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Pointing one's feet towards the Qu'raan or Qiblah

 

feet-qiblah

[22:32] Having said that, if one observes the sanctity of the symbols of Allah, then such things emanate from the piety of the hearts.


Over the years discussion about pointing one's feet towards the Qur'aan or the Qiblah has raged amongst the Muslims with some pointing out that since there is nothing in the Qur'aan or the Sunnah about its prohibition, the act is baseless, without foundation and unnecessary.

However, it must be stated that the arguments of those who discourage from pointing the feet towards sacred symbols of Islam has not been fully understood. It must be clarified from the beginning that there is nothing explicit in the Qur'aan or the Sunnah about the prohibition of this action so the act (itself) cannot be declared as prohibited or sinful. This is an issue of propriety (adab) and not without some basis and foundation.

This short article will explore the reasons of discouraging pointing the feet towards the Qur'aan, Qiblah or any other sacred Islamic manuscripts or artefacts.

Sanctity of Allah (SWT)'s symbols:

The basis for respecting the Qur'aan, Qiblah or any other sacred Islamic manuscripts or artefacts is explicitly mentioned in the Qur'aan:

ذَٲلِكَ وَمَن يُعَظِّمۡ شَعَـٰٓٮِٕرَ ٱللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِن تَقۡوَى ٱلۡقُلُوبِ

[22:32] Having said that, if one observes the sanctity of the symbols of Allah, then such things emanate from the piety of the hearts.

Subsequent to establishing sanctity, commanding respect towards it and linking respect to piety, Qur'aan (or the Sunnah) doesn't elaborate as to what constitutes respect (or disrespect). This matter is left to the practice of the believers as the norms of respect and disrespect not only differ but change from time to time.

Urf (custom) and ādah (tradition):

In Islaic law Urf (custom) and ādah (tradition) are considered important sources of law. Numerous injunctions of the Islamic Fiqh are based on customs and usages of the people. From the time of Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) to the development of law schools Urf (custom) was considered as a source for law making activities.

The source of considering the actions of people as defining and explaining (the Qur'aan and Sunnah) is explicitly found in the saying of a famous Sahabi:

 

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مَسْعُودٍ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ نَظَرَ فِي قُلُوبِ الْعِبَادِ فَوَجَدَ قَلْبَ مُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ خَيْرَ قُلُوبِ الْعِبَادِ فَاصْطَفَاهُ لِنَفْسِهِ فَابْتَعَثَهُ بِرِسَالَتِهِ ثُمَّ نَظَرَ فِي قُلُوبِ الْعِبَادِ بَعْدَ قَلْبِ مُحَمَّدٍ فَوَجَدَ قُلُوبَ أَصْحَابِهِ خَيْرَ قُلُوبِ الْعِبَادِ فَجَعَلَهُمْ وُزَرَاءَ نَبِيِّهِ يُقَاتِلُونَ عَلَى دِينِهِ فَمَا رَأَى الْمُسْلِمُونَ حَسَنًا فَهُوَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ حَسَنٌ وَمَا رَأَوْا سَيِّئًا فَهُوَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ سَيِّئٌ

 

Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (RA) said, “Verily, Allah looked at the hearts of the servants and He found that the heart of Muhammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) was the best among them, so He choose him for Himself and He sent him with His message. Then, He looked at the hearts of His servants after Muhammad (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) and He found that the hearts of his companions were the best among them. Thus, He made them into the ministers of His Prophet, fighting for the sake of His religion. And whatever the Muslims view as good is good in the sight of Allah, and whatever they view as evil is evil in the sight of Allah.” [Ahmed]

This Athar has been accepted as Hasan by Al-Hafidh Ibn Haj'r Al-Asqalani (RA) and athenticated by Imam Hakim (RA), Imam Dhahabi (RA) and others.

Urf  is also mentioned explicitly in the Qur'aan:

خُذِ ٱلۡعَفۡوَ وَأۡمُرۡ بِٱلۡعُرۡفِ وَأَعۡرِضۡ عَنِ ٱلۡجَـٰهِلِينَ

[7:199] (O Prophet,) take forgiveness (as your habit), enjoin Urf, and ignore the ignorant.

