The reason for the Disbelievers prostrating when Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) recited Surah Najm

Question

What is the reason for the disbelievers making Sajdah in the following narration?

عن أبي إسحاق، قال: سمعت الأسود، يحدث عن عبد الله، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قرأ والنجم فسجد فيها، وسجد من كان معه غير أن شيخا أخذ كفا من حصى أو تراب فرفعه إلى جبهته، وقال: يكفيني هذا قال عبد الله: لقد رأيته بعد قتل كافرا

 

Answer

These words are recorded in Sahih Muslim.Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) has recorded the narration with slight variation in the wording.

(Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 576, Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 1067)

 

Translation and explanation

Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reported that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) recited Surah Najm and made Sajdah [tilawah]. Those who were with him also prostrated except for an elderly person. He took a handful of pebbles or soil, lifted it to his forehead and said, ‘This will suffice me.’ ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said, ‘I had seen him later on, he was killed as a disbeliever.'”

 

Other versions of this Hadith state that the Muslims, Polytheists and Jinn all prostrated.

(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 1071)

 

The commentators have offered several explanations for this:

1) This was the first Surah Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) recited aloud to the Polytheists that had a Verse of Sajdah in it. The Polytheist either prostrated to their idols as the names of their idols [Lat and ‘Uzza] are mentioned in this Surah, or they prostrated unintentionally [as explained in number 2 below] or they feared acting contrary to all the Muslims who were present at the time. (Refer: Fathul Bari, Hadith: 1067 and 4863)

Other commentators have explained that some of these explanations are not free of objections and Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) has stated that the third answer is very far fetched as at that time, the Muslims were afraid of the Polytheists.

 

2) Shah Waliyullah Ad Dehlawi (rahimahullah) has explained that at that time, the truth [of Islam and Nabi sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] became manifest, thus everyone was forced to submit. However, when that moment passed, those who chose to disbelieve, disbelieved and those who chose to accept Islam, accepted.

‘Allamah Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani (rahimahullah) after citing this explanation, has stated that this is the most satisfactory answer (وهذا التأويل لا بد من المصير إليه)

(Fathul Mulhim, Hadith: 1264)

 

And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.

 

Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala

 

Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar