I do not bow, neither do I prostrate to mum and dad. While the former is a Muslim, the latter isn’t yet. May Allah grant my wish on him.
That’s one of the reasons mum never wanted me on the path of Sunnah. She notionally, stereotypically believed that I would become disrespectful. But to Allah be the glory, she has got another story to tell today contrary to her thought ab initio.
When the ahlus-sunnah get derided, denigrated with unprintable names such as the aforementioned, mum is usually quick to prove the accusers wrong with the fruits of Sunnah she had and is still devouring to her enjoyment. She will say: “Although my children do not lower their heads to greet me, they are very, very cultured and responsible”. I could remember her wooing a pagan-woman to allow her daughter the latitude to tread the path of Sunnah she had chosen to toe. Today, mum will prove to anyone that there is no nexus between not bowing or prostrating to greet and being disrespectful to elders. She will say many of those who romance the soil to greet are rather disgustingly disrespectful to their parents and elders. She once narrated how a parent was usually soiled to nothing (in the open for that matter) by the child. Hmm!
Dad never knew I wasn’t bowing to accord him reverence until same was displayed before his nephew-king when the monarch was sometime ago visited with an Arab-guest and some sheikhs. While everyone had fallen on the floor to salute the king, we were rather voluntarily stiff to our feet greeting with our mouths. (The full gist is in my upcoming e-book, My Sunnah Story).
How come dad didn’t notice all those years that I wasn’t greeting him bowing or prostrating? It was because I wasn’t disrespectful to him, and that lowering the head to greet wasn’t really the value needed of a cultured child but his mannerly disposition to his parents and elders. It will interest you to know that till today, no issue was made out of it by him and the status quo maintained. Despite being a high-chief who understands and is expected to uphold the cultural heritage of his ancestors, I don’t greet him bowing or prostrating. We rather have a handshake and sometimes hug. Isn’t that fabulous?
Bowing or prostrating (in the case of a man) and kneeling (in the case of a woman) to greet parents and elders is one simple issue that has been taken too far by some Muslims. When I hear the ahlus-sunnah tagged extremists for this singular reason, I wonder the religiously tenable justification for the claim, whereas the ones who take an issue beyond its purview are the real extremists. How is something that has basis in Shari’ah be regarded an act of extremity? Isn’t the labelling is itself extreme?
Could our gone fathers – Sheikhs Adam Abdullah Al-Ilori and Kamaludeen Al-Adabi – who maintained same stance be termed extremists too, because they held so explicitly that bowing or prostrating was against the tenets of Islam. And this wasn’t their self-imposed stance but that of Islam which scholars of the past were upon. Read Al-Islam wa Taqaaleedul Jaahiliyyah of Sheikh Adam and see the issue extensively thrashed out by him. Our father (may Allah be pleased with him in the grave) wrote that there were scholars who knew it was wrong to bow or prostrate to greet but would do it and accept people do it to them. He added saying that he was one of such scholars. May his shortcomings in this regard be overlooked, after all, he was human, and perfection belongs to Allah. In fact, he said there would come a time the act – of lowering one’s head to greet – would be tenaciously corrected by some Muslims. So the good news is that the ahlus-sunnah are the people prophesied by our father, and now is the time forecast by him.
Sheikh Kamaludeen in a viral video that may be accessed on YouTube said and I quote: “Àtẹni tí wọ́n ń tẹ̀ kí, àtẹni tí ń tẹ̀ kíìyàn, àwọn méjèèjì óó ro’jọ́ níwájú Ọlọ́hun”. (The one who bows to greet, and the one who accepts to be greeted as such will both be questioned by Allah (on Judgement Day). He was an extremist too, right? Did I hear you say no? Where then is the fairness?
In an audio, Sheikh Abdulganiyy Aboto (that Ilorin-born preacher) was called on phone regarding the subject matter and he said outright that bowing, prostrating or kneeling down to greet was alien to Islam. He said the earlier scholars in Yoruba land didn’t kick against it then so they would not be seen as disrespecting the kings. He added that, that was why they modified it into bending rather than prostrating. This expression of his was corroboratively detailed in an approximately one-hour video where he demonstratively explained the concept of bowing and prostrating to greet with a verse in Suratul Jinn (verse 18). Sheikh Aboto is still on earth living unlike Sheikhs Adam and Kamaludeen who are now under the soil. You may contact him for confirmation. May Allah increase him in guidance.
Those sheikhs never expressed an opinion of theirs, they rather upheld what Allah and His apostle had legislated a very long time ago. Allah’s said:
(وَأَنَّ الْمَسَاجِدَ لِلَّهِ فَلَا تَدْعُوا مَعَ اللَّهِ أَحَدًا)
“And al-Masaajid are for Allah alone: So invoke not any one along with Allah;
[Surat Al-Jinn 18]
The verse, according to Sheikh Adam in his earlier referenced book (which was in consonance with books of Tafsir) could be interpreted in two ways:
1. that al-Masaajid (the places of worship) are for Allah alone and should not be used for other than Him;
2. that Al-Masaajid (the parts of the body used to worship Allah) should not be given to other than Him.
So those who say not lowering one’s head to greet has no basis in the Qur’an may need to fault Sheikh Adam too for speaking the truth as above. And apparently, that verse must have been the foundation on which Sheikh Kamaludeen had equally based his stance. In fact, Sheikh Aboto didn’t use other than the verse all through his lecture on the subject.
Aside the above, many hadiths of the prophet which the adversaries of Sunnah do deliberately ignore or have amateurishly wronged abound.
The case of Mu’adh bn Jabal who returned from Sham and greeted the prophet lowering himself and was instantly corrected is still fresh in memory. When the prophet asked him why he did that to him, he said that was how people of rank and file were venerated and revered in Sham, so he decided to accord him same gesture. The prophet therefore said:
لا تفعلوا فإني لو أمرت شيءا أن يسجد لشيء لأمرت المرأة أن تسجد لزوجها…
“Do not do that, for if I were to order anything to lower itself to anything, I would have ordered a woman to do so to her husband.”
(Saheehut-Targeeb wat-Tarheeb: 1938).
Once some camels lowered themselves to the prophet and the companions protested why they were disallowed to accord him same, he (the prophet) said:
لا آمر أحدا أن يسجد لأحد، ولو أمرت أحدا أن يسجد لأحد لأمرت المرأة أن تسجد لزوجها.
“No, I do not order anyone to lower himself to another. If I were to order someone to do that, I would have ordered a woman to do so to her husband.”
If bowing, prostrating or kneeling were anything to reckon with in Islam, the prophet would have allowed his companions do it to him. And the claim that after all the Angels prostrated to Adam, and that Yusuf got same from his elder brothers isn’t tenable a proof, because if the practice had not been abrogated, the prophet wouldn’t have disallowed same accorded to him by his companions. Even if those happenings were to be used to adduce bowing, prostrating and kneeling, the other way round should be the case – as in, elders should be the ones doing so to the young ones. This is because the Angels and Yusuf’s brothers who prostrated were older than Adam and Yusuf respectively. And those who say it’s our culture should know that Islam accepts all cultural practices provided that they aren’t against an Islamic norm.
To this end, I urge our parents to comply with the dictates of Allah and those of the prophet and allow their children the latitude to practise what is apparent of Islam. I urge our alfas who are hell bent on twisting Qur’anic and Sunnatic stipulations to fear the Day they would be raised to account for their deeds. Finally, I urge our ahlus-sunnah brethren to imbibe excellent characters to prove to their parents and others that Sunnah is truly Islam.