Do people prostrate themselves before Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri?
Some mischievous and unwise people tampered with the video clips of Mahfil Samaa` held in Damascus under the banner of Minhaj-ul-Quran International in 2005 and uploaded them on the internet to propagate that people were falling in prostration before Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri and that Shaykh-ul-Islam was appreciating the gesture. It is stated that no such incident took place and it is but a slander, pure and simple. Those who have cooked this conspiracy are afraid that their fabricated beliefs are being hammered. In their heart of hearts they are afraid of Shaykh-ul-Islam’s towering intellectual personality and his powerful arguments based on Quran and Hadith. They are, through these base tricks, trying to distract the attention of people from Shaykh-ul-Islam’s wisdom-laden speeches and books. Mindlessly, they are flinging mud on the person who presented Islam based the Holy Qur`an and Hadith; on intellectual level they have yielded, so they are behaving in this foolish way.
First of all, we would take up for discussion the matter of video clip of Mahfil Samaa` held in Damascus so that the confusion of those unwise and simpleton people, who have developed doubt that (God forbid) someone is offering prostration to Shaykh-ul-Islam, may be clarified.
1. Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri never allowed anyone in his life to fall in prostration before him. What to speak of prostration, he strictly forbids his followers to kiss his hands. He never likes the act of someone kissing his feet.
2. He can clearly be seen pushing the person away who was bending to kiss his feet in the video clip of Mahfil Samaa` held in Damascus. Is it not regrettable that some of the ‘blind’ commentators have interpreted his act as demonstration of appreciation?
3. The entire world knows this fact that Shaykh-ul-Islam offers his prayer while sitting in the chair due to pain in his backbone and always uses medicated seat for sitting purpose. Therefore it was not possible for him to suddenly bend down to stop the person from bowing to kiss his feet. However, he can be seen trying to stop him with his hands.
4. The world also knows this too that he does use foot rest owing to pain in his backbone but he had participated in the Mahfil Samaa` held in Damascus during his journey. Therefore pillow was used due to unavailability of foot rest in the Mahfil Samaa`. The pill was not used there (God forbid) for people to bend over it and fall in prostration to him. What a pity that those commenting on it regarded it as an act of prostration in contravention of all cannons of justice and fair play!
5. Since the Mahfil Samaa` was held during the journey, therefore, it was not possible to make such arrangement as are normally made for such gatherings held at the central secretariat of Minhaj-ul-Quran International. In such gatherings, people are deputed to stop followers from kissing his feet strictly. If the video clip is reviewed by shunning all prejudice and partiality, it would become certain that one person is deputed there to prevent the followers from kissing his feet but when the person coming in did not find anyone on the other side, he took that way to be able to kiss his feet whom Shaykh-ul-Islam kept stopping strictly.
6. Therefore, it is not right for any Muslim to advertise and propagate anything without scrutiny and exact knowledge of facts. This is what the Holy Quran and the Sunna preach and is only the demand of the faith. So far as the kalam (poetry) being sung in the Mahfil Samma` is concerned, there is a message of Oneness of Allah (monotheism) in the poetry; based on mysticism and spiritualism. This kalam dedicated to Allah Almighty and the misuse of such kalam of excellence and highest order to establish one’s heinous and misplaced viewpoint is nothing but a sign of ignorance and out and out wretchedness.
We have so far clarified that Shaykh-ul-Islam neither liked the act of kissing his hands and feet nor ever encouraged it, leave alone falling in prostration before him. In his speeches and books, he has always dubbed the act of prostration for worship (sajda ibada) as polytheism (shirk) and prostration out of veneration (sajda tazim) for someone other than Allah as forbidden (haram). Two of his books namely Kitab at-Tawhid and Tazim and Ibada could be consulted in this regard along with his numerous lectures and speeches.
But a question arises here whether the act of kissing feet could be taken to mean prostration? Is kissing of feet an act of polytheism (shirk)? What are Islamic teachings about it? It is important to note as what would be the view of Islamic law if someone kissed the feet in peculiar circumstances? Given here below are some Prophetic traditions on the subject:
1. It is reported by Zari` ibn Aamir who came to the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) along with delegation of Abul Qays:
This hadith is related by Imam Abu Dawud in as-Sunan (vol. 4, p. 357 # 5225). Moreover Imam Bayhaqi also narrated this in as-Sunan al-Kubra (vol. 7, p. 102) and Imam Tabarani in two of his books: al-Mujam al-Kabir (vol. 5, p. 275 # 5313); and al-Mujam al-Awsat (vol. 1, p. 133 # 418).
