[Just to let you know, the text below is a transcription of what I've said in this video. So please excuse any words or phrases that don't quite look right.]
Famously, Allah says [Qur’an, 55:6]:
<< وَالنَّجمُ وَالشَّجَرُ يَسجُدانِ >>
wa-n-najmu wa-sh-shajaru yasjudān
In the first few verses, Najm can be understood as plants or stars. Wa-sh-shajaru yasjudān: and the trees submit (prostrate) to His designs.
Allah also says [Qur’an, 22:18]:
<< أَلَم تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَسجُدُ لَهُ مَن فِي السَّماواتِ وَمَن فِي الأَرضِ وَالشَّمسُ وَالقَمَرُ وَالنُّجومُ وَالجِبالُ وَالشَّجَرُ وَالدَّوابُّ >>
ʾa-lam tara ʾanna llāha yasjudu lahū man fī s-samāwāti wa-man fī l-ʾarḍi wa-sh-shamsu wa-l-qamaru wa-n-nujūmu wa-l-jibālu wa-sh-shajaru wa-d-dawābbu
Do you not see that everything, the heavens and Earth, submits to God; the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the animals?
Then Allah says:
<< وَكَثيرٌ مِنَ النّاسِ >>
wa-kathīrun mina n-nāsi
So do many human beings.
(True, lots of human beings do it too.)
<< وَكَثيرٌ حَقَّ عَلَيهِ العَذابُ >>
wa-kathīrun ḥaqqa ʿalayhi l-ʿadhābu
Though for many others, punishment is well deserved.
<< وَمَن يُهِنِ اللَّهُ فَما لَهُ مِن مُكرِمٍ >>
wa-man yuhini llāhu fa-mā lahū min mukrimin
Anyone disgraced by God will have no one to honour him.
<< إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفعَلُ ما يَشاءُ ۩ >>
ʾinna llāha yafʿalu mā yashāʾ
God does whatever He wills.
This is another verse of prostration. SubhanAllah. How powerful are all of these verses in reminding us?
One of the main reasons people don't prostrate themselves at the time they should is because they have too high of a consideration of the other human beings around them.
It can also be our own laziness, apathy, or misunderstanding of the need for praying on time. However, even when we are conscientious and we want to pray, sometimes we won't do so out of misplaced fear of those around us.
This is a classic in the workplace. A Muslim at work (who knows the importance of prayer) doesn't pray on time at work but instead goes home and prays. This is because they're worried about how their prayer will be seen by their coworkers.
What Allah is telling, reminding, and helping us with is this: whatever factors are preventing us from prostrating, compare those with literally the entirety of the rest of existence. Put Earth and Earth's people in perspective compared to everything and anything that's out there.
When you are prostrating and engaged in Salat, you're aligning with all other creatures, the Angels, the Earth, the sun, the moon. You're aligning with all of that.
As human beings, we can take comfort from those numbers. That's part of the reason why prayer in congregation is encouraged. Because when there are larger numbers gathered we feel bolstered by that.
Many people are comfortable praying with more believers around them. Some of them even initiate the process. Whereas if they're on their own, they struggle to pray.
What Allah is telling us is that the whole universe is on this side. So when you're praying and prostrating, you're aligned with that.
Question: Why is يَسجُدُ (yasjudu) translated as "submit" and not "prostrate?"
The question is an issue of translation. Of course, we could translate it as "prostrate." Perhaps the translator I reference (Professor Abdul Haleem, whose translation has been published in the Oxford World Classics Edition) typically says "submit" when he's referring to the Sajjda or the prostration of other than human beings. Whereas, when it comes to human beings, he says "prostrate."
He may be trying to make the distinction between prostrations. We understand it to be a physical action, yet the "prostration" of what's out there (e.g planet Jupiter) obviously looks different. It might simply be in its orbit. That's Jupiter's "prostration."