Spiritual Dimension

Where True Happiness Really Lies

We have just finished the Ruku [bowing]’ and the stand after it. This stand serves to prepare us for the greatest pillar of Salah! This pillar will be the sweet seal to the Rakah [unit of Salah]. All that came before it were merely leads to it. Preludes to the grand finale…The Sujood [prostration]! …What is Sujood [prostration] really about? Many of us have been performing the Sujood [prostration] robotically over the years, out of a mechanical routine, and thus have not felt its powerful effect. We will not be able to taste the true sweetness of any part of Salah until we get our heart into it! Sujood [prostration], as we have mentioned before, is the ultimate symbol of complete submission to our Creator…it is as if we are saying: “O Allah, what do You ask of me? I give You the most precious thing I own!..The most dignified and honored part of me…my face..and onto the lowest, most degraded spot around me, place it…the ground. For You alone, My Lord…I give You all that I am.”

Sujood [prostration] is the real secret to true happiness. How? Ask yourself this: Where does Jannah [Paradise] lie – the place of ultimate bliss? Up above in the seventh heaven, close to Allah. Where does Hell lie – the place of ultimate misery? Down below, furthest from Allah, as the gateways of Heaven do not open up for the wrong-doers. What is the highest rank that can be reached in Jannah – the point of ultimate bliss? It is a place called “Al Firdous al-A’la”, that’s where the Prophet is! Its ceiling/upper limits is Allah’s Throne! It is the highest place in Heaven, the closest one can ever come to Allah! In other words, for those who reside there, their neighbour is Allah Himself!

Let’s keep asking…When the Prophet was facing his toughest time in Makkah, feeling the deepest sadness, how did Allah console him and lift his spirits? He raised the Prophet to Him during the most momentous event of all time – al-Israa wal-Mi’raaj! Till he reached the closest a man can ever reach in nearness to his Lord! Even the things that are the source of happiness in this life- a good word, a good deed rise to Him where they belong for Allah says, “Unto Him ascend all good words, and the righteous deed – He exalts/raises ..”

So, where does happiness lie? It lies high above with Allah. So the secret formula goes like this: the closer you become to Allah [The King!], the higher your spirits will rise, and thus the happier you will be! But how do we reach the levels of this great happiness? We must rise closer to that elevation. How do we do that? By lowering ourselves down! Recall the hadeeth.. “He who humbles himself to Allah, Allah raises him.”- raises him in honour, raises him to the place of true happiness! And recall this hadeeth, “The closest a servant ever is to His Lord, is when he is prostrating.” And what does Allah say at the end of Surah al- Alaq? “..Prostrate and draw near [to Allah]”

Do you realize now what you have been doing all these years? You were trying to draw nearer to Your Lord with every prostration. Your body is down firm to the ground, but your spirits are rising, trying to draw nearer to the Creator of the heavens and the earth! The Prophet tells us, “Perform much Sujood [prostration], for there is not a Muslim who performs a prostration but is raised by Allah a rank in Heaven, and disburdened of a sin.”…all the way till he reaches the highest ranks!..The highest Firdous – where Allah’s Throne bounds it from above and in it abides, our beloved Prophet!

Need more proof? Rabi’a Ibn Ka’eb was once helping out the Prophet with water for his wudu’ [ablution] when the Prophet said to him, “Ask me.” Rabi’a replied, “I ask to be with you in Paradise.” “Anything else?” The Prophet asked. “Only that”, Rabi’a said. To that the Prophet replied, “Then help me to help you [get there], by performing much Sujood [prostration].” So you see now.. In order for your spirits to be lifted up higher and higher, you must bring your body down, lower. And just as your body does its Sujood [prostration], make sure your heart is in Sujood [prostration] as well…in prostration to The One, Who above the Throne is established, every day, directing new affairs.. To Him rise the needs and deeds of everyone. Everyone needs Him and He needs no one – Forgiving a sin here, easing a difficulty there. Strengthening someone weak, mending a broken heart.

Bringing into life, taking a life. Guiding to Him whom He wills, leading astray whom He wills. Providing for and blessing a people, taking away a blessing from another. Honoring a people, degrading and humiliating another. Bringing joy and happiness to some, taking it away from others. When your heart performs a prostration, you will know it. For you will rise from it with a special glow, “On their faces is their sign from the effect of their prostration..”

