The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.
In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.
No more kissing the King's hand
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah yesterday banned citizens from kissing his hand or that of any member of the royal family, saying only fathers and mothers deserved such reverence.
There you go. Last time I was in Riyadh, in a Tamimi supermarket, he popped in for three packets of cigarettes and a couple of frozen pizzas. Apparently it was Poker night for him and his brothers. Naturally, when I came across him in the aisle, I kissed his hand, as you do. He said I could take a photo of it with my camera phone, for a souvenir. Friendly old guy.
But no more. Even though our respected Internet Imam says that the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and his companions were always kissing each other on the hand...
Furthermore, to kiss one between his eyes or on his hands is also established to be part of the practice of our beloved Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and his companions (Radhiallaahu Anhum)
...it has now been banned by the King on the advice of his Wahabbi religious advisors, on the grounds that it is a form of Idolatry
It also leads to bowing, which violates God’s law as the faithful bow only to the one and only God. Hence I hereby declare my total rejection of this matter, and I ask everyone not to kiss the hand of anyone except their parents as a mark of devotion.
This is complete nonsense, of course. The exception for parents shows how inconsistent is the ruling. Also, the royals and hangers-on still kiss the King on his right shoulder; how do you do that without bowing, unless you are Toulouse Lautrec?
No, it's banned because it's ever-so-slightly Fun. Not as much Fun as bungee-jumping, or eating an ice cream in a lascivious and provocative fashion, or even dropping laxative chocolate into someone's shopping trolley when they're not looking, but hey, in Saudi Arabia you've got to take your fun where you find it. So no more hand-kissing fun.
So what's next? Well, we Saudi guys still walk along holding hands.Gives the Westerners a shock when they first see it, we have to explain it as an "extended handshake". One that can last ten minutes, or from the door of the cafe to your car. That's slightly Fun. Soon they'll stop that too.