How is the prostration of Quran recitation (sajdah at-tilawah) performed when a verse of prostration (sajdah) is read? Is it permissible to delay this prostration?

Details of the Question

How is the prostration of Quran recitation (sajdah at-tilawah) performed when a verse of prostration (sajdah) is read? Is it permissible to delay this prostration?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

There are fourteen verses of prostration (sajdah) in the chapters of the Quran; it becomes wajib for a mukallaf Muslim who reads or hears any of them to prostrate. It is performed as follows:

A person says"Allahu Akbar" with the intention of sajdah at-tilawah without raising his hands and prostrates.He says,"Subhana Rabbiya'l-ala" three times or "Subhana Rabbana in kana wadu Rabbina lamaf'ula" once. Then, he says, "Allahu Akbar" and stands up.

The essential part ofsajdah at-tilawah is to show respect and humbleness to Allah and to prostrate in order to act contrarily to those who avoid prostration. However, ruku' in the prayer and gesture for the ill people serve the same aim and replace sajdah at-tilawah. They will be explained later in this writing.  

It is mustahab to stand first, to prostrate later, and to stand up again from prostration by saying "Ghufranaka Rabbana wa ilayka'l-masir". Takbirs uttered while going to prostration or getting up from prostration are mustahab; prostration itself is wajib. (According to the other three imams apart from Abu Hanifa, sajdah at-tilawah is sunnah.)

It is necessary for the person to perform sajdah at-tilawah to have wudu, to be free from any impurities, to have the necessary parts of the body to be covered and to turn toward the qiblah.

Sajdah at-tilawah is wajib for a mukallaf Muslim who reads and listens to the verse of prostration. It does not matter whether he listens to it willingly or hears it unwillingly; he gains rewards when he prostrates. A person who does not prostrate becomes a sinner since he abandons a wajib.   

It becomes wajib for a mukallaf Muslim to prostrate when he hears a mumayyiz child (a young child who has not reached the age of puberty yet), a junub person, a woman who is in menstruation or puerperum, a drunken person or a non-Muslim read a verse of prostration. For, their reading is a sound reading.   

A Muslim who is junub or drunken becomes responsible if he reads or hears a verse of prostration. When he becomes clean or when he becomes sober, he has to perform a prostration. However, a woman who is in the state of menstruation or puerperum does not have to performsajdah at-tilawah whether she reads or hears a verse of prostration. For, such a woman cannot perform prayers at that time.

According to the sound view, it is not necessary for a personto perform a prostration when he hears averse of prostration read by a sleeping person or by an insane person. They themselves do not have to perform a prostration because their reading is not based on an intention or determination. However, According to another view that is regarded as sound, if a person who reads a verse of prostration while sleeping is informed afterwards that he read a verse of prostration, it becomes wajib for him to perform a prostration. This is appropriate in terms of caution.    

Sajdah at-tilawah does not become wajib due to hearinga verse of prostration from a bird that is taught to imitate, something that is reflected and a device that plays recordings. However,according to another view that is regarded as sound,sajdah at-tilawah becomes necessary due to hearinga verse of prostration from a bird. For, what is heard is the word of Allah. This appropriate in terms of caution.

As for the radio, it is regarded transmitting rather than reflecting. It transmits almost the same thing that is read by intention. The sounds heard from the radio do not consist of a similarity like the reflection of sounds. Therefore, it should be wajib to perform a prostration due to a verse of prostration heard from the radio. Even if it is not wajib, it is better to prostrate since there is no drawback to prostrating; and it shows respect to the Quran.

(According to Shafiis, the reciting must be legitimate and intentional. When a junub person reads the Quran, it is not legitimate; similarly, reading the Quran while in ruku' is not legitimate, either; therefore, sajdah at-tilawah does not become sunnah for the person who reads or listens to a verse of prostration. It is not sunnah to perform sajdah at-tilawah when a verse of prostration is produced by mistake, by a bird or heard from a device because it is not based on an intention.)

When a verse of prostration is read by being divided into syllables, when it is written only or when someone looks at the writing but does not pronounce it, sajdah at-tilawah is not necessary because reading/reciting does not occur.

According to the sound view, when the word necessitating prostration is read or heard together with a word before or after it, sajdah at-tilawah becomes necessary. According to another view, sajdah at-tilawah does not become wajib unless most of the verse is read.

Sajdah at-tilawah does not become wajib for a mukallaf Muslim who does not hear the verse of prostration even if it has been read in the place where he is. 

