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Why do the Shia prostrate on blocks of earth (clay.)?


There are certain people who wonder why prostrating over the block of clay or that extracted from the martyr's grave should be done, considering it to be a kind of polytheism.

In response to this question, one should remind them of the clear difference between prostration for Allah and the prostration on earth; the above question usually arises because of not regarding this difference.

Certainly, 'Al-Sujood lillah' means the prostration for the sake of Allah whereas; 'Al-Sujood ala al-arz' means the prostration on earth. In other words, when we prostrate on the earth, we are in actuality prostrating before the one and only Lord and doing it solely for His sake in the same manner as all the Muslims over the world are doing when they prostrate on something. The pilgrims who prostrate on the stones of Masjid Al-Haram have only one goal in mind, which is to prostrate before the Mighty God.

Thus it is quite clear that the prostration on sand, plants, .etc, does not mean adherence to the worship of these things, rather, the actual prostration and worship is done to God by submitting one self to the lowest level, which is the earth. It is also obvious that prostration on the martyr's grave-sand is regarded far from the prostration toward them rather, it is done solely for the sake of the Lord of the worlds.

In addition, the Holy Quran states:

"And whosoever is in the heavens and the earth make obeisance to Allah only.."

The holy Prophet also said:

"The earth was made to be a prostrating place for me and a cause fpurification."

Thus 'prostration before God' with 'prostration on the earth and sand' do not have the least contradiction because the prostration on earth and plant is a sign of the greatest kind of submission before the one and only God.

At this point, let us clarify this theory of the Shia's by looking at one of the traditions of the sixth Holy imam Sadiq (p) who says in regard to this that:

Narrated from hisham Ibn Al-Hakam saying that I said to Abi-Abdillah (p):

"Tell me of what is permissible to prostrate upon and what is not.

He replied:

"Prostration is only permissible on earth or what has grown from the earth, except what is eaten and worn."

I then asked Him:

"May my soul be ransomed for you, what is the cause of that?"

He replied:

"Because prostration is the submission to the Exalted and Glorious Lord and so it should not be on what is eaten or worn because the world is a slave to what they eat or wear; and the prostrator in his act of prostration, worshipping the Exalted and Glorious Lord, thus he should not put his forehead on the impudent and worldly things whilst undergoing prostration. Thus, the prostration that is done on earth is better, because it is a sign of humility and submission for the Exalted Lord."

The above-mentioned tradition clearly proves why prostration on earth ought to be considered, and that is because of the fact that it is more in agreement with showing humility before the one and only God.

One other question that is normally raised is that why the Shia limit their prostration on the earth and only particular plants and why not all the plants.

In response to this, we say that because the principles of worship have got to be from the sacred Islamic law, then the conditions and the details pertaining to the worship ought to be emulated by the honorable Prophet's speech and action, because the Holy Prophet is an ideal for the pious men according to the holy Quran.

At this point, let us mention some of the Islamic narrations that clearly explain the Holy Prophet's practice and prove that He prostrated both on earth as well as particular plants such as the 'Haseer' (reed mat) just as the Shia believe in doing so.

A group of Muslim narrators in their authentic books mention that the holy prophet described the earth as being his place for prostration.

"The earth was made for me as a place for prostration and the cause of purification."

The word 'made' in this particular narration means legislated, which clearly shows that the matter is of divine consideration, not to mention a commandment from the Lord for the followers of Islamic religion, and in this way the legality of prostration on sand, stones and other parts that constitute the surface of the earth is already proven. (Everything that the Holy Prophet uttered was direct revelation 'wahy' from the Lord of the worlds.)

Another group of narrations show that the honorable prophet ordered the believers to place their foreheads on sand while prostrating.

One such tradition was narrated from Umm Salamah (the Prophet's wife) who narrated that the Holy prophet said:

"Put you face-for the sake of Allah-on earth."

