Explainer: What was that “Muslim Prayer” KC Chiefs Husain Abdullah did after his touchdown?

“If I get a pick, I’m going to prostrate before God in the end zone,” Abdullah said. (1)

Husain-AbdullahHusain Abdullah, Kansas City Chiefs safety, intercepted Patriot’s Quarterback Tom Brady’s pass. Rushing 39 yards to the end zone, he dropped to his knees in what many media outlets called “a Muslim prayer.” Thought to be celebrating at first, Abdullah was yellow flagged for “excessive celebration.” This drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which was quickly retracted. Players routinely gesture, pray, and thank God after scoring. Tim Tebow, native of Jacksonville FL and former Denver Broncos quarterback, made prayer famous by praying on one knee after scoring; Tebowing quickly became an internet meme with thousands of imitators.

As evidence to Husain Abdullah’s gracious nature and refusal to play the victim, when asked he thought the flag may not have been for prostration and posited that it may have been for sliding into the end zone.

Was the Referee’s call discriminatory?

Muslim youth, idolizing Husain Abdullah’s sportsmanship and love of the game, erupted online at the call. Many others agreed, saying they saw the flag as a slight against religion in general and against someone who merely “prayed differently” in specific. This could not be further than the truth. Most of us (myself included) are unaware that the NFL has changed celebration rules several times, with the most drastic changes happening 2013-2014 off season. (2)yellow_flag_nfl

Despite the Refs call that Abdullah’s slide-then-prayer was excessive celebration, NFL Spokesperson Michael Signora disagreed. He said that Abdullah “should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct following his fourth quarter touchdown.” In an email to NBC’s ProFootBallTalk he quoted Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d) which states that “players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground.” Signora continued by saying that “a player who goes to the ground as part of religious expression” is not to be flagged and “…as a result, there should have been no penalty on the play.” (3)

Excessive or religious, when you are running that fast how else to safely transition into a prostration other than sliding? While the Ref’s call was wrong, I personally do not feel it was discriminatory. This is probably the first time this has ever been done in professional US sports and the Ref probably has no idea what he was witnessing. Someone forward NFL refs a copy of this explainer :).

But what exactly was Abdullah doing?

Mosque_sajdaAnd why would anyone prostrate when they make a touchdown? Prostration is probably the most recognizable aspect of Muslim prayer, constantly depicted in TV, Movies, and even cartoons. Muslims pray five times a day, placing their head on the ground in prostration at least 34 times or more during the day.

Why do Muslims bow to the ground in prostration, placing face, hands, and knees to the ground? Numerous verses of the Quran command that prostration be included in prayer. “Oh you who beleive! Bow, prostrate, and worship your Lord and do good so that you will be successful.” The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is recorded as saying “The closest a servant will be to his Lord is when he is in prostration.”(4) Muslim scholars commented on this saying that when a believer prostrates his head to the ground, he is farther from self-aggrandizement and closer to his Lord. Our physical state has a direct effect on our character and perspective, so at the very moment when we achieve a high point in life, we throw ourselves into a state of humility and thanks. (5)

“Prostration of gratitude”

God says in the Quran “If you thank me, then I will only increase you.” (6)

wahab_riaz_sajda

Wahab Riaz prostrates out of thanks after bowling out Khan.*

The “Muslim prayer” that Abdullah performed is called “A prostration of gratitude,” known in Arabic as “Sajdat Shukr.” Records of the Prophet Muhammad’s life, known as Hadith, record that whenever he was given good news that pleased him “He would fall prostrate.”(7) While not well known in US sports, around the world Muslim athletes have been doing this for years.

Not one of the five daily prayers, it is a display of gratitude shown at a time of intense joy and cheerfulness. Like the prostration done during prayer, we give recognition to God Almighty that it was His blessings, not our ability, that allowed us to obtain what we’ve been blessed with. It can be done because a person is pleased that something good happened or that something bad was averted. There are no specific litanies or invocations made during the “prostration of gratitude” except that a person thanks God Almighty for the blessing they have attained. There are no preconditions for it, such as ablution or facing Makka; the only precondition is that one feel gratitude and the need to thank God. (8)

Having had the pleasure of meeting Husain and his brothers, I am glad to see him center stage, bringing positive expressions of faith and morals to the public eye. Hopefully “Abdullahing” will be as imitated as “Tebowing” and we’ll see generations thanking God for their blessings.
——————————————

* Shout out to @AB_Syed for helping out my clueless self re-caption the picture of Wahab Riaz prostrating, and to Ammar Mirza for catching a few typos.

(1) Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/nfl/kansas-city-chiefs/article2324330.html#storylink=cpy

(2) Section 3 Rule 12 of the NFL Player Conduct manual http://www.nfl.com/static/content/public/image/rulebook/pdfs/15_Rule12_Player_Conduct.pdf

(3) http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/09/30/nfl-says-husain-abdullah-should-not-have-been-penalized-for-praying-after-touchdown/

(4) The verse is from Quran 22:77. The hadith is recorded in Sahih Muslim (http://sunnah.com/muslim/4/245).

(5) See al-Munawi’s comments on the previous hadith in Faid al-Qadir.

(6) Quran 14:7.

(7) Recorded in Sunan Ibn Majah (http://sunnah.com/urn/1287420).

(8) See an extensive discussion on this in the Kuwait Fiqh Encyclopedia under “Sajdat al-Shukr.”

Shariah creeps onto the Washington Post (I keed)

A blog I read frequently, the Volokh Conspiracy (Eugene Volokh et al’s popular legal blog) has now moved to the Washington Post.

