Qayaam, Rukuu’, Sajdah and Qa’dah are the four postures in a namaaz corresponding to Standing, Bending down, Touching the ground with forehead and Sitting down, all, as if before God.
While I was in CIEFL (Central Institute of English & Foreign Languages) Hyderabad, I’d go for Friday Prayers, if I was able to, without affecting my work. On the way to the mosque is a mazaar of two Muslim Saints. After the prayers, I’d stop to offer my homage to these saints. My way of doing this is to bend down at the ‘feet’ of the grave and kiss. Since these graves were low set, I had to kneel down and then bend.This posture would resemble that of a Sajdah and because this mazaar is just by the side of the road and without walls and roof, all this was in clear view of the passers-by.
That Friday, as I was going to my room after lunch, the Arabic Department scholars were standing in front of their rooms, waiting…
I understood. They wanted to teach me a lesson after what they must have seen me doing at the mazaar. I had a lot of work to do, so I didn’t want to waste time on the forthcoming discussion that I knew would be of no avail. But adamant as they were, they asked me to refrain from offering a Sajdah ‘to the Mazaar for a sajdah must be “done” to “One and only One”, and that is God’. They told me that what I did was shirk – an unpardonable sin.
Squeezed and cornered thus, I didn’t know what to do. I closed my eyes and ‘remembered’ (assumed ‘tasavvur’ of) my peer-o-murshid (whose mazaar is in Ratlam). I can’t say how the thoughts came and found words through my mouth. I asked one of them if he was married and wrote letters to his wife. The dialogue went something like this:
‘Are you married, Rasheed Sa’b?’ “Yes” ‘Do you write letters to your wife?’ “Yes” ‘How do you send the letter to your wife?’ “I put it in an envelope, write the address on it and drop it in the mailbox” ‘Does the mailbox keep it?’ “Silly question” ‘No, it is NOT’ I went on…
According to Quran the Wali-Allahs are alive. The Quran warns us against taking them for dead. If they are alive, will they ‘keep’ my Sajdah, if it was a Sajdah? Even if it was a Sajdah that I ‘did’ to the saint which I should have ‘done’ to God, will he keep it or get angry at the ‘deed’? I think he will look to God and say: this ignorant person who is ‘blind, deaf and dumb’(Quran) has ‘put’ the Sajdah here…O God You are all Merciful, forgive him…I’m ‘redirecting’ the Sajdah to you…Please accept…Rasheed Sa’b, my Sajdah, thus reaches God…Where does yours go?...Next time you write a letter to your wife, don’t put it in the mailbox…just throw it in the air…DIRECT…!
They rejected it as a specious argument
After more than 25 years when I look back, I find that my sense of gratitude towards my ‘murshid’ is simply beyond measure. Those thoughts had come to me very first time after ‘remembering’ him.
Now, to make things clearer still, I can say, a sajdah cannot be performed in a vacuum. It has to be here on this solid earth with a wall or an Imam or another namazi in front. Do we then, in any of these situations, ‘send’ our sajdah to the earth, to the wall in front, to the Imam or a namazi in front?
A sajdah is like a crossed cheque. No one else can cash it.
The other thing that needs to be understood is: God asked Satan to ‘bow down’ before Adam. Satan didn’t because he thought he was made of Fire and Adam was made of Earth…Satan did not realise that God was everywhere including within Adam.
The other thing that we don’t very clearly understand is: Man is a queer ‘mix’ of shaitaniyat, haiwaniyat, admiyat, insaniyat and lillahiyat. To wash off Shirk, a person needs to get rid of everything except lillahiyat. In other words one should ‘die’ before death (Quran).
To ‘kill’ the Shaitan, the ‘shaitan’ in ‘me’ must ‘bow down’ before the ‘god’ in my murshid !