Sujod at-Tilaawah – Prostration for Recitation (Part 1)

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The Quran is the Word of Allah

The Glorious Quran is the Word of Allah. It is addressed to us. It is the Book of eternal guidance given to us by the Ever-living Allah. It is as relevant for us today just as it was over fourteen centuries ago and will remain so forever. The Quran is the Speech of Allah – as if Allah were speaking to us through it now and today.

Words of the Prophet (pbuh) about the Quran

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said, «The superiority of the Speech of Allah over all other speech is like the superiority of Allah over His creation» (At-Tirmidhee and ad-Daarimee)

When one realizes the nature of the superiority of the Quran, one will definitely dedicate some of one’s time to read and study this speech and not ignore it or turn to other sources for guidance.

The Prophet (pbuh) said, «Have good tidings! Truly, one end of this Quran is in the Hand of Allah and another end is in your hands. Adhere to it and you will not be destroyed, nor will you ever go astray after it» (at-Tabaraanee)

He also said, «Certainly, Allah has special people among mankind. His companions asked, “Messenger of Allah, who are they?” He replied, “They are the people of the Quran. They are the people of the Quran and specially His”» (Ahmad, Ibn Maajah and an-Nasaa’ee)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) also said about the Quran, «Allah makes the way to Paradise easy for him who follows a path in order to seek knowledge. No people gather together in one of the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it among themselves, except that calmness is descended upon them, mercy covers them, the angels surround them and Allah makes mention of them to those in His presence» (Muslim)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) also said, «The example of the believer who recites the Quran is like that of a citron (utrujjah), which tastes good and smells good; that of the believer who does not recite the Quran is like a dried date (tamrah), which is good in taste but has no smell; and the example of a hypocrite who recites the Quran is like the basil plant (rayhaanah), which smells good but tastes bitter; and the example of a hypocrite who does not recite the Quran is like the colocynth (handhalah), which tastes bitter and has no smell» (Muslim)

Here Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) shows the greatness and lofty nature of the Quran. It is important to realize that even if it comes out of the mouth of someone who does not truly believe in it, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) describes it as having a good and pleasant smell.

Last but not least, we mention here one hadeeth which demonstrates the importance of the Book of Allah in one’s life. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said, «The Quran is evidence either for you or against you» (Muslim)

In this hadeeth, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) makes it clear that the Quran constitutes evidence for us or against us, hence the importance of living by its dictates.

A Muslim’s Obligation towards the Quran

One of the first obligations of a Muslim towards the Quran is to believe that it is Allah’s Book which He sent down to His Messenger Muhammad (pbuh). Therefore, he must have a strong love for it. He should read it, study it, try his best to memorize it and act in accordance with its teachings.

One must realize that the Quran has been revealed for the sake of the reader and is directed to him. The Quran is a mercy, healing and guide and has been sent for the sake of every individual who wishes to believe in it and follow it. Hence, the Quran has actually been revealed for the reader himself. Therefore, when he approaches the Quran, he should think to himself: It is Allah’s Mercy. He has revealed this Book for my benefit. He has revealed it so I may know my Lord better and see that Straight Path that is pleasing to Him and follow it. In reality, the Quran is my personal Book. It is my own Book. Allah is talking to me directly in the Quran. He is guiding me directly. It is a healing for the diseases of my heart and soul. There is not a single passage in the Quran which does not have a personal message for me. Every Attribute of Allah requires me to build a corresponding relationship with Allah the Almighty. Every description of life after death requires me to prepare for it, aspire for its reward and seek protection from its evil.

The Term Tilaawah

Tilaawah is the term the Quran uses to describe the act of reading. No single word in English can convey its full meaning. ‘To follow’ is closest to its primary meanings. ‘To read’ is only secondary.

Hence, primarily, tilaawah means ‘to move closely behind, to go forward, to go in pursuit, to take as a guide, a model, to accept its authority, to understand, and to follow the train of thought’. It means ‘reading the Quran, following its guidance and understanding it’.

Tilaawah, then, is an act by which your whole person – eyes, tongue, mind, soul, heart, and your entire body – participates.

The Manner of Reading the Quran

The Quran says, «And recite the Quran in slow, measured rhythmic tones.»

(Quran, 73: 4)

This manner of reading the Quran (tilaawah) can be achieved by observing the rules of tajweed. The term tajweed is derived from the Arabic root jawwada, which means ‘to make well, to improve, or make good’. Hence, tajweed carries two distinct meanings.

  1. Correct and good pronunciation in recitation,
  2. A mode of recitation of medium speed.

Finally the Word Sujood: Prostration

Sujood literally means prostration. It is, however, important that no single English word or expression can convey the full meanings of Islamic terms. The following explanation will bring out the difference. The English word prostration, according to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, means lying stretched out on the ground with one’s face downwards. The term sujood is a part of the prayer, or salaat.

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) used to say, «When a servant [of Allah] prostrates, seven limbs prostrate with him: his face, his palms, his knees and his feet» (Muslim)

He used to order likewise, saying, «When you perform sujood place your palms on the ground and raise your elbows. Do not spread your forearms like a dog spreads his» (Muslim)

Another version reads, «None of you should rest his arms to the ground the way a dog rests them» (At-Tirmidhee)

He also used to say, «There is no prayer for the one whose nose does not feel as much of the ground as the forehead» (At-Tabaraanee)

In one narration it comes, «When you perform sujood, put your face and hands down firmly, until all your bones are relaxed in their proper places» (Ibn Khuzaymah)

The Prophet (pbuh) would support himself on his palms, put his fingers together and point them towards the qiblah, keeping his feet upright. Hence, he would prostrate on seven limbs: the palms, the knees, the feet, and the forehead and the nose. He once observed, «I have been ordered to prostrate on seven bones» (Muslim)

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