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Online Quran Academy - Islamic Mentors

The Greeting in Islam: Significance and Etiquette

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Greetings in Islam

The beautiful act of Greetings holds cultural and religious importance in Islam. It reflects the values of respect, peace, and brotherhood central to the faith. A greeting in Islam is more than just polite; it serves as a means to promote peace, strengthen community ties, and receive rewards from Allah (SWT). Muslims are advised to warmly greet everyone, whether family, friends, or strangers, highlighting the importance of kindness and social connections in everyday life.


Different forms of greetings in Islam, such as “As-Salamu Alaikum” (Peace be upon you), further emphasize these principles and create a sense of unity and compassion within the community.

The tradition of Islamic greetings can be traced back to the early Muslim community in Medina. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) taught his followers to greet each other peacefully. This served as a courtesy and a powerful tool to develop unity and trust among Muslims. It was part of a more significant effort to establish a balanced and supportive community, considering core Islamic values of kindness and brotherhood.

The Traditional Greeting in Islam

Salam is more than just a way of saying hello. The word Salam means peace. It is a prayer for peace for the person being greeted. These are often the first words learned by new speakers of Arabic and are used universally in Muslim communities despite the local language.


The greeting of Islam in Arabic is:

As-salsamu alaykum
“Peace be upon you.”

In Arabic, full greeting in Islam is:

As-Salamu Alaikum Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh.
“Peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you.”

Full greetings in Islam have thirty good deeds reward. Which will be clear by the below hadith:


Hazrat Imran bin Husain (RA) reported:

A man came to the Prophet (SAW) and said: “As-Salamu’ Alaikum (May peace be upon you). The Messenger of Allah (SAW) responded to his greeting, and the man sat down. The Prophet (SAW) said,


Ten (meaning the man had earned the merit of ten good deeds).”


Another one came and said: “As-Salamu’ Alaikum wa Rahmatullah (May peace be upon you and the Mercy of Allah).” The Messenger of Allah (SAW) responded to his greeting, and the man sat down. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Twenty.” A third one came and said: “As-Salamu’ Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu (May peace be upon you and the Mercy of Allah and His Blessings).” The Messenger of Allah (SAW) responded to his greeting, and the man sat down. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Thirty.”

[Riyad as-Salihin 850]

The greetings are used in everyday dealings among Muslims, creating a feeling of togetherness, respect, and shared affection in Islam. It’s a typical exchange during communal prayers, gatherings, and Islamic occasions, strengthening the ties of brotherhood and sisterhood among each other.


Islamic Texts on Greeting

Islamic texts provide detailed guidance on various aspects of social conduct, including greetings, which are essential in Muslim culture. In Surah An-Nisa, Allah (SWT) instructs us to greet each other with etiquette.


Surah An-Nisa verse 86 about answer the greetings in good manners.
“And when you are greeted, respond with a better greeting or at least similarly. Surely Allah is a ˹vigilant˺ Reckoner of all things.” [Surah An-Nisa verse 86]

This verse highlights the importance of responding positively and respectfully to greetings. It encourages us to return greetings with equal or more wonderful warmth, promoting a sense of goodwill and community.


The tradition of greeting in Islam is deeply rooted in the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, as proven by various hadiths.


It was narrated from Hazrat Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri (RA) that:

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “The key to prayer is purification; its opening is to say Allahu Akbar and its closing is to say As-salamu’ alaikum.”

[Sunan Ibn Majah 276]

This hadith highlights the significance of the greeting “As-salamu’ alaikum” in the context of Islamic prayer.


Hazrat Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that:

Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you shall not believe until you love one another. May I inform you of something? If you do, you love each other? Promote greeting amongst you (by saying As-salamu ‘Alaikum to one another)”.

[Riyad as-Salihin 378]

In this hadith, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) highlights the importance of greeting each other with “As-salamu’ alaikum” to promote love and unity among Muslims.


Hazrat Abdullah bin’ Amr bin Al-‘as (RA) reported that:

A man asked the Messenger of Allah (SAW): “Which act in Islam is the best?” He (SAW) replied, “To give food and to greet everyone, whether you know or you do not.

