In Islam’s point of view, prostration for Allah is the best way or one of best ways of worshiping and servitude and as it has been mentioned it cabbalas, person is closer to Allah in position of prostration than other position; great leaders especially prophet of Allah (s.a.) and Ahl -e- Bait (a.s.) had long prostrations.
Long prostrations for Allah develop and grow human soul and body and are most obvious symbols of humility and servitude in presence of God. Because of that it has been ordered to prostrate twice in each Rak’at of prayer and prostration for gratitude and other obligatory and Mustahab prostrations are most obvious samples of prostration.
While prostrating, person forgets anything other than Allah and see himself/herself closer to him and places at adduction table of Allah.
Masters of gnosis and evolution and teachers of behavior affirm a lot on prostration.
All that has been said above is a clear proof for a famous Hadith that says none of acts of human is painful to Satan more than prostration to Allah and we read in another Hadith: “Holy Prophet (s.a.) told one of his companions: If you want to accompany me in the judgment day, then perform long prostrations for vanquisher Allah”.1
1- Safinat Albahar, article of prostration.
▲2- Prostration for other than Allah is not Allowed
We believe that prostration for other than pure essence of unique Allah is not allowed, because prostration is the extremity of humility and obvious symbol of worship and servitude is only for Allah.
The expression “And for Allah prostrate all who are in heavens and the earth”1, according to precedence of “for Allah” in the sentence, is restrictive and the verse means that all and all existing in heavens and the earth prostrate only for Allah!
Also the sentence “For him they prostrate” in verse 206 of A’raaf Sura is another evidence for restriction of prostration for Allah.
Primarily, prostration is the extremity of humility and is only for Allah and if we prostrate for any other person or thing, then we have placed that equal to Allah for ourselves and this is a false act.
We know “unity in worship” as one of meanings of unity (Tawhid), it means that worship is only for Allah and Tawhid does not complete without that and in other words: Worshiping other than Allah is a branch of polytheism and prostration is a kind of worship, therefore prostrating to other than Allah is not allowed.
But prostration of angles for Adam which has been mentioned it some verses, as commentators have said, had been a prostration in meaning of respect and reverence and glorification, not for worshiping, but the purpose of angles was the thing that I say as a poem:
Adoration is proper to that creator Who can create such a beautiful figure from water and mud Or because prostration was ordered by Allah it was actually servitude of Allah, or it was prostration of gratitude for him.
And prostration of Jacob and his wife and children for Joseph which has been mentioned in Qur'an: “All of them prostrated to him”2, is the same prostration for gratitude or it was in meaning of respect, reverence and glorification.
It is interesting that in the book “Wasael Alshi’aa” which is one of our famous Hadith resources, in chapters for prostration in prayer, there is a chapter with the title “unacceptably of prostration for other than Allah” and it has been quoted seven Ahadith from holy Prophet (s.a.) and infallible Imams (a.s.) in there, that prostration is not allowed for other than Allah.3
Remember this expression well, until we conclude from that in later discussions.
Followers of Ahl -e- Bait (a.s.) altogether believe that it cannot be prostrated on anything except earth, and they also believe that it is possible to prostrate on anything that grows from the earth, if it is not eatable or wearable, like leaf, wood of trees, fescue, sennit, etc.
While generally, Sonni Faqihs believe acceptability of prostration on anything. Although some of them take prostration on sleeve or tail of turban as exceptions and did not permit to prostrate on them.
Followers of Ahl -e- Bait (a.s.) insist on their belief referring to cabbalas from prophet of Allah (s.a.) and Imams of Ahl -e- Bait (a.s.) and acts of Sahaba, therefore they prefer not to prostrate on carpets in Masjid Alharaam and mosque of Prophet (s.a.) but to prostrate on stones and sometimes they bring a sennit mat and prostrate on that.
