There are fifteen verses (aayaat: sing, aayah) in the Quran which require us to perform a prostration when we read or hear them. In them it is mentioned that Allah’s servants and creation prostrate before their Lord. They are:
When one of these verses is read (for example 32: 15 or 25: 60), readers and listeners alike perform sujood, either directly from the sitting position, if one is sitting, or from the standing position if, for example, the passage is recited during the prayer. The prayer is then resumed in the normal order.
The verses calling for sujood are often amplified by printing a line above the actual words, mentioning the word ‘sajdah’ in the margin of the printed copies of the Quran.
Sujood at-Tilaawah outside the prayer is performed as follows:
- Formulate the niyyah (intention).
- Face the qiblah (standing or sitting).
- Say takbeer, i.e. Allaahu Akbar.
- Prostrate on the floor, making sure that the palms, knees, toes, nose and forehead are placed on the floor, and glorify Allah by saying: Subhaana rabbiyal-A’ala (Glory be to my Lord, Most High), three times.
- Rise saying takbeer.
According to traditions, while reciting the Quran in large gatherings, when the Prophet (pbuh) came upon a verse the recitation of which called for sujood, he would prostrate and the whole gathering would follow him. The traditions mention that sometimes some people did not have room to prostrate. Such people prostrated on the backs of others. (Al-Bukhaaree)
It is reported in connection with the Conquest of Makkah that in the course of the Quranic recitation, as the Prophet (pbuh) recited such a verse, those standing fell into prostration, while those who were mounted on horses and camels performed prostration in that very state. It is also recorded that while delivering a sermon from the pulpit, the Prophet (pbuh) came down from the pulpit to offer prostration, and resumed his sermon thereafter. (Abu Daawood)
There is a difference in Arabic between the words sajdah and sujood. Sajdah is one single act of prostration, while sujood refers to the act of prostration itself.
The Conditions for Sujood at-Tilaawah
The conditions for this kind of sujood are exactly the same as required for offering prayer.
- One should be in a state of ritual purity.
- One should be facing the qiblah.
- The prostration should be performed as one performs it in prayer.
This is the general opinion of scholars on this point, and it is preferable to follow it.