130805: Ruling on military salutes and saluting the flag


I come from a country where jobs are few, and I cannot get any other job with my high school diploma, but I found a job in the military. However there is an issue, which is the salute; this is mandatory in the military. Is it permissible for me to work in the military? But when I give the salute I do not do so with the intention of showing respect; rather I do it with a different intention. Is it permissible to do that? I hope that you will answer my question in detail, because I am going to start this job in two months’ time.

Praise be to Allah.

The military salute that soldiers give to one another, in the form of a gesture with the hand, is a kind of greeting that is not allowed in Islam; rather the greeting of the Muslims is by saying “as-salaamu ‘alaykum (peace be upon you).”

At-Tirmidhi (695) narrated from ‘Amr ibn Shu‘ayb, from his father, from his grandfather that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “He is not one of us who imitates others. Do not imitate the Jews or the Christians. The greeting of the Jews is a gesture with the fingers and the greeting of the Christians is a gesture with the hand.”

Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi.

It was narrated from Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Do not greet one another with the greeting of the Jews; their greeting is with the head and the hand, and with gestures.”

Narrated by an-Nasaa’i in ‘Aml al-Yawm wa’l-Layla, 340; and by Abu Ya‘la and by at-Tabaraani in al-Awsat. Al-Haafiz said in al-Fath (11/12): Its isnaad is jayyid. It was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in as-Silsilah as-Saheehah, 1783

As for saluting the flag, it is an innovation. It is not permissible to participate in it, in the army, in school or otherwise, as was stated by the scholars.

The scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas were asked: is it permissible to stand up out of respect for any national anthem or flag?

They replied:

It is not permissible for the Muslim to stand up out of respect for any national flag or national anthem; rather these are reprehensible innovations that did not exist at the time of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) or at the time of his successors, the Rightly Guided Caliphs (may Allah be pleased with them). It is contrary to the perfect Tawheed (affirmation of the Oneness of Allah) and veneration of Allah alone that is required of the Muslim. It is also a means that leads to shirk, and is an imitation of the kuffaar in their reprehensible customs, as well as going along with them in their exaggeration about their leaders and their ceremonies. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) forbade imitating them or resembling them. And Allah is the source of strength. May Allah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.

Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah, 1/235

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abdillah ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd ar-Razaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Ghadyaan, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Qa‘ood

They were also asked (1/2336): What is the ruling on saluting the flag in the army, showing respect to officers and shaving the beard?

They replied:

It is not permissible to salute the flag; rather it is an innovation, and the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever introduces anything into this matter of ours that is not part of it will have it rejected.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim.

As for showing respect to officers as they deserve according to their status, that is permissible, but going to extremes in that is forbidden, whether they are officers or not.

And Allah is the source of strength. May Allah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abdillah ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd ar-Razaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Ghadyaan, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Qa ‘ood

They were also asked (1/236): Please advise me about the ruling on one who works in the Egyptian army and this is his source of income, but the army rules and regulations require us to salute one another as foreigners do, and to greet and salute one another in a manner that is not that which Allah and His Messenger enjoined upon us, and to venerate the country’s flag, and to judge between us according to laws that are not the laws of Allah (i.e., military law).

They replied:

It is not permissible to salute the flag; it is obligatory to rule according to the law of Islam and refer to it for judgement; it is not permissible for the Muslim to greet leaders and superiors with the greeting of non-Muslims, because of what has been narrated of the prohibition on resembling them, and because that is going to extremes in showing respect to them.

And Allah is the source of strength. May Allah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abdillah ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd ar-Razaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Ghadyaan, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Qa ‘ood

Shaykh Ibn Jibreen (may Allah preserve him) was asked: What is the ruling on putting the hand to the head in a salute to the flag as is done in schools?

He replied:

We think that this is bid‘ah (an innovation). The greeting of the Muslims is salaam, and gesturing with the hand is the greeting of the Christians, as was narrated. So gesturing with the hand or head is the greeting or salutation of the Jews or Christians.

