Moral and contemporary issue relating with greeting in Islam

I pray Allah be our guide from the beginning to the end

Islam is the voluntary submission to the will of Allah.

Islam, as a comprehensive way of life also recognizes this norm as a right, and goes to the extent of specifying how it should be done: ‘Assalamu alaikum’ meaning ‘peace be upon you’ or more perfectly: ‘Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatuh’ meaning “Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be upon you”. In this regard, Allah says in the Qur’an: “And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet (in return) with one which is better than it or (at least) return it (in like manner).
Indeed, Allah is ever taking account of all things” The greeting Allah is referring to here is generally understood to be ‘Assalamu alaikum’. He also described salaam as “a greeting from Allah, blessed and good”. Likewise the Prophet of Islam (Peace be upon him) was once asked: ‘what aspect of Islam is among the best?”

He replied “Giving food (to the needy) and saying salaam to whom you know and whom you know not”. In another instance, he enjoined his followers to spread the greetings of salaam because it increases the love between them.

He also said: “It is not permissible for a person to desert his fellow brother for more than three days while they continue to meet and turn their backs to each other.

And the best of them is the first to say Salaam”. He also ruled: ”Let the young say Salaam to the elder, and the passerby to the seated, and the smaller group to the larger group.

INITIATING THE SAYING OF SALAAM TO NON-MUSLIMS.

Muslim scholars in Islam have three major views concerning the saying of salaam to members of others faiths, such as Christians, Jews, Hindus.

One group of scholars prohibits it, while a second group permits it. Yet a third group takes a midway position by saying when conditions call for it or make it necessary, Muslims may initiate the greeting of salaam.
It has been authentically reported from the Prophet (Peace be upon him) that he said:

“Do not initiate Salaam with them….” But it was said that this injunction was specifically when they were going to Banu Quraizah. But the question is, is this a general rule applying to all non-Muslim citizens, or only to those who exhibits hostilities to Muslims as did the Banu Quraizah?

This is a point of deliberation (among scholars).
Imam An-Nawawi reconciled between the hadith that enjoyed greeting and those that prohibit initiating salaams to non Muslims as follows:

The hadith that enjoined spreading the greetings of salaam is a generalization (A’am), from which the people of the book were excluded.

This group go further to assert that the salaam that Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) said to his father in Qur’an 19:47 was a mere farewell and good will, and it was not meant as a greeting.

From among the contemporary scholars, Ibn Uthaimeen holds a similar opinion.

He believed initiating greetings of any sort with non-Muslims is a sort of honor given to them which they don’t deserve.

He categorically spelt out that it is prohibited (Haraam) to greet them with salaam. He further said: “Because it is a humiliation for a Muslim when he starts to honor a non-Muslim”.

Shaykh Abdul-Azeez Bin Baaz while commenting on the Hadith earlier stated, said: “This indicates that we respond to them if they initiate it. It is initiating it that is prohibited” Scholars of the Shafii Madhhab uphold the prohibition of initiating salaam to a non-Muslim citizen.

However, they permitted initiating with other local greetings only when the need arises, because it is an expression of love. They argued further that Allah the Most High has warned: “You will not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day making friendship with those who oppose Allah and His Messenger,..

However, some of the Shafi’i Madhhab scholars consider it to be merely detestable (Makruh).
For believers, greeting is one of the ways to present their best wishes to one another. As it is stated in the Qur’an believers are greeted with “Salam” while entering Paradise (Surat al-Araf, 46) and they greet one another there. (Surah Yunus, 10) Both of the situations exemplify the importance of greeting for Muslims in the morality of the Qur’an.
Our Prophet (saw) drew attention to the importance of greeting with his following hadith:

Narrated from Abu Hurayr: (ra): Our Prophet (saw) stated: “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, you cannot enter Paradise as long as you do not have faith. You do not attain mature faith unless you love one another. Shall I show you something; when you do it you love one another. Spread greeting one another among you..

The following are the situations about which Muslims need to be meticulous about greeting, as a form of worship in the hadith and the verses

The Morals of Greeting and Receiving Greetings

In the wicked morality which is spread among unbelievers, not receiving a greeting, pretending not to hear, are showed as a display of superiority.

They frequently resort to such attitudes with wicked intentions such as oppressing those in their own shallow thinking, consider to be inferior in terms of social status, making them “come to their senses” etc.

People who are distant to the morality of religion generally wait for the other party who greets and according to their thinking, consider it as humiliating.

The fact is however, greeting, which is a manifestation of one’s will for goodness is a trait believers display as a form of worship.

For this reason believers do not wait for others to greet them but they greet them first and they comply with this order of Allah whenever it is necessary.

Displaying a good attitude without waiting it from the other party and engaging in a good deed is a sign of superior morality.

In one hadith, our Prophet (saw) explains the beauty of this morality as follows:

“A believer gives relief to his brothers in religion. A hypocrite, on the other hand, remains distant and gives trouble to his brother”.

“A believer is hasty in greeting. A hypocrite, on the other hand, expects to be greeted first”.

As is stated in the verse, “When you are greeted with a greeting, return the greeting or improve on it. Allah takes account of everything .” (Surat An-Nisa’, 86), it is obligatory for a person to respond the greeting of a person with a better one or at least, with an equal attitude.

For this reason believers respond a greeting with a much better one, because no matter what his position may be, receiving a greeting is a command related in the Qur’an.

Having faith in Allah renders the attitudes and behaviors of people perfect.

Greeting the household while entering homes.
When you enter houses greet one another with a greeting from Allah, blessed and good. In this way Allah makes the Signs clear to you so that hopefully you will use your intellect.” (Surat an-Nur, 61)

In this verse in Surat an-Nur, Allah commands believers to greet one another while entering houses.

However while greeting one another Allah reminds believers that they should greet one another with the intention of wishing others to lead a good life in compliance with the Qur’an and the morality of the Qur’an.

For this reason believers should be cautious about the intention of greeting.

In Paradise there is a verbal greeting to believers from AlMighty Allah.

Allah gives believers the glad tidings of an infinite Paradise. However there is a fact which is often disregarded; believers are rewarded with a beautiful life not only in the Hereafter but also in this world. Allah relates this glad tiding in the Qur’an as follows:

What is with you runs out but what is with Allah goes on forever.

Those who were steadfast will be recompensed according to the best of what they did.

Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Surat an- Nail, 96-97).

No doubt the beautiful life in this world and the Hereafter is the manifestation of Allah’s beautiful name, as-Salam – the all Peace.

A believer who leads a beautiful life and earns rewards in return for his/her good deeds in this world enters Paradise in the Hereafter in compliance with the verse, “return to your Lord, well-pleasing and well-pleased!” (Surat al-Fajr, 28).

Allah’s attribute of as-Salam is also His greeting to those who enter Paradise. In Suratul Ya Sin verse 58, Allah relates that He will grant a verbal greeting to the people of Paradise thus: “Peace!’ A word from a Merciful Lord.)” No doubt the greeting of Allah is one of the greatest glad tidings for believers.

In conclusion…
Abdullah ibn Omar (ra) narrated: Our Prophet (saw) said: Give more greeting and spread it among you, give food (to the needy) and be brothers as Allah commands you.”

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