe prostration to any creation out of reverance/respect is worship even if no belief of Ilahiyyah is affirmed for that creation, even if intention of worshiping that creation is absent. And Khawarij charge a Muslim of committing major Shirk and declare the Muslim to be a Mushrik. Muslims on other hand believe such prostration is major sin but does not consitute a act of worship, nor major Shirk. Islamic teaching with regards to acts of worship is that any act sanctioned in Islam as part of Salah (i.e. prayer), or any form of worship which Islam does not recognise, if it is performed with belief of Ilahiyyah and with intention of worshiping a creation, then worship has taken place. And one who is guilty of worshiping a creation is a Mushrik (i.e. polytheist). A Khariji attempted to convince me; Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) prohibited prostration of reverance/respect for creation because in Islam every prostration is of worship and he referenced Khariji Shaykh, Ibn Baaz. Instead of directly responding to Shaykh of Khawarij, and to avoid a debate like scenario, I sent him link of following article, here. In response to which he presented the argument – Khariji Argument Prostration Is Major Shirk – and what follows was the response given to him.


Khariji Argument Prostration Is Major Shirk:


It is recorded in a Sahih Hadith: “Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr: That the Prophet said: "The major sins are associating others with Allah, disobeying the parents" or he said, "the false oath". Shu'bah (a narrator in the chain) was in doubt.” [Ref: Tirmadhi, B44, H3021] You stated prostration to other then Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is a major sin. According to words of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) major Shirk is from major sins. And according to your understanding prostration is major sin but not major Shirk. It would stand to reason that prostration to anyone other then Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) can be major sin and major Shirk. And if it can be major Shirk than you have not conclusively established prostration of reverance is not of worship and not Shirk. Therefore the possibility remains.


Major Shirk Is From Major Sins:


First of all, indeed Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has counted major Shirk from amongst major sins and the Hadith you quoted and many more like it are proof of it. You’ve reasoned, in Islam every prostration is of worship [even if the intention and belief which make it worship are absent] based on logic that major Shirk is from major sins. And in all that is rational and logical your deduction is flawed simply because possbility is not proof. Just as possibility of life on Mars is not proof there is life on Mars. Nor possibility of you dieing upon Kufr is proof that you have/will die upon Kufr. Major Shirk being from major sins is not proof that prostration to anyone other then Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is major Shirk. It is only proof that major Shirk is major sin. Major sins are; adultery, major Shirk, rape, disobeying parents, taking false oaths, homosexuality, theft, murder, prostrating to other than Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), intoxicating drinks, gambling, and eating pig etc. Just because major Shirk is mentined in the list of major sins does not automaticaly imply that in Islam prostration is of only worship, or prostration of reverance is of worship, and major Shirk therefore. Just as rape and murder are Haram and major sins but not major Shirk so can prostration of reverance be Haram and major sin without being major Shirk. What is required from you, is to quote a single Hadith in which prostration of respect in Islam has been said to be worship even if the belief and intention which make it worship are absent. Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has placed the burden of evidence upon claimant and not upon defendant: “’On the authority of Ibn Abbas; the Messenger of Allah said: Were people to be given everything that they claimed, men would (unjustly) claim the wealth and lives of (other) people. But, the onus of proof is upon the claimant, and the taking of an oath is upon him who denies.’A hasan hadeeth narrated by al-Baihaqee and others in this form, and part of it is in the two Saheehs.” [Ref: Forty Ahadith – Nawavi, Hadith 33] And in this case my Salafi brother you’re claimant and burden of evidence is upon you. If with some twisted logic you reason, you [as in Razavi] are claimant and burden of proof was/is upon you [as in Razavi] then do note I will furnish evidence in support of my position, In sha Allah.


The Reason For Excluding Prostration Of Reverance From Major Shirk:


Exclusion of prostration of reverance, performed for anyone other than Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), from major Shirk is not on grounds that it is Haram. But its exclusion from major Shirk is based on the evidence of Quran. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) instructed the angels to prostrate to Prophet Adam (alayhis salam) as gesture of reverance/respect in the following verse: “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] Islam recognises prostration of worship and prostration of reverance. The angels when they prostrated to Prophet Adam (alayhis salam) they performed prostration of reverance because prostration of worship to creation was forbidden even at that juncture of time and it remained prohibited in every Shari’ah of every Prophet. And we find evidence in another verse of Quran that Prophet Yaqoob (alayhis salam) prostrated to his son Prophet Yusuf (alayhis salam) as 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) ...” [Ref: 12:100] Prostration of reverance performed for creation became prohibited in Shari’ah of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam). Note prostration of worship performed for creation was prohibited in every Shari’ah of every Prophet. And prostration of worship to a creation was prohibited when Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) received the very first Wahi. This leads to natural conclusion the only form of prostration which wasn’t already forbidden in Shariah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) was of reverance/respect. Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) prohibited prostration of reverance and not prostration of worship because prostration of worship for creation was always forbidden hence there was no need to prohibit it.


