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Al-Sajda (Arabic: السجدة) or al-Sujūd (Arabic: السجود) is prostration before God. It is a particular worship, or part thereof, consisting of touching the ground with one's forehead as a sign of one's humbleness toward God. In the Islamic culture it counts as one of the most virtuous worships. It is obligatory for Muslims to prostrate before God twice in each rak'a of their everyday prayers.

According to Shiite jurisprudence, one can only prostrate on earth and whatever grows from it, but in Sunni jurisprudence, it is permissible to prostrate on carpets and things like that. According to all Muslims, it is forbidden to prostrate for anything or anyone other than God.

A group of Muslims performing sajda in congregational prayer.

Sujud as a Worship

The word "sujud" literally means to be humble or to bow,[1] and in Islam, it refers to touching the ground with one's forehead (together with six other parts of the body).[2]

Sujud has been important as a symbol of humbleness towards God. In addition to many hadiths, there are 92 verses of the Qur'an mentioning sajda. Among Qur'anic suras, Qur'an 32 is called "Sura al-Sajda". There is a verse in this sura about people who prostrate when they hear Qur'anic verses.[3] According to some hadiths, sajda is the best position for a person to be close to God.

Sajda is not restricted to human beings. All creatures and objects worship God by performing sajda.[4]


Sometimes sajda is performed as an independent worship and sometimes as a part of the prayer, sajda al-sahw,[5] Qur'anic sajdas,[6] and many dhikrs and other worships.

Sajda in the Prayer

All obligatory and recommended prayers involve two sajdas in each rak'a after ruku'. These two sajdas are essential parts of the prayer without which it is invalidated. After ruku', the worshipper should sit down and touch the ground with seven parts of his or her body (forehead, the two palms, the two knees, and the tops of the two big toes) while the body is fixed. After this, the worshiper should sit up and when the body is fixed, they should touch the ground with the seven parts again and mention the required sayings. After that, they should sit up again and continue the rest of the prayer.[7]

The particular saying that should be mentioned once during the sajda is "subḥān-a rabbī-a l-aʿlā wa bi hamdih" (سُبْحانَ رَبِّی الاَعْلیٰ وَ بِحَمْدِهِ, Glory be to my Great Sustainer, Most High, and I praise Him). One can also mention "subḥān Allah" (سُبْحانَ اللّهِ, Glory be to Allah) or any other dhikr of the same length three times.[8]

The following actions are recommended during the sajda:[9]

  • Saying takbir while turning from ruku' to sajda, while sitting up after sajda, and while going to the second sajda.
  • While turning from ruku' to sajda, men should first put their hands on the ground and women should first put their knees on the ground.
The condition of sitting by tawarruk.
  • Putting one's nose on what one can touch the forehead with.
  • Directing one's fingers to the qibla and attaching the fingers to one another except thumbs.
  • Reiterating the sayings of the sajda with an odd number, such as 3, 5, or 7 times; mentioning salawat[10] and prolonging the sajda.
  • Sitting after the sajda by tawarruk (that is, sitting on one's left thigh, putting the top of one's right foot on the sole of the left one).
  • Istighfar (asking for divine forgiveness) between the two sajdas while sitting and the body is fixed.
  • While in sajda, men should open their elbows like two wings and women should put their elbows to their sides.
  • Putting one's hands on one's thighs while sitting.
  • While standing up from sajda, one had better lift their knees from the ground before lifting their hands.
  • Saying "bi ḥawl-i Allah wa quwwatih-i aqum-u wa aqʿud" (بِحَولِ اللَّهِ وَ قُوَّتِهِ أقُومُ وَ أقْعُدُ, I stand and sit with the help and strength of Allah) while standing up from the sajda.

Sajda of Sahw

If one forgets some parts of obligatory prayers or does things such as unintentional talking during the prayer, providing that the part is not among essentials, then they are required to perform sajda of sahw (forgetfulness) immediately after the prayer.

Obligatory Sajda of the Qur'an

Reciting or hearing each of the following verses of the Qur'an makes it obligatory to perform a sajda: The Qur'an 32:15 (Sura al-Sajda); the Qur'an 41:37 (Sura Fussilat); the Qur'an 53:62 (Sura al-Najm); and the Qur'an 96:19 (Sura al-'Alaq).

Sajda al-Shukr

Sajda al-Shukr or Sajda of Thankfulness is a recommended kind of sajda that is performed in the following cases:

  • After prayers, both obligatory, and recommended ones.
  • When one comes to enjoy a new bounty or blessing.
  • When a catastrophe or a trouble is removed.
  • After doing something good or avoiding a sin.

