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Old 09-27-2010, 01:03 AM   #51
torbjornsaw
 
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
David Partington wrote: View Post
I emailed the Muslim Council of Britain, which is a national representative Muslim umbrella body with over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools, to provide some guidance on this issue. Their reply was:-

Thank you for visiting our website and contacting us for the said issue. Islam values and respects different faiths as well as customs of various civilisations. It is important to know the difference between bowing and prostration. There are different schools of thoughts in such matters but a large number of Islamic scholars wouldn't consider bowing in front of a person during a specific situation similar to prostration to Allah (swt).

Our acts as well as intentions are known to Almighty and you may ask the gentleman to contact me to discuss and clarify it further.
Thank you David,

This is really good. I will relay this to my student. Thank you all for your views, it certainly brings more light to the whole situation.
I'm finding myself understanding different viewpoints and agreeing with much, allowing myself to have a wider understanding as I'm looking forward speaking with my student about it.

This is what I enjoy; bringing into question our spiritual and human values to see if they correspond to our actual daily living, and to be able to deepen ones understanding of them through the process of inquiry together with others knowing very well that I have to be able to expand my mind and maybe change some set ideas.

For me this is what spiritual inquiry is all about; to go so deep that we touch a common ground beyond anyone's private thoughts about any particular topic. I value personal preferences as long as they make sense but always prefer a deeper perspective that goes way beyond the personal into what we could call universal or unitary, common or spiritual.

Religion, to me, always starts of as spiritual revelation, brings communion and shares a teaching. The core of which is enlightenment, revelation of God, awakening, Satori, Nirvana, complete submission and surrender to the ultimate and absolute Truth, universal and one. So we can come to live as normal human/spiritual beings with a good understanding of our make-up.

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Old 09-27-2010, 05:50 AM   #52
Marc Abrams
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Russ Qureshi wrote: View Post
Hi Marc, so I am reading into this that you will give someone who has issues with bowing a chance to assimilate into your dojo environment. If you were faced, or if you have been faced, with the issue the OP brings up what would be / has been your solution? How did things work out?

Cheers,

Russ
Russ:

We have had the issue arise on more than one occasion in the NYC dojo and I had something similar happen at mine. In all instances, I have spoken to people at what ever length is necessary to highlight the differences between the meanings of certain behaviors that are contained within cultural millieus. I let people know that within the cultural milleu of that particular dojo, there are a set of expected behaviors based within that particular cultural milleu. A person can have as much time as they would like to decide whether or not they can function within the milleu of that particular dojo. For many dojos, bowing to shomen, to the teacher and to each other is a requisite behavior that is appropriate within that milleu. I would not give somebody an artificial time frame to "change" or decide upon a course of action. That must be done before somebody starts training with certain requisite actions.

If that is policy is considered "closed-minded" by some then it fits with "you can please some of the people some of the time...."

Regards,

Marc Abrams
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:50 AM   #53
Abasan
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Re: To bow or not to bow

If I can make an analogy that my Sensei has kindly given quite sometime ago...

The knowledge and practice of Islam confers on the instructions of God. Imagine that He is in a castle fortress surrounded by the first layer. These first layer are those courtesans, nobles and aristocrats of gentle persuasion and cultured upbringing. They will greet those who come upon them with politeness and courtesy. They politely ignore your deficiencies and seek not to embarrass you and will accept your better qualities as a representative of yourself.

The second layer would be the servants, where through their daily contact with the first layer has adopted similar politeness and courtesy albeit with some rough edges. They greet visitors with respect which is circumspect as well. They are not above telling you off if you do not meet to their expectations.

The 3rd layer will be the fortress guards who are highly disciplined and usually very rough and ready. The usually abide by strict rules, some have foundation on the teachings of the Ruler but some created to establish uniformity of understanding for the masses who do not have the luxury of time to debate the nuances of law. They will turn most visitors to their Ruler away based on their training, typically to save time and eliminate the need to think for themselves. Occasionally they will call upon their sergeant for the more difficult cases who may only improve the situation only slightly, having grown into that position from the rank and file himself.