[Riyad as-Salihin 844]

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) specifies greeting others, irrespective of familiarity, as one of the best acts in Islam.


Giving Salam in Islam

The proper way to offer Salaam in Islam is a fundamental part of Muslim etiquette and is highly encouraged. It involves several key steps and behaviors that are encouraged by the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).


Etiquette of Salam

  • It is recommended to give Salaam when entering or leaving a gathering. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, Hazrat Anas bin Malik (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said to me, “Dear son when you enter your house, say As- Salamu’ Alaikum to your family, for it will be a blessing both to you and to your family.” [Riyad as-Salihin 861]
  • Salam should be given in a clear and loud voice.
  • When addressing a group, the Salaam should be directed to everyone present.
  • Giving Salam even to unfamiliar people is respectful and promotes goodwill and unity.
  • Individuals should observe proper modesty and cultural norms when exchanging Salam, particularly in more traditional settings.

For more detailed information on modesty, visit this link: Modesty and Humility in Islam.


Priority in Giving Salaam

  • The one riding should greet the one walking.
  • The one walking should greet the one sitting.
  • The smaller group should greet the larger group.
  • The young should greet the elder.

About this, Hazrat Abu Huraira (RA) narrated that:

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, “The rider should first greet the pedestrian, and the pedestrian, the one who is seated, and a small group should greet a larger group (with as-Salam-u-‘Alaikum).”

[Sahih Muslim 2160]

Muslim Greetings and Sayings (Response)

Saying Salam is the Sunnah, but its response is obligatory (Fard). We should greet each other by saying “As-Salaamu Alaikum” and respond with “Wa-Alaikumus Salaam.” The response to Salam has a similar reward as saying Salam.


Responding to Written Salam

When you receive a written greetings of Salaam, responding in writing is considered good practice.


Three Ways to Greet in Islam

In Islam, greetings are an important aspect of social interaction, reflecting peace, respect, and hospitality values. Here are three common ways to greet someone in Islam:


As-Salamu Alaikum

It is the most widely used greeting among Muslims and can be used in any context, whether formal or informal. As mentioned earlier, the proper response to this greeting is “Wa Alaikum As-Salam.”


Ahlan

Ahlan translates to “Welcome” or “Hello.” It is a casual and friendly greeting that can be used among friends and family. When someone says “Ahlan,” it conveys a sense of hospitality and warmth.


Marhaba

“Marhaba” also means “Welcome” or “Hello.” It is similar to “Ahlan” and is used to greet someone warmly. This greeting is commonly used in many Arab-speaking countries among Muslim communities.


Each greeting is culturally significant and is used based on the context of the interaction. ‘As-Salamu Alaikum’ holds a particular religious meaning and is an integral part of Islamic tradition. ‘Ahlan’ and ‘Marhaba’ are more culturally rooted and are commonly used in everyday talks among Arabic speakers.


Click on the link and learn more about How to greet in Arabic.


Benefits of Greeting with Salaam

Greeting each other with Salam is a fundamental practice in Islam, offering spiritual and social benefits. Here are some key advantages:


  • Promotes Peace and Brotherhood: By greeting each other with “As-Salaamu Alaikum” (Peace be upon you), we genuinely wish for peace and promote goodwill within our community.
  • Fosters Unity and Love: Greeting with Salam strengthens bonds among each other. It fosters a sense of unity and mutual respect, encouraging a community where love and brotherhood stay.
  • Encourages Positive Interaction: Greeting with Salaam sets a positive tone for our interactions. It encourages respectful communication, reducing misunderstandings and conflicts.
  • Acts as a Sunnah: Following the practice of greeting with Salam is the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It is a simple but powerful way to follow the teachings of the Holy Prophet (SAW) in our daily lives.
  • Breaks Barriers: Salam helps break down social barriers. Regardless of status, age, or background, greeting someone with Salaam signifies equality and acceptance.

Greeting with Salam is more than just a cultural practice. It’s a meaningful way to develop peace, earn rewards, and build strong relationships within the community.


