What is the place of ruku (bowing down in prayer) in salah? What meaning does it have and are there any verses or hadiths about it?

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What is the place of ruku (bowing down in prayer) in salah? What meaning does it have and are there any verses or hadiths about it?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

-Salah (daily prayers) is like an index of all kinds of worship that include the other pillars of Islam. A person who performs salah maintains a stance that reminds the worship of hajj in some way by facing the qiblah. He is considered to have fasted by obeying the prohibition of eating and drinking. He is also considered to have given his alms for life in some way by devoting his time which is his life's capital just for glorifying Allah.

Besides, he is considered to have performed the worship of many living beings with different action and conducts by standing upright like trees and plants; bowing down like four legged animals and performing sajdah (prostration) like reptiles.

Similarly, angels always worship Allah in the same manner, some of them by standing upright, some in ruku and some others in sajdah. A person who performs prayer tries to fulfill the worship of angels within a certain period of time; in a sense, he attains an angelic state.   

- The word ruku means showing humility and bowing down. The ruku in prayer symbolizes the stance of the slave in the presence of his Lord. It is a status for being obedient towards His orders, lowly towards His prohibitions along with complete humbleness and modesty towards Him. In the Era of Jahiliyya (Ignorance) the people of Hanif (those who did not worship idols and retained the belief of tawhid (oneness) of the prophet Abraham) were mentioned as "the people who bowed to Allah (see. Lisan, article RKA). 

- The word Sajdah, means to put the head on ground and to bow down respectfully before someone with his head. The sajdah in prayers mean the slave's showing respect to Allah, the most glorious, and accepting His sublimity with his face and head, which are the most elevated and delicate ones among his organs.

-When the following verse was revealed: "Then celebrate with praises the name of the Lord, the Supreme" (Surah al-Waqia, 56/74), the prophet (PBUH) expressed this order in his ruku as "subhana rabbiyal azim" (Glory be to my Lord Almighty/ I exonerate my glorious Lord from any imperfections).

-When the following verse was revealed;"Glorify the name of thy Guardian-Lord Most High." (Surah al-Ala, 87/1), the prophet expressed this order in his sajdah as "subhana rabbiyal a'la" (Glory be to my Lord, the Most High/ I exonerate my glorious Lord from any imperfections) Upon this, people started to say these invocations in their rukus and sajdahs by complying to him.

- The prayer in ruku is suitable for the meaning of ruku and Allah's greatness and the prayer in sajdah is also suitable for the meaning of sajdah and Allah's greatness as well.

- In the Qur'an, there is an emphasis on the concept of ruku and sajdah both related with the previous ummahs (nations) and the Islamic ummah (see examples in al-Baqara, 2/43, 125; Aal-e-Imran, 3/43; at-Taubah, 9/112; al-Hajj, 22/26,77; al-Fath, 48/29).

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