But the greeting of the Muslim is to say “As-salaamu ‘alaykum (peace be upon you)”; if the Muslim is far away from you then you can nod your head whilst saying “as-salaamu ‘alaykum”, moving your head or your hand as a sign that you noticed him and are greeting him. So you can combine the two things, the salaam which is the way of the Muslims, and the gesture, which is a sign that you have noticed him and are greeting him.

The gesture is not only the greeting; saluting the flag – if the flag is one of those flags that are hung up like a banner and so on – is not permissible, because it is an inanimate object, and saluting it is a kind of veneration, and it is not permissible to venerate created beings, so how about an inanimate object that cannot bring any benefit or hear? If that is an expression of veneration towards this inanimate object, then this is a kind of shirk.

If what is meant by the flag is the person who is carrying it, or the officer and so on, then the greeting should be by saying salaam and not in any other way.

End quote from Fataawa ash-Shaykh Ibn Jibreen

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (may Allah preserve him) was asked: I am the principal of a school and instructions have come to me from the education department stating that it is compulsory for the students to salute the flag, stand up for it and sing the national anthem. What is the ruling on these actions? Do I have to obey?

He replied:

This is undoubtedly a sin. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no obedience to any created being if it involves disobedience towards the Creator.” If it is possible to get out of it and avoid doing it, then that is what you should do.

End quote from the Shaykh’s website

http://www.alfawzan.ws/AlFawzan/FatawaSearch/tabid/70/Default.aspx?PageID=6564

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan also said, refuting some writer:

With regard to saluting the flag, saluting may mean venerating, and no one is to be venerated except Allah, as we say in the tashahhud when we pray: “At-Tahiyyaatu Lillaahi (salutations are for Allah)”, i.e., all veneration is for Allah, may He be exalted, as He alone deserves that. So it is a salutation of veneration and not a salutation of greeting, for Allah is to be venerated and not to be greeted. Salutation in the sense of a greeting, in which there is no veneration, is what is prescribed among the Muslims. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):

“greet one another with a greeting from Allah (i.e. say: As-Salamu Alaikum - peace be on you) blessed and good”

[an-Noor 24:61]

“When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally”

[an-Nisa’ 4:86]

Allah, may He be exalted, says of the people of Paradise (interpretation of the meaning):

“Their greeting therein will be: Salam (peace!)”

[Ibraaheem 14:23]

And He says(interpretation of the meaning):

Their greeting on the Day they shall meet Him will be Salam: Peace (i.e. the angels will say to them: Salamu Alaikum)!”

[al-Ahzaab 33:44].

And the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Shall I not you of something which, if you do it, you will love one another? Spread (the greeting of) salaam amongst yourselves.”

So the greeting of salaam is only among Muslims; there is no greeting of salaam for inanimate objects, pieces of cloth and so on, because salaam is a kind of supplication for wellbeing, or it is one of the names of Allah by which a Muslim prays for his fellow Muslim, asking by virtue thereof that he may be granted goodness and blessings.

What is meant by saluting the flag nowadays is standing up out of respect and venerating it; this is what the Standing Committee stated in a fatwa is haraam because it is standing as an act of veneration.

If it is said that saluting the flag is an act of respect for the government’s symbols, our response is: We respect the government in the sense of what Allah has prescribed of listening and obeying in that which is right and proper, and praying for them to be guided. Whenever the Committee explains this to the Muslims, it is only explaining a shar‘i ruling that all of us, government and people alike, are obliged to obey, and our government – may Allah preserve them and bless them – is the first one to obey that. This is what I wanted to explain, so as to avoid the sin of concealing knowledge.

End quote from al-Jazeerah newspaper, issue no. 11989, Tuesday 20/6/1426 AH, published on the Islam Light website:

http://www.islamlight.net/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=1722

Based on that, if you want to work in the army, then avoid this saluting.

And Allah knows best.

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