Manners of Salutation

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What is the manners of solution? What does islamic manners means in islam?

“When a (courteous) greeting is offered to you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy.” Al-Nisa 4; 86

Salutation is one of the means of Islam to establish respect and love in the Muslim society. Abu Huraira (r.a.) reported: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said that:

“You shall not enter Paradise so long as you do not affirm belief in all those things which are the articles of faith and you will not believe as long as you do not love one another. Would you like me to direct you to a thing which, if you do, will foster love amongst you: (i.e.) give currency to the practice of paying salutation to one another by saying as-salamu alaikum –peace be upon you.”(Muslim, Iman, 73)

The word salam means to be saved from all kinds of troubles of this world and the Hereafter and to attain happiness. Therefore, when believers greet each other, they ask for each other’s happiness both in this world and in the Hereafter. According to the above mentioned tradition, salutation has a close connection with the existence of faith and love, which are considered as the foundations of peace and tranquility. “al-Salam” is also one of the names of Allah the Almighty. In other words, He is the One Who is free from all deficiencies, Who saves His servants from all kinds of dangers, and Who will greet His fortunate servants in Paradise.

Salam is like a password amongst believers. Indeed this is mentioned in the verse below:

“…say not to anyone who offers you a salutation: you are not a Believer…” (al-Nisa 4; 94) Greetings of the believers given in this world will be current in the Hereafter, too. Their greetings will even be replied by Allah the Almighty and the angels. This is expressed in some verses as follows:

“They will not there hear any vain discourse, but only salutations of peace: and they will have therein their sustenance, morning and evening.” (Maryam 19; 62)

“The word from a Merciful Lord (for them) is: Peace!” (Yasin 36; 58)

“…The angels enter unto them from every gate. (Saying): Peace be unto you because you persevered…” (al-Ra’d 13; 23-24)

According to the customs of the Prophet (pbuh), salutation is given by saying “as-salamu alaikum – peace be upon you (plural)” or “as-salamu alaika – peace be upon you (singular)” and the addressee replies saying “wa-alaikum-salam – and peace be upon you (plural)” or “wa-alaika as-salam – and peace be upon you (singular).” Expressions like “wa-rahmatullah – and Allah’s Mercy” or “wa-rahmatullahi wa-barakatuhu – and Allah’s Mercy and Blessings” may be added to the response. Salutations of other religious groups are usually done by some gestures and movement of the head and hands. For instance, Christians put their hand to their mouth; and Jews greet by doing finger movements or bowing their heads and waist down. Arabs before Islam used expressions like “may your morning be nice,” “may your morning be bright,” and “may your night be good.” There are interesting similarities with those greetings and the greetings used today such as “good morning” and good afternoon” etc. It should be noted that these expressions are neither ugly nor bad, but they can never replace the greetings advised by Islam. What is suitable for a believer is to follow the manners of greetings established by the Messenger of Allah.

Who will greet whom and according to what rules are explained by the Prophet (pbuh) as follows:

“Allah’s Apostle said, “The young should greet the old, and the riding one should greet the walking one, and the walking one should greet the sitting one, and the small number of persons should greet the large number of persons.” (Bukhari, Isti’dhan, 5-6)

When people at the same age and level meet each other, the one who greets first will be the one who gains more spiritual rewards. This is expressed in a saying of the Prophet (pbuh) as follows: “Those who are nearest to Allah are they who are first to give a salutation.” (Abu Dawud, Adab 133)

Just like greeting a congregation when entering, one should greet it when leaving. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said that:

“When one of you comes to an assembly, he should give a salutation and if he feels inclined to get up, he should give a salutation, for the former is not more of a duty than the latter.” (Abu Dawud, Adab 139)

As it is suggested by the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) that those who walk around the Muslim neighborhood should salute everybody he meets, acquaintance or stranger. The first steps of understanding and comingling start with greetings between two believers, who are strangers to each other; because they meet at the strongest common point or the brotherhood in Islam. This is why salutation is strongly recommended by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).

According to the narration of Abdullah bin Amr (r.anhuma), a person asked Allah’s Apostle: “What (sort of) deeds in or (what qualities of) Islam are good?” He replied,

“To feed (the poor) and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” (Bukhari, Iman, 20)

In another report narrated by Abdullah b. Umar (r. anhuma) Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said that: “spread salutation amongst you, feed the poor and the needy so be brothers as it is commanded by Allah the Almighty.” (Ibn Majah, At’imah, 1)

In small towns where the majority of the population is Muslim, paying salutations might not be difficult; but in big cities where the population is diverse, saying greetings to everyone one meets might be a problem. Still one should try to follow the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) by greeting the people around his/her neighborhood and workplace.

