Mu’âdh went to ash-Shâm and there he found them making sujûd (prostration) for their bishops, when he returned he made sujûd for the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ , who then said: “What’s this o Mu’âdh!?” He then said: “I saw them making sujûd to their bishops, and you have more right to be made sujûd for Oh Messenger of Allâh!”
Al-Udhr bi l-Jahl 1
– Excuse of Ignorance –
Some comments about the hadîth of Mu’âdh making sujûd to the Prophet
– pdf here –
Mu’âdh went to ash-Shâm and there he found them making sujûd (prostration) for their bishops, when he returned he made sujûd for the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ , who then said: “What’s this o Mu’âdh!?” He then said: “I saw them making sujûd to their bishops, and you have more right to be made sujûd for Oh Messenger of Allâh!”He ﷺ then said: “If I would be commanding anyone to make sujûd for someone other than Allâh, I would command the wife to make sujûd for her husband, because of the great rights he has over her”
Related by al-Bazâr (461), Ibn Ḥibbân (#1290) from Ibn Abî Awfâ, and the story of this sujûd is confirmed from the ḥadîth of ‘Â`ishah with Aḥmad and Ibn Mâjah, from the ḥadîth of Ibn ‘Abbâs with al-Bazâr, and al-Albânî authenticated the hadith in Irwâ` al-Ghalîl, and Shu’ayb al-Arnâ`ûṭ in his remarks on ‘Sharḥ as-Sunnah’. (refer to al-Irwâ` 7/56) and ‘Sharḥ as-Sunnah’ (9/158))
The ones who comment on this incident say:
“This is a proof for the excuses of ignorance (for major shirk) because Mu’âdh performed sujûd for someone other than Allâh out of ignorance, and the sujûd is worship that should not be directed to others than Allâh. So (by way of this) the analogy includes all the deeds of al-Kufr, al-‘Amaliyy (actions with the limbs) and al-I’tiqâdiyy (actions of the heart)”.
And those who comment on this incident also say that the Prophet ﷺ gave Mu’âdh the excuse of ignorance and didn’t make takfir on him.2
Answers to these objections:
Before we enter into discussing these objections it is necessary to understand that the scholars, when it comes to the sujûd, have determined two matters:
(1): That the sujûd to others than Allâh are of two kinds: sujûd of ‘Ibâdah (prostration of worship) by which nearness (at-Taqarrub) is intended to attain benefit or to wear off harm, and this is Shirk that is clearly textually affirmed in all the legislations (of the Prophets).
The second kind is Sujûd that is performed as a way of greeting (at-Taḥiyyah), and performing this to others than Allâh is muḥarram (forbidden), and it’s not Shirk and it has been forbidden in this religion3
(that Mohammed ﷺ came with), and the speech of the scholars on this issue will be presented to you:
Ash-Shaykh Mulâ ‘Aliyy al-Qâriyy says, while commenting on the words of al-Qâḍîyy ‘Iyyâḍ on the text of ‘al-Shifâ’: “And so we make takfir on every action where the muslimîn have agreed upon that it cannot disseminate except from a kâfir, even if the performer proclaims al-Islâm with this action of his, this action that cannot disseminate except from a kâfir, like the sujûd for a statue (sanam), and the sun, and the moon, and the Christian cross, and a fire.”
‘Aliyy al-Qârîyy said: “as opposed to the sujûd for the Sulṭân and the like, without the intention of al-‘Ibâdah, rather with the intention of at-Ta’ẓîm (reverence) in greeting, then this is ḥarâm not kufr, and it is said (by others) to be kufr”`4
And, as it is not hidden from you, the speech of the explainer (i.e. al-Qâriyy):
“It is said (by others) to be kufr” can be understood as being the weaker opinion, which is the common way of the people of knowledge when they establish the râjiḥ (stronger) choice of the different opinions.
Ibn Ḥajr al-Haytamiyy ash-Shâfi’iyy said: “It has been related from an-Nawawî in ‘ar-Rawḍah’ his saying: “Such kind of as-Sujûd – i.e. sujûd aṭ-Ṭaḥiyyah (prostration of greeting) – is ḥarâm and not kufr (disbelieve)”.
