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Why do Shia pray on clay?

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Why do Shia pray on clay? Empty Why do Shia pray on clay?

Post  vidich132 on 2011-12-16, 9:04 pm

Before we begin answering this question there is a point that must be clear. The question of what material may the person pray on is a question of jurisprudence (Fiqh). Questions of Fiqh must be addressed to the appropriate religious authority and their ruling on it is what should be followed.

This point is important because in many discussions between people of different sects, people start asking each other why do you do this or that and all the questions are related to Fiqh. Although there are differences in matters of Fiqh between people of different sects, the fundamental differences between Islamic sects are differences of beliefs and therefore that should be the focus of the discussion.

That being said, since the Shia jurists have agreed on this topic and the difference is one between sects, we will try to give an analysis of the topic and make things clear.
What can we do Sujood on?

“Sajdah should be performed on earth, and on those things which are not edible nor worn, and on things which grow from earth (e.g. wood and leaves of trees). It is not permissible to perform Sajdah on things which are used as food or dress (e.g. wheat, barley and cotton etc.), or on things which are not considered to be parts of the earth (e.g. gold, silver, etc.). And in the situation of helplessness, asphalt and tar will have preference over other non-allowable things. “ (Islamic Laws, S. Ali Alsistani)

“Prostration on the two palms, the two knees, the two big toes of the feet, and the forehead which is placed on the earth or plant (except the edible one or that which is worn)”. (Lessons in Islamic Laws, S. Mohammad Saeed Alhakeem)
What did the Prophet (S) do Sujood on?

There is a great number of Hadeeths from both Sunni and Shia sources which tell of the Prophet (S) and his companions praying on the ground and things made out of certain plants.

“Allah made the earth for me something to pray on and something to cleans with” (Sahih Muslim 1.371, Sahih Bukhari 1.91, Musnad Ahmad 1.250, Bihar 18.305 and many others) [the exact wording of the hadeeth mentions “Masjid” and “Tahoor” but the scholars from both Sunni and Shia sources agree that Masjid here means a place for Sujood]
Um Salamah (the wife of the Prophet (S)) said: “The Prophet (S) used to pray on Khumrah [a small piece made of fronds of trees]” (Sahih Bukhari 1.107, Musnad Ahmad 6.330, Tarmathi 1.151, Nisa’i 2.57 and many others)
A’isha (the wife of the Prophet (S) said: “I did not see him protecting his forehead with anything [referring to him doing Sujood]” (Bukhari 1.207, Nisa’i 2.208, Musnad Ahmad 6.56 and many others)
From Jabir Ibn Abdallah Alansari and Anas Ibn Malik “I was praying with the Prophet (S) Duhr prayer and I took the rock and put it in my hand then I flipped it over and move it to the other hand from the extreme heat until it cooled down then I put my forehead on it” (Nisa’i 2.204, Musnad Ahmad 3.327, Abu Dawood 1.110, Kanz Al’umal 4.188 and many others)

Also it has been narrated that a number of the companions of the holy Prophet (S) did sujood on the earth or plants, we mention a couple:

Abu Bakr: He did sujood and prayed on the earth. (Kanz Al’umal 8.38)
Omar Ibn Alkhattab: He prayed on a rock. (Almussannaf for Ibn Shaibah 2.411)
Ibn Mas’ood: He never did sujood except on the earth. (Nail Alatwar 2.128)

What did the Imams (A) say about what we can do sujood on?

Imam Alsadiq (A) was asked by Hisham Ibn Alhakam “Tell me on what is sujood allowed and on what is it not allowed. The Imam said: Sujood is not allowed except on the earth, or on what grows on the earth unless it’s edible or can be worn”. (Wasa’il Alshi’a, S. 2 of What is allowed to do sujood on)
Hammad Ibn Uthman said I heard Imam Alsadiq (A) saying: “The sujood is on what grows from the earth except what can be eaten or worn” (Wasa’il Alshi’a, S.1, What is allowed to do sujood on)
Ashaq Ibn Alfudail asked Imam Alsadiq (A) about doing sujood on Haseer and Bawari (taken from plants) Imam answered: “No problem, but I prefer doing sujood on the earth because the Holy Prophet (S) loved putting his forehead on the earth during sujood and I love for you to be able to do that” (Wasa’il Alshi’a 3.609)

Can we do sujood on clay?

Hopefully it’s clear now that doing sujood on clay (which is clearly part of the earth) is something that the Holy Prophet (S) has done, AhlulBayt (A) have done and the companions of the Prophet have done. Not only that but that doing sujood on the earth is the best practice to have and clay clearly fits that description.

