Q&A (Fatwa)

#130: Ruling on Kneeling to Greet

” Assalam alaykum. Please I have a question. This is a serious contemporary issue. Please what is the Islamic ruling in kneeling down to greet. Kneeling as in flexing the knees and ankles. As we know in some culture, that is the way of showing respect to elders.”


Wa alaykumus salām Warahmatullāh Wabarakātuh
The general ruling that govern any act of greeting the elders with a bowing or kneeling act is impermissibility. This is the generic and sound ruling
In the Hadīth recorded by Imām At-Tirmidhī – rahimahullāh – in the Sunan, from Anas Ibn Mālik – radiyallāhu anhu – a man asked the Rasūl – salallāhu alayhi wasallam – saying:
“A man meets his brother or his friend, should he bow down in greeting?”_
The Rasūl – salallāhu alayhi wasallam – answered: _”No”_
For this reason, Imām An-Nawawī – rahimahullāh – mentioned that it was disliked (makrūh) in the Majmū’ saying:
_”It is disliked to bend the back in all situation for the purpose of greeting as the Hadīth of Anas has shown.”_
Except that the fuqahā differed on whether it was Harām or Makrūh as An-Nawawi mentioned.
Of those that considered it Harām are Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn ‘Allān, Ibn As-Salāh and others, rahimahumullah
Of those that considered it Makruh are Al-Khatīb Ash-Sharbīnī of the Shāfi’ī school, An-Nawawī as referred, and many of the Mālikī school Imāms
Al-Allāmah An-Nafrāwī – rahimahullāh – said in Al-Fawākihu Ad-Dawānī :
And some of the Ulamā passed a verdict permitting bending to greet as long as the bending did not reach the posture of the Ruku'”_
Imām Ibn Muflih Al-Hanbalī – rahimahullāh – said in his book ‘Al-Ādābu Ash-Shar’iyyah’:
_”And to bend the back by way of greeting is permissible and when Ibn Umar visited Shām, the people of Dhimmah greeted him that way and he did not forbid them, and he said it was their way of respecting the Muslims. But to make the Sujūd as a way of honoring and greeting is Harām as the supported Narrations have proved…”_
This verdict holding its permissibility is very weak
And the evidence used in its strengthening is weak also
This is due to the generality of the prohibition found in the Hadīth of An as Ibn Mālik – radiyallāhu anhu
And the many harms that taking it as a permissibility can cause on the society
However, if there is fear that refusal to kneel or squat or bend the back slightly will cause a greater harm, and you are not able to hold it off or explain to your family the rulings of the Sharī’a in that regards, then there is a dispensation ( _Rukhsah_) in that regard
This is because of the harms it has on the fabric of the home, the hatred and enmity it can cause, the breaking of family ties, and the losing of wherewithal
And because the Ulamā differed on it and some of them hold that it were Makrūh
This is the right position and our position on this matter, Allāh A’alam.

Bārakallāhu fīkum
Jazakumullahu khayran
5th Rabiul Awwal 1438AH.


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