In mosques of Iran and Iraq and other Shiite countries that all over the mosques is covered by carpets, Shiites has built a piece of clay that is called “Mohr -e- Namaz” (prayer seal) and put it on the carpet and prostrate on that, in order to rub the forehead which is the dearest part of a human on clay in front of Allah and extreme humility in presence of Allah had been performed. Sometimes this clay is chosen from soil of place which martyrs are buried in remembrance of their zeal for Allah and for having more concentration during prayer, and they prefer martyrs of Karbala to others; but they are not always limited to that soil or clay and as it has been said, Shiites would easily prostrate on stones of floors of mosques, like Masjid Alharaam and Masjid Alnabi. (Attention!)
By the way, followers of Ahl -e- Bait (a.s.) have several proofs forproving necessity of prostration on the ground, like Ahadith from prophet of Islam (s.a.) and the way of living of Sahaba that will be mentioned in later discussions and cabbalas from Imams of Ahl -e- Bait (a.s.) which we will talk about them soon.
But it is wonderful that why some of Sonni brothers react this hard for this Fatwa; sometimes called it as heresy and sometimes even infidelity or idolatry.
If we prove with the books that are trusted and reliable for these brothers that Prophet (s.a.) and his companions did prostrate on the ground, then is it still heresy?!
If we prove that some of friends of his holiness, like Jaber ibn Abdullah Ansari, when the weather was hot and stones and gravels got hot and heated, he take some gravels in his hand and pass them through the hands to cool them down and prostration will be possible on them1, then do they call Jaber ibn Abdullah idolater or heretic?!
Does a person who prostrate on sennit mat or prefer to prostrate on stones of floor of Masjid Alharaam, worship sennit or stones?!
Isn’t it necessary that these brothers read one of thousands of Fiqh books of ours in the issue of thing which it can be prostrated on them and see that these false accusations do not have even a little compatibility with truth?
Is accusing to heresy, infidelity or idolatry the matter that Allah denies it easily in the judgment day?
For clearing that why Shiites prostrate on the ground noticing to this Hadith from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) is enough: Hisham ibn Hakam who is one of scientist friends of his holiness asked that on which we can prostrate and on which we cannot? Imam Said: “Prostration is not allowed unless on the ground or the things which grow from earth, except eatable and wearable things”.
Hisham says: I said what its philosophy is my master?
He said: Because prostration is humility for the almighty Allah and it is not proper to prostrate on eatable and wearable things, because secularists are slaves of eatable and wearable things and person who prostrates is worshiping Allah during prostration. Therefore it is not proper for him to put his forehead on the things which are idols of secularists who are tempted by glamour of the world.
Then he added: “Prostrate on the ground is the best, because it shows humility for Allah better.”2
1- Musnad of Ahmad, vol. 3, page 327 and Sunan of Beihaghi, vol. 1, page 239.
Now we introduce evidences for this issue and first of all we begin with the words of prophet of Allah (s.a.):
▲A) The Famous Hadith of Prophet (s.a.) About Prostration on the Ground
Shi’aa and Sonni have quoted this famous Hadith from Prophet (s.a.) that he said: “The earth has been chosen for me as place of prostration and purity (Taharat) (Tayammum (dry ablution))”.1
Some people assumed that the meaning of Hadith is that all around the earth is the place for worshiping God and it is not limited to a specific place, as Jews and Christians believed that worship has to be performed only in church or other specific temples; but with little attention it is discovered that this interpretation is not compatible with the real meaning of Hadith, because Prophet (s.a.) said: The earth is pure and also the mosque” and we know that things which are pure and it is possible to perform Tayammum (dry ablution) with them are dust and stone of the earth, therefore the place for prostration should also be dust and stone.
If holy Prophet (s.a.) wanted to say the meaning which some of Sonni Faqihs recognized from Hadith, he would say: All around the earth is mosque for me and its dust is for my purity and dry ablution”, but he did not say that.
Therefore, there is no doubt that here the meaning of mosque (مسجد ) is place of prostration (محل سجده) and that place should be the thing which it is possible to perform Tayammum with that.
Thereupon, if Shiites are insisting on prostrate on the ground and they do not accept prostration of carpet are not doing anything wrong, because they are following the order of prophet of Allah (s.a.)