He (i.e. al-Haytamiyy) then says: “subsequently what is defined by his words – i.e. ash-Shaykh ‘Izz adDîn ibn ‘Abd as-Salâm – that (the status of) the scholars is like (the status of) the father in this case, then that which is mentioned in ‘ar-Rawḍah’ about the last sujûd of at-Tilâwah, refers to this, and his statement is: “…similar so, in this difference of opinion about the taḥrîm of de sajdah, is what is done after the ṣalâh and other than this. But what many of the astray ignorants do, in making sujûd in front of the mashâyikh, is not (even) a part of this (difference of opinion), because that is clearly forbidden (ḥarâm qaṭ’an) in every circumstance, no matter if it’s in the direction of the qiblah or towards other than it, and no matter if one has the intention (qaṣd) for sujûd to Allâh or one is inattentive, and in some forms, it entails al-Kufr, may Allâh protect us from it. So what is to be understood is that it can be kufr if one intends to worship a created being or intends to seek nearness to it, and it can be ḥarâm if one intends to show reverence for it or by emitting, and this is also said concerning the father”5
(2): That as-Sujûd in the form of al-‘ibâdah is shirk, which is clearly textually affirmed in all the legislations (of the Prophets). And the Sujûd in the form of aṭ-Ṭaḥiyyah was allowed (mubâḥ) in the previous legislations from the time of Âdam until it was abrogated by our legislation with the ḥadîth of Mu’âdh, which we shall explain later. And the Qur`ân al-Karîm indicates this with the sujûd of Yûsuf’s brothers to their father, the Exalted said:
“and they fell down before him prostrate”
Ibn Kathîr says: “And this was common in their legislations if they greeted their elders they would prostrate to them, and this remained permissible from the time of Âdam until the legislation of ‘Îsâ ‘alayhissalâm. Then it became ḥarâm in this religion, and it was specified (to be directed) to Allâh (only) Glorified and Exalted, is He. The point is that it was allowed in their legislation, and that’s why they fell down before him prostrate.”6
Ibn Taymiyyah said: “As for the sujûd, when Allâh – the Exalted – commands us to make sujûd for Him, then it’s a legislation of the legislations, so if He would command us to make sujûd for one of His creations besides Him, then we would make sujûd to that other(creation), as an act of obedience to Him ‘azza wa jall, when He loves it that we venerate the one we make sujûd for. If He hadn’t made the sujûd mandatory then the act wouldn’t be obligatory at all. So the sujûd of the Angels to Âdam is an act of worship to Allâh and obedience to Him, and a way of getting near to Him, and to Âdam it’s an honouring (tashrîf), a show of respect (takrîm) and a reverence (ta’ẓîm), and the sujûd of Yûsuf’s brothers was a greeting to him and (a way of) giving salâm, do u not see that if Yûsuf would make sujûd to his parents as a way of greeting, that this would not be disliked for him”7
And al-Qurṭubiyy – may Allâh have mercy upon him – says: “The second matter: Sa’îd ibn Jubayr related from Qaṭâdah from al-Ḥasan concerning His saying:
“and they fell down before him prostrate”
saying: “It was not a sujûd (that we are accustomed to), but it was a custom with them, they would move their heads in a bowing manner, this was their way of greeting. And ath-Thawriyy and aḍ-Ḍaḥḥâk and others said: It was a sujûd similar to ours, and this was their way of greeting, and it is said: it was like bending forward comparable to the Rukû’, and it was not by way of falling to the ground, and this was their way of giving salâm by way of leaning forward and bowing, and all of this has been abrogated by Allâh in our legislation, and (greeting with) speech has replaced the bowing, and the Mufassirûn have agreed upon the fact that this sujûd, in whatever way it was done, it was only a manner of greeting and not ‘ibâdah.”8
So it has become clear for you from the words of the exemplary scholars that the second kind of sujûd – and this is the sujûd aṭ-Ṭaḥiyyah – was permitted and allowed in the divine legislation of those who came before us until it was abrogated in our divine legislation, and the Nâsikh (abrogate)
is the ḥadîth of Mu’âdh as will be clarified with the statements of the scholars. So what Mu’âdh did was nothing more than a lawfully permitted act in the divine legislation of those who came before us and not an act of kufr as for us to say he performed an act of Shirk out if ignorance and then he was being excused for the ignorance.