2. Imam Bukhari has devoted a chapter on kissing the feet al-Adab al-Mufrad. He has reported the same Hadith mentioned above from Wazi` ibn Aamir in the following words on page number 339 and hadith number 975. He reports:
These words denote particular meaning. Narrator says that they did not merely content themselves with holding the blessed hands, rather kept on kissing the blessed feet besides hands, though they were holding the blessed hands and feet of the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him).
3. Imam Trimidhi has quoted Safwan bin Assal as reporting one hadith on the same subject. He says: some people of the Jewish nation came to the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him). They questioned him and gave declared evidence that he is the true Prophet of Allah:
This Hadith is narrated by Imam Nasai in as-Sunan (vol. 7, p. 111 # 4078); Ibn Maja, as-Sunan (vol. 2, p. 1221 # 3705); Tirmidhi in as-Sunan (vol. 5, pp. 77, 305 # 2733, 3144), Ahmad ibn Hanbal in al-Musnad (vol. 4, pp. 239, 240), Hakim in al-Mustadrak (vol. 1, p. 52 # 20), Tayalisi in al-Musnad (p. 160 # 1164); and Maqdisi in al-Ahadith al-Mukhtara (vol. 8, p. 29 # 18).
Despite the narration of this Hadith by a number of authentic hadith-narrators and using it as evidence, only a biased person could regard it as an act of the Jews and how we can give it the status of necessary evidence. What else can be said about this kind of thinking except expression of regret that the objector noticed the act of the Jew but did not see the blessed personality with whom it was being done? The Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) did not forbid the Jews to kiss his feet, it may well be regarded as silent Sunna (Sunna taqriri).
4. Highly respected student of Imam Ibn Taimiyya, Ibn Kathir, writes while narrating an incident in the interpretation of verse no 101 of Sura al-Maida that the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) got annoyed over something:
Other interpreters have also stated the above-mentioned same tradition while interpreting the relevant verse.
Now the question arises here whether the act of kissing the blessed feet of the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) by such a respected Companion of the stature of Umar (may Allah be well pleased with him) and the Prophet’s act of not stopping him from doing so constituted the violation of the concept of Oneness of Allah (God forbid).
5. Imam Muqri (d. 381 AH) quotes Burayda (may Allah be well pleased with him) as reporting in his Book Taqbil al-Yad (p. 64 # 5) that once a Bedouin came to the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him). He said: I have embraced Islam but I want more so that my faith should be strengthened. Then the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) allowed him and a tree came to the Bedouin on his call and the tree said: O Prophet of Allah, peace be upon you. There is a long tradition that follows it. The Bedouin saw all of these signs and said:
The tradition states that the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) gave permission to that Bedouin. Then he requested for falling in prostration, the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) did not allow him. Ibn Hajar Asqalani has narrated the same hadith reported by Imam Muqri in Fath al-Bari (vol. 11, p. 57). Furthermore, Allama Mubarak Puri has also quoted the same tradition in Tuhfa al-Ahwadhi (vol. 7, p. 437).
This tradition very clearly states that the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) permitted the kissing of his blessed feet but did not allow prostration before him. Had the kissing of feet and falling in prostration meant one and the same thing, he (blessings and peace be upon him) would never have allowed this at all.
Did the Holy Prophet’s act of being silent and not stopping the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them) from doing that not mean permission from him? Does that act of the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them) not fall in the category of Sunna Taqriri? If the kissing of the feed is an act of prostration, were the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them) prostrating themselves then? (God forbid) the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) who was raised as a Prophet to spread the message of Oneness of Allah and eliminate polytheism, allowed the act of polytheism?
Would that those objecting to the kissing of feet had studied something!
A question can come up in the mind of the people that the kissing of feet was an act exclusive to the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him). We dilate here below as what is the reality of kissing of feet of non-Prophets, saints, religious scholars and spiritual directors?