The Qur'aan commands believing men to give Dowry to women at the time of marriage:

وَءَاتُواْ ٱلنِّسَآءَ صَدُقَـٰتِہِنَّ نِحۡلَةً۬‌ۚ فَإِن طِبۡنَ لَكُمۡ عَن شَىۡءٍ۬ مِّنۡهُ نَفۡسً۬ا فَكُلُوهُ هَنِيٓـًٔ۬ا مَّرِيٓـًٔ۬ا

[4:4]Give women their dower in good cheer. Then, if they forego some of it, of their own will, you may have it as pleasant and joyful.

But how much is to be given? What is the minimum? What is the maximum? What is the average? All of it has been left to practise of the people, consequently the amounts differ from place to place.

The fuqaha’ laid down several conditions that had to be met if the ‘urf in question was to be acceptable:

 

1 It must not contradict and violate any nass (text). For example, usury or the drinking of wine, even if found throughout a given society, can never be legally valid. The fuqaha’ do not consider such ‘urf when they are formulating the rules;

 

2 It should exist at the time of contract or commercial transaction. If it came later, it cannot be considered;  and

 

3 It should be general and universal instead of belonging to a particular locality or people (‘urf al khass).   This last condition is subject to dispute, for Imam Abu Yusuf (RA) and some Hanafi fuqaha’ regarded it as authoritative.

Associated disrespect with feet:

The matter of pointing feet towards someone or something is regarded as disrespectful amongst Muslims across cultures and ethnicities. To place something beneath the level of the feet is also regarded as disrespectful and degrading amongst Muslims. The Qur’aan, Qiblah, Islamic manuscripts are considered sacred by Muslims.

There is no clear nass (text) from the Qur’aan or the Sunnah which contradicts this cultural ethos and understanding.

Veneration of the Holy Qur'aan by Muslims (physical and spiritual):

The holy Qur’aan is regarded as the last testament by Allah (SWT) and highly respected by Muslims. The veneration towards the holy Qur’aan is displayed by placing it higher, holding it with respect and kissing it. None of this is explicitly stated in the Qur’aan or the Sunnah, nevertheless it is accepted by Scholars. Shaykh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Baz (RA) writes:

لا نعلم دليلاً على مشروعية تقبيله ، ولكن لو قبله الإنسان فلا بأس لأنه يروى عن عكرمة بن أبي جهل الصحابي الجليل رضي الله تعالى عنه أنه كان يقبل المصحف ويقول : هذا كلام ربي ، وبكل حال التقبيل لا حرج فيه ولكن ليس بمشروع وليس هناك دليل على شرعيته ، ولكن لو قبله الإنسان تعظيماً واحتراماً عند سقوطه من يده أو من مكان مرتفع فلا حرج في ذلك ولا بأس إن شاء الله .
كتاب مجموع فتاوى ومقالات متنوعة لسماحة الشيخ العلامة عبد العزيز بن عبد الله بن باز رحمه الله . م/9 ص/289.

We do not know of any evidence (daleel) to suggest that it is prescribed in sharee’ah to kiss it, but if a person does so, there is nothing wrong with that. It was narrated that the great Sahaabi ‘Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl used to kiss the Mus-haf and say, “This is the word of my Lord.” Whatever the case, there is nothing wrong with kissing it, but it is not prescribed to do so and there is nothing to indicate that it is prescribed in sharee’ah. But if a person kisses it as an act of veneration and respect if it falls from his hand or from a high place, there is nothing wrong with that, in sha Allaah. (Fataawa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi’ah li Samaahat al-Shaykh al-‘Allaamah ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him), vol. 9, p. 289)

The respect and veneration towards the holy Qur'aan extends to the fact that it cannot be physically touched without being in the state of Wudhu (ritual purity) as Shaykh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Baz (RA) writes:

لا يَجُوز للمسلم مَسُّ المُصْحَفِ وهو على غير وُضُوءٍ ، عند جمهور أهل العلم ، وهو الذي عليه الأئمة الأربعة رضي الله عنهم ، وهو الذي كان يُفْتِي به أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ، وقد ورد في ذلك حديث صحيح لا بأس به ، من حديث عمرو بن حزم رضي الله عنه ، أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كتب إلى أهل اليمن : " أنْ لاَ يَمَسَّ القرآن إلا طاهر " وهو حديث جيد له طرق يَشُدُّ بعضها بعضاً ، وبذلك يُعْلم أنّه لا يجوز مَسّ المُصْحَفِ إلا على طهارةٍ من الحَدَثَيْنِ الأكبر ، والأصغر ، وهكذا نَقْلُهُ من مكان إلى مكان إذا كان النَاِقُل على غير طهارة ، لكن إذا مَسّهُ أو نقله بواسطة ، كأن يأخذه في لِفافَة فلا بأس ، أما أن يَمَسّه مُبَاشَرَةً وهو على غير طهارة ، فلا يجوز على الصحيح الذي عليه جمهور أهل العلم ، لما تَقَدّم ، أما القراءة فلا بأس أن يقرأ وهو مُحْدِثٌ عن ظهر قلب أن يقرأ ويَمْسِكَ له القرآن مَنْ يَرُدُّ عليه ويَفْتَحَ عليه فلا بأس ،

It is not permissible for a Muslim to touch the Qur’aan when he does not have wudoo, according to the majority of scholars. This is the view of the four imaams (may Allaah be pleased with them), and this was the view expressed in the fatwas of the Companions of the Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam). A saheeh hadeeth concerning that has been narrated from ‘Amr ibn Hazm (may Allaah be pleased with him), stating that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) wrote to the people of Yemen: “No one should touch the Qur’aan except one who is taahir (pure).” This is a jayyid hadeeth which has a number of other isnaads which strengthen it. Hence it is known that it not permissible to touch the Qur’aan except in a state of purity from both major and minor impurity. The same applies to moving it from place to place, if the person who is moving it is not taahir. But if he touches it or moves it with something in between, such as picking it up in a wrapper, then it is OK. But if he touches it directly when he is not taahir, this is not permitted according to the saheeh view of the majority of scholars, for the reasons stated above. With regard to reciting it, it is OK for him to recite it from memory when he is without wudoo’, or for him to read it if the Qur’aan is held by someone who asks him to correct or prompt him. 

Further to specific guidelines on physical handling of the Qur'aan, it cannot be recited by an individual in the state of sexual defilement, or by someone in the state of major impurity until they have performed Ghus'l (Islamic bath) to purify themselves. Shaykh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Baz (RA) adds further:

لكن الجُنُبَ صَاحِب الحدث الأكبر لا يقرأ ، لأنه ثبت عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه كان لا يحجبه شيء عن القراءة إلا الجنابة ، وروى أحمد بإسناد جيد عن علي رضي الله عنه أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم خرج من الغائط وقرأ شيئا من القرآن وقال : " هذا لمن ليس بجنب ، أما الجنب فلا ، ولا آية " .

But the person who is junub, i.e., in a state of major impurity, should not recite Qur’aan, because it was narrated from the Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) that nothing ever kept him from reciting Qur’aan except for janaabah (major impurity). Ahmad narrated with a saheeh isnaad from ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came out from the toilet and recited something from the Qur’aan. He said, “This is for the one who is not junub; but the one who is junub should not do this, not even one aayah.” 

Sheikh Ibn al-Uthaymeen (RA) was asked about playing Qur'aan on speakers beneath the level of the feet and he responded:

وقد سئل الشيخ ابن عثيمين رحمه الله : " في بعض السيارات تكون سماعات المسجل محاذية للأقدام ، وقد توضع الأقدام والحذاء على السماعة
والسؤال هو: عندما يشغل القرآن فهل يكون في هذا امتهان لكتاب الله تعالى؟ وهل يقاس هذا الفعل على فتواكم على من يمد أقدامه أمام كتاب الله تعالى، نرجو التوجيه والله يحفظكم ؟
فأجاب : إذا كانت السماعات كما ذكر تحت الأقدام ، أو عند حذاء الأقدام ، فإنه لا يفتحه على القرآن الكريم ؛ لأن كون القرآن الكريم يسمع من تحت قدم الإنسان لا شك أن فيه إهانة للقرآن ، وإذا كان الإنسان لا بد أن يستمع إلى القرآن فليرفع السماعة عن محاذاة الأقدام " انتهى من "لقاء الباب المفتوح" (57/ 13)

In some cars the speakers are level with the feet, and feet or shoes may be placed on the speaker.

