Assalamu Alaikum, Not Just Words
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “When Allah created Adam, He said to him: `Go and greet that company of angels who are sitting there – and then listen to what they are going to say in reply to your greetings because that will be your greeting and your off-springs.’ Adam said to the angels: `As-Salamu `Alaikum.’ They replied: `As-Salamu `Alaikum wa Rahmatullah.’ Thus adding in reply to him: `wa Rahmatullah (and Mercy of Allah)’ to his greeting.’’ (Al-Bukhari)
All right, mate! What’s up! How are you? Good morning and afternoon are all famous greetings around the world. Different cultures, races, and communities say it in their own way and languages. Muslims, however, no matter from which country, race, or culture, greet each other in the same way all over the world. But have we ever stopped to think about the impact and beauty of what we utter? Hearts and bonds are strengthened every time we exchange this greeting.
This salutation was prescribed from the beginning of time as mentioned in the Hadith. The meaning translates: “May peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you.” By saying this, we are in fact making Du’a for our brothers and sisters and spreading love and peace simultaneously. Another benefit is that it ends enmity. We may see someone whom we don’t like, but by saying these words, our hearts may Insha Allah open up and allow friendship to sow its seeds.
The importance of this greeting is exemplified in a Hadith collected by Al-Bukhari and Muslims from Abdullah Bin Umar. A man asked the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him): “What is the best thing in Islam?” He replied, “Feeding others and giving the greeting of Salam to those whom you know and those whom you do not know.”
The Prophet mentioned feeding someone and giving salaams together as the best things in Islam. We often lose sight of the simplest things that have great rewards.
Among the perfect attributes of Imaan – believing in the six articles of faith – is passing on salams.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Should I not guide you to something which will install love amongst you? ‘Spread Salams amongst you.’” (Abu Dawood, vol. 3, no. 5174)
In today’s scenario, love and a stronger bond between Muslims is more than needed. Several people embrace Islam every day and many face hostility and are sometimes boycotted by their non-Muslim relatives as a result. It is upon us Muslims to welcome them. We are their kinsfolk.
By spreading salams we are obeying the Prophet (peace be upon him) as he told us that we should give salams to people we know and people we do not. Is this what we are doing? I’m afraid we are not. When walking down the street how many of us greet those who pass by?
Here are a few things to keep in mind next time we meet each other:
- Be the first to initiate the Salam.
- Greet Muslims whom you know and you don’t.
- Begin your conversation with the Salam.
- If someone tells us that so-and-so gave their Salaams to us, then reply, “Wa Alaika Wa Alayhis Salam.”
- A person riding a mount should greet the one who is walking; a person on foot should greet the one who is sitting; a smaller group should greet a larger group; and the young should greet their elders. (Al-Bukhari, vol. 8, book 74, no. 250-251)
- Whenever you enter a house, yours or others, enter by saying the Salam. (Qur’an, 24:61)
- Shake hands because it wipes out the (minor) sins. (Al-Tirmidhi)