In some greeting situations people bow to each other by lowering their heads or chests. But Muslims are not permitted to bow to each other or to non-Muslims. As it is a greeting of worship that is only offered to God. 

Bowing to Greet an Unbeliever



Similar Questions


  • Honouring an unbeliever;
  • Bowing when greeting unbelievers in sports;
  • Bowing when greeting or meeting others.


The Issue


What should be the attitude of a Muslim living in a non-Muslim country to the tradition of bowing associated with some sports, such as in Karate? Bowing is either by merely lowering one’s head or one’s chest, and if the coach bows, the trainee should also bow. This is all a question of greeting.




It is not permissible to bow in greeting to a Muslim or non-Muslim, whether by lowering one’s head or more. This is the ruling of the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa.[1]







Anas reported that a man said to the Prophet:

‘Any of us may meet his brother or friend: may he bow to him?’ The Prophet said: ‘No.’ The man asked: ‘May he hug and kiss him?’ The Prophet said: ‘No.’ The man asked: ‘May he shake hands with him?’ The Prophet said: ‘Yes.’

(Related by al-Tirmidhi, hadith No. 2,728; Ibn Majah, hadith No. 3,702)

This applies to greeting a Muslim, it goes without saying that it is even more applicable to an unbeliever.


Bowing is a greeting of worship and worship may not be offered to anyone other than God.




  • Fatawa by The Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa.
  • Mut’ib al-Qahtani (ed.), Is'af al-Mughtaribin bi Fatawa al-'Ulama’ al-Rabbaniyyin.
  • Muhammad ibn Abd al-Azeez ak-Musnad (ed.), Fatawa Islamiyyah.


  1. Fatawa by the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa, vol. 1, p. 233, Fatwa No. 5,313.