What also strengthens the case, that Mu’âdh – raḍiya Allâhu ‘anhu – performed the sujûd by way of aṭ-Ṭaḥiyyah, are the statements of the scholars who clearly attest to the fact that it was permissible in the time of the Prophet ﷺ until it was abrogated by the ḥadîth of Mu’âdh that has been mentioned earlier.
The Ḥâfiẓ Abû Bakr al-Jaṣâṣ al-Ḥanafiyy says in his book Aḥkâm al-Qur`ân:
“It seems to be the case that it continued until the time of Yûsuf – ‘alayhissalâm -, it was a common practice with them to those who deserved a certain level of reverence, and what was intended by it was to show reverence and respect, just like we show this by shaking hands and embracing, and just like kissing the hand. And the permissibility of kissing the hand has been related in reports from the Prophet ﷺ , and it has also been reported that it is disliked, except that the sujûd to other than Allâh the Exalted by way of reverence and greeting has been abrogated by what is related from ‘Â`ishah and Jâbir ibn ‘Abdullâh and Anas, that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “A human shouldn’t make sujûd to another human. Would it be a good thing for a human to make sujûd to another human, I would have commanded the women to make sujûd for their spouse because of the great rights he has over her”.9
The statement of al-Imâm al-Jaṣâṣ – raḥimahullâh: “has been abrogated by what is related from ‘Â`ishah and Jâbir ibn ‘Abdullâh and Anas” is a reference to the fact that the Nâsikh (abrogater) of the sujûd aṭ-Ṭaḥiyyah, which used to be permissible, is the ḥadîth of Mu’âdh, even if the wordings
somewhat differ. So this is a proof that the action used to be a common permissible act even up to the moment that Mu’âdh greeted the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم by making sujûd, which then was condemned from him.
And al-Qurṭubiyy mentioned in his tafsîr that the majority opinion of the scholars was that the sujûd to other than Allâh by way of aṭ-Ṭaḥiyyah used to be permissible until the time of the Messenger ﷺ, and then they would mention the ḥadîth as a Nâsikh (abrogation) to this permissibility, and this is the same ḥadîth of the incident with Mu’âdh.
He (i.e. al-Qurṭubiyy) – raḥimahullâh – said: “An the majority say that is was permissible until the time of Allâh’s Messenger.“10 But the opposition by some of the latecomers with the statement of Ibn Taymiyyah:
“But this action – i.e. the Sujûd – if performed religiously and as a way of seeking nearness: than this is from the great reprehensible acts. And the one who believes that the likes of this are a religious praxis and a way of seeking nearness is an astray liar. Rather it should be made clear to him that this is not a religious praxis and not a way of seeking nearness, and if he persists upon it he should be demanded (by an Islamic government) to repent, and if he doesn’t he should put to death”11
Then we say: “There is no proof for the adversary in this statement because it’s wording is general, Shaykh ul-Islâm Ibn Taymiyyah doesn’t clarify in it that Mu’âdh performed an action of Kufr and then was excused for it by the Prophet ﷺ because of ignorance. So, therefore, one can not use it to build an argument on it in this fundamental matter of ours.
As for his statement – i.e. the author of ‘al-‘Udhr bi l-Jahl ‘Aqîdatu s-Salaf’: “The Prophet ﷺ excused Mu’âdh and did not make takfir upon him. In fact, he didn’t even request him to make tawbah, because when he performed this act he didn’t do any sin nor kufr, since he was not held responsible for it out of his ignorance on the ruling until the Prophet ﷺ made it clear to him. So if he would repeat the act after this then he would have disbelieved”.12
So this statement, from the author of the book that was mentioned, could be considered reasonable (only) if Mu’âdh had made sujûd after the textual prohibition of the Prophet ﷺ for the sujûd aṭ-Ṭaḥiyyah. But this is not the case since the action, up until the point Mu’âdh was making the sujûd, was permissible and not abrogated except after the clarification of the lawmaker with abrogation and impermissibility. So he (i.e. Mu’âdh) didn’t perform an act of sin and kufr to begin with. So this was not ignorance on the part of Mu’âdh’, as the author claims, rather the principle of innocence (albarâ`ah al-aṣliyyah) applied to him up to the moment of the incident, and then the Prophet ﷺ abrogated it with the hadîth of Mu’âdh himself.