Typically you will meet muslims who are on the 3rd layer. They have some passing knowledge of religion from the school years, and perhaps some books. Most of their time has been spent growing up with other things like normal education, sports and hobbies. Part of what they consider religion is in fact cultural influence or superstition. A lot of what they consider is the Only way is in fact an ill known assumption of their forefathers.

What I'm getting at is that, at the core of it Islam is a religion of compassion and accessibility. Most men find it their calling to make religion a difficult and arduous thing probably in an attempt to distinguish their level of piousness amongst peers. So from that simple fact and the fact that hadeeth on its own is not without contradiction (even Al-Muslim and Al-Bukhari have hundreds of contradictions to each other despite both being treated as sahih), the interpretation to how Bowing is in fact similar to an act of genuflection is open to debate.

Respect others, without losing your Identity or religion.
But hard lining anyone would not endear you or your religion to anyone. The muslims who are so keen to fight for their rights or 'transgressions' by others, where is your Peace, your Salam?

In the beginning, Aikido is to Harmonise with yourself and then to others. I think that would be lesson to us all.

Last edited by Abasan : 09-27-2010 at 06:53 AM.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:00 AM   #54
Mark Uttech
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Onegaishimasu. For what it is worth, bowing is simply acknowledging that there is something besides yourself. Everything you see is already besides yourself.

In gassho,

Mark

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Old 09-27-2010, 07:28 AM   #55
Patrick Hutchinson
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Re: To bow or not to bow

As far as I know Aristotle spoke ancient Greek, not English, so you're talking about a translator's choice.
And the word "anterior" doesn't occur in any of the works of Shakespeare.
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:57 AM   #56
Marc Abrams
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
If I can make an analogy that my Sensei has kindly given quite sometime ago...

The knowledge and practice of Islam confers on the instructions of God. Imagine that He is in a castle fortress surrounded by the first layer. These first layer are those courtesans, nobles and aristocrats of gentle persuasion and cultured upbringing. They will greet those who come upon them with politeness and courtesy. They politely ignore your deficiencies and seek not to embarrass you and will accept your better qualities as a representative of yourself.

The second layer would be the servants, where through their daily contact with the first layer has adopted similar politeness and courtesy albeit with some rough edges. They greet visitors with respect which is circumspect as well. They are not above telling you off if you do not meet to their expectations.

The 3rd layer will be the fortress guards who are highly disciplined and usually very rough and ready. The usually abide by strict rules, some have foundation on the teachings of the Ruler but some created to establish uniformity of understanding for the masses who do not have the luxury of time to debate the nuances of law. They will turn most visitors to their Ruler away based on their training, typically to save time and eliminate the need to think for themselves. Occasionally they will call upon their sergeant for the more difficult cases who may only improve the situation only slightly, having grown into that position from the rank and file himself.

Typically you will meet muslims who are on the 3rd layer. They have some passing knowledge of religion from the school years, and perhaps some books. Most of their time has been spent growing up with other things like normal education, sports and hobbies. Part of what they consider religion is in fact cultural influence or superstition. A lot of what they consider is the Only way is in fact an ill known assumption of their forefathers.

What I'm getting at is that, at the core of it Islam is a religion of compassion and accessibility. Most men find it their calling to make religion a difficult and arduous thing probably in an attempt to distinguish their level of piousness amongst peers. So from that simple fact and the fact that hadeeth on its own is not without contradiction (even Al-Muslim and Al-Bukhari have hundreds of contradictions to each other despite both being treated as sahih), the interpretation to how Bowing is in fact similar to an act of genuflection is open to debate.

Respect others, without losing your Identity or religion.
But hard lining anyone would not endear you or your religion to anyone. The muslims who are so keen to fight for their rights or 'transgressions' by others, where is your Peace, your Salam?

In the beginning, Aikido is to Harmonise with yourself and then to others. I think that would be lesson to us all.
Ahmad:

Thank you for sharing that deep understanding with us. That description is one that can pretty much fit in with any description of religious observation. It is a shame that the enlightenment and transcendent experience to the hallow which many religions seek to provide fall short in their implementation- They (religions) are representations of humans-> imperfect.

Marc Abrams
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:31 AM   #57
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Amad, I really enjoyed your post as well. Great insight and as Marc said it can be seen in many religions not just Islam. In fact I saw it myself in the religion I left behind. It would not have allowed me to take up aikido much less bow to the shomen and to O'Sensei.

My teachers never insisted that I do so but once I was in the dojo and I understood the real meaning of the bow it no longer seemed to me something of great concern.Now I find myself wanting to bow respectfully to people outside of the dojo as well. There was a time that in polite society the bow was a custom of courtesy for all and not considered only a religious behavior.
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:35 AM   #58
Gorgeous George
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Patrick Hutchinson wrote: View Post
As far as I know Aristotle spoke ancient Greek, not English, so you're talking about a translator's choice.
And the word "anterior" doesn't occur in any of the works of Shakespeare.
Indeed he did, and indeed I am! However, a very large percentage of the English language is derived from ancient Greek - as well as its alphabet.
A translator's job (when translating from ancient Greek into English) is to provide an appropriate English equivalent for the Greek, where possible - in the case of words such as 'Eudaimonia', this is not possible, hence the word tends to remain unchanged in translation, much like certain French phrases like laissez faire, deja vu, etc.

So I think that although Aristotle never wrote anterior (or 'Plato', or 'the', or 'and'...), if he had written in English he perhaps would have - and if I had replied in this thread in ancient Greek, I would have used the ancient Greek word for the English 'anterior' (or a synonym: the 'translator's choice' did not include the words catapult; ostrich; television; or motorway - probably because none of them are appropriate translations of what Aristotle wrote; hence the 'translator's choice' is confined to words which reflect what Aristotle meant).

1. It's quite an obscure bit of knowledge: 'Shakespeare's works don't include the word "anterior"' - that must be quite tough to find out.

2. I never claimed it did, so that's moot.

All the best

- Graham
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:39 AM   #59
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Ahmad, thanks for that. It seems to me that that metaphor applies not just to Islam, or to religion, but to just about anything that is profound (by which I mean, it has depths and they are not casually or easily apprehended). Islam has its "fortress keepers"; so does aikido, as this thread has demonstrated.

The point that I've been trying to (ineptly) make in this thread is that there's a great deal of eagerness to hold others to a higher standard than that to which we hold ourselves, combined with an unwillingness to be the first one to yield, to compromise, or to extend oneself. Let the other person do it first to prove his bona fides. If he doesn't do it? Well, then he's just a stupid, stubborn...um...uh...never mind.

"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" - King James Bible, Matthew 7:3
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Old 09-27-2010, 09:01 AM   #60
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Wonderful post Mary. From Andre Noquet's essay in Aikido Journal: http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=405

<start>

O-Sensei On Religion

[One day] I said to Ueshiba Sensei, “You are always praying, Ueshiba Sensei. Then aikido is a religion.”

“No, that’s not true. Aikido is never a religion, but if you are a Christian, you will be a better Christian because of aikido. If you are a Buddhist, you will be a better Buddhist.”

I thought it was an amazing response. I really liked his answer. Since he was a Japanese I was afraid he would say that Christianity was nothing. Ueshiba Sensei had a great deal of respect for Christ. I was living in a four-mat room in the dojo and he would knock on the door and enter. He would sit down beside me and there was a portrait of Jesus Christ. He would place his hands together in a gesture of respect.

I asked him one day if there wasn’t a similarity between his prophecies and those of Christ. He answered, “Yes, because Jesus said his technique was love and I, Morihei, also say that my technique is love. Jesus created a religion, but I didn’t. Aikido is an art rather than a religion. But if you practice my aikido a great deal you will be a better Christian.”

