The Prostration is an Independent act of Worship
By Imam Ash-Shawkani (1250H)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
No scholar or disciple of Fiqh can deny Imam Ash-Shawkani’s rank and status among the greatest distinguished Islamic Jurists. He reached a level of Ijtihad that few people have attained. Imam Ash-Shawkani has left behind a hoard of treasure in the science of Fiqh,Usul,Aqeedah, Minhaj and Hadith.
After looking at his study titled,
”بحث في أن السجود بمجرد من غير انضمامه إلى صلاة عبادة مستقلة بأجر الله””
” A Research about the Sajdah separately from a prayer is an Independent act of worship that earns Allah’s Reward“
I found it extremely beneficial, so desiring Allah’s Pleasure I decided to share this research.
Imam Ash-Shawkani ‘s theory in the paper lead him to the conclusion that the Sajdah is a separate act of worship pleasing to Allah outside of the prayer. The prostration is legislated for certain verses of the Quran and for thankfulness at the time Allah brings about ease in an affair or removes a difficulty. This prostration can be done on its own.
Before going through the hadith Imam Ash-Shawkani presented I feel it would be a great idea to present a few verses from the Quran showing were the Sajdah (prostration) is an unattached action of a prayer.
Allah said: And (remember) when We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves before Adam.”[ Al-Baqarah/34]
Ibn Al-Arabi (543H) said there are two positions for the prostration offered to Adam and there is a consensus that this kneeling wasn’t an act of worship, but rather it was one of two types. The first type refers to the way the non-Arabs and Persians used to greet people of by way of bowing to them showing them honor, and the 2nd opinion, and this is the more favorable view, which is Adam was positioned in place like a Qiblah for Sujud similarly to the Kab’ah and Baitul Maqdis. The verse: So, when I have fashioned him completely and breathed into him (Adam) the soul which I created for him, then fall (you) down prostrating yourselves unto him.[Al-Hijr/29] is a proof for that interpretation.
The prostration wasn’t to honor Adam, but it was ordered to direct worship to Allah (acknowledging His Greatness.) However Islam abrogated that practice.
Allah said: And he raised his parents to the throne and they fell down before him prostrate.
Shaykh Abdur Rahman As-Sa’di said: “Yusuf’s father, mother, and brothers all prostrated to Yusuf honoring him with respect.”
Allah said: (Remember) the Day when the Shin shall be laid bare (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) and they shall be called to prostrate (to Allah), but they (hypocrites) shall not be able to do so,”
Shaykh Abdur Rahman A-Sa’di said: The hypocrites and wicked sinners won’t be able to prostrate to Allah. Their backs will be like baby cows unable to bend.
Imam Ash-Shawkani said: You need to know that prostrating to Allah outside of the prayer is a separate act of worship that Allah rewards His servant for practicing it. There are many texts that support this found in the Quran. Some people comprehend the word Sajdah to mean a part of the prayer, or consider it to figuratively involve a Salah.
Imam Ash-Shawkani didn’t mention any of those verses from the Quran in this paper to support his opinion. He begins by mentioning the Hadiths and their status.
Imam Ash-Shawkani said: A hadith collected in Sahih that relates the Sujud being the prayer or an independent an act of worship is the narration from Thauban (May Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, “Prostrate more often. For every prostration that you perform before Allah will raise your position one degree and will remit one of your sins”.
Every Arab speaker understands the meaning of Sajdah to mean an independent prostration; and the prostration done during the prayer, and then its reward is included as a part of the salah.
Rabi’ah bin Ka’b Al-Aslami said:
“I used to bring to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) water for wudu and serve him. He said: ‘Ask of me.’ I said: ‘I want to be with you in Paradise.’ He said: ‘Is there anything else?’ I said: ‘That is all.’ He said: ‘Help me to fulfill your wish by prostrating a great deal.'”
The literal meaning in this hadith is for the separate prostrations outside of the prayer.
It was narrated that ‘Aisha said:
“I noticed the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was missing one night, and I found him when he was prostrating with his feet held upright, and he was saying: ‘Allahumma, inni a’udhu biridaka min sakhatik, wa bimu’afatika min ‘uqubatik, wa bika minka la uhsi thana’an ‘alaika anta kama athnaita ‘ala nafsik (O Allah, I seek refuge with Your pleasure from Your wrath, in Your forgiveness from Your punishment and in You from You. I cannot praise You enough, You are as You have praised Yourself.)”