If a verse of prostration is read in Arabic, it becomes unanimously wajib for a mukallaf Muslim to prostrate if he is informed that it isa verse of prostration. However, if the translation of averse of prostration is read in Persian, Turkish or another language, it does not become wajib for a person to prostrate if he does not understand it when he hears it even if he is informed that it isa verse of prostration; this decree is according to Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad. According to Abu Hanifa, it becomes wajib for him to prostrate if he is informed that it is the translation ofa verse of prostration. It is reported that Abu Hanifa accepted the view of the two imams later. This view is relied on. However, it becomes unanimously wajib for a person who reads the translation of a verse of prostration to prostrate in terms of caution. It does not matter whether he understands it or not.

If a verse of prostration is repeatedly read in an assembly, which is regarded as the same place really or virtually, it is enough to prostrate once. However, if other verses of prostration are read or if the assembly changes really or virtually, a separate prostration becomes necessary for each verse of prostration that is read.  

The assembly of a verse of prostration that is read twice in a certain place like a mosque is regarded as one. The parts of a place that are traditionally regarded as one place is regarded as one virtually. The change of the assembly in reality is regarded like from going into a room by leaving another room. Change virtually occurs when a person in a place like a room or mosque starts to do something else after a verse of prostration is read, like saying about three words, taking three steps, eating three morsels from something or taking three sips of water, etc after a verse of prostration is read.

The change of assembly occurs when the reader changes his place in terms of him and when the listener changes his place in terms of him. This is what is true. Therefore, an assembly can be one (the same) for a person but it may change for another person.

A ship is regarded like a room in terms of sajdah at-tilawah. If a person is on a vehicle that is moving or an animal that is walking, the assembly is regarded to change all the time. Therefore, if a verse of prostration is repeated several times except in a prayer, it becomes wajib for a person who is on a vehicle that is moving or an animal that is walking as many times as it is repeated.

It is mustahab for the person who reads to come to the front to lead sajdah at-tilawah and for the listeners to stand behind him in ranks, not to prostrate before him and no to get up from prostration before him. However, it is not makruh if they prostrate where they are and prostrate before him and get up from prostration before him. For, all of the listeners have to performsajdah at-tilawah on their own.  

Intention is necessary for sajdah at-tilawah but determination is not necessary. Therefore, a person who has read or listened to several verses of prostration needs to perform sajdah at-tilawah as many times with intention but he does not have to determine which prostration is for which verse. The intention for sajdah at-tilawah is made through the heart while performing a prayer. It is sunnah to utter intention by the tongue outside prayer.  

Sajdah at-tilawah, which is wajib, does not have to be performed immediately. One does not have to prostrate as soon as a verse of prostration is read. This prostration can be performed after a long while; it is not regarded as qada (missed) when it is performed after a long time. This is the decree that is accepted. However, it is makruh tanzihi if it is delayed without an excuse. It is wajib to be performed immediately while performing a prayer because it becomes part of the prayer. It cannot be performed as qada outside the prayer. It is necessary not to delay performing sajdah at-tilawah after a verse of prostration is read more than reading three verses. This issue will be clarified later in this writing. According to Imam Abu Yusuf, it is wajib to perform sajdah at-tilawah immediately outside the prayer too.   

When a verse of prostration is read, if it is not possible to prostrate immediately, it is mustahab for the reader and listeners to say, "Sami'na wa ata'na ghufranaka Rabbana wa ilayka'l-masir."

When a verse of prostration is read standing while performing a prayer, there are a few possibilities: If more than three verses are not read after a verse of prostration, the ruku' (bowing down) and sajdahs (prostrations) to be performed will replacesajdah at-tilawah whether it is intended or not. However, According to the preferred view, it is necessary to intend for sajdah at-tilawah in order to perform it with ruku'. However, if more than three verses are to be read, it is necessary to perform ruku' or sajdah immediately after this verse for this verse. It is more virtuous to perform sajdah. The ruku and sajdahs of the prayer will not replace it. It is disputable what to do when exactly three verses is read after it. According to preferred view, this sajdah at-tilawah is regarded to have performed when the ruku' and sajdahs of the prayer are performed.   

A person who readsa verse of prostration while performing a prayer can perform sajdah at-tilawah immediately if he wishes without taking the number of verses to be read into consideration by saying "Allahu Akbar". It is also enough for him to perform ruku' with the intention of sajdah at-tilawah. After that, he stands up and reads a few more verses. Then, he performs the ruku' and sajdahs of the prayer and continues his prayer. If he has finished a chapter, he reads a few verses from the next chapter because it is makruh to perform the ruku' and sajdahs of the prayer without reading a few verses after sajdah at-tilawah.

Sajdah at-tilawah is not regarded to have been performed only by ruku' outside prayer. For, sajdah at-tilawah is an expression of respect and a sign of fulfilling an order. They are fulfilled with ruku' in prayer but they are not regarded to have been performed only by ruku' outside prayer.  