Then I asked, “Sensei should I remain a Christian?” He replied, “Yes, absolutely. You were raised as a Christian in France. Remain a Christian.” If he had told me to stop being a Christian and become a Buddhist, I would have been lost. My heart was full of Ueshiba Sensei because he had a vision of the entire world and that we were all his children. He called me his son.

<end>

I'd like to think that settles the issue but I know better.

Last edited by Rabih Shanshiry : 09-27-2010 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 09-27-2010, 09:06 AM   #61
torbjornsaw
 
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Don't be a skeptic :-)

Thank you all.

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Old 09-27-2010, 09:15 AM   #62
WilliB
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Rabih Shanshiry wrote: View Post
Then I asked, "Sensei should I remain a Christian?" He replied, "Yes, absolutely. You were raised as a Christian in France. Remain a Christian." If he had told me to stop being a Christian and become a Buddhist, I would have been lost. My heart was full of Ueshiba Sensei because he had a vision of the entire world and that we were all his children. He called me his son.
Why should he do that, anyway? I thought he was a follower of the Omoto religion.
Where does Buddhism get into the picture?
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Old 09-27-2010, 09:39 AM   #63
Marc Abrams
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Re: To bow or not to bow

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Bjorn Saw wrote: View Post
Don't be a skeptic :-)

Thank you all.
Bjorn:

You were on a roll. People were with you on this one and there you go. Why don't you just start that statement as a new thread that people could disagree with in amazement!

Being open-minded and skeptical and very important in order develop knowledge.

Marc Abrams
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Old 09-27-2010, 09:49 AM   #64
torbjornsaw
 
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Marc, never short of a reply and handy wisdom, you'll start that thread. I have another one in store.

Cheers,

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Old 09-27-2010, 12:09 PM   #65
DonMagee
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Re: To bow or not to bow

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Bjorn Saw wrote: View Post
Dear all,

I have a query that I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on. Recently I've had a lovely student come to the dojo to practice; very enthusiastic and keen, sincere and good natured. He is a Muslim and will not, because of his precepts and faith, bow to the ground either at the Kamiza or to another when we greet in the Japanese way(In our dojo when in seiza we bow all the way down to the mat to another when we finish the session as a thank you). He will nod a small bow in respect to another.
We have had great open talks about religion and spirituality and we really understand each other to a great part.

Would you allow his freedom to follow his creed and forgo the standard dojo bow and just get on with training or not? For me it's not just that simple. We speak about it and find that we discover more things as we look at the issue. Very interesting and not a quick solution. Of course I could easily overlook this one incident and just get on with training (which I might do) and not bother about his rules of conduct. But how far do we open up the Japanese tradition to allow a varied standard?
I have 30 students and as many as 15 nationalities and all faith groups. We have a great relationship and it's a wonderful dojo.
Now I like this guy, but since I like to view my Aikido to be part of a spiritual discipline (not that I impose it on students but if they are interested I will speak my mind) I like to speak with him about the dynamics of being a guest and conforming to the standard of the host. A self surrender to another way of being if you like. Most people find no trouble in doing this but because of certain rules of conduct we find ourselves in these situations.

But what has been the most joyful thing coming out of this query is our talks that leads deep into the reasons and meaning of religious and spiritual understanding.

There are also the more sterner applications of faith rules as not allowing men to train with women etc. How do we deal with that? Open a men's only class? A Muslim class? A Christian class?

What do you think?
I am very pragmatic about this.

I have a friend who is jewish, he invited me to a dinner his group (not sure what they call a congregation of jewish people for worship and dinner) was having. Now did I go, refuse to partake in their beliefs, expect to eat their food and leave when I had what I wanted?

No, I found out what would be expected of me and then decided if this was something I could do without infringing on my beliefs and culture.

