Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Barack Obama: A Bendable President who can Curtsy and Lie About It

First, to the teachings of Islam on bowing.

But at the same time, Islam pays due respect to some fine traditions that do not collide with its teachings, and are kept within bound and limit as not to take any form of Shirk . Thus, we can say that if bowing is just to show respect, just as the case between the young and the elders, between students and teachers, without involving any sign of sacredness or any form of inequality, there is nothing wrong in it. This is further clarified in the following fatwa issued by Sheikh `Atiyya Saqr, former Head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee:

“At-Tirmidhi quoted Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, as saying: “Once a man said to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him: ‘O Allah's Messenger! When a man meets his brother or friend, is he allowed to bow to him (in a show of extraordinary veneration)?' The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: ‘No’. The man asked: ‘Then should he embrace and kiss him?’ The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: ‘No’ and the man asked again: ‘Should he just shake hands with him?' The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: ‘Yes.’"

In his book ‘Al Adab Al Kubra’ (Elevated Manners), Abu Al-Ma`ali said that bowing as a form of showing mutual respect is permissible. Other people draw analogy between it and the Angels' bowing before Adam, peace be upon him. Also when Ibn `Umar went to the Levant, the People of the Book there bowed to him as a matter of respect, and he did not forbid them from doing so. Instead he said that it was a form of dignifying Muslims.

“Permissibility here means that it is not prohibited. But this does not negate its being blameworthy”, states As-Safarini in his book ‘Ghiza’ul-Albab’ (Cultivation of the Mind), vo.1:286.

From the above mentioned Hadith we understand that bowing to greet someone is somewhat detestable, that we can say it is blameworthy, because it is unfit for a Muslim who truly believes in Allah and abides by His teachings.

However, this Hukm (ruling) depends on the intention of the person himself. For example, if the bows are made just to show gratefulness to a person who deserves them, then there is nothing wrong in this. But there shouldn't be any exaggeration. Bowing is also a method of showing courtesy to kings and sultans. All in all, when an actor takes his bow, he does not usually intend anything else than acknowledging applause and admiration accorded him by the audience. This makes the ruling somehow light for him.”

Being a Catholic and seeing the clergy bow to the Pope, I was curious to know how the Islamic faith viewed bowing.

Then I looked further and found this contradiction: The Bow

Writes Abdullah:

I wanted to drop you a note on a Muslim perspective of the bow. I've visited a few Republican blogs regarding the bow, and most of them are offensive and ignorant. Ignorant in that more than a few are bringing up the secret Muslim accusations which only display a lack of even remedial knowledge of the religion.

Now, Obama's been globe-trotting and claiming his youthful experience in a Muslim land has given him a greater understanding of Islam. Clearly, this is not true as it is STRICTLY forbidden to bow to anyone (or thing) but God in Islam. To top that off, he bowed to perhaps the least respected leader in the eyes of most Muslims/Arabs.

It's not really an epiphany that he's not well versed (or honest) in yet another subject. After all, it seems, at least in my adult life, that the only requirement to become an elected official is to be a good actor. Maybe not even good.

Two views to the contrary on bowing.

What is most important here is; why would a leader of one country bow to another? It should be reciprocal if done, but it wasn't. When one bows to another, then the act should be returned to show mutual respect.

There have been some who raised the peck on both cheeks of the Saudi King by Bush to establish a similar gesture, but I believe the King of Saudi Arabia returned the gesture, so the respect given was mutual.

Some folks are flashing the Bush photo of Bush bowing to the Pope to draw an equal comparison.

Not hardly. The Pope represents the Church and religion. And Bush was showing respect to that.

When you consider Barack and Michelle bowing their heads in prayer, the same applies.

There is a big difference between a leader who represents another country and a leader from another country bowing to him with no mutual respect given. So I was curious to see how other leaders (like Brown from Great Britian) would greet the King of Saudia Arabia.

Arguably, the bow done by Obama was an act of subordination to a King of another country. And Obama should recognize how a bow is done and what it means.

To make matters worse, Obama had someone from his administration say it wasn't a bow.

The photo and a video were largely ignored by mainstream media outlets but created outrage in some quarters.

“Such an act is a traditional obeisance befitting a king's subjects, not his peer. There is no precedent for U.S. presidents bowing to Saudi or any other royals,” said the conservative Washington Times.

An Obama aide speaking anonymously denied that the president was bowing.

“It wasn’t a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he’s taller than King Abdullah,” the aide was quoted as saying by Wednesday.

That explanation was “absurd,” the conservative Weekly Standard said. And the caption attached to the Getty Images photo said the president was bowing.

Now knowing Obama does not lie, let's all bow to our savior.

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