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The seven body parts of prostration

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The seven body parts of prostration or Masājid Sabʿa (Arabic: أعضاء السجدة) are seven body parts placed on the ground upon prostration. According to Shia jurists, it is obligatory to place the forehead, the palms of the hands, the knees and the tips of the big toes on the ground when prostrating. It is also recommended to place the nose on the ground.

Most jurists are of the opinion that in prostration, it is not obligatory for all the body parts to be placed on the ground; rather, their minimal contact with the ground is sufficient. Of course, the forehead is an exception to this rule, and some jurists have considered it obligatory to place the forehead on the ground at the least to the size of one dirham.

What the praying person puts his forehead on must be from the earth and what grows from it; provided that it is not edible or wearable.

Meaning

The body parts of the prostration or the seven limbs or Masajid Sab'a are the seven parts of the body that must be placed on the ground during prostration.[1] They include the forehead, the palms of the hands, the knees, and the tips of the toes.[2] The body parts of prostration are discussed in the chapter of prayer in jurisprudential books.[3]

Rulings

Some of the rulings regarding the body parts of prostration are as follows:

  • According to Yusuf al-Bahrani, a Shiite jurist (d. 1186/1772), the majority of Shia jurists believe that it is obligatory to place the seven body parts of the prostration on the ground in prostration.[4]
  • Minimal contact of the seven body parts – except the forehead – on the ground has been considered sufficient.[5] Some jurists believe that minimal forehead contact with the ground is sufficient,[6] while some other jurists have considered it obligatory to put the forehead on the ground at least to the size of one dirham.[7]
  • When saying the dhikr of prostration, intentional removal of one of the seven body parts invalidates the prayer.[8] According to the fatwa of Ayatullah Sistani, even when the praying person is not saying the dhikr; if he removes the body parts of prostration from the ground, his prayer will be void based on precaution.[9]

Recommendations

  • Placing the nose on the ground: the jurists have considered it recommended to place the nose on the ground during prostration.[10] The references for this ruling are the narrations from Imam al-Sadiq (a), which have introduced placing the nose on the ground as a tradition[11] of the Prophet (s).[12] According to al-'Allama al-Hilli, placing the nose on the ground is strongly recommended.[13]
  • Takhwiya: It is recommended for men to open their arms and not to place their elbows on the ground in prostration.[14] It is also recommended for women to place their elbows on the ground in prostration and to stick their body parts together.[15]

Rulings on the place to put the body parts of prostration

According to the opinion of the majority of Shia jurists, among the body parts of prostration, only the purification of the place or something on which the forehead is placed is obligatory.[16] However, Abu l-Salah al-Halabi, one of the Shia jurists in the fourth and fifth/tenth and eleventh centuries, considered it obligatory to remove impurity from the places on the ground where the body parts of prostration are placed.[17]

The place of prostration – the place or the thing on which the praying person rests his forehead – must be from the earth and what grows from it; provided that it is not edible or wearable.[18] This ruling is based on hadiths and the consensus of the jurists.[19] Therefore, it is not correct to place one’s forehead on that which is not considered the earth or what grows from the earth; such as gold, silver, agate and turquoise mined.[20]