I make no concessions for my class. I'm not going to create special rules and circumstances for one person because of faith, ability, or desire. To me it's no different then going a boxing club without arms and insisting they teach them how to kick or a person who hates running wanting to change a marathon down to 5 miles so they can say they ran a marathon.

I know my view is not popular, but to me having a belief means it is up to you to find activities that fit into that structure, not change the structure to fit into your beliefs. There are many things I choose not to do because my beliefs do not mesh with what they are doing. To insist otherwise is arrogance.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 09-27-2010, 12:19 PM   #66
jonreading
 
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Re: To bow or not to bow

As Dojo cho, you answer will set precedent. The underlying question surrounding all of this as the issue applies to the dojo is what position to take on the issue and how defensible will that position be as a point of precedent.

1. I tend to agree with many of the early comments specifically related to bowing. Bowing is not central to the practice of aikido. I have made exceptions to Muslims and Christians alike on this issue. Whatever your decision, you need to enforce it universally - what's good for the goose is good for the gander. This is the tricky part because you want some freedom to subjectively enforce this rule (i.e. we want to ignore it when its someone we like, but enforce it when the student is a jerk...). I understand both sides of the argument, but the side I don't like is when I see this rule selectively enforced.
2. The rule leads down a slippery slope depending on how you choose to interpret the action. Aikido is Japanese and contains cultural components, language and ideology of that culture. If your student chooses not to bow because of [Japanese] cultural beliefs, where do you draw the line in your defense of cultural immersion? What is your defense when a student chose not to recognize Japanese language? What about the courtesies exchanged during training? If your student chooses not to bow because of religious beliefs, where do you draw that line?
3. This is your dojo. No where is it written that you have to allow anyone to do anything that is not under your authority. The actions of this student will reflect on your decision. Are you willing to say to the dojo, "I stand behind this student's actions"?

First, I choose to view these kinds of etiquette questions from an educational standpoint. New students sometimes do not understand our training and I give the same leniency to questions about bowing as I do using Japanese terminology (terrible dojo Japanese by the way), following etiquette during class, and showing respect to those with whom you train. I would not expect a new student to know aikido terminology and so I also grant that leniency for cultural education as well. However, I do expect that as students train they learn terminology and etiquette, I also expect students to learn the significance of the cultural influences as well.
Second, I do not make rules in the dojo that are specific to religion, but rather to the safety and sanctity of the dojo. "Your religious convictions do not trample my right to train." Sometimes you have to say, "I'm sorry, I don't think you will find what you are looking for here." Third, my students reflect my instruction and their activities reflect upon the sanctity and well-being of the dojo. I am selective in what actions I allow in my dojo by asking myself. "Would I accept that behavior if someone did that to me? Golden rule baby.

Let new students show you who they are, but you also need to show them what you expect of them.

Last edited by jonreading : 09-27-2010 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 09-27-2010, 02:19 PM   #67
Marc Abrams
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Re: To bow or not to bow

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Bjorn Saw wrote: View Post
Marc, never short of a reply and handy wisdom, you'll start that thread. I have another one in store.

Cheers,
Great Response!!! I just love it when people can debate and have fun doing so. Don't know how handy my wisdom is because post-hoc reasoning is always 20:20.

You are obviously deeply committed to what you do and are willing to put it out there. I have a lot of respect for people who can do that.

Regards,

Marc Abrams
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Old 09-27-2010, 02:34 PM   #68
David Partington
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
As in most things, it depends upon who you ask. See this example of Islamic reasoning for prohibitions against bowing, even for a simple greeting:

http://www.islam-qa.com/en/ref/20198

or

http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.a...=3484&CATE=142

Of course, there are Islamic opinions to the contrary floating around the net as well.

Best,

Chris
I too initially turned to the internet in search of some answers and found just like you a few opinions for and against bowing. The difficulty with information available on the internet is trying to establish the credibility of the source, the accuracy of the information and sometimes whether or not there is an agenda behind it. (I'm not talking specifically about religious information but rather ANY information.)

