seems to be a difference of opinion among Muslim scholars about bowing down
before martial art fights. Some have told me that it is not allowed and that
bowing of any form, whether at an angle of 9 degrees or 90 degrees, is an act
solely reserved for the worship of Allah (swt). This is how it was explained to
me: Islam is a faith where credence is given by action. Ultimate submission and
humility is shown by lowering ones head to the Almighty. Hence it is an act,
ceremonial or not, reserved solely for the worship of our Creator. The Prophet (sws)
and his companions never bowed to anyone but Allah. Yes, in my style there is a
ceremonial act of mutual bowing before a fight or routine. We also bow to the
grandmaster before the start of the class. This is to show respect to the
founder of our style of martial arts. However, the grandmaster is not present in
class. We bow to his picture. That feels a little funny to me. What is Islam's
view about doing ceremonial bows to pictures even if there is no intent of
worship? You have replied that Islam does not object to ceremonial bows? Did you
draw upon any references from the Qur’ān or the Hadith? I am curious.
basis of my opinion is common sense, which, I think, must be used in matters in
which the Qur’ān and Sunnah are silent.
It is evident
from the Qur’ān and Hadīth that prostrations which are done for worship to any
one but Allah are forbidden. Bowing is just bending the head and can in no way
be regarded as prostration. A ceremonial bow before a martial art routine is
just a gesture to show respect. It is like taking off your hat to someone. On
similar grounds, bowing to the picture of the grandmaster cannot be objected to.
A word here
about differences in opinion seems appropriate: when you come across two
conflicting opinions in some matter, weigh the arguments of both sides and
follow whichever is more convincing to your intellect.