Respecting ‘Associated’ Objects / Places
As far as respecting things associated with someone or a place of importance is concerned, we find that Allah the Generous Lord has made the respecting of many such ‘associations’ compulsory upon us. Indeed Allah has named such associations as ‘The Signs of Allah’. Even according to the Quran such associations become His Signs. The Quran elucidates this matter in the following terms;
O you who believe! Do not violate the signs appointed by Allah nor the sacred month, nor (interfere with) the offerings, nor the sacrificial animals with garlands / collars. (Surah 5, al-Maidah verse 2)
Respecting the sacrificial animal is evident: it is obvious that it is about to be sacrificed in Allah’s path therefore Allah has designated it as one of His Signs. Because of this fact, it is compulsory to treat it with respect. But why would Allah designate the garland / collar that is put around that animal’s neck also as one of His Signs? (Bear in mind that the collar was put around the animal’s neck by us.)
Furthermore, the garland / collar is only temporary, that is, it is only around the animal’s neck for a few days. And yet it is so dear to Allah that He designates it as one of His Signs and makes its respect incumbent upon us!
It is noteworthy here that this animal is not going to sacrifice itself in Allah’s path, but is going to be offered as a sacrifice. Furthermore, the animal does not have any knowledge of this impending sacrifice. And yet one who is not offering himself as sacrifice, his collar is to be revered so much! And yet one who actively sacrifices himself, along with his sons, brothers, nephews and friends, in order to save Allah’s religion, whilst in the grips of thirst and hunger, how is it that things which have been rubbed against their blessed bodies cannot be considered Signs of Allah?
Rather they are considered idolatrous and innovation? How strange! Bravo oh faithful Muslim! Is this the extent of your faith in the Quran? The collar around the animal’s neck is but a temporary association, and yet still designated a Sign of Allah: and yet the places where the pure bodies of those martyred in Allah’s path are buried are permanently associated with them. If a temporary association is so honourable, then how honourable and highly ranked must a permanent association be?
To honour and give respect to something or someone is neither idolatry nor innovation nor unlawful, because the difference between respect and worship is immense. Nothing but God could possibly be worshipped, and yet respect can be offered to one other than Allah: for example we respect and honour parents, scholars, the elderly, etc, all on the basis of laws of respect dictated by Allah.