Sajdah al-tilaawat

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that when, the son of Adam recites the Ayat of sajdah (prostration) and then falls down in prostration, the Satan goes into seclusion and weeps and says: ‘Alas, and in the narration of Abu Kuraib the words are: Woe unto me, the son of Adam was commanded to prostrate, and he prostrated and Paradise was entitled to him and I was commanded to prostrate, but I refused and am doomed to Hell.’ (Sahih Muslim, Book #001, Hadith #0144)


There are fifteen places in the Quran where we should perform Sajdah al-tilaawat (prostration of recitation) when reciting them. It was reported from ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) recited to him fifteen verses in the Quran where one should prostrate, three of which are in al-Mufassal and two in Surah al-Hajj. It was reported by Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah, al-Haakim and al-Daaraqutni, and classed as hasan by al-Mundhiri and al-Nawawi. The fifteen aayat are (interpretation of the meanings) :

Sajdah # 1 : Juz’ 9 : Surah Al A’raf (7) Ayat 206
“Those who are near to thy Lord, disdain not to do Him worship: They celebrate His praises, and bow down before Him.”

Sajdah # 2 : Juz’ 13 : Surah Al Ra’d (13) Ayat 15
“Whatever beings there are in the heavens and the earth do prostrate themselves to Allah (acknowledging subjection),- with good-will or in spite of themselves: so do their shadows in the morning and evenings.”

Sajdah # 3 : Juz’ 14 : Surah Al Nahl (16) Ayat 50
“They all revere their Lord, high above them, and they do all that they are commanded.”

Sajdah # 4 : Juz’ 15 : Surah Al Isra’ (17) Ayat 109
“They fall down on their faces in tears, and it increases their (earnest) humility.”

Sajdah # 5 : Juz’ 16 : Surah Maryam (19) Ayat 58
“Those were some of the prophets on whom Allah did bestow His Grace,- of the posterity of Adam, and of those who We carried (in the Ark) with Noah, and of the posterity of Abraham and Israel of those whom We guided and chose. Whenever the Signs of (Allah) Most Gracious were rehearsed to them, they would fall down in prostrate adoration and in tears.”

Sajdah # 6 : Juz’ 18 : Surah Al Hajj (22) Ayat 18
“Seest thou not that to Allah bow down in worship all things that are in the heavens and on earth,- the sun, the moon, the stars; the hills, the trees, the animals; and a great number among mankind? But a great number are (also) such as are fit for Punishment: and such as Allah shall disgrace,- None can raise to honour: for Allah carries out all that He wills.”

Sajdah # 7 : Juz’ 18 : Surah Al Hajj (22) Ayat 77
“O ye who believe! bow down, prostrate yourselves, and adore your Lord; and do good; that ye may prosper.”

Sajdah # 8 : Juz’ 19 : Surah Al Furqan (25) Ayat 60
“When it is said to them, “Adore ye (Allah) Most Gracious!”, they say, “And what is (Allah) Most Gracious? Shall we adore that which thou commandest us?” And it increases their flight (from the Truth).”

Sajdah # 9 : Juz’ 19 : Surah Al Naml (27) Ayat 26
“God!- there is no god but He!- Lord of the Throne Supreme!”

Sajdah # 10 : Juz’ 21 : Surah Al Sajdah (32) Ayat 15
“Only those believe in Our Signs, who, when they are recited to them, fall down in adoration, and celebrate the praises of their Lord, nor are they (ever) puffed up with pride.”

Sajdah # 11 : Juz’ 23 : Surah Sad (38) Ayat 24
“(David) said: “He has undoubtedly wronged thee in demanding thy (single) ewe to be added to his (flock of) ewes: truly many are the partners (in business) who wrong each other: Not so do those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and how few are they?” …and David gathered that We had tried him: he asked forgiveness of his Lord, fell down, bowing (in prostration), and turned (to Allah in repentance).”

Sajdah # 12 : Juz’ 24 : Surah Fussilat (41) Ayat 38
“But if the (Unbelievers) are arrogant, (no matter): for in the presence of thy Lord are those who celebrate His praises by night and by day. And they never flag (nor feel themselves above it).”

