Turns out there is an entire chapter in the Quran given the title "the prostration," in Arabic, "A-Sajda." Chapter number 32
Here is a verse from it in different translations:
YUSUFALI: Only those believe in Our Signs, who, when they are recited to them, fall down in prostration, and celebrate the praises of their Lord, nor are they (ever) puffed up with pride.
PICKTHAL: Only those believe in Our revelations who, when they are reminded of them, fall down prostrate and hymn the praise of their Lord, and they are not scornful,
SHAKIR: Only they believe in Our communications who, when they are reminded of them, fall down in prostration and celebrate the praise of their Lord, and they are not proud.
YUSUFALI: Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord, in Fear and Hope: and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them.
PICKTHAL: Who forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of that We have bestowed on them.
SHAKIR: Their sides draw away from (their) beds, they call upon their Lord in fear and in hope, and they spend (benevolently) out of what We have given them.
YUSUFALI: Now no person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden (in reserve) for them - as a reward for their (good) deeds.
PICKTHAL: No soul knoweth what is kept hid for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.
SHAKIR: So no soul knows what is hidden for them of that which will refresh the eyes; a reward for what they did.
YUSUFALI: Is then the man who believes no better than the man who is rebellious and wicked? Not equal are they.
PICKTHAL: Is he who is a believer like unto him who is an evil-liver? They are not alike.
SHAKIR: Is he then who is a believer like him who is a transgressor? They are not equal.
YUSUFALI: For those who believe and do righteous deeds are Gardens as hospitable homes, for their (good) deeds.
PICKTHAL: But as for those who believe and do good works, for them are the Gardens of Retreat - a welcome (in reward) for what they used to do.
SHAKIR: As for those who believe and do good, the gardens are their abiding-place; an entertainment for what they did.
YUSUFALI: We did indeed aforetime give the Book to Moses: be not then in doubt of its reaching (thee): and We made it a guide to the Children of Israel.
PICKTHAL: We verily gave Moses the Scripture; so be not ye in doubt of his receiving it; and We appointed it a guidance for the Children of Israel.
SHAKIR: And certainly We gave the Book to Musa, so be not in doubt concerning the receiving of it, and We made it a guide for the children of Israel.
YUSUFALI: And We appointed, from among them, leaders, giving guidance under Our command, so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have faith in Our Signs.
PICKTHAL: And when they became steadfast and believed firmly in Our revelations, We appointed from among them leaders who guided by Our command.
SHAKIR: And We made of them Imams to guide by Our command when they were patient, and they were certain of Our communications.
YUSUFALI: Verily thy Lord will judge between them on the Day of Judgment, in the matters wherein they differ (among themselves)
PICKTHAL: Lo! thy Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they used to differ.
SHAKIR: Surely your Lord will judge between them on the day of resurrection concerning that wherein they differ.
So what I am beginning to see is that while prostration physically feels like a natural part of worship and what our bodies incline to do, and besides, who wouldn't automatically fall to their knees in the presence of the All-mighty? I know I would be inclined to as I did so even as a Christian. But this prostration before Allah and for the sake of Allah, does not necessarily mean prostration in a strictly literal or only physical sense. It is a prostration more of the spirit and our humility and submission to and total adoration of the one God. So while some may do it only partially in bowing or bending over, while others with there head to a rug, and still others with their head only in direct prostration to the earth, it is all a matter of the intention of the heart. It is clear that the prophets understood the deeper meaning of sujood (prostration), that it went beyond physical ritual even if they did it physically, what is more certain is that it was from within. Thanks again to my kindred soul I discovered the beauty of prostration at an even deeper level. Sujood can also be a physical manifestation of acceptance, acceptance to God's command, to His authority over our life, to His will and His plan and his majesty.
More examples of prostration from the Holy Quran:
"To GOD prostrates (Yasjud) everything in the heavens and everything on earth- every creature-and so do the angels; without the least arrogance." (16:49)
Here again is an example of humility and submission, and this "prostration" is done by all, and it shows it has a deeper meaning than what we typically see as prostration, a simple body movement done many times throughout salat.
It is interesting to note that Allah makes no exceptions or allowances for excluding prostration during prayer as he does regarding fasting or cleansing (Ablution, wudhu), pilgrimage, etc... (ablution 5:6, fasting 2:184, shaving ones head during pilgrimage 2:196, placing weapons on the ground during wartime Salat 4:102). So if it really is just a physical action, then what if a person becomes sick? Allah does provide allowance for the person in that case to perform Salat standing, sitting, or lying down...But there has been NO exception for a person from prostrating and this could likely be because it is not necessarily a physical element.
[Ha Mim Sajdah 41:37] Among His proofs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Do not prostrate before the sun, or the moon; you shall fall prostrate before Allah who created them, if you truly worship Him alone.Here prostration connotes ultimate worship and adoration to only God and no other. It is clear that here there is some figurative commentary here, using the sun and moon to indicate that we are not to get down on the ground bowing before physical creations with the idea that we are actually worshiping God through this act. He could have picked any pagan idols as examples but since the sun and moon are always out, then it could even mean in one way or another we are prostrating towards them and we should only prostrate to God. So how do I do this you ask? Well, if prostration is a symbol of showing honor, humility, submission, obedience and adoration, then we can prostrate by obeying God and submitting to his will. This is the actual prostration we can show to God and do for Him.
In support of the theory I mentioned about bowing physically can relate to the sun and moon, let's take a look at the story of Prophet Suleiman (pbuh):
"He (Suleiman) inspected the birds, and noted: 'Why do I not see the hoopoe? Why is he missing? 'I will punish him severely or sacrifice him, unless he gives me a good excuse. He did not wait for long. (The hoopoe) said: 'I have news that you do not have. I brought to you from Sheba, some important information. I found a woman ruling them, who is blessed with everything, and possesses a tremendous palace. I found her and her people prostrating before the sun, instead of GOD. The devil has adorned their works in their eyes, and has repulsed them from the path; consequently, they are not guided. " (27:20-24)
Although we can be quite sure that this was a very 'intillegent' bird...he still did not command the ability to understand human speech (only Suleiman was given this gift 27:16). Thus, it becomes apparent that the bird understood what the Queen of Sheba and her people were doing by sheer 'observation'. So, what did he observe?. We are told that he observed them 'prostrating' before th sun...this would indicate that the bird witnessed a 'physical 'prostration by Sheba during the day and knew it had to be to the Sun (prostration to GOD is to follow His will).
[al-Mursalat 77:47] Ah woe, that Day, to the Rejectors of Truth!
[al-Mursalat 77:48] And when it is said to them, "Prostrate yourselves!" they do not so.
Many Muslims, some Christians, and even some Jews and others prostrate physically on the ground, yet not all are followers of Truth or submissive to Allah. So this CANNOT be what Allah is asking of us, and even if prostration is God it must be through the right intention, and the true prostration must be in obedience to Allah and humility of spirit.
The meaning of Bow and Prostrate
[al-Hajj 22:18] Seest thou not that to God bow down in worship all things that are in the heavens and on earth, the sun, the moon, the stars; the hills, the trees, the animals; and a great number among mankind? But a great number are such as are fit for Punishment: and such as God shall disgrace, none can raise to honour: for God carries out all that He wills.
The above verse lists other physical entities that bow to Allah. This list includes earth, sun, moon, stars, hills, trees, and animals. Has anyone ever seen any of these creations bow and prostrate on the ground (animals excluded)? These verses are instructing us to think on a higher level. Or should I say these AYAAT (signs) are pointing us to something higher.
Remember when Prophet Yousef (pbuh) (Joseph) had his dream that the stars were prostrating to him? Well, he realized it was his family who would later in his life prostrate to him. But did they literally? No. They prostrated in the form of humbling themselves before him for what they had done, and bowed in the form of submitting to him and to give him his honor as a respected brother, son, good Muslim, and just leader of Egypt appointed by the Pharoah.
Take a look at the second half of this verse which describes those who do not bow to Allah.
[al-Hajj 22:18] ...But a great number are such as are fit for Punishment: and such as God shall disgrace, none can raise to honour: for God carries out all that He wills.
What reason is someone fit for punishment? Would a person who believes in Allah alone, The Last Day, and lives righteously be punished for not getting on the ground? Before answering recall this verse.
[al-Baqarah 2:62] Those who believe, and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Nazerenes (pure form of Christainity) and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
No, not all of the mentioned people bow and prostrate on the ground. Will they be punished? No, it is the people who do not SUBMIT to Allah and FOLLOW HIS COMMANDS that will deserve His punishment.
The verses on the angels give us a definition of Prostrate.
[al-Kahf 18:50] We said to the angels, "Fall prostrate before Adam." They fell prostrate, except Satan. He was of the jinn, and he disobeyed the order of His Lord. Will you choose him and his descendants as lords instead of Me, even though they are your enemies? What a miserable substitute!
The above verse explains to us that prostrating before Allah (who cannot be compared to His physical creation) , is obeying His commands! This is what the angels were commanded to do in respect to Adam (mankind) The Angels serve man by Allah's command, it is Iblis who disobeyed the order of His Lord. When Allah asked the angels to prostrate, He was telling them to OBEY HIS COMMANDS regarding Adam. There is no need to get on the ground to worship your Lord because He has not commanded us to do this. If you do it, then great if that is out of your spirit's yearning to fall before him. But more importantly, He wants us to Bow and Prostrate our WILLS to that of HIS WILL.
[al-Baqarah 2:133] Were ye witnesses when death appeared before Jacob? Behold, he said to his sons: "What will ye worship after me?" They said: "We shall worship Thy God and the God of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma'il and Isaac, the one God: To Him we bow."
[Al-Imran 3:43.7] "O Mary! Worship thy Lord devoutly: Prostrate thyself, and bow down with those who bow down."
The believers are not followers of an "organized religion" but people who follow the ONE SYSTEM which the true teachings these "organized religions" came from and point to. That system is Islam, complete submission to the one God.
There is of course actual clear physical prostration defined in the Quran as well, but usually regarding human interactions, but in this case the word to prostrate would almost always be followed by the word "Khar'a" (to fall down), to let us know that it is physical prostration. If sujood actually meant to physically fall to your face before something or someone, why would Allah feel the need to add Khar'a right after sujood? There would be no need to if sujood meant the phyiscal prostration literally.