1- Sahih of Bokhari, vol. 1, page 91 and Sunan of Beihaghi, vol. 2, page 433 (this Hadith has been quoted in several other books).
It is recognized from several cabbalas that holy Prophet (s.a.) had prostrated on the ground, not on carpet, cloth and like them.
We read in a Hadith from Abu Harira that: “I saw prophet of Allah (s.a.) in a rainy day prostrating on the ground and its effects were showing on his forehead and nose”.1
If prostration of carpet and cloth was allowed, then it was not necessary that his holiness prostrate on the ground.
Also Ayesha says: “I had never seen that prophet of Allah (s.a.) cover his forehead (during prostration) with anything”.2
Ibn Hajr says in explanation of this Hadith: This Hadith refers to the principle that during prostration forehead should reach the ground, but it is not obligatory when person is ill or incapable of that”.3
It has been mentioned in another cabbala from Maymuna (another wife of prophet of Allah) that: Prophet (s.a.) had performed prayer and prostrated on a piece of sennit mat”.1
It is obvious that the meaning of this Hadith is that Prophet had prostrated on his sennit Sajjada (a mat for performing prayer on it, mostly it had been made from palm leaves).
There are several cabbalas in resources of Ahl -e- Sonnat that Prophet had performed prayer on “Khumrah”. (Khumrah is a small mat or Sajjada that is made from palm leaves).
It is wonderful that if Shiites act like this and put a sennit Sajjada under their feet during prayer, they will be accused by some fanatics to heresy and will be looked enraged, while these Ahadith tell that it was tradition of prophet of Allah (s.a.).
And how painful is when traditions considered as heresy!
I will never forget that in one of pilgrimages of Ka’ba when I wanted to perform prayer on a small sennit Sajjada in Prophet’s mosque, one of Wahhabi scholars came to me, take that mat and furiously threw that away, maybe he considered “tradition” as “heresy”!
It is interesting that acts of Sahaba and a group of people who were after them (and are called “Tabi’een” (followers)) show that they also prostrated on the ground, for instance:
1- Jaber ibn Abdullah Ansari says: “I was praying with prophet of Allah (s.a.); I took some gravel in my hand and pass them through the hands in order to cool them down, it was because of extremity of heat”.1
This Hadith shows clearly that Sahaba of Prophet (s.a.) did insist on prostrating on the ground, even they had found a solution for heat problem. If prostration on the ground was not obligatory, then what was the necessity of this laborious act?
2- Anas ibn Malik says: “We were with prophet of Allah (s.a.) in hot weather; some of us were keeping gravels in our hands until they cooled down, then we were putting them on the ground and prostrating on them”.2
This expression also shows that this act had been customary among Sahaba.
3- Abu Obayda quotes: “Abdullah ibn Mas’ood never prostrated (or he said performed prayer) unless on the ground”.3
If the purpose of ground was carpet, then there was no need to tell, therefore it means dust, clay, stone, gravel, etc.
4- It is mentioned in the book “Haalaat” by Masrooq ibn Ajda’ one of friends of Ibn Mas’ood: “He had never permitted anyone to prostrate on other than earth, even when he was getting on a ship he was carrying something there to prostrate on it".4
5- Ali ibn Abdullah ibn Abbas wrote to “Razin”: ”Send a flat piece of stone from Marwa for me to prostrate on”.5
6- It is mentioned in another quote in the book Fath Albari (explanation of Sahih of Bokhari): “Omar ibn Abdulaziz had not suffice to prostrate on Khumrah (sennit mat/Sajjada), but he had put some clay on that and had prostrate on them”.6
What do we understand from all these news? Is it anything else than the way of Sahaba and after them, in first centuries, was to prostrate on the ground that contains clay, stone, gravel, etc.?
Now if some of Muslims want to keep this tradition alive, should it be called heresy?!
Shouldn’t Sonni Faqihs move to keep this tradition of Prophet (s.a.) alive, the act that shows the extremity of humility for Allah and is compatible with nature of prostration? In hope of that day.
1- Musnad of Ahmad, vol. 3, page 327; Sunan of Beihaghi, vol. 1, page 439.