When a prayer is performed in congregation, the imam should not intend to perform ruku' instead of sajdah at-tilawah because the congregation might not understand it and will not have such an intention. In that case, their sajdah at-tilawah will not have been performed. They will have to perform sajdah at-tilawah after the imam salutes and sit for tashahhud again, which is very difficult to do for most people to do.    

If a verse of prostration is repeated in a prayer, only one sajdah at-tilawah is necessary according to the sound view. It does not matter whether it is repeated in the same rak'ah or other rak'ahs because the assembly is the same. This is the view of Imam Abu Yusuf. According to Imam Muhammad, if it is repeated in different rak'ahs, sajdah at-tilawah is also repeated because the assembly is regarded to have changed.

If the imam reads a verse of prostration and prostrates but if the congregation thinks the imam has performed ruku' and sajdah and performs ruku' and sajdah, their prayer is not invalidate but if they perform one more prostration, their prayer is invalidated.

It is makruh for the imam to reada verse of prostration in Friday and eid prayers and in prayers where there is a big congregation and in prayers where the Quran is read silently because he might cause the congregation to be confused. However, if theverse of prostration is at the end of the chapter or at the end of the qira'ah, it is not makruh. In that case, sajdah at-tilawah is replaced by the sajdahs of the prayer. What the imam needs to do in that case is not to intend to perform ruku' for sajdah at-tilawah so that this duty will be fulfilled by the whole congregation with sajdahs.

If a masbuq (a person who has joined the imam after the first rak'ah) stands up after the imam salutes and the imam remembers sajdah at-tilawah, there are two possibilities: If the masbuq has not performed sajdah yet, he follows the imam for sajdah at-tilawah and stands up after it to complete his prayer. If he does not follow the imam, his prayer is invalidated. However, if he has performed sajdah, he does not follow the imam. If he does, his prayer is invalidated. 

A resident who follows an imam who is a traveler joins the sajdah at-tilawah of the imam. After that, he stands up and completes his prayer. If he readsa verse of prostration in the rak'ahs that he performs alone, he needs to perform sajdah at-tilawah for that verse, too.

If a person readsa verse of prostration while he is in ruku', sajdah or qada of a prayer or if he follows the imam but readsa verse of prostration behind him, sajdah at-tilawah does not become wajib for him, or the imam or the other congregation following the imam because those who perform prayers are prohibited from reading the Quran in the states mentioned above. Their reading is invalid. However, if those who are outside this congregation hear a verse of prostration like this, it becomes wajib for them to perform sajdah at-tilawah. It does not matter whether they perform another prayer on their own or in congregation because they are outside this prohibition.

When a verse of prostration is read in a prayer, sajdah at-tilawah cannot be performed after finishing the prayer. For, this sajdah, as it was mentioned above, becomes part of the prayer; it cannot be separated from the prayer. However, if a person who is performing a prayer hearsa verse of prostration read by another person who is not performing a prayer, he needs to performsajdah at-tilawah after prayer. It will not be enough when he prostrates in prayer. However, his prayer is not invalidated when he prostrates.  

As a matter of fact, if a mukallaf Muslim who is not performing a prayer hearsa verse of prostration read in a prayer, he needs to perform sajdah at-tilawah. If he follows the person who reads theverse of prostration and prostrates with him, he will have fulfilled his duty. If he joins the imam in the same rak'ah after sajdah at-tilawah is performed, he is regarded to have performed that sajdah virtually with the imam. He does not have to perform sajdah at-tilawah in or outside the prayer for it. 

It is permissible to perform sajdah at-tilawah with gesture for a mukallaf Muslim who reads or hears a verse of prostration when he is ill, on a vehicle or an animal. However, it is not permissible for a person toperform sajdah at-tilawah with gesture on an animal for a verse of prostration read or heard by him when he was not on an animal. 

It is mustahab to read a verse of prostration aloud if the people who are present are ready for sajdah at-tilawah and to read silently if they are not ready. This includes compassion for the congregation.  

It is makruh to read a chapter and to leave the verse of prostrationin it. For, it means to avoid prostration. However, it is not makruh to read only theverse of prostration in a chapter and not to read the other verses. However, it is mustahab to read at least one more verse along with theverse of prostration to eliminate the delusion of virtue and preference. 

* It is narrated that Allah will protect a person who reads all of the fourteen verses of prostration in an assembly and performs a sajdah at-tilawah after each one as he reads and performs fourteen sajdah at-tilawah after reading all of them regarding the worldly and otherworldly issues that will distress him.

* Whatever invalidates prayer invalidates sajdah at-tilawah, like breaking wudu before getting up from prostration, speaking and laughing aloud. However, laughing aloud in sajdah at-tilawah does not invalidate wudu; and when men and women are in the same line, sajdah at-tilawah is not invalidated.

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