The Prophet talked about a man leveling the earth on prostrating, and said, “If you have to do so, then do it once.”
They used to pray on bare earth back then, so ‘leveling the earth’ was required. So if you’re leveling the earth or the mat you’re praying on, do it once only. Any more than that might disturb the khushoo` of your prayer or of those praying with you.
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
We used to pray with the Prophet in scorching heat, and if someone of us could not put his face on the earth (because of the heat) then he would spread his clothes and prostrate over them.
Women may use their dupattas for this purpose, and men should have spare hankies with them. :)
Hadith is a repeat, by the way. Read here.
Narrated Abu Salma:
I saw Abu Huraira reciting Idha-Sama’ un-Shaqqat and he prostrated during its recitation. I asked Abu Huraira, “Didn’t I see you prostrating?” Abu Huraira said, “Had I not seen the Prophet prostrating, I would not have prostrated.”
The ayah of Surah al-Inshiqaq where Abu Hurayrah prostrated:
وَإِذَا قُرِئَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقُرْآنُ لَا يَسْجُدُونَ ۩
“And when the Qur’an is recited to them, they fall not prostrate.” [Al-Inshiqaq 84: 21]
Narrated Ibn Umar:
When the Prophet recited a Sura that contained the prostration he would prostrate and we would do the same and some of us (because of the heavy rush) could not find a place for prostration.
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar,
When the Prophet recited Surat As-Sajda and we were with him, he would prostrate and we also would prostrate with him and some of us (because of the heavy rush) would not find a place (for our foreheads) to prostrate on.
‘Umar bin Al-Khattab recited Surat-an-Nahl on a Friday on the pulpit and when he reached the verse of Sajda he got down from the pulpit and prostrated and the people also prostrated. The next Friday ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab recited the same Sura and when he reached the verse of Sajda he said, “O people! When we recite the verses of Sajda (during the sermon) whoever prostrates does the right thing, yet it is no sin for the one who does not prostrate.” And ‘Umar did not prostrate (that day). Added Ibn ‘Umar “Allah has not made the prostration of recitation compulsory but if we wish we can do it.”
The ayah of Surah an-Nahl where Umar (RA) prostrated:
يَخَافُونَ رَبَّهُم مِّن فَوْقِهِمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ ۩
“They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded.” [An-Nahl 16: 50]
Volume 2, Book 19, Number 184:
Narrated Abu Rafi:
I offered the ‘Isha’ prayer behind Abu Huraira and he recited Idhas-Sama’ Un-Shaqqat, and prostrated. I said, “What is this?” Abu Huraira said, “I prostrated behind Abu-l-Qasim and I will do the same till I meet him.”
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar.
Whenever the Prophet recited the Sura which contained the prostration of recitation he used to prostrate and then, we, too, would prostrate and some of us did not find a place for prostration.
Book of Prostration During Recital of Qur’an ends here.
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Masud:
The Prophet recited Surat-an-Najm (53) and prostrated while reciting it and all the people prostrated and a man amongst the people took a handful of stones or earth and raised it to his face and said, “This is sufficient for me.” Later on I saw him killed as a non-believer.
Hadith covered before, here.
Narrated Ibn Abbas:
The Prophet (SAW) prostrated while reciting An-Najm and with him prostrated the Muslims, the pagans, the jinns, and all human beings.
The ayah of Surah an-Najm where Sajdah of Tilawat was performed:
فَاسْجُدُوا لِلَّهِ وَاعْبُدُوا ۩
“So fall you down in prostration to Allah and worship Him (Alone).” [An-Najm: 62]
Narrated ‘Ata’ bin Yasar:
I asked Zaid bin Thabit about prostration on which he said that he had recited An-Najm before the Prophet, yet he (the Prophet) had not performed a prostration.
Narrated Zaid bin Thabit:
I recited An-Najm before the Prophet, yet he did not perform a prostration.
Note that in the above two Ahadith, Zayd ibn Thabit is reciting and Prophet (SAW) is listening. Hence, Prophet (SAW) did not prostrate (perform Sajdah of Tilawat). But in the Ahadith above these two, Prophet (SAW) was reciting it himself, and he did perform the sajdah.
We mentioned before that performing Sajdah of Tilawat is not mandatory.
Sujood al-tilaawah, whether during prayer or outside of it, is Sunnah, not obligatory, because evidence to that effect was narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), in the hadeeth of Zayd ibn Thaabit and in the hadeeth of ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him).
Narrated Ibn Abbas:
The prostration of Sad is not a compulsory one but I saw the Prophet prostrating while reciting it.
This is the ayah the Hadith is talking about:
قَالَ لَقَدْ ظَلَمَكَ بِسُؤَالِ نَعْجَتِكَ إِلَىٰ نِعَاجِهِ ۖ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الْخُلَطَاءِ لَيَبْغِي بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَقَلِيلٌ مَّا هُمْ ۗ وَظَنَّ دَاوُودُ أَنَّمَا فَتَنَّاهُ فَاسْتَغْفَرَ رَبَّهُ وَخَرَّ رَاكِعًا وَأَنَابَ ۩
“[Dawud (David)] said (immediately without listening to the opponent): “He has wronged you in demanding your ewe in addition to his ewes. And, verily, many partners oppress one another, except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and they are few.” And Dawud (David) guessed that We have tried him and he sought Forgiveness of his Lord, and he fell down prostrate and turned (to Allah) in repentance.” [Saad: 24]
If you go through the ayaat where sajdah of tilawat is prescribed, you’ll notice that either there is a command from Allah to do sajdah in the words, or the enticement (targheeb) to do so. For example, in the ayah mentioned above, Allah talks about the humble nature of Dawud (AS) and how he fell into prostration to Allah upon realizing that he was being tested by Him. When a person is going through this ayah, he feels the inclination to do as Dawud (AS) did. Prophet (SAW) did it, and we do it too. :)
Narrated Abu Huraira:
On Fridays the Prophet used to recite Alif Lam Mim Tanzil: As-Sajdah (32) (in the first Raka) and Hal ata ‘alal-lnsani i.e. Surat ad-Dahr (76) (in the second Raka), in the Fajr prayer.
This is about the fardh prayer of Fajr. Prophet (SAW) used to recite specific Surahs in the Fajr Sunnah prayer as well. Who remembers them? :) [Find answer here.]
Imaam Bukhari brought this hadith under the chapter of Sajdah of Tilawat because Surah as-Sajdah has one of those ayaat which when Prophet (SAW) recited them, made sajdah (prostration) of tilawat (recitation of Qur’an).
إِنَّمَا يُؤْمِنُ بِآيَاتِنَا الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهَا خَرُّوا سُجَّدًا وَسَبَّحُوا بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ ۩
“Only those believe in Our Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), who, when they are reminded of them, fall down prostrate, and glorify the Praises of their Lord, and they are not proud.” [As-Sajdah: 15]