Absence Of Evidence Proves Prostration Is Haram:


We find clear evidence in many Ahadith prostration to creation for any purpose is prohibited by Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam), here. In the following Ahadith prohibition of prostration to creation is indicated: “It was narrated from Aishah; the messenger of Allah of said: “If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone else, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. If a man were to command his wife to move (something) from a red mountain to a black mountain, and from a black mountain to a red mountain, her duty is to obey to him.” [Ref: Ibn Majah, B9, H1925] “The messenger of Allah 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. By the one in who hand is the soul of Muhammad! No woman can fulfill her duty towards Allah until she fulfills her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for intimacy) even if she is on her camel saddle, she should not refuse.' “ [Ref: Ibn Majah, B9, H1926] “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] All Ahadith are unanimous on prohibition of prostation. And there is not a single Hadith, not even a Daif Hadith, in which Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) stated prostration to a creation out of reverance is Shirk [because it is worship]. Therefore it reasons in Islam there is no reason to believe prostration performed to respect another being is of worship [therefore Shirk]. And if prostration of reverance was of worship and Shirk, according to Quranic teaching, then Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) would have taught this as part of Tafsir of Quran because he was sent with the book of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and with responsibility to explain it: “We did not send (any apostles) before you except as men to whom We revealed, ask the People of the Reminder if you do not know. (And sent them) with manifest proofs and scriptures. We have sent down the reminder to you so that you may clarify for the people that which has been sent down to them, so that they may reflect.” [Ref: 16:43/44] And absence of evidence which indicates either; every prostration in my Shari’ah/Deen is of worship, or prostration peformed for reverance of a creation is worship, itself is evidence that it is not Shirk.


Prostration Of Reverance And Prostration Of Worship:


Islam distinguishes between prostration of reverance and prostration of worship with two clear ways; i) the creed, ii) and the intention. For whom the prostration is performed if creed is; x is worthy of worship, or deserving of worship [because x is Ilah/Rabb], then prostration is of worship. If intention is; I intend to worship x [because x is Ilah/Rabb] then prostration is of worship. Also if belief of Ilahiyyah is absent then action of prostration of reverance is not of worship. And if intention of worship is absent from prostrations but belief of Ilahiyyah/Rububiyyah is present [as it would be in the case of Muslims] even then no worship has taken place.


Islamic Understanding Regarding Prostration Of Reverance:


Islamicly for major Shirk to be warranted belief of Ilahiyyah/Rububiyyah has to be affirmed for a creation. Or intention to worship a creation [with belief that this creation is worthy of worship] has to be made and then action of prostration has to be carried out for worship of creation and major sin of Shirk to be warranted. If belief of Ilahiyyah is not affirmed and intention of worship is not made no worship takes place even if the action of prostration is performed. Suppose certain Wahhabi, believes in Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) with belief of Ilahiyyah and Rububiyyah, but without intending to worship Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), prostrates to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) as mark of respect/reverance. Has this Wahhabi worshipped Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala)? If you’re from Muslims you will know no worship has taken place even though the action of prostration has taken place. What this establishes is prostration even when performed for Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) the intention of worship has to be made. Absence of intention of worship resulted in prostration being of nothingness a waste of effort. From this it becomes clear that prostration of respect to a creation cannot be of worship because there is no belief of Ilahiyyah/Rububiyyah nor intention of worship. In both verses, quoted above, neither the belief of Ilahiyyah/Rububiyyah was affirmed nor intention to worship the creation was made hence on both these ocasions the prostration of respect did not become worship.




It is unanimously agreed by all Muslims that prostration of reverance performed for creation of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is prohibited in Islam. And there is no proof in Quran in the Sunnah of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) which establishes prostration to any creation out of respect is worship, or Shirk. Muslims as whole have maintained prostration of reverance is Haram and major sin and not Shirk. Only some elements of Khawarij held to this view. In understanding of Islamic scholarship prostration of respect to creation is major sin and if done with intention of worship then it is major Shirk because it will result in worship of creation and because it automatically establishes belief of Ilahiyyah.


Wama alayna ilal balaghul mubeen.

Muhammed Ali Razavi

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