Respect: Three types of respect

Q572 :In an argument I recently had with my brother concerning the celebrations of anniversaries of scholars and religious people, he pointed out that in our language we distinguish in three different types of respect. The first is that which we offer to Allah. This is plain worship and Allah is described as Ma'bood, which means the one who is worshipped. The second type is respect which is due to parents and elders. This is called Ihteram. The third type is a position in between, which is called "Taazim". This last type does not tantamount to worship, but it is the one which we should show to the Prophet, his companions and other pious and highly religious people. He argues that this is not to be confused with associating partners with Allah. Please comment.


A572 : I am afraid your brother's argument is rather lacking in accuracy. He suggests that the three degrees of respect are peculiar to your language, when the three words he has used to identify them are Arabic ones. Indeed, Arabic uses all three terms for exactly the same meanings you have described. Hence, to suggest that in Arabic we have only two degrees and to make this a reason for confusion over a very serious matter is not valid. However, let us consider this argument for a moment. He suggests that a certain group of people are entitled to a position in between respect and worship, which he calls "Taazim". This is a claim which requires supporting evidence from the Qur'an or Sunnah. Placing such people in this grade and claiming that they deserve a particular position and treatment can have one of two possibilities. It can be claimed to be a matter required by Islamic faith and, in this case, it has to have clear basis in the teachings of Islam. Anyone who makes such a claim has to prove it with evidence from the Qur'an or the Sunnah. Alternatively, this is merely a concept which is not related to Islamic teachings. If so, anyone who makes such a claim should not press it on other Muslims. This is because he would be pressing a concept of his own making and claiming that it is part of our religion. The Prophet tells us that anyone who invents anything in Islam, something which is not part of it, shall have it rejected. I can tell you very clearly that there is no statement in the Qur'an or the Hadith which suggests that any person should be treated in a special way to give him a place above other people. Hence, the only alternative is that it is an invention and every invention is to be rejected. Moreover, to speak of a rank in between that of Allah and that of ordinary human being is not something new. The pagan Arabs in Makkah claimed such a position for the idols they worshipped. The Qur'an tells us that they used to claim that they only worshipped those idols so that they could benefit them by drawing them closer to Allah. That did not make them anything but idolaters. The Qur'an denounces their attitude and describes them as idolaters who associate partners with Allah. Therefore, when people claim such a position for other people and consider that those latter ones have some sort of privilege which enables them to improve the position of others with Allah, they are actually claiming for them a position of partnership with Allah. This is not acceptable in any way. Moreover, why should people insist on glorifying certain other people? What do they gain by such glorification? The fact is that when people attend the death anniversary of someone who is claimed to be a saint, they come out at the end of that function feeling satisfied with themselves, because they consider that they have done something which pleases Allah. The opposite is true. They have done something which displeases Him and they should feel very unhappy with themselves. If people want to please Him, they have to make sure what actions do please Him. Since He has sent a messenger to mankind to show them the way to gain His pleasure, then they should look up to that messenger in order to know what to do. Earning Allah's pleasure can only be achieved by following the practice of His messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He did not tell us to assign a grade of "Taazim" or glorification to any group of people. If we do so, then we are introducing into the faith of Islam something that is alien to it. This is not acceptable to Allah at all. Allah accepts only what He has approved, either through revelations in the Qur'an or clear instructions by the Prophet. Your brother's argument does not rely on any evidence of either type. As such it is to be rejected.


Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )