Prostrating to Graves

Today I am going to talk about a big problem that occurs in the Muslim world especially in the Asian subcontinent.  But unfortunately instead of trying to extinguish the flames many people decide to throw petrol over them.  This is the issue of those people who prostrate in front of graves or in front of other people like their sheikhs/peers.  I want to discuss whether this is permissible or not.  And whether it is right for someone to call anyone doing this a Mushrik (one who associates partners to the one true Lord).


The first thing that I would like to start with is that shirk is shirk, it can never be accepted by using rationale.  All the Messengers AS that came had one thing in common.  To call people to the one Lord and to not associate partners with Him.  “La Ilaha Illallah”.  What did change between the Prophets AS was Shariah.  The law that was given to the Prophets AS to guide their Ummah (followers).  This Law changed from Prophet to Prophet but the message of La Ilaha Illalah never changed.


Now one of these things that was permissible for other Ummahs but was made Haraam (forbidden) for the Ummah of Nabi SAW was the Prostration of Respect.  There are many example of this prostration of respect from authentic sources.  None more authentic than the Quran, when the Angels and Jinns were ordered to prostrate to Adam AS.   And then Prophet Yaqub AS and his others sons prostrated to Prophet Yusuf AS.  All these prostrations (sajday) were for Respect and not Worship.

Now to the evidence that the prostration of respect was made haraam for the Ummah of Nabi SAW.


When Mu`âdh ibn Jabal returned from al-Shâm he prostrated to the Prophet SAW who said, “What is this, Mu`âdh?” He replied, when I came to Shâm I found them prostrating to their priests and bishops, so I told myself I would like to do the same to you.” The Messenger of Allâh SAW said: “Do not! If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone else, I would order woman to prostrate to her husband due to the greatness of his right over her. I swear by Allâh that no woman shall taste the sweetness of faith until she fulfills the right of her husband even if he should want her while she is on top of the camel-saddle!”


There are many things that are very important to note from the above hadith.


1) The sahabas knew what shirk was.  When they entered Islam they gave up all their bad practices.  So Hadhrat Muadh RA already knew what shirk was and that it was forbidden to do this so when he prostrated he knew that he wasn’t doing prostration of worship (thus shirk) but of respect.


2) Once someone does shirk, he/she leaves the fold of Islam.  They must repent and read the kalima shahadat again.  Yet here Nabi SAW never told Hadhrat Muadh RA to repent, (or warn him to fear Allah SWT wrath) or tell him to declare his shahadat again.


3) Then Nabi SAW says that if He SAW was to order anyone to prostrate to anyone else then he would order the woman to prostrate to her husband due to the greatness of his right over her.  This prostration was not of Ibaadat but of respect as Nabi SAW would never say that if shirk was allowed because that is what He SAW had come to abolish.


So what now to those who prostrate in front of graves or to other Sheikhs/Peers.  If this prostration is of Ibaadat then they have definitely left Islam.  But if this prostration is of respect then they have committed a haraam thing but that does not render them a Mushrik (polytheist).  Doing haraam does not mean that you are a Mushrik.  For example no one would declare someone a Mushrik if one stole, committed adultery, murdered etc…


If someone is prostrating (sajda) to a grave or Peer then one should advise them that they should not do this by using two main ingredients.  WISDOM and GOOD CHARACTER. The eminent jurist and Islamic scholar, Imam al Shafe’e wrote:

“Support me with your advice in private,
and avoid advising me in public.

Surely giving advice among the people is a kind of reproach,
which I would rather not listen to.

If you disobey and ignore my wish,
don’t be saddened if you are not obeyed”.


What we shouldn’t do is start calling them Mushriks/Kaafirs.  Nabi SAW has warned about calling another Muslim a Kaafir.


“Ibn Umar related that the Holy Prophet said: If a Muslim calls another kafir, then if he is a kafir let it be so; otherwise, he [the caller] is himself a kafir.”


(Abu Dawud, Book of Sunna, edition published by Quran Mahal, Karachi, vol. iii, p. 484)


“Abu Zarr reported that the Holy Prophet said: No man accuses another man of being a sinner, or of being a kafir, but it reflects back on him if the other is not as he called him.”


(Bukhari, Book of Ethics; Book 78, ch. 44)


So if you call someone a Mushrik and he is not then this will come back onto you.

Does anyone know what is in the chest of the person doing the prostration.  Is it Ibaadat or Respect?  If you do not know then why risk your own Aakirah (afterlife) by calling him/her a Mushrik/Kaafir.


Let this email act as a humble warning to all the brothers and sisters who go around brandishing the terms Mushrik/Kaafir.  For your own benefit you must stop this, or it may that on the day of Judgement all your good deeds are of no use to you and you were unaware of when you lost them all.


May Allah SWT forgive any mistakes I have made and give us all the strength to do those actions that leads to Allah SWT pleasure and not to His displeasure.

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