It is that sign of the grace and light of Allah – that gentleness and kindness, that blessed peace and calmness that can come from no other source. Sujood [prostration] is the most special part of prayer. Sujood [prostration] is very precious! How many a worry has Sujood [prostration] relieved. How many a difficulty and trial has Sujood [prostration] resolved. How many a need has Sujood [prostration] fulfilled. How many a dua went unanswered, till it was made…in Sujood [prostration]!

Bring yourself down to the ground, to bring yourself closer to The Lord. Prostrate with body, heart and soul.. and taste the sweetest feeling in the world….Taste the real happiness of this world!

The Perfect Sujood

We continue with the greatest pillar of Salah, the Sujood [prostration]! Now don’t you wish you could have watched the Prophet himself as he did his Sujood [prostration]? This is the aim of today’s segment, to carry to you the description of the proper Sujood [prostration], just the way our Messener prostrated before Allah, in hope that we can perfect our own performance of this precious pillar. When you are ready to perform the prostration, make sure to call out “Allahu Akbar” on your way down for Sujood [prostration]….Not before, nor after, but during the descent. The stronger opinion is that the palms are to touch the ground first before the knees, to avoid resembling the descent of a beast [camel].

Next, the head makes a gentle contact with the ground till the forehead [and nose] is firm upon the ground. Ensure that there is no barrier [as that of a head covering] that might prevent direct contact of your forehead with the place of prostration. With palms firmly down, keep fingers close together. Point fingers, knees and toes towards the Qiblah. Palms can either be parallel with the head, or parallel with the shoulders.

Keep the elbows elevated off the ground. [For men] extend elbows as far away from your sides as possible. Keep abdomen away from the thighs. The Sujood [prostration] is done on a total of 7 body parts: The forehead [including the nose], the two palms, the two knees, and the two feet [toes]….All firm upon the ground till every bone and joint is fixed in place with peace and calm. The Prophet never recited Quran in this position, but instead, he made much dua. He said, “The closest a servant ever is to His Lord, is when he is prostrating so make in it much dua.” And what have we been taught to say, when we are down so low –

سُبْحَانَ رَبِّىَ الأَعْلَى
“How glorified and perfect My Lord is, The Most High!”

We can add,
سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّنَا وَبِحَمْدِكَ ، اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي
“How perfect You are O Allah, Our Lord, and I praise You. O Allah, forgive me.”

سُبُّوحٌ قُدُّوسٌ رَبُّ الْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالرُّوحِ
“Perfect and Holy [is He], Lord of the Angels and Ruh [i.e. Angel Jibrael].”

The Prophet taught us many supplications, each with a different meaning, each with a unique flavor. Each serves to renew our focus.

To make dua is to talk to Allah. When you love someone, you love to talk to him more. You love to stay engaged longer! Do you remember when Allah spoke to Prophet Musa in the valley of Tuwa [below Mount Sinai]?1 As Allah spoke to him, Musa listened and listened, so absorbed! Then, what did he do when Allah suddenly asked him, “And what is that in your right hand, O Musa?” Musa was feeling such a comfort and pleasure as he engaged with the words of his beloved Lord that a euphoria enveloped his answer… and with that… he set off in speech!… “It is my staff; I lean upon it; and I bring down leaves with it for my sheep..” He was so lost in the rapture of this special engagement… till he remembered the Grandeur before Him, and so…cut it short, “.. and in it I have other uses.”

So as you prostrate in nearness to Him, try to feel the pleasure Prophet Musa felt. Remember the love you hold for Him. Talk to Him, praise Him, ask Him, unload your burdens at His door, and reach out for the peace that only He can bring.

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّى أَعُوذُ بِرِضَاكَ مِنْ سَخَطِكَ ، وَبِمُعَافَاتِكَ مِنْ عُقُوبَتِكَ ، وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْكَ ، لاَ أُحْصِي ثَنَاءً عَلَيْكَ أَنْتَ كَمَا أَثْنَيْتَ عَلَى نَفْسِكَ
“O Allah, I seek refuge within Your pleasure, from Your displeasure. And within Your pardon, from Your punishment. And I seek refuge in You, from You. I cannot enumerate Your praise. You are as You have praised Yourself.”

We have one Ruku [bowing] in each unit of Salah, but two prostrations, why? Because the Sujood [prostration] is the Salah’s greatest pillar, it is performed twice! Once is just not enough. The Prophet used to lengthen his prostrations, savoring in these precious moments with Allah. [This was an especially precious time for his young grandchildren as well! And he would not come up from his Sujood [prostration], till their riding fun was satisfied!]