A distinguishing feature of the Islamic community is that they greet each other with Salaam. It has been a practice from the time of the Prophet (SAW), and has been on the tongues of the believers ever since. As it is a blessed practise of the Prophet (SAW) it is the duty of every believing man and women to uphold this practice and spread it.
The practice of Salaam, has been established from both the Quran and Sunnah, all of the scholars are unanimous on its virtue and significance. Allah has stated in the Quran: “O you who have believed, do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome and greet their inhabitants.” (24:27) He has also stated, “But when you enter houses, give greetings of peace upon each other – a greeting from Allah , blessed and good.” (24:61) Similarly, “And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with one better than it or [at least] return it [in a like manner].” (4:86) From these verses we an understand the importance of greeting and the emphasis our Creator has placed upon it.
Many scholars have given various rulings in regard to Salaam and replying to it. One such Scholar is Hasan al-Basri (RH) he said it is Mustahab (recommended) to make , but to reply to the Salaam is Wajib (obligatory). It is necessary to reply to the Salaam, but one can reply in one of two ways; either one could return the exact same greeting, or one could add on to it, and better it. (Ahkamul Quran)
Another scholar Mufti Shafi Uthmani (RH) has listed the benefits of Salaam, in Ma’ariful Qur’an:
- It is a form of remembering Allah, sine His name is mentioned.
- It is a reminder to the next person about Allah.
- It is a method of expressing love and attachment to a fellow Muslim
- It is a comprehensive supplication for his goodwill.
- It indirectly contains a guarantee that the fellow Muslim will attain no harm from the greeter’s limbs or tongue.
The action of greeting can be found throughout the Books of Hadith, one such Hadith has been narrated by Bara ibn Aazib (RA), “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, instructed us to do seven things. He instructed us to visit the sick, to join funeral processions, to bless people who sneeze, to help the weak, to help the wronged, to accept invitations, to return greeting, and to fulfill our oaths” (Bukhari) We should reply to each other’s greetings, we should not ignore a fellow Muslim when they greet us.
It is a Muslim’s right that he get his Salaam replied to: “The rights of one Muslim over another are five: returning the greeting of salaam, visiting the sick, attending funerals, accepting invitations, and saying ‘yarhamuk Allah’ (may Allah have mercy on you) to one who sneezes.” (Bukhari) We should try to reply to Salaam, or we could be guilty of violating another Muslim’s right.
We see that there is a lack of love in the Ummah, people do not care for one another solely for Allah’s sake. However, the greatest of creation has counselled how best to create love between people. He has said “Should i not inform you of an action, which if you practice upon, it will engender mutual love? Make the saying of Salaam common among yourselves” (Muslim) If we want love to be common in our communities then we must make the practice of Salaam common. We will definitely see an increase in love as it is the promise of the Truthful one.
We know that replying to Salaam is compulsory, but the one who initiates the greeting is more commendable, “The one who makes Salaam first is closer to Allah.” (Abu Dawud) This is a virtuous action and one that we all should strive to attain. We should ensure no one beats us to this brilliant action.
With every action there are varying amounts of reward, if a person puts more effort into an action and tries to fulfill it in the best of ways then he will get more reward. Imran ibn Husayn (RA) narrates that, “A man entered the gathering of the Prophet (SAW) and said, ‘ السلام عليكم’ The Prophet (SAW) replied to the Salaam, and the person sat down. The Prophet (SAW) then said ‘Ten.’ A short while later, a second person came and said, ‘السلام عليكم ورحمة’ The Prophet (SAW) replied to the Salaam, and the person sat down. The Prophet (SAW) then said, ‘Twenty.’ A short while later, a third person came and said, ‘ السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته’ The Prophet (SAW) replied to the Salaam, and the person sat down. The Prophet (SAW) then said, ‘Thirty.'” (Abu Dawud) We can see from this that all three types of Salaam were correct, however, the most virtuous was the longer one, we should try to optimise our deeds by adopting the longest Salaam which was ‘As-salaamu Alaykum wa ramatullahi wa barakatu.’ This translates to ‘May Peace be unto you and so may the mercy of Allah and his blessings.’
A person should not only greet those who he is familiar with, but should greet everybody. When the Prophet (SAW) was asked which aspects of Islam are most virtuous he replied, “Feeding people, and greeting people whom you know as well as those whom you don’t know” (Abu Dawud) Even if we do not know the person we should greet him. It will make that person feel at ease and make their heart more attached to the Sunnah. How can arrogance or shyness stop a person from acting on the Sunnah?
Even when we enter the home we should proclaim Salaam, this serves many purposes, it alerts the residents of the house of your arrival, it starts off your time in the house on a positive note and the Prophet (SAW) has said; “If a man takes the name of Allah when he enters his home and before he eats, the Shaytaan says to his companions, ‘There is no accommodation or food for you here'” (Muslim) This is such a simple and effective method to guard our houses from the evil influences of the Devils. A person will find his home to be filled with peace if he acts on this. Many households are filled with unrest due to their inhabitants withholding their greetings.
May Allah give us the ability to always greet our fellow brothers and sisters in religion. May he allow us to act on the Prophetic way until our last breath. Ameen.