The phrase 'Tarrib' i.e., put your face upon the sand' in the Prophet's narration clarifies two points, one being that the person while prostrating should put his forehead on sand and the other point is that such an action must be performed because of the divine commandment form the Lord.

The Holy prophet's behavior in this regard is a clear evidence and a universal guide for all the Muslims.

Wael Hijr said:

"I saw the prophet (p) while prostrating, would put his forehead and nose on the earth."

Anas bin Malik, Ibn Abbas and some of the wives of the prophet such as Ayesha', Umm Salamah among other narrators relate that:

"The Holy Prophet used to prostrate on 'Al-Khorma' which is kind of reed mat made from palm tree fibres."

Abu-Saeed, one of the companions of the prophet said:

"As I entered to visit the messenger of Allah, I saw that He was praying on a reed mat."

This narration is a clear evidence of the Shia's point of view based on the permissibility of prostration on plants growing from the earth that is not worn or eaten.

The Speech and behavior of the companions is also an expression of the Holy Prophet's practice.

Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari narrates:

"I was praying the noon prayer with the Prophet (p) and so I would take a handful of small blocks of stones and keep them in my hand until they cooled down so that I can put my forehead upon them due to the excessive heat."

Then the narrator continues:

"If prostration on our clothes was permissible, then it would have been easier than taking the stones and cooling them down for prostration."

Ibn Sa'ad (died 209) in his book, 'Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra' writes the following:

"Masruq bin Ajda when traveling, used to take along with him a brick so that he can prostrate upon it in the ship."

It is necessary to mention at this point, that Masruq bin Ajda was one of the successors of the prophet's companions and also a companion of Ibn Masood, who is the writer of the book 'Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra' is mentioned to be among the best group of persons of Kufa after the holy prophet, and of the ones who narrated from Abu-bakr, Omar, uthman, Ali and Abdullah bin Masood.

This clear tradition proves the misapprehension of the concept of people who consider having a piece of stone (turbat) as polytheism and innovation; and makes clear the fact that the pioneers of Islam had the same practice throughout the History of Islam.

Nafea said:

"Whenever Omar wanted to prostrate, he would remove his turban so that he would keep his forehead on the ground."

Rezin said:

Ali bin Abdullah bin Abbas (p) wrote to me:

"send me a chunk of stone from the mountain of Marwa so that I can prostrate on it."

Yet on the other hand, the Islamic Narrators have mentioned narrations of the holy prophet preventing the ones who had the side of their turbans between the forehead and the ground.

Saleh Al-Sabayee said:

"The messenger of God (p) saw a man in the mosque prostrating while his forehead was covered with his turban, upon seeing him in this state, the prophet put his turban away from his forehead."

Ayaz bin Abdullah Al-Quraishi said:

"God's messenger saw a man prostrating on the side of his turban; He then gave the man a sign to put the turban away form his forehead."

Thus it is indisputable according to all these traditions and more, that the necessity of prostration of the earth was a matter of certainty during the time of the Prophet such that if anyone of the Muslims had the side of their turban covering their foreheads while prostrating, the Holy prophet immediately corrected this by pulling the turban away from their foreheads so as to rest them on the earth whilst undergoing the act of prostration.

The infallible leaders of the Shia who are regarded inseparable to the holy Quran according to the authentic tradition of 'Thaqalain', who are none other than the impeccable household of the holy prophet, have also declared to the reality of this tradition.

Imam Sadiq (p) narrates;

"Prostration on earth is a divine commandment and on the reed mat, the Prophet's tradition."

Elsewhere He narrates again:

"It is not permissible to prostrate except on the earth and what grows from it apart from that which is worn and eaten."


Of the sum of all the above-mentioned traditions, it proves clearly that not only narrations from the household of the Household of the Holy Prophet, but also the tradition of the Holy Prophet himself and the practice of his companions and followers, testify the necessity for the prostration on the earth and what grows from it (except for that which is worn and eaten.)

