Monday 20 November 2023

Prostrate only to Allah - and not to His creations

Prostration is an act of extreme humility and humbleness wherein a believer falls to the ground. This act cannot be performed for anyone but Allah, the sole Creator of the entire universe to thank Him for the countless bounties and blessings He has showered on us. Although, prostration is often performed by people of other faiths too, but none is like the prostration made by Muslims for the act of Muslims is only for their Creator, AND NOT FOR HIS CREATIONS.

It is also important to note that in Islam, the prostration of anyone but Allah is absolutely forbidden. Even Prophet Muhammad ﷺ strictly forbade Muslims from prostrating before him. Regardless of the circumstances, no Muslim should request or accept prostration from others, as prostration of anyone but Allah is strictly prohibited in Islam.

A complete chapter of Qur'an is named As-Sajdah ("The Prostration") and in its 15th verse, it is said:

اِنَّمَا يُؤۡمِنُ بِاٰيٰتِنَا الَّذِيۡنَ اِذَا ذُكِّرُوۡا بِهَا خَرُّوۡا سُجَّدًا وَّسَبَّحُوۡا بِحَمۡدِ رَبِّهِمۡ وَهُمۡ لَا يَسۡتَكۡبِرُوۡنَ۩‏ 
(32:15) Only those who believe in Our verses who, when they are reminded by them, fall down in prostration and exalt [Allah] with praise of their Lord, and they are not arrogant. (As Sajdah)

* ۩ Readers are to perform sajdah / prostration after reading verse 15.

While many people other than Muslims also prostrate, but they do so in front of manmade lifeless statues they have created themselves. The pagans of Arabia too had made countless statues and they revered them by prostrating in front of them. But none had the sole Creator of the universe in their minds while doing so and to them these statues replicated their gods.  

Despite many warnings and cautions in the Qur'an and by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, it is heart wrenching to see many Muslims prostrating before graves of the long dead saints for the pursuance of their wishes. Even fake imams expect their followers to prostrate before them. This is extreme form of Shirk which such Muslims may not be aware of and masses must be educated to avoid some non-Muslim practices and prostrate before none but Allah. This happens so specially in the Indian sub-continent where though Muslims have learnt to recite the Qur'an in Arabic, only a few have read it with translation. The purpose of sharing selected verses from Qur'an with translations and explanation by different scholars to press home the real understanding of Qur'an so that ordinary Muslims are no mislead by the fake scholars and imams.

It is in this context, we share the 37th verse of Surah 41 Ha Meem (also called Surah Fussliat) in which Allah strictly forbids men to bow and prostrate in front of His creations:

وَمِنۡ اٰيٰتِهِ الَّيۡلُ وَالنَّهَارُ وَالشَّمۡسُ وَالۡقَمَرُ​ؕ لَا تَسۡجُدُوۡا لِلشَّمۡسِ وَلَا لِلۡقَمَرِ وَاسۡجُدُوۡا لِلّٰهِ الَّذِىۡ خَلَقَهُنَّ اِنۡ كُنۡتُمۡ اِيَّاهُ تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ‏ 
(41:37) And of His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Do not prostrate yourselves before the sun, nor before the moon, but prostrate yourselves before Allah Who created them, if it is Him that you serve.
(And of His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon) That is, "They are not the objects of Divine power that you may start worshiping them, thinking that Allah is manifesting Himself in their form, but they are the Signs of Allah by pondering over which you can understand the reality of the universe and its system, and can know that the doctrine of the Oneness of God which the Prophets arc teaching is the actual Reality. The mention of the night and day before the sun and moon has been made to give the warning that the hiding of the sun and appearing of the moon at night, and the hiding of the moon and appearing of the sun in the day clearly point to the fact that neither of them is God or object of Divine power, but both are helpless and powerless objects, and are moving subject to the law of God. 

(Do not prostrate yourselves before the sun, nor before the moon, but prostrate yourselves before Allah Who created them, if it is Him that you serve) This is an answer to the philosophy that the intelligent among the polytheists generally used to propound to prove that polytheism was rational. They said that they did not bow to these objects but bowed to God through them. An answer to this has been given, so as to say: "If you really are Allah's worshipers, there is no need of these intermediaries: why don't you bow down to Him directly?' 

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: From among the Signs of Allah - Here Allah reminds His Creation of His power, and that He is the One Who has no equal, and He is Able to do all things. 

Allah's saying; (And from among His signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon.) means, He created the night with its darkness and the day with its light, and they alternate without ceasing. And He created the sun with its shining light, and the moon with its reflected light. and He allotted their stages and gave them separate orbits in the heavens, so that by the variations in their movements man may know the stages of night and day, of weeks, months and years, and time periods related to people's rights, acts of worship and various transactions. Moreover, because the sun and moon are the most beautiful of the heavenly bodies that can be seen in both the upper and lower realms, Allah points out that they are created entities which are in a state of enthrallment to Him, subject to His dominion and control. 

So, He says: (Do not prostrate yourselves to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate yourselves to Allah Who created them, if you (really) worship Him.) meaning, `do not associate anything in worship with Him, for your worship of Him will be of no benefit to you if you worship others alongside Him, because He does not forgive the association of others in worship with Him.' 

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
This, according to Razi, connects with the phrase "calling [one's fellow-men] unto God" in verse {33} of same Surah. God is the sole cause and source of all that exists; and whatever exists is but a wondrous sign of His creative power. Hence, it is a blasphemy - apart from being unreasonable - to ascribe real power (which is the meaning of "adoration" in this context) to anything created, whether it be a concrete phenomenon, or an abstract force of nature, or a set of circumstances, or even an idea.

Yusuf Ali Explanation
Night and Day are opposites, and yet, by the alchemy of Allah, they can both subserve the purpose of human good, because the Night can give rest while the Day can promote activity. The Sun and the Moon are similarly complementary. So, in moral and spiritual affairs, seeming opposites may by Allah's alchemy be made to subserve the purposes of Good. They are but instruments: Allah is the Cause. Adore Allah, and not the things which He has created. Use the things which He has created, but do not adore them.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
([People! The One Who is the creator of the heavens and the earth,] this night and day and sun and moon are also from among His signs. ) Ie., neither they are God nor have a share in divinity from any aspect; in fact, they are from among the signs of God’s power, wisdom, mercy and providence. The topic that was being discussed in verses 9 to 12 is taken up afresh. What was discussed in between was the nature of reminder, admonition and assurance. Hence there is no disjointedness in the discourse.

(Neither prostrate before the sun) This signifies worship because prostration is its most prominent manifestation. 

(nor the moon; in fact, prostrate before the God Who has created them) The actual word is خَلَقَهُنَّ. The pronoun in it refers to all the objects mentioned earlier.

(if you are ones who worship Him alone.)  Ie., if they claim to worship God, then this worship should be in such a manner that the signs which specifically worship him must also not be associated with God. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:

… Here it needs to be kept in mind that if the idolaters of Arabia worshipped other things besides God, it was because they thought that those things were a means of procuring God’s favour. In other words, worshipping them in their view was like worshipping god. These words refute this claim. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 7, 108)

Let us take a re-appraisal of our faith and see if we are not following any deity other than Allah. If so, time is now to repent for the shirk we may innocently be committing and seek Divine forgiveness as soon as possible. 
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

You may refer to our reference page: Important DOs and Don'ts from Qur'an to read more directives on the subject.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

Disclaimer: The material for this post has been collected from the references given above. If anyone differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

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