Volokh has serialized his article entitled “Religious Law (Especially Islamic Law) in American Courts, 66 Okla. L. Rev. 431 (2014)” for readers this week, which touches on broad aspects related to the compatibility between Islamic law and American law.

Reading this (generally very good) article, my first thought was that despite the author’s attempt to substantiate all his claims, some of them are still based on preconceived notions of what Shariah is without consideration for context and legal nuance. This to me means the door for more research and writing in the field.

My second thought was there is still a conflation of national laws and cultures with normative Islamic law by both Muslims and non-Muslims.

In the broadest sense possible, I touched on many of these topics in 2010 at a lecture hosted at Texas A&M University. You can watch it here:

How can a person be poor and still owe Zakat?

Do Poor People Pay Zakat?

As some of you may know, Zakat is one of my passions and is one of the most visited and asked about issues on my site. I use the Pubble service to field questions from readers of this site. Its a great service that I highly recommend. Occasionally, those questions deserve detailed answers or are common questions that deserve to be highlighted. The following is one of those questions.

Here’s what one reader wrote in yesterday:

so from what my mom is telling me, from what she is hearing from a some scholar, that given current value of gold/silver, if you have $400 in your savings (not the amount of income that you made), that you are eligible (or compulsory) to pay 2.5% in zakat? i’m not trying to start a fiqh fight, but my question is: what about people who themselves are in dire need, they are poor, they live off of welfare, food stamps, etc. yet Alhamdulillah at the time of paying zakat, they have like say $1000.00 in the bank, would they still be required to pay zakat? because I’m confused as to how people who in of themselves, their own nation’s standards classifies them as poor, even (these) poor people would have to pay zakat?
Also, can someone give me a simple way to understand:
a) conditions to make you eligible to pay zakat
b) conditions to make you ineligible to pay zakat
c) conditions to make you eligible to receive zakat
d) conditions to make you ineligible to receive zakat?
Do we go by the standards as set by the financial/political institutions of the nation of residence? OR do we just disregard that, and go only by the Hadith without any regard to the specific context that many of America’s poor live in today?
and tbh my intention is (hopefully) pure, because I believe that zakat has many purposes, other than purifying the donor’s wealth and giving him barakah, but to also address poverty in of itself. I do not want to see people who in of themselves are truly poor, for it to be compulsory upon them to pay zakat when they are in such a fragile situation, where every penny literally counts. and to give even 2.5% of that wealth could mean a difference.

Firstly, I think that a standard course in Zakat law would answer most of your questions. Here is a quick guide to many common Zakat questions. I usually do one yearly during Ramadan, so if you are in the Houston area it would be great if you attended. It is free and offered at local Masjids.

From what I understand from your question, you are perplexed that someone could own the minimum amount to make themselves liable for Zakat, but still be poor enough to receive Zakat. There is an essential condition that you may not be aware of, and that is the surplus wealth kept in savings (the $400 you mentioned) must be held consistently for one full calendar year.

Basically we’re asking the question: “If I have savings and spend from it, making my savings go below Nisab, do I still have to pay Zakat?” The short answer is: No, you do not have to pay Zakat if your savings go below Nisab.

If a person has savings of this amount or more for one calendar year, without ever dipping below that amount or having that amount earmarked for their on going expenses, then they will pay Zakat on that amount. While there are situations in which a person can be eligible to receive Zakat and liable to pay it (think of the concept of the working poor) they are very few and far between, given that Islamic law does not oblige a person to pay on their earnings and gross income, but only pay Zakat on their surplus savings after all expenses and other liabilities.

and Allah knows best,

Joe

Don’t see what you’re looking for here? Try our Zakat page for more information.

Is it permissible to make Salat and Salam upon the Prophet while the Imam is making the Khutba?

Speech is permissible before and after the khutbah. What about during?

Scholars of the Hanbali school of law discussed this issue in detail. Below is a summary of those discussions.

Speaking while the Imam is praying:
1- As mentioned in the hadith: “Whoever speaks during then he has done something idle, and whoever does idle acts then he has no Jumuah”, this is narrated by Ahmed from Ibn Abbas.

2- Idle speech is not permitted, what then does the madhhab say about useful, purposeful speech?
If the speech is useful but not instigated by the Imam, such as reading Quran, reviewing knowledge, or making Salat upon the Prophet? The stronger opinion is it is not permitted.

3- What if it is in response to something said by the Imam during the Khutba, such as salat due to hearing the name of the Prophet, saying Ameen to a Dua, or similar? This is sunnah to reply to, but should be done silently not loudly.

4- What if it is during the Dua at the end of the Khutbah? The stronger opinion is it is permissible, because the obligations of the khutbah have been met and it is at its end, so one can say Ameen out loud and salat upon the Prophet out loud.

4- What if one cannot hear the Imam, so he busies himself with reading Quran, reviewing knowledge, or making Salat upon the Prophet. The stronger opinion is that it is not allowed.

5- What if a person needs to warn someone of impending danger? Like a blind man who will trip, a child who will get lost, or wealth that is dropped? This is permissible, but should be done with least distrubance possible.

Contemplate the meaning of the hadith mentioned in the beginning and you’ll understand how the Madhhab contextualized the prohibition of speaking and acting by restricting it to idle and frivolous acts, not those with purpose in line with the devotional purposes of Jumuah or the preservation of general welfare.

And Allah knows best

See al-Mubdi, al-Kasshāf, al-Matālib, and al-Rawdh

image