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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. Prophet’s practice. 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 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.