Why Shia Muslims prostrate on Turbah or Sajdagah
Shia Muslims prefer to prostrate on small block of earth called Turbah or Sajdagah which is made from
the clay from the land of Karbala in Iraq. It is not compulsory to prostrate on it but it is highly
recommended to do so because of the importance given to it by the Holy Prophet and the Imams who
descended from Ahlebayt.
Shia Muslims do not prostrate to Turbah but they prostrate on Turbah for Allah swt.
Proper place of prostration as per Shia & Sunni scholars.
Prostration must be performed on pure earth or what grows on it, provided that it is not eaten or worn.
This includes dust, stone, sand and grass, provided that it is not a mineral. Prostration on paper is
permitted because it is made of a material that grows on earth. Prostration on cloth or carpet is not
permitted because it does not grow on earth. The scholars of all Sunni schools concur regarding the
validity of prostration on earth and that which grows on it.
Khumrah : A small mat sufficient to place forehead while prostrating. It is made of palm fiber or other
material. The holy prophet used to have Khumra on which he would put his forehead for prostration.
Praying on earth was certainly the practice of the Holy Prophet and those around him. Prophet also used
to prostrate on Khumra. Some narrations that prove the Prophet’s practices.
The Prophet used to place his forehead on the earth while prostrating.
Saheeh Bukhari, Part 1, p. 97
Abu Said Al Khudri narrates:
I saw Allah’s Apostle prostrating in mud and water and saw the mark of mud on his forehead.
Al-Buqari, Sahih (English translation) vol.1, book 12, no.798; vol.3, book 33, no.244
Abu Said Al Khudri narrates:
The Messenger of Allah used to practice Itikaf (in the mosque), in the middle third of Ramadan. After the
twentieth night, he used to return home on the twenty-first, and those who were in Itikaf with him would
return to their homes as well. In Ramadan, in which he practiced Itikaf, he would pray the night prayers on
the night in which he returned home, and then address the people, instructing them as Allah commanded
him. He said, "I used to practice Itikaf for these ten days (i.e. the middle third of Ramadan), but I now
intend to stay in Itikaf for the last ten days. Whoever was in Itikaf with me should stay at his place of
seclusion. I have certainly been shown (the date of) this Night (of Qadr), but I have forgotten it. Search for
it in the odd nights of the last ten days (of Ramadan). I also saw myself (in a dream) prostrating in mud
and water." On the twenty-first night, the sky was covered with clouds and it rained, and the rainwater
started leaking through the roof of the mosque onto the praying place of the Prophet. With my own eyes, I
saw the Prophet, upon completion of the morning prayer, leaving (the mosque) with his face covered
with mud and water.
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 3.235
Abu Hazim narrates:
Sahl bin Sa'd was asked about the (Prophet's) pulpit, as to what was it made of. Sahl replied: No one is
still alive among the people who knows about it better than I. It was made of tamarisk forest wood. So and
so, the slave of so and so, prepared it for the Messenger of Allah. When it was constructed and placed (in
the mosque), the Messenger of Allah stood on it, facing the Qibla, and said, "Allahu Akbar", and the
people stood behind him (in prayer). He recited and bowed, and the people behind him bowed. Then he
raised his head, stepped back, descended and prostrated on the ground. He then again ascended the
pulpit, recited, bowed, raised his head, stepped back, descended and prostrated on the ground. This is
what I know about the pulpit.
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.374
Jabir bin Abdullah narrates:
The Messenger of Allah said: I have been given five things which were not given to any of the Prophets
before me. These are:
1. Allah made me victorious by inspiring awe (and fear in my enemies) for a distance of
one month's journey.
2. The earth has been made a place of prostration for me, and a place to perform
Tayammum. Thus, my followers can pray wherever (i.e. in any lawful place) they like,
when the time of prayer is due.
3. War booty has been made lawful for me.
4. Every Prophet was sent only to his own nation, but I have been sent to all mankind.
5. I have been given the right of intercession (on the Day of Resurrection).
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.429
Abu Sa'eed used to relate that he had seen the Prophet prostrating on wet mud, so much so that he
could see mud stains on his forehead.
Saheeh Bukhari, Part I, p. 104
Prophet prostrated on Khumrah
Ummul Mo’mineen Hazrat Maimuna said:
The Messenger of Allah used to pray on a Khumra (a palm leaf mat large enough to place one's face,
while in prostration).
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith vol.1, book 8, no.378
According to al-Shawkani, a famous Sunni scholar, more than ten companions of the Prophet have
narrated traditions mentioning his prostration on Khumrah. Andhe lists all the Sunni sources recording
these traditions which include Sahih Muslim, Sahih al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, Abu Dawud, Sunan al-Nisai and
many other. Al-Shawkani, Nayl al-Awtar, Chapter of prostration on the Kumrah, vol.2,p.128.
Ummul Mo’mineen Hazrat Maimuna said:
The Messenger of Allah was once praying while I was experiencing my menses and sitting beside him.
