Q&A (Fatwa)

#278: Ruling regarding Prostration


As-Salaamu Alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuh, please I have a question.
1. What is the ruling of prostrating/bowing to an elderly person in Islam?
2. Some people use suratul Yusuf v:100, where his brothers prostrate to him saying it is halal..??
Thank you.


Wa alaikum salaam Wa Rahmatullah Wa barakatuh,

Allah Ta’aala said in suratul Al jinn 18. And the masaajid belong to Allah, so do not associate anyone with Allah.

Among the meanings of the word masaajid mentioned by Imam Al Qurtubu include;

The limbs used in making sujud. This was recorded from Sa’eed bin Al musayyib, tolq bin Habib, and atoo’a.

Ibn Maajah narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa said: When Mu‘aadh ibn Jabal came from Syria, he prostrated to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), who said, “What is this, O Mu‘aadh?” He said, I went to Syria and saw them prostrating to their archbishops and patriarchs, and I wanted to do that for you. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said, “Do not do that. If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone other than Allah, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, no woman can fulfil her duty towards Allah until she fulfils her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for intimacy) even if she is on her camel saddle, she should not refuse.”

Classified authentic by sheikh AlBaani.

from the above narrations, It can be deduced that making sujud is an act that Allah has specified to Himself in the shariah of Muhammad alaihi salam.

Its ruling can either be;

1. An act can take one out of the fold of Islam.
This is if it was done to anyone or anything in the way that it is done to Allah.

And by the word: “in the way that it is done to Allah,” we mean, if it done in reverence for the sake of coming close to that thing and seeking for blessing and a benefit such as one does when he does sujud to Allah.

2. It can also take the ruling of a great sin.
This is because, based on the hadith of muadh, the rasul alaihi salam understood that they used to do that in respect for their popes. This is because he alaihi salam said, “if I were to ask one to do sujud to the other, I would ask the wife to do it to the husband”.
And it is know the wife does not worship the husband.
For if the action was a clear action of shirk, the rasul alaihi salam would have explained it because his explanation to the Ummah in clear terms is an ammah which he took.

for the ones that use the ayah of Suratu Yussuf as a justification for saying it is allowed, we say,

The scholars of usul, said “The shariah of the nations before us is only a shariah for us if it does not contradict our shariah in anyway.

in this case, the situation narrated in suratu Yussuf contradicts the hadith of muaadh.

Secondly, the scholars are all in agreement that it was a sujud of greeting and not for worship, just as was the case of angels making sujud to Adam alaihi salam.

furthermore, the the verse was revealed in makkah while the incidence of muaadh took place in Madinah. Which further confirms that the ruling of such an act is not same as it was in the time of Yusuf alaihi salam.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: Prostration is of two types: prostration by way of pure worship, and prostration by way of honouring and showing respect. As for the former, it can only be done for Allah. Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (4/361)

And he also said: The Muslims are unanimously agreed that prostration to anyone other than Allah is prohibited. Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (4/358)

And he also said: The texts of the Sunnah and the consensus of the ummah indicate that it is prohibited to prostrate to anyone other than Allah according to the law brought by our Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), whether by way of greeting or worship, as the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) forbade Mu‘aadh ibn Jabal to prostrate to him when he came from Syrian and prostrated to him by way of greeting. Jaami‘ al-Masaa’il (1/25)

and Allah knows best.

jazaakumullahu khairan!
Baarakallahu feekum!

Answered by Abu Hafs

7th Ramadan 1438A.H



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