Furthermore, it is quite certain the prostration on the things we already mentioned is permissible whilst prostration on other things is ambiguious and raises dispute. Thus, in taking precaution, which causes salvation, it is suitable to suffice with prostration on the above-mentioned things.

Finally, let us remind ourselves that this is a subject ojurisprudential matter and there arise many disputes among the Muslim jurisprudents concerning this. However, such differences should not distract or bother us because they tend to exist frequently, even among the four sects in the Sunni, for example, the Maliki claim that resting the nose on the ground whilst prostrating is a recommended act whereas the Hanbali consider it to be obligatory to the point of the prayer being nullified if the act is left out.

(Rad: 15)

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab Al-Salat, p.91

Bihar Al-Anwar, vol.85, p. 147 depicted from Ilal Al-Shariyah.

Sunan Al-Baihaqi, vol.1 p.212 (Bab Al-Tayammum bil Saeed Al-Tayeb) Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.1 Kitab Al-Salat, p. 91, Iqtiza Al-Sirat Al-Mustaqeem. (Ibn Taymiyah), p. 332.

Kanz Al-Amal, vol.7 printed in Halab, p.465, narration 19808, kitab Al-Salat, Al-Sujood wa ma Yataalaqu bihi.

Ahkam Al-Quran (Jasas Al-Hanafi) vol. 3 p. 209, printed in Beirut, Bab Al-Sujood Ala Al-wajh.

Sunan Al-Baihaqi, vol.2 p. 421, Kitab Al-Salat, Bab Al-Salat Ala Al- Khumrah.

Sunan Al-Baihaqi, vol.2 p. 421, Kitab Al-Salat, Bab Al-Salat Ala Al-Haseer.

Sunan Al-Baihaqi, vol.1 p. 439, Kitab Al-Salat, Bab Ma Ruwiya Fi Al-ta'ajeel biha Fi shiddat Al-har.

Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, vol. 6, p. 79, printed in Beirut, Ahwalat Masrooq bin Ajdaa.

For more information, refer to the book 'Seeratena' written by Allama Amini.

Sunan Al-Baihaqi, vol. 2 p.105, 1st print (Haidarbad Dhaka), Kitab Al-Salat, Bab Al-Kashf Aln Al-Sajdah fi Sujood.

Azraqi, Akhbar Mecca, vol.3 p. 151

Sunan Al-Baihaqi, vol.2 p. 105

Sunan Al-Baihaqi, vol.2 p. 105

Wasael Al-Shia, vol. 3 p. 593, Kitab Al-Salat, Abwab Ma Yasjad Alaihi, narration 7

Wasael Al-Shia vol. 3 p. 591, Kitab Al-Salat, Abwab Ma yasjad Alaihi, Narration 1.

Al-Fiqh Ala Al-Mazaheb AL-Arabah, vol. 1, p. 161, printed in Egypt, Kitab Al-Salat, subject of Al-Sujood.


Why do the Shias kiss the doors and walls of their holy Shrines whislt paying a visit to them?


Seeking blessings from the beloved servants of God is not considered an innovation by any group of Muslims, on the contrary, this tradition can be traced down back in History right from the time of the Holy Prophet and his companions.

In fact, not only did the Holy Prophet and his companions practice this recommended act, but also the previous prophets visited shrines and sought blessings from them. Let us now look at the evidences to the validity in seeking blessings from the saints of God from the view- point of both Quran and Sunnah.

In the Holy Quran, when relating about Prophet yusuf and his integrity, states that when he introduced himself to his brothers and forgave them for their wrongdoings, he said:

"Take this my shirt and cast it onto my father's face; he will gain back his eyesight."

The Holy Quran then continues to say:

"So when the bearer of good news came, he cast it on his face, hence forthwith, he regained his eyesight.."

The significance of this verse of the Holy Quran clearly substantiates the seeking blessings of Prophet Yaqub by using the sacred attire of another prophet Yusuf. (p) Moreover, it is through the shirt of prophet yusuf that restored the vision of Prophet Yaqub (p). Hence, does it justify to proclaim that the behavior of these two honorable prophets was not in the framework of unity and veneration to God?