[Yusuf 12:100] And he raised his parents high on the throne, and they fell down in prostration, before him. He said: "O my father! this is the fulfillment of my vision of old! God hath made it come true! He was indeed good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you (all here) out of the desert, (even) after Satan had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Verily my Lord understands best the mysteries of all that He plans to do, for verily He is full of knowledge and wisdom.
[al-A`raf 7:120] But the sorcerers fell down prostrate in adoration.
[Sad 38:24] (David) said: "He has undoubtedly wronged thee in demanding thy ewe to be added to his ewes: truly many are the who wrong each other: Not so do those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and how few are they?"...and David gathered that We had tried him: he asked forgiveness of his Lord, fell down, bowing, and turned (to God).
[al-Fath 48:29] Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves, seeking Grace from God and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks, the traces of their prostration. This is their similitude in the Taurat; and their similitude in the Gospel is: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight. As a result, it fills the Unbelievers with rage at them. God has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds forgiveness, and a great Reward.
This verse is used by sects to say that prostration to Allah must be physical. Let us look at one other verses to see if that is true.
[Muhammad 47:30.21] Had We so willed, We could have shown them up to you, and you should have known them by their marks: but surely you will know them by the tone of their speech! And God knows all that you do.
Here Allah is talking about “those in whose hearts is a disease”, what mark would they have? These “marks” are NOT physical marks. They are traits that each have that, if detected, can distinguish a believer and a non -believer. Believers are humble and kind, Non-believers are arrogant and pushy (for example). Allah has made His System easy.
[al-Baqarah 2:58] "...and enter the gate PROSTRATING"
How does one move forward through any gate sliding on his hands, knees and face? Would that not be painful? Allah has made His system easy, hence all the more reason to believe that it is not a literal meaning of prostration.
[as-Sajdah 32:15] Only those believe in Our Signs (verses/ayats), who, when they are recited to them, prostrate, and celebrate the praises of their Lord, nor are they puffed up with pride.
The above verse gives us no exceptions along with it. Let me ask you, if you are in a busy intersection and you hear the Qur’an being recited, will you physically prostrate in front of the oncoming traffic? A better example is if you are driving wildly down the street angry at something that happened to you and you hear Qur’an being recited in your car cd player, will you prostrate right there and crash into a tree? Or will you listen to The Words of Allah and correct your actions (prostrate) and drive sensibly, and put attention to it in reverence and intention to hear and obey. This is what this verse means. When you hear the Word of God, the heart of the believer softens and he gets in line with what Allah is instructing him to do. Prostration of the heart, softening of the heart towards our most high our most merciful and most gracious God.
Prostration has many benefits, the physical prostration, but we must do all things with understanding. Prostration is a physical way to show what we feel on the inside, and sometimes we might throw ourselves before God physically, we might even cry or yell out to God or recite to Him or sing praises, and all this I see as good as long as the intention are in the right place and we are seeking understanding for why we do what we do and using the Quran, the word of Allah as our guide. I can't even begin to describe how I feel physically and spiritually during prostration. I could just stay in that position all day, as my head lowers to the earth in complete submission to Allah and feeling the gravity of the earth pull me towards the center of it and as I lift up I feel all of my negative energy just being sucked out of me into the earth again. Interestingly, prostration no less then 90 times in the glorious Quran.
Here is a list of some of the said benefits of prostration in Salah:
During Salah when you [go into] sujood extra blood flows into the brain, which is very important for [a] healthy brain. When you do sujood, this extra blood supply to the skin on the face [helps] prevent diseases such as chilblain etc.
When you do sujood there is drainage of sinuses and there are fewer chances that a person will have sinusitis, that is inflammation of the sinus, this drainage of module sinus, of the frontal sinus, and a person has less chances of having inflammation of the sinus, that is sinusitis.
When a person breathes normally only two thirds of the capacity of the lung is exhaled out, the remaining one third remain in the lung as a residual air, now when you do sujood the abdominal visra, they press against the diaphragm and the diaphragm presses against the lower part of the lungs, the lower lobes, and when you breath during sujood even this one third residual air is aired out and that's very important for a healthy lung. There are less chances of having diseases of the lungs.
In a salah we stand up and we sit down, do qayam, rukuh, sujood and when we stand up from same position the weight is localized on the bottom of the feet and the calve muscle and the thigh muscle are activated and they increase the blood supply to the lower part of the body, which is very important. Further we do various postures like standing erect, bowing down, prostrating, the vertebra column takes various postures and there are less chances of having disease of the vertebrae, of the spine.
There are medical benefits and I could do a whole research study just on that topic. But Muslims, offer Salah to thank Allah (SWT), to praise Him, to obey His commands. These are just some known side benefits.
Salat will never be the same for me again, and prostration will now be a part of my life at all times, not just during prayer time. Thank you Arilev. I hope this helps to answer your Jewish Muslim questions.
God bless you all. Salam alaikom wa rahmatAllah wa barakatoh.