We are only allowed to prostrate to Allah (swt) otherwise we are committing shirk. Then why were the Angels told to make sajda / go down to sujood for Adam (AS)?

Also Yousuf (AS) saw a dream that the planets were prostrating to him which turned out that his brothers prostrated to him.


Well, Sujod/prostration wasn't Haram/prohibited for previous nations. But it was allowed as glorifying not as an act of worship. You can read

ورفع ابويه على العرش وخروا له سجدا وقال يا ابت هذا تاويل رؤياي من قبل قد جعلها ربي حقا وقد احسن بي اذ اخرجني من السجن وجاء بكم من البدو من بعد ان نزغ الشيطان بيني وبين اخوتي ان ربي لطيف لما يشاء انه هو العليم الحكيم

And he raised his parents upon the throne, and they bowed to him in prostration. And he said, "O my father, this is the explanation of my vision of before. My Lord has made it reality. And He was certainly good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you [here] from bedouin life after Satan had induced [estrangement] between me and my brothers. Indeed, my Lord is Subtle in what He wills. Indeed, it is He who is the Knowing, the Wise.

Surat Yusuf - Verse 100

As of why, I think we shouldn't bother asking Why Allah -SW- did this or that, rather we should submit to Allah's orders. But we can say that Sujod/prostration to Adam -AS- was because Allah -SW- wanted to show Adam's place to everyone.

If Angels made Sujod/prostration to Adam, then Humans/Sons of Adam shouldn't lower there place and follow Shaitan. And Allah knows best.

  • For the prostration of the Family of Yusuf most scholars say this was a prostration for thanking God so they (Yusuf, his brothers and Father etc.) did Sujud for Allah not for Yusuf! See for example here elsharawy.ebnmaryam.com/sharawy2/yousef/100.htm – Medi1Saif Oct 21 '15 at 14:41
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    @MediSaif Thanks for your reply, but actually the link you referred to confirms that they did Sujud/prostration to Yusuf with the intent of gratitude -which was allowed- and NOT as an act of worship. Moreover the author here mentions Yusuf's dream as an evidence that they actually did Sujud/prostration to him. Here are more links: link1 , link2 , link3 , link4 – Ahmed Oct 22 '15 at 14:00

From Shia references, Book Ihtijaj:

1.قال امیر المومنین علی (ع) إن سجودهم له لم يكن سجود طاعة أنهم عبدوا آدم من دون الله عز وجل ، ولكن اعترافا بالفضيلة

From Imam Ali: Their prostration was not a prostration of obedience, it wasn't that they are worshiping Adam and not Allah, rather it was their recognition of his virtue.


  1. قال الصادق عليه‌ السلام : « إنّ من سجد بأمر الله فقد سجد لله ، فكان سجوده لله إذا كان عن أمر الله

From Imam Sadiq: Indeed whoever who prostrates by the command of Allah has prostrated to (worshiped) Allah. Their prostration was for Allah when it was commanded by Allah.

  • Nice traditions you pointed out. and they look constructive and helpful. / Is the reference of the second tradition from the book Ihtijaj too? – اللهم صل علی محمد و آل محمد Oct 20 '15 at 15:38
  • There appears a small contradiction between both statements, but it could be cleared up as follows: the first statement refers to Adam (peace be upon him) as the one for whom they obey (which is not the case as the statement says), while it's Allah they obeyed by doing prostration which the 2nd statement indicates! And that's the point! – Medi1Saif Oct 21 '15 at 14:46
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    @MediSaif Good question! I am not sure but could it be that Sujud to a virtuous thing,without the intention of worshiping itself rather worshiping ALLAH by following his command is a good thing? I mean نیت is very very important. You can make a huge sacrifice to show off (ریا) or you can make a small sacrifice for the sake of Allah. So niyat is important is key, here niyat is عبودیه! And also if Allah is commanding you to something...sometimes it may be hard to fathom ( definitely not without logic but just something that our Aql can't reach easily) as for the story for Ibrahim and Ismael. – Thaqalain Oct 21 '15 at 22:53

It may an act of veneration and drawing closer to the one to whom one prostrates. This kind of prostration is worship, and should only be done for Allaah, according to the laws of the Prophets.

The second type is a kind of greeting and honouring a person. This is the kind of prostration which Allaah commanded the angels to do in the case of Adam, so they prostrated to him as an act of honouring him. It was an act of worship towards Allaah on their part, because they were obeying His command to prostrate to Adam.

The prostration of Yoosuf’s parents and brothers was also a prostration of greeting and honouring, which was permissible according to the law (of Allaah) at that time. But according to the sharee’ah brought by the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), it is not permissible to prostrate to anyone at all except Allaah. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If I were to have commanded anyone to prostrate to anyone else, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade Mu’aadh to prostrate to him when he (Mu’aadh) said that the People of the Book prostrated to the great ones among them, and he mentioned the hadeeth quoted above. The prohibition in this sharee’ah against prostrating to anyone at all except Allaah is an aspect of its perfection in achieving true Tawheed. It is the perfect sharee’ah whose perfection is manifested in all its rulings. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” [al-Maa’idah 5:3]


Assalamualaikum wr wb. Prostration is the highest of honour and not an act of worship according to the Quran. But niyat/intention is counted. If the niyat/intention of a prostration (or "ANY ACT" FOR THAT MATTER) is worship then it should be done to Allah alone. But otherwise also according to Hadith, "It is NOT APPROPRIATE for a human to prostrate to another". [Note:This hadith is misquoted by *munafiqs as "IT IS FORBIDDEN for a human to prostrate to another". (*Munafiq = One who changes the meaning of Ayah and Hadith to that which suits them)]. A woman may prostrate to her Husband if she desires but it is not an obligation for her to do so as described in the same Hadith. Prophet (PBUH) said "IF I WERE TO COMMAND A HUMAN TO PROSTRATE TO ANOTHER THEN I WOULD HAVE COMMANDED WOMEN TO PROSTRATE TO THEIR HUSBANDS". Rasool Allah could have simply said "I" Forbid (since "Allah" does not) the prostration by one Human to another from now on. But instead he chose to say "If I were to COMMAND...". And Thank God the Prophet did not COMMAND women to prostrate to their Husbands or else all those who wouldn't prostrate to their Husbands would become dwellers of Hell of course.

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    This answer misses the point. – Medi1Saif Feb 12 '19 at 6:14

Prostrate was to Allah; not to Adam. It was for Adam. Allah said to do sijda (to Allah) for (making) Adam, a "Superb" creation. Similarly, Yousaf's brothers bowed to Allah. The Arabic word in Quran is "lee" meaning "for", it is not "to"!

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    Welcome to Islam.SE! Please check out a tour of our site to learn how this site works, and please cite sources and thoroughly answer the question asked. That word/prefix can mean either "to" or "for," and I fail to see how prostrating to Allah would be "for Adam" in any sense. Also, does this not go against 1400 years of interpretive history? And pretty much every translator ever? – Alex Strasser Jan 11 '20 at 1:31
  • You are the first person saying so what's your proof? The qur'an doesn't support it. – Medi1Saif Jan 13 '20 at 13:28

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