Notes

  1. Muʾassisa-yi Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif al-Fiqh-i al-Islāmī, Musūʿa al-fiqh al-islāmī, vol. 15, p. 108.
  2. Baḥrānī, al-Ḥadāʾiq al-nāḍira, vol. 8, p. 276.
  3. Ṭabāṭabāʾī Yazdī, al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā, vol. 1, p. 176.
  4. Baḥrānī, al-Ḥadāʾiq al-nāḍira, vol. 8, p. 276.
  5. Baḥrānī, al-Ḥadāʾiq al-nāḍira, vol. 8, p. 277.
  6. Shahīd al-Thānī, Masālik al-ifhām, vol. 1, p. 218.
  7. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 10, p. 144.
  8. Ḥillī, Taḥrīr al-aḥkām, vol. 1, p. 40.
  9. Sīstānī, Tawḍīh al-masāʾil, vol. 1, p. 224.
  10. Muʾassisa-yi Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif al-Fiqh-i al-Islāmī, Musūʿa al-fiqh al-islāmī, vol. 18, p. 288-289.
  11. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 6, p. 343; Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 6, p. 144.
  12. Baḥrānī, al-Ḥadāʾiq al-nāḍira, vol. 8, p. 276.
  13. Ḥillī, Tadhkirat al-fuqahāʾ, vol. 3, p. 188.
  14. Muḥaqqiq al-Karakī, Jāmiʿ al-maqāṣid, vol. 2, p. 306.
  15. Muḥaqqiq al-Karakī, Jāmiʿ al-maqāṣid, vol. 2, p. 365.
  16. Ṭabāṭabāʾī Yazdī, al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā, vol. 1, p. 177.
  17. Abū Ṣalāḥ Ḥalabī, al-Kāfī fī al-fiqh, vol. 1, p. 140.
  18. Ṭabāṭabāʾī Yazdī, al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā, vol. 2, p. 388.
  19. Sabziwārī, Muhadhdhab al-aḥkām, vol. 5, p. 434.
  20. Ṭabāṭabāʾī Yazdī, al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā, vol. 2, p. 389.

References

  • Abū Ṣalāḥ Ḥalabī, Taqī al-Dīn b. Najm al-Dīn. Al-Kāfī fī al-fiqh. Isfahan: Maktaba Imām Amīr al-Muʾminīn (a), 1403 AH.
  • Baḥrānī, Yūsuf b. Aḥmad al-. Al-Ḥadāʾiq al-nāḍira fī aḥkām al-ʿitrat al-ṭāhira. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1363 Sh.
  • Ḥillī, al-Ḥasan b. Yūsuf al-. Taḥrīr al-aḥkām. Mashhad: Muʾassisat Āl al-Bayt, [n.d].
  • Ḥillī, al-Ḥasan b. Yūsuf al-. Tadhkirat al-fuqahāʾ. Qom: Muʾassisat Āl al-Bayt, 1414 AH.
  • Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa. Qom: Muʾassisat Āl al-Bayt, 1416 AH.
  • Kulaynī, Muḥammad b. Yaʿqūb al-. Al-Kāfī. Qom: Dār al-Ḥadīth, 1387 sh.
  • Muʾassisa-yi Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif al-Fiqh-i al-Islāmī. Musūʿa al-fiqh al-islāmī ṭibqan li madhhab Ahl al-Bayt(a). 1st edition. Qom: Muʾassisa-yi Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif al-Fiqh-i al-Islāmī, 1423 AH.
  • Muḥaqqiq al-Karakī, ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn al-. Jāmiʿ al-maqāṣid fī sharh al-qawāʿid. 2nd edition. Qom: Muʾassisat Āl al-Bayt li-Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth, 1414 AH.
  • Najafī, Muḥammad al-Ḥasan al-. Jawāhir al-kalām fī sharḥ sharāʾiʿ al-Islām. 7th edition. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1362 sh.
  • Sabziwārī, Sayyid Abd al-ʿAlī. Muhadhdhab al-aḥkām fī bayān al-ḥalāl wa al-ḥarām. 4th edition. Qom: Dār al-Tafsīr, 1413 AH.
  • Shahīd al-Thānī, Zayn al-Dīn b. ʿAlī. Masālik al-ifhām ilā tanqīh sharāyiʿ al-Islām. 1st edition. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Maʿārif al-Islāmīyya, 1413 AH.
  • Sīstānī, Sayyid ʿAlī. Tawḍīh al-masāʾil. Qom: Intishārāt-i Mihr, 1415 AH.
  • Ṭabāṭabāʾī Yazdī, Muḥammad Kāẓim al-. Al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā fīmā taʿummu bih al-balwā. 1st edition. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1417 AH.