So after consulting the mother books of explanatory works on the sunnah that cover this ḥadîth, we could not find even one scholar that clearly states that the action of Mu’âdh took place after the existence of a prohibition on the sujûd. Rather we see that exemplary scholars like al-Imâm alQurṭubiyy and al-Imâm al-Jaṣâṣ and al-Ḥâfiẓ Ibn Kathîr clearly attest to the fact that this action used to be a lawfully permitted act up to the moment of Mu’âdh’s sujûd.
To see this assertion, refer back to the statements of these exemplary imams that we have related to you in length earlier (in this chapter). What remains is the statement of ash-Shawkâniyy – raḥimahullâh – in the book ‘Nayl al-Awṭâr’ where he says: “And in this ḥadîth, there’s proof that the one who makes sujûd to other than Allâh out of ignorance, is not judged with kufr”.
And there’s no specific proof in this statement of ash-Shawkâni13 – raḥimahullâh – after you have learned that the sujûd of Mu’âdh was by way of aṭ-Ṭaḥiyyah like this has been textually confirmed by the exemplary scholars, whose statements we have related previously. But some people of knowledge withheld from making takfir in this matter, because this kind of sujûd has been confirmed in the divine legislations before us, so they regarded it as a misconception that counts as a barrier for the judgement of kufr in this particular matter. In contrast to the matter of the one who makes sujûd to other than Allâh seeking thereby benefit or (protection against) harm, like the grave worshippers. Because there is no misconception in making takfir on the one who makes this kind of sujûd.
And here are the statements of the exemplary imams about this matter, when they were confronted with this problematic issue, that is raised by some who want to make a distinction between the one who makes sujûd to other than Allâh by way of aṭ-Ṭaḥiyyah and between the one makes sujûd to other than Allâh by way of seeking closeness en seeking benefit or protection against harm.
The Faqîh Ibn al-Ḥajr al-Haytamiyy ash-Shâfi’iyy, while answering this problematic issue, clarifying the ‘illah (reason) for not making takfir on the one who makes this kind of sujûd, said:
“And az-Zarkashiyy and others related this problematic issue – i.e. the distinction between the sujûd to a father and the sujûd to a statue – and they did not answer it, but maybe the answer on this matter is that the divine legislation indicates to give reverence (ta’ẓîm) to the father, in fact in the previous legislation (shar’ ghayrinâ) the sujûd for the father is affirmed, like in His speech: “and they fell down before him prostrate” Yûsuf 100.
Building on the fact that the intended meaning is the apparent one, and that’s placing the forehead on the ground, which is the chosen opinion of a group (of scholars), and they answer this by stating that this was legislated for those who have preceded us. Another group (of scholars) we’re of the understanding that the intended meaning is bowing forward (like the rukû’).