In order to perform Sajda al-Shukr, one is not required to be directed to the qibla or to have tahara (such as wudu', ghusl, or tayammum).

Conditions of the Place of Sajda

According to hadiths and the tradition of the Prophet (s), the thing one touches with his or her forehead during the sajda should be clean[11] and it should be from the earth or what grows from the earth[12] (as long as it is not edible or wearable), such as soil, stone, sand, ballast, and wood.

It is not valid to perform sajda on minerals such as gold, silver and pitch, and most of the Shiite jurists do not take it valid to perform sajda on mineral stones such as agate and turquoise.[13] There is disagreement about the validity of sajda on clay and brick.

The place where one's forehead is put should not be over four fingers higher or lower than the place where he or she stands. The place where one performs the sajda should be so stable that the forehead rests on it without any motion. Thus, it is invalid to perform sajda on the mud.[14]

Sunni Muslims take it valid to perform the sajda on rugs, carpets, and whatever that is not najis (unclean).[15] Wahhabis condemn Shi'a performing sajda on turba or Muhr as being polytheistic, worshiping the grave, consecration, or heretic. They warn Shiites who perform sajda on turba in al-Masjid al-Haram and al-Masjid al-Nabi (s).

Performing Sajda on Imam al-Husayn (a)'s Turba

According to hadiths, the most virtuous thing to perform sajda on is Imam al-Husayn (a)'s Turba which illuminates the seven earths and removes seven covers.[16] Shiite Imams (a) performed sajda on this soil. There is a hadith quoted by al-Sayyid al-Himyari from Imam al-Mahdi (a) concerning the virtues of performing sajda on Imam al-Husayn (a)'s soil.

Sajda for the Infallibles (a)

It is forbidden to perform sajda for anyone or anything other than God, be it one of the Infallibles (a) or others. However, it is permissible to perform sajda in the shrines or the graves of the Infallibles (a) in order to thank God for giving one the opportunity to visit their mausoleums, unless it makes the impression in opponents of Shiism that the sajda is for the Infallible (a) himself, in which case it is not permissible.[17]

According to verses of the Qur'an, the Prophet Joseph's (a) brothers performed sajda for him, and angels performed sajda for Adam (a) (Qur'an 2:34). According to Shiite scholars, these sajdas were out of respect and honor, and not worship.[18]

See Also


  1. Rāghib al-Iṣfahānī, Mufradāt alfāẓ al-Qurʾān, under word "Sajd", p. 396; Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-ʿArab, vol. 3, p. 204.
  2. Ḥillī, Taḥrīr al-aḥkām, vol. 1, p. 253.
  3. Only those believe in Our signs who, when they are reminded of them, fall down in prostration and celebrate the praise of their Lord, and they are not arrogant. Qur'an 32:15.
  4. Have they not regarded that whatever thing Allah has created casts its shadow to the right and to the left, prostrating to Allah in utter humility? Qur'an 16:48.
  5. Surūr, al-Muʿjam al-shāmil li-l-muṣṭalaḥāt, vol. 1, p. 151.
  6. Surūr, al-Muʿjam al-shāmil li-l-muṣṭalaḥāt, vol. 1, p. 151.
  7. Baḥrānī, al-Ḥadāʾiq al-nāḍira, vol. 8, p. 290; Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 10, p. 168-169.
  8. Khomeiniī, Tawḍīḥ al-masāʾil (muḥashā), vol. 1, p. 728.
  9. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 10, p. 169-189; Yazdī, al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā, vol. 2, p. 167-169.
  10. Salawat is a phrase saluting the prophet (s) and his family (a) by stating Allahumm-a ṣall-i calā Muḥammad-in wa ʿāli Muḥammad (اللهم صلّ علی محمّد و آل محمّد), meaning O Allah, let Your Peace come upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad.
  11. Iṣfahānī, Wasīlat al-najāt, vol. 1, p. 135.
  12. Iṣfahānī, Wasīlat al-najāt, vol. 1, p. 157.
  13. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 8, p. 412.
  14. Burūjirdī, Mustanad ʿurwat al-wuthqā; (Taqrīrāt-i dars-i Aytullāh al-Khoeī), vol. 2, p. 191.
  15. Zuḥaylī, al-Fiqh al-islāmī wa adillatih, vol. 1, p. 731.
  16. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 5, p. 366.
  17. Yazdī, al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā, vol. 2, p. 587.
  18. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 10, p. 83.


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