Sujūd on nose: Required or not?


Mufti Mohammad Taha Karaan


I can’t see why our madhhab says that it is mustahab and not wajib for the nose to touch the ground in sujud, where the hadith is clear that an indication was made to the nose. Can you please guide me?


The carried view of the madhhab is that the inclusion of the nose is not wajib but sunnah. In the hadith of Ibn Abbas in Bukhari the seven parts of the body on which sujud was commanded to be made includes the word jabhah (meaning forehead); together with it there was an indication of the nose.

The jurists of our madhhab interpreted this indication to mean not the mandatory (wajib) inclusion of the nose in sujud, but its inclusion as preferential. The reason for this is firstly, that the word jabhah (forehead) by itself does not denote the nose; and secondly, that the indication is a deed (fi’l) and not a spoken word (qawl). As such its inclusion does not of necessity have to be on the same level as what was indicated by word. In other words, what is ordered by a supplementary fi’l is not necessarily on the same level as what is ordered by a qawl.

Also, the running of the hand over his nose happened after placing on his forehead. This is clearly contained in the version of the hadith recorded by Nasa’i (Sunan al-Nasa’i no. 1097). The touching of the nose might therefore have been merely coincidental during the lowering of the hand after touching the forehead. It is very natural for the word “forehead” to be accompanied by an indication to the actual forehead. Saying “forehead” and then indicating the nose is quite unusual.

However, all said and done, Imam Nawawi in Sharh al-Muhadhdhab (vol. 3 p. 424) admits the strength of the proof supporting the view that makes it wajib to include the nose, and acknowledges the questionability of the explanations given by the fuqaha of the madhhab. He notes that one of the Shafi’i jurists, namely Abu Zayd al-Marwazi, narrates an alternative qawlfrom Imam Shafi’i in terms of which inclusion of the nose is wajib and not just mustahabb. Although this qawl is not very well received in terms of narration, Imam Nawawi describes it as being “strong in terms of proof”.