Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question: My sister was taken to a saint’s shrine (darbar) when she was small. She said that they all prostrated (sajda) and she didn’t know what was going on and she prostrated too. Is prostrating out of reverence (Sujud al-Ta`dhim) to other than Allah impermissible (haram)? Is she sinful for doing this? Are they disbelievers (kafirs) now and will they be in Hell forever?
Answer: In the Name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful.
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.
It is a foundational belief of Islam that worship is only directed to Allah Most High. This is a direct implication of the statement of faith: la ilaha illa’l Llah — there is no god but God, whose meaning is, “There is none worthy of worship but God.” [Bajuri, Tuhftat al-Murid `ala Jawharat al-Tawhid]
Prostration is an act of worship, and therefore impermissible for other than Allah. Allah Most High says, “Do not prostrate to the sun or the moon. Rather, only prostrate to God, who created them–if you indeed are true in worshipping Him.” [Qur’an, 41.37]
A Matter of Consensus
There is scholarly consensus that it is not permitted to prostrate to other than Allah. Without the intention of worship it is not outright disbelief (kufr), though it remains one of the greatest of sins. The adults would bear the sin until they repent.
Imam Ahmad Raza Khan has written a treatise entitled al-Zubdatul Zakiyyah li Tahrimi Sujud at-Tahiyyah concerning the prostration of reverence. In this treatise he has clearly shown with reference and evidence from the Qur’an and Hadith that:
1. The prostration of worship (sajda al-`ibada), for other than Allah, is undeniably disbelief (kufr);
2. The prostration of reverence or greeting (tahiyya), for other than Allah, is unlawful and a major sin.
And Allah knows best.