Islamic Months · Muharram · Q & A

Prostration on Turbah Husainiyyah (the Ground of Karbala’)

Q. Dear scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. I see that some Muslims, particularly Shiites, prostrate with their forehead on a stone from Karbala’. What is the real value of offering prayer on the ground of Karbala’? Jazakum Allah khayran.

A. Wa`alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.

None can deny the elevated status of Al-Hussein ibn `Ali radhiAllahu `anhu. Besides being the grandson of the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam, Al-Hussein was one of the great scholars among the Companions. He is also one of the best of Muslims in this life and in the Hereafter. He was a sincere worshiper, known for his bravery and graciousness. However, some people go to extremes in their love for Al-Hussein so that they exaggerate in glorifying him, though there is nothing in Islamic Shari`ah that proves or supports this.

“Turbah Husainiyyah”, as the Shiites call it, is the ground of Karbala’ in Iraq where the Prophet’s beloved grandson, Al-Hussein ibn `Ali was martyred. The land of Karbala’ has a special virtue in the sight of the Shiites. They consider it as sacred as a sanctuary.

One of the prominent members of the Shiites says about it: “Turbah Husainiyyah is one of the sacred places that has been given special virtue by Allah Almighty, as reported in many ahadeeth of the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam and his household (peace and blessings be upon them all)!”

The Imamite Shiite, one of the sects of Shiites, nevertheless, regard prostration onTurbah Husainiyyah as obligatory but not to the extent that one’s prayer is invalidated if he does not prostrate on it.

The prominent Shiite scholar, Sheikh al-Hakim, states: “Prostration on Turbah Husainiyyah is better than prostration anywhere else. However, it is not obligatory, as what is obligatory is to prostrate on earth.”

Allah has given a special merit to Muslims that He has permitted them to perform prayer wherever they exist, as reported in the hadeeth reported by al-Bukhari on the authority of Jabir ibn `Abdullah, who quoted the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam as saying,

“I have been given five things which were not given to any one else before me. Allah made me victorious by awe (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month’s journey. The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a thing to perform tayammum, therefore anyone of my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due. The booty has been made halal (lawful) for me yet it was not lawful for anyone else before me. I have been given the right of intercession (on the Day of Resurrection). Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation only, but I have been sent to all mankind.”

Al-Manawi said in his book Fat-hul-Qadir: “This means that a Muslim can offer prayer or build a mosque anywhere. So, there is no evidence that it is better to pray on the ground of Karbala’. It is a matter of heresy to ascribe such sacredness to that place. It is an innovation that people must abandon. This does not mean that praying on a piece of the ground of Karbala’ is nullified. Rather, it is valid despite the innovation of that belief.”

The eminent Muslim scholar and renowned Da`iyah Sheikh `Abdul Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef states:

It is impermissible for Muslims to claim sacredness of a certain place, the ground of Karbala’, without evidence of that. In addition, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has given a special merit to the Muslim nation that He made available for them to perform prayer when its time is due, no matter where they are, and also that they can use the earth for purification (tayammum). So claiming special sacredness and virtue for the ground of Karbala’ is no more than a heresy that would affect the fundamentals of Shari`ah in a negative way and distort the Islamic creed. In other words, no one should ascribe special virtues to a place without solid evidence from the Qur’an or Sunnah. Hence, people must refrain from that false belief.

The compilers of the famous collections of Hadeeth (known as Sunnan) state that when my forefather, `Ali Zayn Al-`Abedeen ibn Al-Hussein (may Allah be pleased with him), once went to some place in Iraq , the people there glorified him too much. Hence, he said to them,

“Love us for the bond of Islam, not as people (before Islam) used to do (worship) with idols.”

That is to say, holiness and glory are due to Allah alone. This indicates that exaggeration in loving the Prophet’s household is a heresy of the Shiites and has nothing to do with Islamic teachings.

Published with the permission of OnIslam.net. We express our gratitude to them for allowing us to put their work on our blog. May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala bless them for this generosity.

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