This hadith affirms prostration being done separately from Salah.
You will notice that Imam Ash-Shawkani in the beginning of his paper used two hadith to establish the prostration is an independent act of worship which can be performed outside of the prayer. The first hadith is a good reference, but the second hadith only mentions Aisha (Radi Allahu anha)narrating the condition she found her husband, and just because she didn’t mention he was praying doesn’t negate that he wasn’t ,nor does it make it a fact that he (ﷺ) was only prostrating. There is a principle in Fiqh, “Whenever there are two possibilities one can’t be used to support a definite position“and Allah knows best.
Imam Ash-Shawkani said there is another hadith from Abu Hurayrah (Radi Allahu anhu): The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “A slave becomes nearest to his Rubb when he is in prostration. So increase supplications while prostrating.”
It was narrated that Aisha said:
“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to pray eleven rak’ahs at night between finishing Isha’ prayer and Fajr, apart from the two rak’ahs of Fajr, and he would prostrate for as long as it takes one of you to recite fifty verses.
I checked on the hadith from Aisha (Radi Allahu anha) and became enlightened that Imam An-Nisa’I used this hadith as proof that the Prophet (ﷺ) used to make Sujud after Witr; nonetheless Shaykh Muhammad Adam said this opinion is weak and more clarity for this hadith is found in Sahih Al-Bukhari that proves this Sujud was done in the night prayer.
‘Ubadah bin Samit heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say:
“No one prostrates to Allah but Allah will record one Hasanah (good reward) for him, and will erase thereby one bad deed and raise him in status one degree. So prostrate a great deal.”
Abu Fatimah told him:
“I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Tell me of a deed that I can adhere to and act upon.’ He said: “You should prostrate, for you will not prostrate to Allah but He will raise you in status one degree thereby and erase from you one sin.”
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: The best condition Allah loves to see His servants is in Sajdah with their face in the dirt.
Abu Dhar heard Allah’s Messenger say: “Whoever prostrates to Allah then Allah will write it as a good deed and remove a bad from his book and raise him in rank.
Imam Ash-Shawkani said: No doubt the meaning of Sajdah found in these hadith refers to the prostrations done outside of the prayer. This is the literal meaning of the Sajdah found in those narrations, and to hold it to figuratively mean the prayer, then this doesn’t go against our view, nor does it remove the point that the Sajdah done separately from the prayer is incorrect.
What’s been established is the Sujood (prostration) is a desired act of worship and a means to draw closer to Allah. This is similar to prayers which strengthen our connection to Allah, and the Prophetic promise and reward for the person who preserves them.
The slave can prostrate to Allah anytime he wants, with wudu or without. Any person who denies this is unaware of the Hadith previously mentioned, or he is familiar with them, but doesn’t understand that the Sujud is a legislated act of worship based on those texts.
As for the person who says the only legislated prostration outside of the prayer are the ones for the Quranic verses and for gratitude, etc. Then a response to his speech is these must be done in the prayer and the servant can’t offer any voluntary acts of prayer except those the Prophet (ﷺ) did. Therefore, he’s unable to add the amount Rakat he prays, or offer it in time period other than the one the Prophet (ﷺ) prayed it in. No doubt this understanding is inaccurate , because the encouragement to offer supererogatory prayers unrestrictedly is a desired act of Sunnah,as long as they aren’t offered in the prohibited times for prayer.
The same ruling for the supererogatory prayers applies to the Sujud. There is an enormous reward for the person who prostrates to Allah, not to mention this is a method to draw closer to Allah. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “When a servant is prostrating that is the closest he is to his Lord.”
The Prophet ordered us to frequently ask Allah during that state. This is the best time to knock on the door and have it opened. Dua during this time opens the doors of mercy that consist of supplications being answered, having sins expiated, and a person’s status getting lifted. All of this occurs because the slave is in the closest position to the Most High.
In concluding this topic, Imam Muhammad Ash-Shawkani mentioned various narrations for his theory which serve as a proof for his decision. We can’t deny that Sujud can be done for the recital of certain verse and is a sunnah to perform when expressing gratitude to Allah, both which represent the prostration being done outside of the prayer and Allah knows best
Prepared by the one in need of his Lord’s Mercy or Forgiveness,
Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle
Doha,Qatar 1437H ©
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