As my club is in the UK it made more sense to me to contact the MCB rather than quote any of the opinions I had found on Google.

For the record, the organisation I belong to insists on a bow.
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Old 09-27-2010, 03:17 PM   #69
Hellis
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Re: To bow or not to bow

I don't really have an issue with this problem, when I started Judo in 1956 and Aikido in 1957, I was handed a rough copy of the club rules, I accepted them as they stood, it never occured to me to ask the instructor ( K William Sensei - the first student of Aikido in the UK ) to change the rules to suit me. I can imagine what the reaction would have been. That is the way I still see it. Take it or leave it...
Just imagine trying to run a dojo with students training with their own selective agenda..

Henry Ellis
http://aikido-controversy.blogspot.com/
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:15 AM   #70
WilliB
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
David Partington wrote: View Post
I too initially turned to the internet in search of some answers and found just like you a few opinions for and against bowing. The difficulty with information available on the internet is trying to establish the credibility of the source, the accuracy of the information and sometimes whether or not there is an agenda behind it.
Well, usually you can get an idea about the orientation of site by reading more of it. In case of Shayk Muhammad Al-Munajids "Islam Q&A" site referenced by Christopher, they come from an extremely fundamentalist position. For example, they also declare that Western democracy unacceptable for islam, so one wonders what exactly short of the medieval Caliphate is.

Anyway, I got a giggle out of the sentence after the anti-bowing advice:
"‘O Messenger of Allaah, when one of us meets his friend, can he bow to him?' The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘No.' He said, ‘Can he hug him and kiss him?' He said, ‘No.'"

Now Youtube for something like "Arafat + Kiss", and enjoy. The entire Middle Eastern political leadershipmust be boiling in sulphur...
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:07 AM   #71
Chris Li
 
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Willi Brix wrote: View Post
Well, usually you can get an idea about the orientation of site by reading more of it. In case of Shayk Muhammad Al-Munajids "Islam Q&A" site referenced by Christopher, they come from an extremely fundamentalist position. For example, they also declare that Western democracy unacceptable for islam, so one wonders what exactly short of the medieval Caliphate is.

Anyway, I got a giggle out of the sentence after the anti-bowing advice:
"‘O Messenger of Allaah, when one of us meets his friend, can he bow to him?' The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘No.' He said, ‘Can he hug him and kiss him?' He said, ‘No.'"

Now Youtube for something like "Arafat + Kiss", and enjoy. The entire Middle Eastern political leadershipmust be boiling in sulphur...
Well, this has happened in related threads as well. Somehow the discussion of whether or not bowing is important to Aikido practice devolves into ridicule of particular religious views.

Anyway, my intent wasn't to say that any particular view is more legitimate, but to point out that Islam is not monolithic, and that the fact that some Muslims don't care about bowing doesn't eliminate the fact that other Muslims do.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-28-2010, 01:41 AM   #72
WilliB
Dojo: Minato Aikikai
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Re: To bow or not to bow

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Well, this has happened in related threads as well. Somehow the discussion of whether or not bowing is important to Aikido practice devolves into ridicule of particular religious views.
No. Nobody ridiculed any particular religious view. I simply read the link that YOU posted in support of accommodating the non-bower and pointed out some background.

What is ridiculous imho is the idea that every demand has to be accommodated when it is accompanied by the claim that it is "religious".
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Old 09-28-2010, 02:44 AM   #73
Flintstone
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Re: To bow or not to bow

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Willi Brix wrote: View Post
NWhat is ridiculous imho is the idea that every demand has to be accommodated when it is accompanied by the claim that it is "religious".
And then this is the right way to segregation and apartheid.
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Old 09-28-2010, 03:02 AM   #74
Amir Krause
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Willi Brix wrote: View Post
No. Nobody ridiculed any particular religious view. I simply read the link that YOU posted in support of accommodating the non-bower and pointed out some background.

