Bowing before elders un-Islamic, says Deoband edict

December 16th, 2008 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Dec 16 (IANS) Bowing before elders, even parents, or touching their feet is un-Islamic as per a fatwa (religious decree) issued by the Darul Ulooom, the supreme body of the majority of Sunnis.The Darul Ifta of Deoband, which is authorised to issue fatwas, issued the decree saying, “It is unlawful to bow down and touch feet in respect of anyone whether a Muslim or a non-Muslim.”

The fatwa comes in response to an online question posted at the official Darul Ifta’s website, asking whether it is legitimate to touch the feet of elders as a mark of respect.

The question, posted by Jazaakumullah from India, reads: “One of my non-Muslim friends comes to my home and every time he touches the feet of my dad. So I feel very bad when I go to his home and do not do it.”

“To give respect to elders (Muslims or non-Muslims) can we touch their feet? If not, what are the other ways by which we can give them respect. Please suggest,” the question reads further.

Answering the query, the muftis in their online fatwa have categorically stated: “It is unlawful to bow down and touch feet in respect to anyone, whether a Muslim or non-Muslim.”

On the ways of giving respect to elders, the online fatwa states: “If one meets an elderly Muslim, one should stand up and greet with salaam, shake hands or hug.”

“And if the elderly is non-Muslim, one should say adaab arz, but should not touch their feet,” stresses the decree.

The support for the fatwa is strong amongst Sunnis. “Bowing before anyone, including elders, amounts to not believing in the supreme status of Allah,” Maulana Khalid Rasheed, a prominent Sunni cleric who heads Lucknow’s oldest Islamic seminary, told IANS.

“According to the holy Quran, it is unlawful in the eyes of Allah if one bows before anyone, excluding him,” added Rasheed, who also heads the Firangi Mahal seminary.

However, the online fatwa has invited wrath from the Shia community, whose clerics term the decree as illogical.

Speaking to IANS, chairman of the All India Shia Personal Law Board Maulana Mirza Mohammad Athar said: “There is absolutely nothing wrong if one bows before elders in order to pay them respect.”

According to Shia clerics, some Bengali Muslims follow a custom like the Hindus, in which they bow down and take salaam from their parents’ feet, elders when they get married.”

“Seeking blessings from elders by bowing before them or touching their feet are pious customs that are being practised since ages. Considering this, it is surprising and shocking that Deoband has issued such a fatwa against such customs.”

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