For some (not all, but some) Muslims, the meaning, or intent involved in bowing (to Shomen/Kamiza or to each other) is irrelevant. Some Muslims (and their imams) interpret a certain bit of the Koran to say that it is clearly forbidden to bow (be it a kneeling rei or a simple nod of the head) for any other purpose than the worship of God.
Many years ago I practised judo with a gentleman for whom this was the case. He was a wonderful training partner, good humoured, generous and sincere, it would have been a terrible shame if he'd been forced to choose between quitting judo and bowing, because the way he saw it, he'd have had no choice but to leave.
I saw him at tournaments once or twice - his practice there was to make sure the referees all knew in advance. Before each bout of shiai, he'd find out who his opponent was to be, seek that person out, intoduce himself, shake hands and explain why he wouldn't be bowing to them, and that he meant no disrespect by it. As far as I know none of his opponents ever objected.
James Ashby (Jim ashby) wrote:
If this person truly believes that bowing before an image of a person who actually existed will cause problems with his/her imaginary friend, they may not be mentally stable enough to teach.
Fair, but harsh.
(With apologies to whoever's post I'm plagiarising this from - I can't remember who wrote it or where...)
There are three kinds of self-delusion a gentleman can have that I prefer not to challenge in the interests of good relations:
1. His religion is not in fact the load of superstitious old nonsense I can quite plainly see it is.
2. His wife is beautiful.
3. His kids are smart.