Sometimes his clothing would touch me during his prostration. She added: He prayed on a Khumra (a
small palm leaf mat). Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Number 376
The Prophet declared that the best place for prostration was the earth, or upon something that grows
from the earth. Kanz-ul-Ummal, Part 4., p. 113
(Famous Sunni book of Hadith)
The Prophet said to his wife Umm Salma, " Bring me the Khumra from the mosque." The word Khumra
means a small piece of chatai made from palm leaf, on which only the head could be rested when
prostrating. lbn-Athir, in his Jami-al-Usool has written, "Khumra is the Sajdagah (Persian word meaning
"prostration place") upon which the Shias of our time perform their prostrations."
Statement of famous Sunni Alim
I (i.e. Maulana Zamankhan) maintain that by this Hadith it is Sunnat to keep a Sajdagah. Those who
forbid it and call it the way of the Rafizites (Shiites) are wrong. To practice this Sunnat, I often perform my
prostrations on a fan made from palm leaf, and I do not care about the criticism of the ignorant. We are
concerned only with the Sunnat of the Prophet (SAA), regardless of whether they call it the way of the
Rafizites or the Kharijites. Let them rave about it. Maulana Vahidul Zamankhan (Sunni Alim),author of 'Anwar-ul-Lughat', Chap. 7, p. 118
But why the earth of Karbala?
The Holy Prophet gave special importance to the soil of Karbala.
Prophet cried on Karbala the Martyrdom of Imam Hussain
Narrated by Umm al-Fadl daughter of al-Harith:
Umm al-Fadl went in to see Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) and said, "Messenger of Allah, I had an
objectionable dream last night." He asked what it was and she replied, "It was terrible." He asked, "But what was
it?" She replied, "I seemed to see a piece of your body cut off and placed in my lap." He said, "You have seen
something good. If Allah wills Fatimah will give birth to a son who will be in your lap." Fatimah then gave birth to
al-Husayn who was placed in her lap as Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) had said. One day she went in to see
Allah's messenger and placed him in his lap. She turned round, and noticing tears falling from the eyes of Allah's
Messenger, she said, "Prophet of Allah, for whom I would give my father and mother as ransom, what is the matter
with you?" He replied, "Gabriel came to me and informed me that my people will kill this son of mine." She asked if
he really meant this one and he replied, "Yes, and he brought me a piece of red earth."
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith # 6171
Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas:
One day at midday he saw in a dream the Prophet (peace be upon him) dishevelled and dusty with a
bottle containing blood in his hand and said, "You for whom I would give my father and mother as
ransom, what is this?" He replied, "This is the blood of al-Husayn and his companions which I have been
collecting today." He told that he was reckoning that time and found that he had been killed at that time.
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith # 6172
Narrated by Umm Salamah:
Salma said, "I went to visit Umm Salamah and found her weeping. I asked her what was making her
weep and she replied that she had seen Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) (meaning in a
dream) with dust on his head and beard. She asked him what was the matter and he replied, `I have
just been present at the slaying of al-Husayn.'" Al-Tirmidhi Hadith # 6157
Narrates Ummul Mo’mineen Umme Salma:
I say Husayn (as) sitting in the lap of his grandfather (the
Holy Prophet) who had a red block of soil in his hand. The prophet was kissing the dust and was
weeping. I sked him what that soil was. The prophet said: “Gabriel has informed me that my son, this
Husayn will be martyred in Iraq. He has brought this earth for me from that land. I am weeping for the
suffering that will befall my Husayn”. Then the Prophet handed the dust to Umm Salma and said to her:
“When you see this soil turn into blood, you will know that my Husayn has been martyred.” Umm Salma
kept the soil in a bottle and kept watch over it until she saw on the day of Ashura, 10th Moharram 61 H.,
that it turned to blood. Then she knew that Husayn bin Ali (as) had been martyred.
(al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, vol.4, p.398) (al-Dhahabi, siyar a’alam al-nubala, vol.3, p.194) (Ibn-Kathir, al-Bidayah wa’l-nihayah, vol.6, p.230) (al-Sayuti, Khasa’is al Tahdhib al-tahdhib, vol.2, p.346)
BIBLE CITED KARBALA
Bible cites the following verse, a Great Sacrifice by the Euphrates which is presently known as Karbala,
by the River Euphrates (Furat).
“...For there will be a slaughter for the Lord God of hosts, In the land of the north
by the river Euphrates.”
Bible, Jeremiah 46, 10
Ali ibn Alib Talib, passed by Karbala after the battle of Siffin. He took a handful of its soil and exclaimed:
“Ah, ah, on this spot some men will be slain and will enter Paradise without reckoning!”
(Ibn-Hajar al-Asqalani, Tahdhib al-tahdhib, vol.2, p.348)
However, there are few hadiths that shows that the Holy Prophet also prayed on the cloth. But the hadiths
that prove that the Holy Prophet prostrated on mud/earth or Khumrah are more authentic and they
outnumber than those that say he prayed on cloth.