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Salam by bowing

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham


Assalamu alikum, I wanted to know whether it is acceptable in Islam to salaam elders by bowing down and touching their feet. As I am from an Asian background it is a tradition to do this, but I don’t know whether it is valid in Islam.


In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.




Allah states in the Quran: “When anyone greets you in a courteous manner, let your greetings be better than his or at least return the same, Allah keeps account of everything.” (Surah An Nisa: 86)


A practical example to the above verse can be seen by studying the life of the Prophet (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam). Once a person came to the Prophet (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) and said: Assalamu Alaykum ya rasulullah. While returning the greeting, he (Prophet (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) added a word and said: Wa alaykumus salam wa rahmatullah…. (Maariful Quran)


From the above and the many narrations of the Prophet (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) it is clear and known that the method of greeting one another is by saying Assalamu alaykum.


Allah states in the Quran: “Verily you have in the messenger of Allah, a good example for everyone who looks forward (with hope and awe) to Allah and the last day, and remembers Allah unceasingly.” (Surah Al Ahzab: 21)


It is important for the Muslims to follow the way shown by the Prophet (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) and not bring into religion those things that are part of culture etc. The Messenger of Allah (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “…avoid novelties, for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is an misguidance.” (Mishkaat, P 30).


Anas ibn Malik narrates a man said, “Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), when a man meets his brother or his friend should he bow to him?” He replied, ‘No.” He asked whether he should embrace and kiss him, and he replied, “No.” He asked whether he should take his hand and shake it, and he replied, “Yes.” (Tirmidhi: 1218)


It can be concluded from the above verses and narrations that the correct method for greeting is by offering salam. In the Hadith related by Imam Abu Dawud in his Sunan and others, the Messenger of Allah   said: “Whoever imitates a nation will be amongst them.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, no. 4031). Touching the feet by bowing down etc is a tradition of the Hindus and the Non Miuslims and therefore should be avoided.


Only Allah knows best:


Sayeedur Rahman


Darul Ifta, Birmingham


This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.