Bowing and Prostration: Pathway to Allah

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

This article is transcribed by an internal student based on the lecture series “Hope and Closeness: The Way to Allah” by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. This is the thirteenth sessions of the series.

Introduction

In the last session, Shaykh Faraz deliberated on the role of prayer as a means to the closeness of Allah. He unpacked the various dimensions of the statement: “Truly, I am Allah. There is no God but Me. So Worship Me, and establish prayer for My remembrance” and deliberated on the Tawhidic paradigm of surah al-Fatiha.

In the current session, he looks at bowing and prostration as a means to surrender to one true God. How every movement in the prayer is an act to manifest humility and humbleness before our Creator.

Humility Before the Glory of God

Likewise, the act of bowing and prostration actually manifests one’s absolute humility before the all-encompassing majesty of God. It is to remind ourselves before these two acts in prayer that everything in existence is humbled before the glory of God. In the process of bowing in front of Allah Most High, one should be humbled by the might of Allah, and internalize the meaning and essence of the action of bowing in front of Allah.

Rejoicing in His Closeness

Shaykh Habib al-Jifri mentions “fill your innermost with joy and rejoice in Allah’s closeness because He has made us fit to stand before Him.” The act of bowing is the ultimate manifestation of submitting oneself to Allah and rejoicing in His closeness. What befits standing and bowing in prayer is to glorify Allah and his promise of looking after the matters of His righteous servants. 

Actions in Prayer

Every act and moment in prayer carries a significant spiritual meaning which reminds us of our absolute neediness and servitude to Allah Most High. After ruku, the words “Allah has truly heard those who praise Him” are uttered out of expansive joy at His closeness taking pride in Allah’s love. Allah has heard with the hearing of acceptance and answer and being well pleased and loving those who love Him.

Essence of Bowing

The essence “rabanna wa lakal hamd” is to understand that Allah is the center of all the praises in this existent world and all praise is from Allah, and to Allah, and by Allah. Since He is the reason behind everything in existence.

Prostration as an Act of Annihilation

Descendance for prostration with the praise of God (Allahu Akbar) is the complete annihilation of Oneself before Allah. The very idea of every act, hope, worry, and aspiration is a spiritual key to fully submitting oneself to Allah. Shaykh Habib asserts “meaning of prostration is to cast oneself down as if you have surrendered all qualities of living and cast off one’s all attributes.”

Drawing Closer to Allah

Allah says in the Quran “prostrate and draw close” since our closeness to Allah is in accordance with the primacy of our concerns. [Quran, 96:19] In prostration, the utterance of “Glory be to my lord” is to utter the glorification of Allah. [Ibid.] He is greater in His entity and attributes, actions and majesty, and perfection and mercy than what one can imagine, and He is all praise.

Conclusion

In the state of this closeness in prostration, one can feel a sense of gratitude with a sense of love and humbleness for Allah and those are the meanings that manifest in the heart. Cultivating that sense of closeness by the act of standing, bowing or prostration stirs the meaning of love and yearning, gratitude and steadfast commitment, and hope and awe in our existence.

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age. He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.