My son is 12 years old and is a practicing Muslim. He is also an accomplished martial artist and one of the country’s best junior athletes. He has won the Point Kickboxing Association of Trinidad and Tobago Athlete of the year for 3 consecutive years and is currently being trained to turn professional. My concern is that he was invited to an interview for training by the National Kendo team of Trinidad and Tobago. Before I accept this prestigious offer I would like to know if it is permissible for him to do this sport. This is a great opportunity for him and for Muslim Youths in the country but his religion comes first and this sport involves some bowing. Can you please review this matter urgently? Is Kendo permissible for Muslims?
In Kendo or any Japanese Martial arts, one is required to bow. In fact, there are two bows, one is done at the start and the other is done at the end. This bowing (in Kendo) is sometimes done in the standing posture or the sitting posture and is done on all occasions. It is done to one’s opponent; to one’s teacher and to any other person of a higher rank. Although it has been stated that this bow is done to show respect to the other person, it will still be prohibited in Islam.
In this regard, there is an authentic narration from Anas Ibn Malik (R.A) in which he states, ‘A man said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, when one of us meets his friend, can he bow/bend to him?’ The messenger of Allah said, ‘No’. (Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 2728). In this tradition, it is evident that the man asked about bowing/bending to another person out of respect or greeting, and the Prophet (S.A.S) informed him that he cannot do that. The hadith therefore, establishes the fact that even if one‘s intention is to greet another or to show respect, it is still prohibited in Islam.
The Kendo arts is permissible, however, bowing is not permissible. If your son is exempted from doing the ‘bow’, then he can go ahead with the Kendo. However, if he is required to do the ‘bow’, then he must refrain from it.
And Allah Knows Best.
Mufti Waseem Khan.