Sajdah # 13 : Juz’ 27 : Surah Al Najm (53) Ayat 62
“But fall ye down in prostration to Allah, and adore (Him)!”

Sajdah # 14 : Juz’ 30 : Surah Al Inshiqaq (84) Ayat 21
“And when the Quran is read to them, they fall not prostrate,”

Sajdah # 15 : Juz’ 30 : Surah Al Alaq (96) Ayat 19
“Nay, heed him not: But bow down in adoration, and bring thyself the closer (to Allah)!”

Questions regarding Sujood al-tilaawah:

Q. 1) I know when and how to perform Sujood al-tilaawah, but I do not know WHY we perform it. Please advise.

A. 1) Every verse of prostration contains a command to prostrate or severe censure of those who refuse to–thus, believers rush to fulfill this command and to distinguish themselves as those who submit to Allah. The basis of a Divine command is that it establishes an firm duty. And Allah alone gives success.

Q. 2) If the Ayat of Sajdah is heard while listening to Tape/Radio, is it necessary to perform the Sujood al-tilaawah?

A. 2) If the Ayat of Sajdah is heard on tape recorder or played on radio, Sujood al-tilaawah is not necessary. If the recitation is live on Radio, Sujood al-tilaawah is necessary.

Q. 3) During the month of Ramadan the mosque speakers are used in the Taraweeh. The voice is also heard outside the mosque. As the whole Quran is recited in the Taraweeh and obviously Ayat of Sajdah are also recited. Now a person sitting at his home hears those Ayat, is he going to perform those Sujood al-tilaawah?

A. 3) Yes.

Q. 4) What is the correct way to do Sujood al-tilaawah? Do we need to say Takbir and give salaam to both sides like in salat?

A.4) It is prescribed to say takbeer when prostrating, because evidence to that effect is proven in the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him). 

But if the sujood al-tilaawah is done during prayer, then it is obligatory to say takbeer when going down and when coming up, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to do that in every movement of the prayer, and he said: “Pray as you have seen me praying.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari in his Saheeh, 595). The same dhikr and du’aa’s are prescribed in sujood al-tilaawah as in the prostration during prayer, because of the general meaning of the ahaadeeth concerning that. Among these du’aa’s are: 

Allaahumma laka sajadtu wa bika aamantu wa laka aslamtu, sajada wajhi lilladhi khalaqahu wa sawwarahu wa shaqqa sam’ahu wa basarahu bi hawlihi wa quwwatihi, tabaarak Allaahu ahsan al-khaaliqeen (O Allaah, unto You I have prostrated and in You I have believed, and unto You I have submitted. My face has prostrated before Him Who created it and fashioned it, and brought forth its faculties of hearing and seeing by His Might and Power. Blessed is Allaah, the Best of creators). 

This was narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh, 1290 from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him); he said that he used to say this dhikr during the prostration of prayer, according to the hadeeth of ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him). 

We have mentioned above that it is prescribed to say the same in sujood al-tilaawah as in the prostration in prayer. It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to make du’aa’ when he did sujood al-tilaawah, and he would say:  

Allaahumma aktub li biha ‘indaka ajran wa’mhu ‘anni biha wizran waj’alha li ‘indaka dukhran wa taqabbalha minni kama taqabbaltaha min ‘abdika Dawood (O Allaah, record for me a reward for this (prostration), and remove from me a sin. Save it for me and accept it from me just as You accepted it from Your slave Dawood).” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 528). 

What is obligatory is to say “Subhaana Rabbiy al-A’laa (Glory be to my Lord Most High), as is obligatory during the prostration of prayer. Any additional du’aa’ or dhikr is mustahabb. 

Sujood al-tilaawah, whether during prayer or outside of it, is Sunnah, not obligatory, because evidence to that effect was narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), in the hadeeth of Zayd ibn Thaabit and in the hadeeth of ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him). 

Performing the Sujood al-tilaawah is Sunnah and Shaytaan cries and runs away from the person performing it.

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