Saudi monarch rules out hand-kissing

Aug. 20, 2013 at 7:17 AM

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia issued a statement rejecting the practice of hand kissing except to honor one's parents.

"I announce from where I stand my complete rejection of this matter and I ask everyone to do accordingly and refrain from kissing hands except for parents, honoring them," the king said in a statement quoted by al-Arabiya Tuesday.

The practice of hand kissing has sparked controversy, with some calling it humiliating and others saying it is a sign of respect, the pan-Arab network said.

"We saw people sanctifying some religious figures through kissing hands, and this does not comply with Islamic law," said Judge Issa al-Ghaith, a member of the Islamic Committee's Shura Council. Kissing hands should be allowed only as an act of respect with parents, scholars or governors, he said.

Sheik Adel al-Kalbano, the former imam of Mecca's Grand Mosque, called hand kissing an act of Sufism, a dedication to the inner mystical dimension of Islam, and has little to do with Saudi society or morals, the network said.

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