My question is: when playing Qur'aan, is there any disrespect to the Book of Allah in doing this? Is this comparable to your fatwa against those who stretched out their feet in front of the Book of Allah? We hope that you can advise us, may Allah preserve you.

He replied: If the speakers are beneath the feet as described or are level with the feet, then you should not play Qur'aan, because the fact that the Qur'aan is being heard from beneath a person’s feet is undoubtedly a kind of disrespect towards the Qur'aan. If a person must listen to Qur'aan, then he should lift the speakers above the level of his feet. [Liqa’ al-Baab al-Maftooh, 57/13]

 

Veneration of the Holy Kaa'bah by Muslims:

The holy Kaa'bah is similarly highly respected by Muslims. The veneration towards the holy Kaa'bah is taught by explicit porhibition of facing it or turning back towards it while answering the call of nature.

عن ابي هريرة قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إنما أنا لكم بمنزلة الوالد أعلمكم فإذا أتى أحدكم الغائط فلا يستقبل القبلة ولا يستدبرها ولا يستطب بيمينه

Sayyidina Abu Hurairah (RA) says that the messenger of Allah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said: “I am for you, how a father is for his son. I teach you. So whenever one of you goes to the toilet, he should not face the qibla or face his back towards it, and he should not use his right hand to clean himself (istinja).” [Abu Dawud]

 

Shaykh Abdullah Ibn Humaid (RA) was asked about pointing feet towards the Qiblah and he (RA) responded:

سئل الشيخ عبد الله بن حميد رحمه الله عن وضع الرجلين تجاه القبلة فأجاب :

لا مانع منه ، إلا أن بعض العلماء يكره أن يمد رجليه نحو الكعبة ، إذا كان قريباً منها ، فكره ذلك كراهة تنزيهية . أما مثل وجود مسجد في مكان آخر وفيه مسلم يوجه رجليه نحو القبلة ، فهذا لا بأس به ، ولا محظور فيه إن شاء الله ، كما قرره أهل العلم . والله أعلم .

انظر فتاوى الشيخ ابن حميد ص/144

There is nothing to say that this is not allowed, but some of the scholars regarded it as makrooh (disliked) to stretch the feet out towards the Ka’bah if one is close to it; they regarded this as makrooh but not emphatically so. But if there is a mosque somewhere else and there is a Muslim there who points his feet towards the qiblah, there is no harm in that and he is not doing anything forbidden in sha Allaah, as the scholars stated. And Allaah knows best. [Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Humayd, p. 144]

Shaykh (Mufti) Nizamuddin (RA) was asked about praying on prayer mats with pictures and images of the Holy Kaa'bah and he responded:

To stand or prostrate on prayer mats with pictures of the ka'bah or green dome etc on them is not permisible. The ka'bah and the green dome are salient features of islaam and to honour and respect all salient features of islaam is waajib. The impermissibilty of trampling on an honoured and respected item is clear since it is regarded as defamation. Even though both these images are not the actual ka'bah and the green dome but since they are a reflection of the original, any form of disrespect or defamation shown to them will be tantamount to defamation and disrespect to the original. Since it is not permissible to make sajdah on the physical ka'bah itself for the fact that it is not established for making sajdah upon but rather only for sajdah to be made in its direction. This is also done since it is prescribed so otherwise it cannot be comprehended logically since the sajdah is not even done to the ka'bah but rather to Allah. For this reason it will be regarded as shirk for one to prostrate to the ka'bah. So to prostrate to or on the green dome will all the more be regarded as shirk and impermissible. (durrul mukhtaar). Since these images are a reflection of the original of both these salient features thus it will be prohibited to make sajdah on these images. If the action of prostrating on these images is not shirk then it will definitely create a suspicion of shirk and this suspicion is also prohibited. The only instance in which it would be permissible to make sajdah on such mats is when the images are not very clear. Under the condition that one does get ingrossed in the images.

Conclusion:

In summary, the command of respecting Islamic symbols is categorically established. However, its interpretation is based on Urf (custom). Therefore pointing the feet towards the Qur'aan or the Qiblah or standing on images of them will be considered disrespectful but without clear evidence this act cannot be regarded as sinful or prohibited. The piety and faith of a Muslim should compel him/her to show respect to these symbols.