Whatever the case, this kind (of sujûd) was established for the father, albeit in certain moments in time and according to some (previous) legislations. So the (existence) of this misconception acts as a barrier for making takfir on the one who performs this act. In contrast to the sujûd for a statue or the sun, because this act, and the likes of it in showing reverence (ta’ẓîm), is not found in the stipulations of the (previous) legislations. So there’s no misconception for the one who does this action, neither weak nor strong. So he (who does this act) is a kâfir, and no consideration is given to the intention (qasd) of seeking closeness, cause there’s no indication in the legislation to give reverence to these things. In contrast to those where indications are present in the legislations to give reverence to. So the problematic issue is solved and the answer to this issue has been clarified, as you can see.” 14
So with all of this, the mistake as become apparent in the statements of the author of the book ‘al-‘Udhr bi l-Jahl wa ar-Radd ‘alâ Bid’atu t-Takfîr’ and the one who followed him in this, the author of the book ‘al-‘Udhr bi l-Jahl ‘Aqîdatu s-Salaf. There statements that ‘In the ḥadîth, there’s a clear proof that the one who makes sujûd to other than Allâh out of ignorance – because the sujûd is ‘Ibâdah which should not be directed to other than Allâh – doesn’t commit disbelieve by this, and on this, the analogy can be made, with other acts of kufr.”15
[Translation: Abû Hudhayfah Mûsa Ibn Yûsuf al-Indonesiyy]
1 [Taken from: ‘Âridhu l-Jahl’ by ash-Shaykh Abî l-‘Ulâ ibn Râshid, with the taqdîm of ash-Shaykh Sâlih al-Fawzân p.545-554]
2 See al-‘Udhr bi l-Jahl, of Aḥmad Farîd, p24, and al-‘Udhr bi l-Jahl of Hazâ’, p58
3 Ibn Nujayyim al-Ḥanafiyy refers to this kind of sujûd in al-Baḥr ar-Râ`iq (5/134). The author of al-Fatâwâ alBazâziyyah ; (If one intends al-‘Ibâdah (i.e. with the sujûd) he disbelieves, and if one intends at-Taḥiyyah then not, and this is in agreement with what is mentioned in the original Fatâwâ). Refer back to al-Fatâwâ al-Bazâziyyah (6/343), and refer back to the epistle ‘Nawâqiḍ al-Îmân al-Qawliyyah wa l-Fi’liyyah, p278, Dâr al-Waṭan
4 Sharḥ ash-Shifâ, 2/221
5 Al-I’lâm bi Qawâṭi’i l-Islâm, of Ibn Ḥajr, p19, printed together with az-Zawâjir.
6 Tafsîr Ibn Kathîr, 2/491, ar-Riyâḍ al-Ḥadîthah edition.
7 Majmû’ al-Fatâwâ 4/360, Ibn Kathîr – may Allâh the Exalted have mercy upon him – clearly states that sujûd aṭṬaḥiyyah was allowed for the previous nations, and that the Nâsikh (the abrogater) of this is the ḥadîth of Mu’âdh – raḍiya Allâhu ‘anhu. He says in his tafsîr at the statement of Allâh the Exalted: “And (remember) when We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves to Adam.” Tâhâ 116, this was a sujûd of Ṭaḥiyyah and (giving) salâm and of giving respect (ikrâm), as Allâh says “And he raised his parents to the throne and they fell down before him prostrate.” Yûsuf 100, and this was legislated for the previous nations, but then was abrogated in our religion, (in the ḥadîth of) Mu’âdh (it is) said: “I went tot ash-Shâm and I saw them make sujûd to their bishops and their scholars, I said Oh Messenger of Allâh I saw them making sujûd to their bishops, and you have more right to be made sujûd for!” He صلى الله عليه وسلم then said: “If I would be commanding anyone to make sujûd for someone other than Allâh, I would command the wife to make sujûd for her husband, because of the great rights he has over her” Tafsîr Ibn Kathîr, 1/77, al-Maktabah al-Qayyimah edition, and also refer back to 2/474
8 Tafsîr al-Qurṭubiyy 4/3494, Dâr ash-Sha’b edition.
9 Aḥkâm al-Qur`ân of al-Jaṣâṣ, 1/37-38, Beirût edition, with the checking of Muḥammed Ṣâdiq al-Qamḥâwiyy
10 Tafsîr al-Qurṭubiyy 1/250, Dâr ash-Sha’b edition.
11 Majmû’ al-Fatâwâ of Shaykh ul-Islâm Ibn Taymiyyah, 1/362, the autor of the book ‘al-‘Udhr bi l-Jahl ‘Aqîdatu s-Salaf’ brings this as an argument, on p.58
12 al-‘Udhr bi l-Jahl ‘Aqîdatu s-Salaf’ brings this as an argument, on p.59-60
13 Footnote translator: And there are other statements of ash-Shawkânî that are more clear on this subject, which is also mentioned at the end of this chapter, which i have not translated. So one can refer back to the original at page 555-556.
14 Al-I’lâm bi Qawâṭi’i l-Islâm, of Ibn Ḥajr, p18,19, printed together with az-Zawâjir. And he as some other statements concerning this topic which we have left out in order not to make it any longer.
15 al-‘Udhr bi l-Jahl ‘Aqîdatu s-Salaf’, p.58 and he relates this from the author of ‘Udhr bi l-Jahl wa ar-Radd ‘alâ Bid’atu tTakfîr’, p24.