Bowing Down When Greeting Someone
Fatwa No: 377056

Question

If a Muslim is kneeling towards their country's flag is this consider as shirk?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Bowing down to a creature, if it is as a way of greeting him, then it is a newly innovated matter in the religion. However, if it is done as a way of glorifying that creature like one glorifies Allah, then this is Shirk (associating partners with Allah).

The Fiqh Encyclopedia reads:

The scholars said with regard to bowing down to other than Allah: the tradition of leaning the head down and bending to an extent that does not reach the minimum level of Rukoo’(bowing down) when meeting a person, is not Kufr (disbelief) and it is not forbidden. But it should be detested because a man asked the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) “When a man amongst us meets his brother or his friend should he bend down to him?” He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “No.” The man continued: “Should he hug him and kiss him?” He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “No.” The man again asked: “Should he take his hand and shake it?” He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Yes.

However, if one bends down to the extent of Rukoo’, then some scholars are of the view that if the person did not intend to glorify the other person the same way he glorifies Allah, then this is not Kufr and it is not forbidden, but it is absolutely disliked because this happens much to the creatures [i.e. many people do this].

Some other scholars are of the view that this is forbidden even if it is not to glorify the person whom one bows down to, because the Rukoo’ is something which is usually only done to worship Allah.

Ibn ‘Allaan As-Sideeqi said: “Among the forbidden innovations is to bow down when meeting someone like the bowing done in prayer. However, if his bowing to the creature reaches the level of bowing down in prayer, while he intends to glorify that creature the same way he glorifies Allah, then there is no doubt that he becomes an apostate and a disbeliever by doing so, just like if he prostrates to that creature.” [End of quote]

Finally, we draw the attention of our questioning sister that many of her questions are about unnecessary matters, so we hope that she gives way to other questioners and restrict her questions to what is important instead of writing to us about anything that comes up in her mind.

Allah knows best.

Related Fatwa