If one studies the history of this topic one can see a progress from earth and certain plants being things that sujood can be done on to fatwas 400 years later that sujood is allowed on clothes, silk and any other material that comes from plants. The source of this change in the religion is difficult to grasp. Whereas sujood on earth and Haseer is based on a large number of Hadeeths and companions there are only 12 Hadeeths that might support praying on clothes or carpet and all of these Hadeeths are weak and have been called false by Sunni scholars. (review the sources at the end of the article for more details).
Why clay from the grave of Imam Hussain (A)?

If doing sujood on the earth is the best practice and we know that certain places on earth are better than others then doing sujood in those places would also be better. No one would argue, for example, that the Masjid Alharam in Makkah is one of the best places on earth and that it has a special status.

Similarly ,the grave of the Holy Prophet (S) also has special status. Alburhan Alhalabi (A Sunni scholar) says “It is agreed upon that this place that has the holy body of the Prophet (S) is the best on earth, even better than the Holy Ka’ba and some even said it is better than the places in the heavens even the Throne”. (Seerat Alhalabi 3.306, similar statements on agreement by Shareef Samhoodi in Wafa’ Alwafa 1.52, Alsakhawi in Altuhfa Allateefah 1.28)

If we combine this with the Hadeeth that says "Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain" which has been narrated by more than 50 Sunni sources, (including: Bukhari in Adab Almufrad 1.455, Tarmathi 5.605, Musnad Ahmad 4.172, Tabarani 3.22, and many many more) we can make a similar case that Karbala and the grave of Imam Hussain (A) is one of the best places on earth.

Even more direct is the Hadeeth from Um Salamah that the Holy Prophet woke up several times in his sleep and then he had some red dust that he was kissing and his eyes were tearing up and when she asked him he said “Jibra’eel told me that my son Hussain will be killed in Iraq so I asked him: show me the dust of where he will be killed and he brought this to me” (Mustadrak Ala Alsahihain 4.398, Thahabi in Tareekh Alislam 3.10, Baihaqi in Dala’il Alnubuwa 6.468 and several other Sunni sources)

There is a lot more from Shia sources but we only mention the Hadeeth from Um Aiman that the Holy Prophet (S) said: “It is [referring to the dust of the grave of Imam Hussain (A)] the purist of the pieces of earth and the most holy and it is from heaven” (Bihar Alanwar 101.115)
The value of doing sujood on the clay from the grave of Imam Hussain (A)

There are many Hadeeths that talk about the benefits of the dust taken from the grave of Imam Hussain (A)We will only mention two directly on the topic:

Imam Alsadiq (A) said “The sujood on the clay from the grave of Abi Abdallah (Alhussain ) (A) breaks the seven heavens” (Wasa’il Alshi’a 3.608)
Imam Alsadiq (A) said “The sujood on the clay of the grave of Imam Hussain (A) lights up the seven earths and whoever carries a Subha from the clay of the grave of Imam Hussain (A) will be recorded a Musabih (one doing tasbeeh) even if he is not using it” (Mn La Yahduruhu Alfaqeeh 1.268)

Isn't that Shirk?

Some people try to advance the argument that Shia are doing sujood on turbah from Imam Hussain (A) because they worship him or his turbah. This is clearly a false claim. If the person is worshiping the object on which he is doing sujood then the person doing sujood on the carpet is also worshiping that carpet. The only reason we do sujood on turbah of Imam Hussain (A) is because it is known to come from a source which the AhlulBayt (A) have told us is pure and one of the best places on earth.

Sujood, as the scholars say, is when the person is most close to his Lord. Since when is choosing the best and purest object to do sujood on considered Shirk?

It is clear that doing sujood on the earth is allowed by all Muslims, they only differ on the definition. It also clear from the Hadeeths that doing sujood on the earth is preferred to other things which sujood is allowed on. Furthermore clay is clearly from the earth and there is no dispute about that. Since the places on earth differ in terms of holiness and value from Allah (SWT), choosing the most holy can only help the person become closer to Allah (SWT) during sujood. As the value of the grave of Imam Hussain (A) is clear from the Hadeeths from both sides, doing sujood on that clay would be the best practice for a Muslim seeking closeness to Allah (SWT).

This post has been written with the help of the following resources:

Alsujood Ala Alardh (Shaikh Ali Alhmadi, Markaz Jawad)
Alsujood Ala Alturbah Alhussainiah (Sayyid Mohammad Mahdi Almusawi Alkhurasani)



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