Modern Usage and Adaptations

Islamic Greetings in Modern Settings

Islamic greetings are widely used in modern settings, including digital communication. These greetings are commonly exchanged in emails, text messages, social media platforms, and video calls. In the digital age, using Islamic greetings helps maintain a sense of community and religious identity among Muslims worldwide. Additionally, greetings can be a way to start talks with a positive and respectful tone, even in professional and everyday interactions.


Greetings with Non-Muslim

Islamic greetings have been changed when interacting with non-Muslims. For instance, a non-Muslim who regularly engages with Muslims and says “As-Salaam-Alaikum” as a sign of respect. However, there are differing opinions within Islamic scholarship about initiating such greetings with non-Muslims. Some scholars suggest using neutral terms like “Hello” or “Marhaba,” while others say you can simply reply with “Walaikum,” which is the sunnah of the Holy Prophet(PBUM).


Challenges in Multicultural Societies

Maintaining traditional greeting etiquette can be challenging in multicultural societies. Language barriers, cultural differences, and varying levels of religious observance can affect how greetings are exchanged. It’s important to guide these challenges with sensitivity and respect for all cultural practices.


Greeting Etiquette in Diverse Scenarios

Who Should Greet First in Islam?

As mentioned above, in Islamic etiquette, the person who arrives or enters a room should initiate the greeting. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasized initiating greetings as a sign of humility and good manners.


Is Greeting a Respect?

Greeting someone is indeed a sign of respect. It acknowledges the presence of another person and shows respect for their well-being. This practice strengthens social bonds and promotes a respectful and balanced environment.


How to Greet a Woman in Islam?

When greeting a woman in Islam, it’s important to be culturally and religiously sensitive. In Islamic cultures, physical contact, like handshakes, is avoided between non-mahram individuals (those who are not closely related). Instead, a verbal greeting like “As-Salamu Alaikum” is appropriate. It’s important to respect individual preferences and cultural standards.


Here is a list of Mahram in Islam: List of Mahrams for women in Islam.


How to Greet Back in Islam

The proper response to “As-Salamu Alaikum” is “Wa Alaikum As-Salam.”

  • Extended Response: To enhance the greeting, add “Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh” (And the mercy and blessings of Allah) for additional blessings and goodwill.

How should a Group Reply to Salam?

If some people are gathered somewhere and a new person comes and says “Salam,” the reply of one of them will suffice for the rest, and if no one replies, then all will be considered sinful.


Instances Where Salaam Should Not Be Given

Although it is a very sacred act to offer Salaam and greetings, there are some instances where we should refrain from doing so. In certain situations, offering Salaam can become a disturbing act for someone, and we may become sinful for causing unnecessary interruption or distress. Below are some examples of such instances:


  • When someone is reciting the Holy Quran, doing Zikr, or reciting Durood (Salawaat), others should not give Salaam.
  • It is disliked to give Salaam to someone who is speaking, as they are busy in conversation with someone else.
  • When a person is praying Salah or sitting in wait for Salah, Salaam should not be given or answered.
  • If someone is performing wudhu, do not extend Salaam towards them until they have concluded their wudhu.
  • When a person is in the toilet, Salaam should not be given to them or answered by them.
  • When a man is with his wife, for example, walking in the streets, others should not give Salaam.
  • Do not give Salaam to people who are studying, having an academic discussion, or revising their lessons.
  • A person who is busy with some work should not be greeted, and a newcomer should not intrude with handshaking, as this act is uncultured and distresses others.
  • If a person is sleeping or resting, they should not be disturbed with Salaam.
  • During a Khutbah (sermon), either during Jummah or any other occasion, Salaam should not be given.

Conclusion

By offering greetings, we are upholding a tradition deeply rooted in the teachings of our Deen Islam. Practicing and promoting Islamic greetings daily can contribute to a culture of peace and understanding, one greeting at a time.


In an increasingly interconnected world often filled with misunderstandings, Greeting in Islam can be a simple yet powerful way to bridge cultural divides. They remind us that despite our various backgrounds, we all share a common desire for peace and well-being.


May peace be upon you and your interactions be filled with mutual respect and understanding. “As-Salamu Alaikum Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh”

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