Sajdah or ‘Sujud’ is a unique position or stance in Muslim prayers.
Muslims are expected to perform sajdah twice in every rakaat, accounting for at least 34 sajdah every day.
We must understand the basic purpose of obligatory prayers is not to provide a rigorous course of exercise for people.
Yet, it has been increasingly recognised that it has plenty of medical advantages for the human body.
A report following research by Dr Muhammad Karim Beebani was published in the Saudi Gazette on July 7, 2000.
Prophet Mohammed mentioned in a hadith quoted by Ibn Majah that prayer is a cure for many diseases.
He clearly set out that a person who offers his prayers regularly is protected from many diseases, which he may not even know.
The position of sajdah in which the forehead touches the earth is exclusively associated with the Muslim form of prayer.
The Messenger of Allah said, “The nearest a servant comes to his Lord is when he is prostrating himself, so make supplication (in this state).”
Some compare this to the action of a faithful dog that licks his master’s toes in an act of gratitude.
Ummul Mumineen Aisha Siddiqua narrates that the Prophet used to prolong the prostration to such an extent that one could recite fifty verses of the Holy Quran before he would lift his head (Bukhari).
In hadiths, the Prophet advised Muslims to perform ruku (bowing) and sajdah properly and calmly, and to get up only when the body has come to ease.
In supplication for victory, the Prophet also performed long bowing (ruku) and sajdah in the special prayers at the time of eclipse.
Therefore, the first positive effect upon a person who prostrates or does sajdah is that he comes nearest to Allah and hence in that condition he can supplicate.
This is a great psychological advantage, giving relief to the person concerned, as life is full of worries and in this position he gets at least a transient refuge from agonising problems.
Dr Beebani said that when a person goes to the position of prostration (sajdah), his whole body is in active motion.
This position can be considered as a mini dive as the musalli (one who offers prayer) goes to rest his forehead on the ground while his hands are placed at his sides. This brings most, if not all, of the body muscles in active motion and serves to give them some exercise.
The hands are then specifically stretched out and the forearm as well as arm muscles are supposed to bear the weight in sajdah position.
It gives good exercise to the muscles of the upper limb. The Prophet, in a hadith, advised not to put the forearms flat on the ground but to keep them elevated above ground, for this was better for the forearm and arm muscles.
Sajdah is a unique position as this is the only position in which the brain (or head) becomes lower than the heart and, hence, for the first time the blood gushes towards the brain with full force.
In all other positions (even when lying) the brain is above the heart and has to work against gravity to send blood to the brain.
Due to the increased blood supply, the brain receives more nourishment and it has a good effect upon memory, vision, hearing, concentration, psyche and all other cognitive abilities.
People who offer their prayers regularly have more willpower and can cope with the difficulties of life in a much better manner.
They have fewer headaches, psychological problems and other defects of cognitive function.
In the unique position of sajdah, the neck muscles get good exercise. They have to bear the load when the forehead lies on the ground.
Hence, the neck muscles become stronger. One can note the tense pressure at the neck muscles in the position of sajdah, especially the active motion of the neck and the facial muscles when the head is being lifted (one inch above the ground).
Stronger cervical muscles mean the cervical vertebra will be better protected.
Strength of the cervical muscles is important as the head rests upon the cervical vertebra supported by the cervical musculature.
In fact, the head performs the rotator movements over the cervical vertebra.
In any accident, cervical neck examination is especially important to the physicians because of its extraordinary importance.
A person who offers his prayers regularly is unlikely to get the usual neck myalgias or cervical spondylosis, as the neck muscles particularly become very strong due to the 34 sajdahs offered daily in five prayers.
The position of sajdah is also said to be a good treatment for the retroversion of the uterus, a disease of women.
Most of us do not know that the position of sajdah is an excellent exercise for men (for manpower). While getting up from sajdah, the perineal muscles are those that pull the trunk back to the sitting position and they contract actively.
Similarly, while standing up from sajdah, the perineal muscles are again actively mobilised and this gives much strength to the muscles important for manpower.
The unique position of sajdah also has positive effects upon the back muscles as while going into sajdah and getting up from it, the back muscles contract actively and they become stronger.
It is therefore uncommon for a person who is regular in prayer to get backaches. After performing sajdah either the musalli stands up or sits to pray attahiyyat. In this position, the person sits calmly while his hands rest on his thighs, which are folded backwards.
This is similar to the relaxation position of yoga and has a soothing effect upon a person’s health and mental state. Prophet Mohammed used to elongate the length of time in the ruku (bending) and sajdah positions and he advised us to do so.
Let us be reminded that prayer is not meant to be an exercise.
However, there are many medical advantages associated with it.
Still, the best blessing is the peace of mind, which a person derives by the accomplishment of his duty to Allah and by fulfilling an obligation, which brings him closest to the Creator.
Photo Caption: Sajdah offers several benefits to the human system