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Muslim Traditions Against Secular Prostration and Inter-Religious Polemic

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Muslim tradition forbids the prostration before men (secular prostration). The utterances of the Prophet Muhammad highlight this prohibition, contrasting it to the customs in use among Christians and Jews in the regions surrounding the peninsula. This precept is not stated in the Qur¸ān where, instead, the cases of the prostration of Joseph before his father and of Adam before the angels arc mentioned. After the advent of Islam, Christian and Jewish authors tried to give response to Muslim polemical attitudes. John of Damascus and Abū Qurra above all rejected the Muslim accusations, relying upon biblical references, drawing a distinction between prostration to God and prostration before men. The same direction is taken by the Jewish Qirqisānī in a long passage in his Kitāb al-anwār.

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Affiliations: 1: Istituto Universitario Orientale, Napoli


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