Al-Salam ‘Alaykum, this is Syed Ali Imran – and you are listening to the Forties podcast, brought to you by Mizan Institute.
This is episode 27 – Sincerity of the Limbs
Hadith #26: Imam Kāẓim (a) says: ‘Alī (a) said regarding the verse of the Qurān:
وَأَنَّ الْمَسَاجِدَ لِلَّهِ فَلَا تَدْعُوا مَعَ اللَّهِ أَحَدًا
[72:18] And that the masājid (places of prostration) are for Allah, so do not invoke with Allah anyone.
The limbs used to prostrate on the ground are solely for Allah – so do not invoke anyone else alongside Allah (swt).
As per this narration, the word masājid is a reference to the 7 limbs meant to be placed on the ground while in prostration (2 palms, 2 knees, 2 toes, and forehead). This narration is making a very crucial point, the Imam is saying these limbs are for Allah (swt) – meaning, what you do with these limbs, how you utilize them, all of it has to be for the contentment of Allah (swt), and all of that is manifested in the single act of prostration where all seven limbs are placed in front of God in a state of humility. This is why the Imam then says, do not invoke anyone else alongside Allah (swt), do not seek the contentment and pleasure of other humans.
In episode 24 we said that associating partners with Allah (swt) in the way that idol-worshipers do, which is in the very act of worship itself, for example by prostrating to an idol; such an act is an act of disbelief and literally polytheism – even certain laws are applicable to such disbelievers. However, if one performs an act, where the practical act is legitimate, but the intention was to show off, then this is also prohibited and invalidates the worship – as it is also a polytheistic act. It appears that the verse cited in this narration from Surah 72 is a reference to both of these types of polytheism – idol worshipping and as well as showing off.
Showing off in one’s worship is also of two types; sometimes the actual act is being done out of riyā’ – so someone will pray or fast only because they want to show off – if there was no one to show off in front of, they wouldn’t bother fasting or praying. But another type of showing off is in the style in which you perform that worship – so they may begin praying for the sake of Allah (swt), but then during their prayers they decide to stretch it so people think, wow, what a religious and pious person – his ṣālāt is so long and deep. This is also wrong and problematic as one is showing off.
Yes, if someone decides to lengthen their ṣalāt, not to show off, but so people can learn and observe the etiquettes of prayers, or perhaps he is leading the congregational prayers and he slows down so people can reach him in congregation, these motives themselves are Godly and not an act of show-off, he is actually getting people close to God and more in touch with their prayers through this, these are all desired by Allah (swt) and hence these do not ruin the act of worship.
In the next episode we will read a narration from Imam Sadiq (a) in which he explains how sincerity is a necessary condition for interacting with Allah (swt).
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Sayyid Ali Imran studied in the seminary of Qom from 2012 to 2021, while also concurrently obtaining a M.A in Islamic Studies from The Islamic College of London in the summer of 2018. He continued his seminary studies in legal theory, jurisprudence and philosophy, eventually attending the advanced kharij of Usul and Fiqh in 2018. He is also a regular instructor for Mizan Institute.