2. It is significant to point out the fact that the Holy prophet of Islam, whilst circumambulation of the holy Ka'aba used to touch and kiss the black stone.

Al-Bukhari in his Sahih said:

" A man asked Abdullah bin Omar about the touching of the black stone", to which he replied:

"I saw God's messenger (p) touching and kissing it."

If this touching and kissing was regarded as polytheism, then the honorable Prophet (who was the caller to monotheism) would never have performed such an action.

3. In the authentic books of narrations and in the course of History and tradition, there are many narrations pertaining to the seeking of blessings of the companions of the Holy Prophet using the various belongings of the Holy Prophet such as his clothes, water for ablution, water pot, etc, which when we refer to them, we shall be removed from any speck of doubt and will be convinced that such behaviour is considered lawful and recommended.

The traditions that mention this concept are more than can be mentioned however, we shall point to a few of them;

a. Al-Bukhari in his Sahih described in a lengthy tradition that some of the characteristics of both the Holy Prophet and his companions related that

"Whenever the Prophet performed the ablution, the companions would be closely gathered around."

b. Ibn Hijr said:

"The children were brought to the Holy prophet (p) for them to get blessed with his prayer."

c. Muhammed Taher Makki said:

"It was narrated from Om-thabet that,

"The honorable Prophet (p) visited me and drank from the opening of a water-skin (Large leather bottle) that was hanging, I got up and cut that part."

Then heard:

"This narration was transmitted by Tirmidhi who said: it is a correct tradition in the book of 'Riyaz Al-Saleheen'" adding that:

"Om-Thabet cut the opening part of the water skin in order to keep the place of the Prophet's mouth to get his blessings and also the companions use to drink from the place where the prophet drank."

"The servants of Madina used to bring pots of water during the time of morning prayers towards the Holy prophet; The Holy prophet would immerse his blessed hand in each of these pots, some times the weather would be chilling cold, in spite of which, He would still immerse his hand."

Thus in this way, the evidence for the permissibility of blessing seeking with the beloved and chosen servants of Allah became quite apparent; and the ones who accuse the Shia because of this practice considering it to be tantamount to polytheism, have not yet analyzed the meaning of monotheism or polytheism because the latter is to consider another being as God or to attribute Godly actions to it to the point of considering him as independent regarding the essence of existence and affectivity, whereas the Shia consider the things related to the chosen servants of Allah only a creation of Allah Himself and fully dependent on Him for their existence and their actions.

The Shia preferred blessings towards these pioneers and leaders of God's religion only for the purpose of according their respect and sincere devotion to them.

If at all the Shia, when visiting the sacred precinct of the Holy Prophet and his household, tend to kiss the shrine or touch the doors and walls, it is only because they show their reverence to the honorable Prophet and his household; and this is but a human emotion that becomes manifested in them during the act.



Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.2 Kitab al-Hajj, Bab Taqbeel Al-Hajar, p. 151-152, printed in Egypt.

Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.3 Bab Ma Yajoosi Min Al-Shuroot Fi Al-Islam, Bab Al-Shuroot Fi Al-Jihad wal Musalaha, p. 195.

Al-Esabah, vol.1, Khutubat Al-Kitab, p.7 printed in Egypt.

Tabaruk Al-Sahabah, (Muahmmed Tahir Al-Makki), 1st chapter, p.29, translated by Ansari.

Sahih Muslim, vol.7 Kitab Al-fazael, Bab Qurb Al-Nabi (p) Min al-Nas wa Tabarukihim behi, p.79

For more information, refer to the following:


According to the Islamic point of view, is religion supposed to be regarded separate from politics?


Before we begin answering this question, it is befitting to clarify the meaning of 'politics' in order to discover the relation between religion and politics. There are two meanings for the phrase 'Politics':

Taking it to be the meaning of 'dissimulation or deception and using any means for achieving the goal.' (a goal justifying the means)

It is quite obvious that such a meaning other than not being the real one is not in accordance with religion.

Taking the term 'politics' to mean the managementof the affairs of a society as a whole through the correct Islamic principles in various fields is can be more precise.

Politics, in the meaning stated above, which is the management of the Muslim affairs according to the Holy Quran and the tradition of the holy Prophet, is part and parcel of religion and can never be considered separate from it.

Now let us remind ourselves of some of the evidences for the concordance of religion with politics and the necessity of establishing a government.

The most substantial proof for this is the fact that the Holy prophet himself during the challenging period he had to face while propagating the message of Islam, had to go through a great deal of hassle and face a lot of ups and downs. It was through the speech and action that when we analyze, becomes crystal clear to us that the Holy Prophet worked effortlessly right from the beginning in order to spread the mission of God, and due to which he established a strong government based on the conviction in God. Such a government it was that it established all the plans for the future set up of Islam and laid a foundation for it.

Here, let us point to some of the examples that demonstrate the ingenuity and strategy of the holy prophet (p).

The Prophet, Founder of The Islamic Government:

When God revealed that the message of Islam should be propagated, he engaged in various ways that constituted the struggle and guidance, not to mention the gathering of Muslim forces. In this way, he would meet the different groups who came from close and distant areas to visit the ka'aba and would invite them to Islam. He also had negotiations with two certain groups from Madina at 'Aqabah' where he concluded the agreement whereby the Holy Prophet was invited to their city and was offered protection by them.

Thus, the initial steps of the Holy Prophet's policy in an effort to establish the Islamic government, was undertaken successfully.

After migrating to the city of Madina, the Holy prophet (p) worked hard for the organization of a strong army; an army that participated in a number of eighty-two battles during the time of propagating the message of Islam had achieved glorious victories, which removed all the hurdles in the way to the establishment of the Islamic government.

After the settlement of the Islamic government in Madina, the Holy Prophet, by sending envoys and letters of Invitation established relations with all the powerful and socio-political pivots of his time, in addition, he also made economical, political and military agreements with many of the leaders from different groups of people. The history of the lifetime of the Holy Prophet records the details of the letters sent by the Holy prophet to 'khosroe', the Iranian king, 'Caesar', the Roman emperor, 'Mokowkas', the Egyptian sultan, 'Negus', the Abyssinian ruler and other rulers during the time of the Holy prophet. Some of the researchers have accumulated most of the letters that have been mentioned into separate pamphlets.

The messenger of Allah appointed leaders from different tribes and cities for the purpose of achieving the objective of Islam and concordance of the pillars of the Islamic government. For example, the Holy prophet sent Rafaah bin Zaid as his representative to his tribe and wrote a letter:

"In the name of Allah the beneficent the Most merciful,

(This is a letter) from Muhammed, God's messenger (p) for 'Rafaah bin Zaid', whom I have sent him to all of his people and those who joined hands with them to accepting his call, to invite them towards Allah and His messenger, so whosoever accepted it, is of Allah and the Messenger's party and whoever rejected, has a respite for two months."

By taking into consideration these proceedings of the Holy prophet to spread the word of God, there is no doubt left to the fact that the Holy prophet, right from the very beginning of his appointment of prophethood, worked for the establishment of a strong government in order to achieve an Islamic government with implementing the Islamic rules in a world-wide basis, dealing with all the aspects of life in the human society.

Therefore, the question arises here that are such actions such as concluding treaties with powerful groups and tribes, establishing a strong army, sending envoys to different countries, advising the rulers and kings to accept Islam and warning them against the hellfire through sending letters to them, sending governors and commanders to close and distant cities and areas, among other such works, regarded other than politics which means the management and running of the society and its affairs on the whole?

Apart from the prophet's history of his political activities, the practice of the rightly guided caliphs and especially the method adopted by the commander of the faithful, Ali Ibn Abi talib, accepted by both the Sunni and the Shia, at the time of his caliphate, the government established by him testifies the concordance of religion with politics.