It is an undeniable reality that extending respect to the religious scholars and saints is what Islam requires with reference to the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) and his Din. Interpreting their respect as polytheism is falsehood and being prejudiced with them is the sign of hypocrisy. The readers of the books of the Prophetic traditions know this reality that kissing the feet of the elders has been the usual practice of people of love and reverence. A few examples and precedents are being put forward here:
1. Suhayb (may Allah be well pleased with him) was the slave of Abbas (may Allah be well pleased with him). He states:
It is narrated by Imam Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad (p. 339 # 976); Dhahabi, Siyar Alam an-Nubala (vol. 2, p. 94); Mizzi, Tahdhib al-Kamal (vol. 13, p. 240 # 2905); and Muqri in Taqbil al-Yad (p. 76 # 15).
2. Imam Bukhari, a consensus traditionists of every school of thought and bright star of kingdom of knowledge, has devoted an entire chapter (number 444) on the kissing of hands in his book al-Adab al-Mufrad. He has narrated three Prophetic traditions on the ‘kissing of hands.’ It is manifestly clear that what it means is that the Companions used to kiss the hands of the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) and the way the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them) used to kiss the hands of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), in the same way, Successors (tabi`in) would also kiss the hands of the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them). While referring to these hadith, Imam Bukhari is throwing light on the manners of life that it was the way of the elders that they used to kiss the hands of the Shaykshs and religious scholars. Given the importance of the act, Imam Bukhari specified a separate chapter on the subject. This is not merely this. The chapter that follows Imam Bukhari has devoted to the ‘kissing of feet.’
By arranging these chapters in the book of manners, Imam Bukhari has clarified that he regarded the act of kissing hands and feet as manners of life. Had he considered these acts as denoting prostration or polytheism, he would neither have devoted separate chapters nor narrated Hadith on them.
3. When Imam Bukhari came to the city of Nishapur, a city of Imam Muslim, the most authentic hadith narrator of the Muslim world after Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim came to see him. It is reported in all the books based on the life stories of the Imams that Imam Muslim kissed the forehead of Imam Bukhari and then requested his permission:
It is also narrated by Ibn Nuqta in at-Taqyid li Marifa Ruwat as-Sunan wal-Masanid (vol. 1, p. 33); Dhahabi, Siyar Alam an-Nubala (vol. 12, p. 432, 436); Nawawi, Tahdhib al-Asma wal-Lughat (vol. 1, p. 88); Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Muqaddima Fath al-Bari (p. 488); and Nawab Siddiq Hasan Qanooji in al-Hitta fi Dhikr as-Sihah as-Sitta (p. 339).
4. Allama Shirwani Shafi`i writes in Hawashi (vol. 4, p. 84)
5. Abu al-Ula Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abd ar-Rahim Mubarakpuri, a respected scholar belonging to Deoband schools of thought and interpreter of Jami` at-Tirmidhi, has a distinguished position in the science of Hadith. He has listed all the above-mentioned Prophetic traditions on the kissing of hands and feet as evidence on page no 437 of the seventh volume of Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi. This clearly gives us an idea of his ways and practices.
Likewise many traditions and instances could be quoted as reference but only a few have been quoted, which establishes the fact that kissing the hands and feet of saints and elders is a rightful and favourite act. The people of mysticism and spiritualism are convinced that the kissing of feet is not a normal act and those doing so do it out of love and devotion. Therefore there is nothing wrong with doing so for someone who is an established authority of knowledge and the Imam of the time. Therefore we should be very discreet while churning out Fatwas (religious edicts) and should do so only after studying the Holy Quran, Sunna, and acts of Companions and saints that too after getting rid of our biases and partiality. We should not project things without research and studies because the Holy Quran forbids to do so without proper investigation. The Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) has also condemned such an attitude. Allah Almighty says in verse number 6 of Surah al-Hujurat:
Allah Almighty has ordained the believers in this verse to fully investigate the matters before forming their opinions on any matter. The purpose of doing so is to sift fact from fiction. They only take concrete step once they have been satisfied of the veracity of the matter. Referring to that, the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) said:
Reported by Imam Muslim in as-Sahih (vol. 1, p. 10 # 5).
The believers are being asked not to believe in the hearsay and fully investigate the matters from all angles before passing it on to others. They should only convey when the truth of the matter has been established because passing on such things without proper inquiry is like telling lie. There are many hadith on this that the believer could be all but not a liar. So only such a person can ignore the above mentioned arguments as has chosen to close his eyes to reality and plugged his ears against the truth. Clearly, the perpetrators are seeking shelter for their weak beliefs and have practically admitted their defeat knowledge-wise.
May Allah Almighty protect us from such ignorance! May He open our eyes and ears to the true teachings of the Qur`an and Hadith! (Amin)
M. F. Rana