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Bowing in Karate

Question and Answer:

Q. Respected ulama,

As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

In the question & answer copied below that was sent earlier this month regarding permissibility of Karate, there is no mention of bowing – it is my understanding that in many martial arts practices, a crucial part of the ritual is to bow to one’s opponent at the end of the sparring. But this would absolutely not be permissible in Islam, correct? (If this impermissibility is indeed the case, perhaps a follow-up message should be sent out warning about that additional aspect of Karate and martial arts in general.)

(There may be grammatical and spelling errors in the above question. Questions are published as received)

A. Jazakallah Khair for raising this point. It is not permissible for a Muslim to bow down to anyone as a means of showing respect. Bowing is reserved for Allah alone. Those who participate in Karate or martial arts in which bowing is customary should abstain from this practice. Taking this into consideration, Muslims are advised to take up Karate lessons with Muslim instructors who are conscious of this aspect. Alternatively, one may engage in other types of martial arts that are free from practices that are prohibited in Islam.

And Allah Knows Best

Mufti Suhail Tarmahomed

Fatwa Department
Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)

Council of Muslim Theologians

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