In order to pay salutation one should benefit from the slightest possibilities. Even if two people come across each other in short intervals, they should not show laziness or negligence in repeating salutations. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said that: “When one of you meets his brother, he should salute him, then if he meets him again after a tree, wall or stone has come between them, he should also salute him.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 135)

One should be as courteous as possible in responding to the greetings or at least should respond in the same manner. For instance, the response to the greetings of someone who says “salam alaikum” can be either with some additional expressions like “wa alaikum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh” or in same expressions “wa alaikum salam.” It is expressed in a verse:

“When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things.” (al-Nisa 4; 86)

Muslim scholars deduced from this verse that paying salutation is a Sunnah of the Prophet; whereas responding to it is obligatory upon believers. According to the narration of Abu Hurairah, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said that:

“When Allah created Adam, He said to him, “Go and greet that group of angels, and listen to their reply, for it will be your salutation and the greeting of your offspring.” So, Adam said to the angels, “As-Salamu Alaikum (i.e. Peace be upon you)”. The angels said, “As-salamu Alaika wa Rahmatu-llahi” (i.e. Peace and Allah’s Mercy be upon you). Thus the angels added to Adam’s salutation the expression, “Wa Rahmatu-llahi,” (Bukhari, Anbiya, 1)

Aisha (r.anha) narrated:

“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) told me:

“This is Gabriel (pbuh). He salutes you.” And I replied:

Wa alaihis-salam wa rahmatullahi wa-barakatuh.” (Bukhari, Bad’ul Khalk, 6)

Giving and replying to the salutation with additional expressions, i.e. alaikum-salam wa rahmatullahi wa-barakatuh, causes to gain more spiritual rewards. Imran b. Husain (r.a.) narrated:

“A man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said:

al-salam alaikum – Peace be upon you!” The Prophet (pbuh) responded to his salutation. He then sat down and said:

“Rewarded by ten.” Another man came and said:

al-salam alaikum wa rahmatullah – Peace and Allah’s mercy be upon you!” The Prophet (pbuh) responded to his salutation when he sat down and then said:

“Rewarded by twenty.” Another man came and said:

al-salam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa-barakatuh – Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you!” He (pbuh) responded to him and said when he sat down:

“Rewarded by thirty.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 131-132)

When someone enters his/her home, he/she should say his/her greetings to his/her family, just like when entering somebody else’s place. In this regard, he/she should not be stingy towards his/her family members. Anas (r.a.) said that:

“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) told me”

“My son! Pay your salutation to your household when you enter your home so that your greetings become blessings for you and your family.” (Tirmidhi, Isti’dhan, 10) It is stated in a verse: “…But when you enter houses, salute one another with a greeting from Allah, blessed and sweet…” (al-Nur 24; 61) According to this verse, one should even greet himself/herself when entering his/her home even when there is nobody in it. Then the expression of the salutation will be as “as-salamu alaina wa ala ibadillahi-s-salihin – peace be upon us and upon the righteous servants of Allah.” (Muwatta, Salam, 8)

When one meets with non-Muslims, he/she should not salute them. If they salute first, he/she should reply to their salutations just by saying “wa-alaikum – and upon you.” Ibn Umar (r.anhuma) reported Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as saying: “Do not be the first one to salute Jews and Christians.” (Muslim, Salam, 13)

Anas (r.a.) reported that the Companions of Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) said to him:

“When the People of the Book offer us their salutations, how should we reciprocate them?” Thereupon he said:

“Say: Wa Alaikum (and upon you too)”. (Muslim, Salam, 7)

The following incident narrated by Aisha (r.anha), mother of the believers, clearly shows why the Prophet (pbuh) exhibited such attitude towards non-believers.

“A group of Jews entered upon the Prophet and said,

As-Samu-Alaikum – (i.e. death be upon you).” I understood it and said,

Wa-Alaikum As-Samu wal-la’n – (death and the curse be upon you).” Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) said:

“Be calm, O Aisha! Allah loves to be kind and lenient in all matters.” I said:

“O Allah’s Apostle! Haven’t you heard what they (the Jews) have said?” Upon this Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) said:

“I have (already) responded (to them): And upon you!” (Bukhari, Adab, 35)

However, one may pay his/her salutation to a mixed group, where Muslims and non-Muslims happen to be together. Because it is reported that the Prophet (pbuh) passed by a group consisted of Muslim, polytheists, and Jews and greeted them. (Bukhari, Isti’dhan, 20)

If there is no possibility of misconception, it is permitted for men to greet women and vice versa. In fact, Allah’s Apostle greeted a group of women waiting in the mosque. (Tirmidhi, Isti’dhan, 9) In addition, there is a report that Umm Habiba, the daughter of the Prophet’s uncle, greeted him. (Muslim, Musafirun, 82) We also see in the sources that companions greeted an old lady, who was serving them. (Bukhari, Isti’dhan, 16)

One should salute the children, too. It is among the reports of the companions that the Prophet (pbuh) would salute children and would not neglect it. For instance, it is narrated by Anas bin Malik that he passed by a group of boys and greeted them and said, “The Prophet used to do so.” (Bukhari, Isti’dhan, 15)

There are some situations that one should not pay his/her salutations:

– One should not greet a person who is relieving himself/herself or committing a sin such as drinking alcohol or gambling.

– Again it is not suggested to salute someone who is in the middle of performing an act of worship, like performing ablution, praying, or reciting the Holy Qur’an.

Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş,  Erkam Publications

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