The scholars of both the Islamic sects have brought forth broad evidences of the Holy Quran, and the prophet's tradition proving the necessity for a government and a management of the society's affairs. Let us cite some examples to prove this fact;

Abul-Hassan Al-Mawardi in his book, 'Al-Ahkam Al- sultaniah' says:

"The imamate and government are put to replace and continue prophethood in order to protect the religion, politics and management of the worldly affairs; and the establishment of the government by the qualified, according to the agreement of all Muslims, is obligatory."

The above-mentioned Islamic scholar, who is one of the renowned scholars of the Ahl-Sunnah, justifies this point according to two logical evidences:

Logical proof.

Legal proof.

Regarding the logical proof, he writes the following:

"Due to the fact that the nature of the wise is to follow a leader who prevents the nation from opposing each other and separation from each other, the result of which creates disunity between them when involved in a dispute. Hence, if we lacked such rulers in the management of the society, the people would be scattered and confused and will loose their efficiency."

As for the legal evidence, he states:

"However, the legal evidence for entrusting the affairs to the guardian and the leader is present in religion, for the Exalted and Glorious Lord says in His divine book that:

"O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Prophet and those in authority from among you."

Thus, God has made it obligatory for us to have obedience towards the guardians, making them the leaders over us."

Sheikh Sadooq narrated from Fazl bin Shathan from Imam Ali bin Musa, the necessity for the establishment of an Islamic government that is included in this long narration to which we shall mention a part of it:

"We cannot find a group or nation that can live and persevere without having a ruler or a chief that are needed in the affairs concerning this world and those relating to the religious affairs too. Therefore, it is far from God's wisdom to neglect what the people need and cannot withstand without. Thus the people fight their enemies with their leader's consent and according to his command, divide the spoils of war, and perform Friday and congregational prayers, and it is the ruler who prevents the oppressors from (oppressing) the oppressed."

Of course the explanation of all the narrations and analyzing of statements by various Islamic jurisprudents from their jurisprudential view is a tedious task and far from possible in this brief writing requiring a whole volume to elucidate it.

When studying Islamic jurisprudence, it becomes clear that a large part of these religious laws cannot be achieved without the establishment of a powerful government.

Islam calls for struggle, defense, litigation of the oppressor, protection of the oppressed, executing legal punishments, enjoining the good and forbidding the unlawful in a broad framework, establishment of a codified financial system and guarding the unity of the Islamic society. It is evident that the mentioned goalcannot be achieved without the enjoyment of a powerful system and a harmonious government due to the fact that the sacredness of the religious laws and defense of the sanctuary of Islam needs an organized army, and the formation of such a powerful army needs the establishment of a powerful government based on Islamic values. Furthermore, the executions of punishments on account of the obligations that are set, the preventing of sins, taking the rights of the oppressed from the oppressors among other cases mentioned, will be rendered impossible without an organized system and a powerful and concordant organization which would otherwise cause chaos and disturbance.

Although the evidences for the necessity of establishing a government in Islam is not limited to what has been already explained, however it becomes clear that not only is religion separate from politics, but also the establishment of an Islamic government based on the system of values of this illuminated religion of Islam is indispensable that we cannot afford to refrain and it is a obligation for all the Islamic societies around the world.

Seerat Ibn Hisham, vol.1 p.431 subject of Al-Aqabah Al-Ula, 2nd print in Egypt.

Such as 'Al-Wataeq Al-seyasiyyah' (Muhammed Hameedallah); and 'Makatib Al-Rasool' (Ali Ahmadi)

Makatib Al- Rasool, vol1 p. 144.

Al-Ahkam Al-Sunnatiyyah (Al- Mawardi), 1st chapter, p.5 1st print in Egypt.

same as the above.

Al-Ahkam Al-Sunnatiyyah, 1st chapter, p.5, 1st print in Egypt.

Ilal Al-Sharayit, Bab 182, narration 9, p.253.

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