Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam
Moroccan players, after their historic 2–0 win against Belgium in the FIFA World Cup 2022, fell into prostration on the pitch of the Al Thumama Stadium in Qatar, celebrating their victory. The scenes of the players falling into sajdah (prostration) were spread and discussed across social media.
But why are Muslim players celebrating in this way?
It is common to see one’s favourite football player, or team, celebrate their goal. Some players, with great enthusiasm, slide on the pitch, leaving skid marks; some dance; and some players huddle whilst others decide to take their shirts off. Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably one of the best football players along with Lionel Messi, is known for his “Siuu” celebration; you may have seen fans of Ronaldo celebrate in the same way when they score a goal in a friendly game at your local park. Regardless, some argue that no football game is “complete” without a goal celebration. Goal or victory celebrations, fans often say, are a way by which football players connect with fans.
However, Muslim players often fall into prostration and decide to connect with God as they score and gain victory.
Prostration: The pinnacle of humility
Muslims attribute all their success to Allah, for they believe it is He who bestows man with the victory he makes efforts for. When Muslims fall into prostration, they thank God, acknowledging that He was the one who bestowed them with the faculties and strength to attain their victory; whatever the aim may be, so long as it is pious. The Holy Quran states, “And that man will have nothing but what he strives for.” (Surah an-Najm, Ch.53: V.40)
After years of exile, when the Holy Prophetsa entered back into Mecca as a conqueror with 10,000 companions, instead of holding his head high as some might do during such a triumph, the Holy Prophetsa was seen bowing his head out of humility as he rode his camel with his beard touching the camel’s back. This is true humility and the realisation that victory is from God alone. This is the example true Muslims attempt to follow.
The Holy Prophetsa said that man is closest to his Lord during prayer when he is in the prostration position. (Sahih Muslim, hadith no. 482)
Prostration (sajdah) is one of the various postures a Muslim is commanded to do during prayer.
The Promised Messiahas has explained:
“The various postures of the Salat demonstrate respect, humility, and meekness. In Qiyam (standing posture) the worshipper stands with his arms folded as a slave stands respectfully before his master and king. In Ruku‘ (bowing) the worshipper bends down in humility. The climax of humility is reached in Sajdah (prostration), which indicates extreme helplessness.” (Speeches to Jalsa Salana, 1906, pp. 6-8)
Prostration of gratification commonly referred to as sajda shukr by Muslims is when a person, overwhelmed with emotions and gratitude, falls into prostration at the threshold of God and expresses their immense gratefulness to Allah. Muslims do this to show all their success is due to the blessing of God and not one’s faculties. This helps man remain humble.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, explained:
“[…] it is necessary and incumbent on a believer to perform prostrations of gratitude before God Almighty whenever they are blessed with an achievement that God did not let their effort go in vain. The result of this gratitude will be that a person will increase in their love of God Almighty and grow in faith.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 1, p. 153)
Recently, a child asked Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa why there were various postures and movements in the Islamic prayer.
“Allah the Exalted has taught Muslims the perfect way to worship; first, you stand up and fold your hands like this […] Then another state arises in the heart to ask Him, then you move like this and bow down, thus the state of ruku‘ comes, then you stand up anxiously and say, ‘O Allah, listen to my supplication’, then, just as a man is sometimes very desperate and very anxious, he stands up and asks someone [in the same way you] then stand up and say sami‘Allahu li man hamidah [Allah listens to the one, who praises Him]. Then you are overcome by a state of anxiety again and you suddenly go into sajdah and pray to Allah Almighty again, crying fervently. Then you sit up and then you go into sajdah, then you stand up once again and pray, then you sit down for at-tahiyyat and offer supplications; and then you say the salaam. Allah the Exalted has taught us the different postures for salat because they are different expressions of a person’s humility.” (Al Hakam, Ahmadi children should become good role models to preach to the world: Atfal from Sweden meet Huzoor, Issue 245, p. 1)
So whenever you see Muslim players celebrating their victory in prostration, know it is how Muslims connect with Allah and attribute all success to Him.