What is ridiculous imho is the idea that every demand has to be accommodated when it is accompanied by the claim that it is "religious".
Willi

I suggest you re-read Ahmad great response (quoted below) . You will find that Islam is not a single culture, and has many differing sub-groups, each adhering to it's own rules. The same holds true to other religions and cultural groups (I know there are dozens of Hasidi Jew courts, each following slightly different rules).

Further, for your information, most Arab country rulers are secular or mostly secular. Muslims rule in this region is mostly in the non-Arab countries: Iran has a Shiite rule, and Turkey is ruled by Islamic party (who won the democratic elections). Sausdi-Arabia rulers are also among the Muslim side, but they follow a very specific sect - Wahabi.

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
If I can make an analogy that my Sensei has kindly given quite sometime ago...

The knowledge and practice of Islam confers on the instructions of God. Imagine that He is in a castle fortress surrounded by the first layer. These first layer are those courtesans, nobles and aristocrats of gentle persuasion and cultured upbringing. They will greet those who come upon them with politeness and courtesy. They politely ignore your deficiencies and seek not to embarrass you and will accept your better qualities as a representative of yourself.

The second layer would be the servants, where through their daily contact with the first layer has adopted similar politeness and courtesy albeit with some rough edges. They greet visitors with respect which is circumspect as well. They are not above telling you off if you do not meet to their expectations.

The 3rd layer will be the fortress guards who are highly disciplined and usually very rough and ready. The usually abide by strict rules, some have foundation on the teachings of the Ruler but some created to establish uniformity of understanding for the masses who do not have the luxury of time to debate the nuances of law. They will turn most visitors to their Ruler away based on their training, typically to save time and eliminate the need to think for themselves. Occasionally they will call upon their sergeant for the more difficult cases who may only improve the situation only slightly, having grown into that position from the rank and file himself.

Typically you will meet muslims who are on the 3rd layer. They have some passing knowledge of religion from the school years, and perhaps some books. Most of their time has been spent growing up with other things like normal education, sports and hobbies. Part of what they consider religion is in fact cultural influence or superstition. A lot of what they consider is the Only way is in fact an ill known assumption of their forefathers.

What I'm getting at is that, at the core of it Islam is a religion of compassion and accessibility. Most men find it their calling to make religion a difficult and arduous thing probably in an attempt to distinguish their level of piousness amongst peers. So from that simple fact and the fact that hadeeth on its own is not without contradiction (even Al-Muslim and Al-Bukhari have hundreds of contradictions to each other despite both being treated as sahih), the interpretation to how Bowing is in fact similar to an act of genuflection is open to debate.

Respect others, without losing your Identity or religion.
But hard lining anyone would not endear you or your religion to anyone. The muslims who are so keen to fight for their rights or 'transgressions' by others, where is your Peace, your Salam?

In the beginning, Aikido is to Harmonise with yourself and then to others. I think that would be lesson to us all.
Ahmed

From my own experience and secular vantage point, I consider your post as excellent. Yey I think it underestimates the importance of the "external beliefs: religions tend to slowly internalize those. Customs that were made for convenience a century ago slowly become inseparable part of tradition and must be followed (a lovely example of this is the clothing of most orthodox Jews which was the height of fashion in 18th century Poland and immigrated to Israel).

It seems that for a religion to prosper, it needs much more then the basic tenets, and it has to catch the 3rd layer and build rules those will follow, this implies both ceremony and restrictions, as well as providing a feeling of uniqueness and "being chosen by God" (I use the Jewish term but hope you can find another suitable one).

BR
Amir
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Old 09-28-2010, 06:48 AM   #75
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: To bow or not to bow

Quote:
Willi Brix wrote: View Post
No. Nobody ridiculed any particular religious view.
I'm afraid I must say that I had the same impression as Christopher. If using one's mighty google-fu to pick out differences in the beliefs and practices in the 1 billion followers of a religion, and then posting them and saying that you "got a giggle" out of it, is not ridicule, then I don't know what is.
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