Video: Hand kissing a controversial practice in Saudi Arabia

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The practice of hand-kissing returns to spark controversy in Saudi Arabia. Some people reject it as humiliating; others support it as an act of respect.

Among those who oppose this practice is Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

“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 previous statement.

Recently Twitter users circulated photos of some preachers smiling while having their hands kissed.

In some regions of the kingdom traditional hand-kissing used to be common, but it is now mainly considered as disrespectful.

Some people say that only parents or elderly relatives should have their hands kissed, in a display of love and respect.

Sheikh Adel al-Kalbani, a former imam of Mecca’s Grand Mosque, said hand-kissing is a practice of Sufism, a dedication to the inner, mystical dimension of Islam, or a practice of people from the country’s Hejaz region and that it has little to do with Saudi society or morals.

Sheikh Adel al-Kalbani said the act of hand-kissing has gone beyond limits, which is why the king reject it.

Judge Issa al-Ghaith, a member of the Islamic Committee in Saudi’s Shura Council, says kissing hands is allowed in some cases, especially with parents, scholars or governors, as long as it shows an act of respect and not submission.

“We saw people sanctifying some religious figures through kissing hands, and this does not comply with Islamic law,” he said.

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