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Last Updated: 2013/05/15
Summary of question
Did the Holy Prophet (pbuh) prostrate on the Turbat of Karbalah?
Did the Prophet (pbuh) perform prostration or Sajdah, on Imam Husain\'s Turbah, the clay obtained from Karbala? If they say, “yes”, we will say “We swear by the Lord of the Ka’bah that it is false.” And if the say that they did not, we will say, “If it is so, then we would ask as to whether they are more guided than the Prophet (pbuh).” And we must know that according to their narrations, Gabriel brought the Prophet (pbuh) a fistful of the soil of Karbala.
Concise answer
According to Shia jurisprudence, firstly, Sajda should be performed on earth, and on those things which are not edible nor worn, and on things which grow from earth (e.g. wood and leaves of trees). The Holy Prophet (pbuh) also performed Sajda on soil and other things which are considered to be a part of earth such as sand, clay, stone, plants (wood) etc. not on carpet, rug, leather and plastic materials.  The Turbah of Imam Hussein (a.s.) on which Sajda is valid and which has superiority over other soils and things is one of the manifestations of earth (or soil). Hence, Sajda is allowed on it.
Secondly, since the blood of the best of God’s servants, those who sacrificed themselves for the sake of God to protect Islam, was shed in Karbala, it soil enjoys superiority over other soils. For this reason, in the Shia school of jurisprudence, Sajda on this soil is recommended and more virtuous. In this regard, there is a widely quoted narration in Sunni sources according to which Gabriel brought the Holy Prophet of Islam a quantity of the soil of Karbala.
Detailed Answer
The lexical meaning of sujud is humility[1]. In holy Islamic law, it means to put a part of the forehead on the ground without any obstacle between the forehead and the ground.[2] Sajda is the best position for you to thank and praise your Lord. The Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh) says: “No servant has acquired proximity with anything more virtuous than a hidden Sajda.”[3]
Aisha narrates form the Prophet of God (pbuh) that he said: “Earth was made a place of prostration and a means of ablution for me.”[4] According to this hadith, Sajda on earth is valid and it does not make a difference whether it is the soil of Medina, Mecca or Iraq, Karbala or any other places in the world.
In the early period of Islam, the mosques did not have carpets. Almost all Muslims performed Sajda on soil, dust, sand or pebbles which covered the floors of the mosques. Not only the Prophet (pbuh) did not forbid Muslims from performing Sajda on such things but he, on the contrary, forbade them from performing Sajda on anything other than soil (cloth, dress and turban).[5]  Therefore, performing Sajda on earth, stone, sand, pebbles and straw mat was a practice of the Great Messenger (pbuh) and there is no one to deny permissibility of Sajda on soil as all Muslim religions consider such a Sadja as valid.
When it comes to the soil of Karbala, Shia maintains that Sajda on the soil of Karbala is recommended, because on this land the Holy Prophet’s noble grandson, the Master of the Youth of Paradise, Imam Hussein bin Ali (peace be upon them) sacrificed his life to protect the religion of God and its laws.  He was martyred there along with his children and companions. There are reports that Ali bin Al-Hussein, Imam Sajjad (a.s.) and Imam Sadiq (a.s.) performed Sajda on the sacred Turbah of Imam Hussein (a.s.).[6] After them, Shiites following the Infallible Imams (a.s.) consider prostration on this soil to be better.[7]
Obviously, the Imams who prostrated on the soil of Karbala lived after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (a.s.) that took place about fifty years after the demise of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). However, since the Prophet (pbuh) did not perform Sajda on the soil of Karbala, it does not mean we should not do Sajda nor should we consider the Sajda on it to be virtuous either. The question is: Isn’t the soil of Karbala a part of earth and isn’t it considered to be soil? If it is, then Sajda must definitely be valid on it. In addition, there are narrations in both Shia and Sunni sources which indicate the importance and favorability of the soil of Karbala to God.
Both Shia and Sunni sources have narrated that Gabriel brought the soil of Karbala to the Messenger of Allah.
It has been narrated in Sunni sources from Umm Salmah that she said: “One day the Messenger of Allah (a.s.) told me to stand at the door and not to let anyone to enter.” Umm Salama further says, “I was standing at the door. Hussein came on and wanted to enter. I wanted to prevent him from entering the house but I could not. The boy went to his grandfather. I said to the Prophet (pbuh), “May I be sacrificed to you, you just told me not to let anyone enter the house but your son managed to escape and I could not prevent him.”
Umm Salama says to the Prophet of God (pbuh), “When I was at the gate I saw something in your hand and your tears flowing and this child was sitting on your stomach.”
“Yes, Gabriel came to me and told me that my 'Ummah will kill this son of mine, and he brought me some of the soil of that place (where he will be killed). This is that soil.”[8] This narration has been narrated in different Sunni sources with little variation.[9]
Shia has also narrated this tradition. It has been narrated from Imam Baqir (a.s.) that he said: “Later, Gabriel brought the soil on which Hussein (a.s.) was killed to the Prophet (pbuh) and that soil is now with us.”[10]
Therefore, according to sources of both Shia and Sunni, the land and soil of Karbala are very important and Sajda on its soil is more virtuous and meritorious than the soil of other lands.
Related index:
1. Sajda on Soil, question 1892 (site: 2467)
2. Muslims Doing Sajda on Stone and Ka’bah, question 1065 (site: 1130)

[1] Raghib, Isfahani, Mufradat Alfaz al-Qur’an, p. 396, first edition, dar al-Qalam, Damascus, 1416 A.H.
[2] Ibn Athir, al-Nehayah fi Gharib al-Hadith, vol.2, p. 213, fourth edition, Ismailiyan Institute, Qom, 1364 (1985).
[3] Majidi, Ghulam Hussein, Nahjul Fasahah, vol.1, p. 461, first edition, Ansariyan Institute, Qom, 1379.
[4] Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Behar al-Anwar, vol.8, p. 38; Bukhari, Sahih, vol.1, p. 113, Dar al-Fikr, 1401 A.H; Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad, vol.2, p. 240; Sajistani, Ibn Ash’ath, Sunan Abi Dawood, vol.1, p. 118, first edition, Dar al-Fikr, 1410 A.H. and many other sources.
[5] Allamah Majlisi, Behar al-Anwar, vol.46, p. 79, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah, Tehran, second edition, 1363 A.H.; Deylami, Hasan bin Muhammad, Irshad al-Qulub Ela al-Sawab, vol.1,p. 115, Al-Sharif al-Razi, Qom, first edition, 1412 A.H.
[6] Allamah Majlisi, Behar al-Anwar, vol.46, p. 79, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah, Tehran, second edition, 1363 A.H.; Deylami, Hasan bin Muhammad, Irshad al-Qulub Ela al-Sawab, vol.1,p. 115, Al-Sharif al-Razi, Qom, first edition, 1412 A.H.
[7] Imam Khomeini, Tawzih al-Masail (with annotation), researcher and editor: Bani Hashemi Khomeini, Sayyid Muhammad Hussein, vol.1, p. 587, issue No. 1083, Islamic Publications Office, Qom, eighth edition, 1424 A.H.
[8] Tabarani, al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, vol.3, p. 109, second edition,  Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, 1404 A.H.
[9] Muttaqi, Hindi, Kanzul Ummal, vol.13, p. 657, al-Resalah Institute, Beirut, 1409 A.H.; Ishaq bin Rahwayh, Musnad in Rahwayh, vol.4, p. 131, first edition, Maktabat al-Iman, Medina, 1412, A.H; and other sources.
[10] Behar al-Anwar, vol.45, p. 231, Shaykh Tusi, Amali, first edition, Dar al-Thaqafah, qom, 1414 A.H.
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