Not to Pray and Prostrate Before God is to Be Arrogant

prayer prostration qur'an

[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.]

 

Allah says [Qur’an, 16:48]:

 

<< أَوَلَم يَرَوا إِلىٰ ما خَلَقَ اللَّهُ مِن شَيءٍ يَتَفَيَّأُ ظِلالُهُ عَنِ اليَمينِ وَالشَّمائِلِ سُجَّدًا لِلَّهِ وَهُم داخِرونَ >>

ʾa-wa-lam yaraw ʾilā mā khalaqa llāhu min shayʾin yatafayyaʾu ẓilāluhū ʿani l-yamīni wa-sh-shamāʾili sujjadan li-llāhi wa-hum dākhirūn

Do they not observe the things that God has created, casting their shadows right and left, submitting themselves to God obediently? It is to God that everything, the heavens and Earth submits.

 

In the next verse, Allah says [Qur’an, 16:49]

 

<< وَلِلَّهِ يَسجُدُ ما فِي السَّماواتِ وَما فِي الأَرضِ مِن دابَّةٍ >>

wa-li-llāhi yasjudu mā fī s-samāwāti wa-mā fī l-ʾarḍi min dābbatin 

Every kind of creature, every beast that moves

 

<< وَالمَلائِكَةُ >>

wa-l-malāʾikatu

Even the Angels

 

<< وَهُم لا يَستَكبِرونَ >>

wa-hum lā yastakbirūn

And they are free from arrogance. 

 

Allah contrasts, on one hand, the idea of prostration (sajdah) and the submission that is effectuated or demonstrated in our prostration with, on the other hand, arrogance.

Not to pray, not to prostrate before your Lord is to be arrogant. It is to basically say, "No, I don't need to put my face on the ground." 

Unfortunately, when we make excuses for ourselves that we are not going to present ourselves before our Lord for this meeting with the King of Kings, when He has invited us to do so, this is a form of arrogance.

Allah specifically mentions wa-hum lā yastakbirūn: And they are free from arrogance.

 

Then the next verse [Qur’an, 16:50]:

 

<< يَخافونَ رَبَّهُم مِن فَوقِهِم وَيَفعَلونَ ما يُؤمَرونَ >>

yakhāfūna rabbahum min fawqihim wa-yafʿalūna mā yuʾmarūn

They fear their Lord above them, and they do as they are commanded.

 

Allah also says [Qur’an, 7:206]:

 

<< إِنَّ الَّذينَ عِندَ رَبِّكَ >>

ʾinna lladhīna ʿinda rabbika  

Those who live in the presence of your Lord, (i.e. the Angels)

 

Most commentators interpret this to mean the Angels, but they also reference the possibility of it including the human beings who live in the presence of their Lord.

 

<< لا يَستَكبِرونَ عَن عِبادَتِهِ >>

lā yastakbirūna ʿan ʿibādatihī [Arabic]

They're not too proud to worship Him

 

<<  وَيُسَبِّحونَهُ>>

Wa-yusabbiḥūnahū

They glorify Him

 

<< وَلَهُ يَسجُدونَ >>

wa-lahū yasjudūn

And they prostrate before Him.

 

Allah informs us that we can look at the birds, the Earth, the heavens, the galaxies, the planets and the Angels. We can look at everything from the atomic level (with the electrons and neutrons) to the intergalactic level (with billions of light-years of expanse) and everything in between, including all of those creatures that you see on Blue Planet.

When we look at all of that, Subhan’Allah, Allah created all of them and they are doing sajdah (prostration) and tasbih (glorification.)

Tasbih is, of course, a central part of our prayer. Typically, after we say Allahu Akbar what's the first thing that we say? Subhanak-Allahumma wa bi hamdika. In Ruku’? Subhana Rabbiyal-’Adhim. In Sajdah? Subhana Rabbiyal-A’la.

These are all declarations of Allah's perfection. Recognition that He is removed and distinguished from all that is imperfect and from all that might be associated with Him or attributed to Him wrongly. We're declaring His absolute perfection and His relative differentiation from all that is less than and other than Him when we say Subhan'Allah.

Everything out there in its movement and (where possible) in its voice (e.g. animals and others) are glorifying and recognising the Lord of the heavens and the Earth.

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