Featured Islamic Practices

ETIQUETTE OF MUSLIM GREETINGS

35 ETIQUETTE OF MUSLIM GREETINGS (Dr. Qazi Muhammad Barkatullah) THE HOLY QURAN 1. And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet ye with a better greeting or at least return it. Surely, Allah takes account of all things.” (4:87) 2. “O ye who believe, enter not houses other than your own until you have asked leave and saluted the inmates thereof.” (24:28) 3. “And the true servants of the Gracious God are those who walk on the earth humbly and when the ignorant address them, they avoid them gracefully by saying ‘Peace’.” (25:64) 4. “They (the righteous) will be received (in Paradise) with greetings and peace.” (25:76) In a single word, ‘Salam’ means ‘Peace’. The other greetings are the various blessings of the paradise. (Ref.No.: 2456; English Commentary) 5. “They (the inmates of Heaven) will be greeted with ‘Peace’-a word of greeting from the Merciful Lord.” (36:56-59) 6. “Their greeting on the day«-when they meet Him will be peace.” (33:45) 7. “And when those who believe in Our Signs come to thee, sayr’Peace be unto you.’ ” (6:55) 8. “And Our reply was, ‘So turn aside from them (people who do not believe) and say /Peace.’ ” (43:90) 36 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 9. “But when you enter houses, salute your people with the greeting of peace-a greeting from your Lord full of blessing and purity.” (24:62) Commenting on the last verse above, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II, the second Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, emphasized the significance of the greeting ‘Assalaamo Alaikum’ (Peace be on you). It is exhorted that when you enter your own homes, you must first say Assalamu Alaikum, that is convey a salutation to yourself as well as to the inmates of your household. You must convey salutation to your relatives as well as friends.Salutation must be conveyed to the inmates of all the houses where you enter with permission. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II says that we should always remember that the salutation is not merely the word of your mouth but is a great gift from Allah. It appears that the word Salam is very simple to utter but it brings forth very significant results because as a supplement to the word Salam, ther is a promise of peace from Allah. So when you say the salutation to another individual, it is not from you but rather you convey Allah’s words of Peace to the other person. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II observed that people entering their own homes do not generally utter the salutation. It means that the salutation is a prayer for others but not for their own kith and kin. Allah, however, has ordained all muslims to convey the salutation whenever they enter their own homes. The Holy Prophet of Islam has instructed that one should say Assalaamo Alaikum to every muslim one meets whether he is known or not. But, alas, a section of the muslims has ignored this command altogether. Such muslims instead of saying Assalaamo Alaikum confine themselves to words like Adab Arz (Humble respects). Anyone who utters proper words of salutation is looked down upon by these muslim people. Whereas they themselves are guilty of ignoring the instruction of Islamic injunctions of the Holy Prophet of Islam. As such, one section of the muslims has completely given up conveying the salutation. Ther is another group which has not properly understood its significance. Such people, if they come to a meeting, take a seat quietly. If they go to their own homes, they enter quietly. They never recall that the Holy Prophet of Islam has given salutation instructions for certain occasions. If they are asked why they did not convey the salutation, they simply answer by asking what difference does it make whether they say it or not. Another group says that the salutation was not conveyed because of REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 37 shyness or more appropriately because of Haya. But these three groups are in error. Haya according to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II means check or obstruction. Matters which are undesirable should be checked. But there should be no obstruction in matters which are useful. Again the Holy Quran describes salutation as an extraordinary gift in nature. Even after death the gift which would be received will be the salam or the salutations. The angels would welcome the righteous entering the everlasting life saying salam on behalf of God. So if any so-called great man makes an excuse that he does not need to convey salutations then he should always remember that he is in no way greater than God. If God welcomes His righteous people with salam, then what excuse do these people have not to say salam to others? Again, according to Ahadeeth, when the angel Gibrael came to visit the Holy Prophet of Islam, he would first say salam and then the Holy Prophet would also greet him with salam. So no one should hesitate to greet others with Assalaamo Alaikum which should be responded to with Wa Alaikumus Salam (Peace be on you too). Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II observed that Muslims educated in the West were especially hesitant to exchange salam greetings. Sometimes these Western-educated Muslims just make a jesture with the hand without uttering the salutation. At other occasions,, they open their coversation by asking others, ‘How are you?’ Sometimes some will say, ‘Brother, how are you?’ and the response would be, ‘Brother, I am O.K.’ But the teachings of Islam demand the exchange of Islamic salutatons. The people. Therefore, should know that Almighty Allah, Angel Gabriel (Gibreel) and the Holy Prophet of Islam convey salutations. As such, no person should be so arrogant as not to greet others with proper salutations. Proper salutation greetings also help to revive unity. The companions understood the secret of the exchange of salutations. Once a Sahabee (companion of the Holy Prophet) came to another Sahabee and asked him to accompany him to a market. They went ‘ together and returned after some time. They apparently did nothing and purchased nothing. They went empty-handed and returned empty-handed. After two or three days, the Sahabee came again and asked the same Sahabee to accompany him to the market. The other Sahabee inquired whether they were going again for the same purpose,and would not buy anything. Yes, said the first one, let us just go and meet people to exchange salutation greetings. The Sahaba understood that the value of salutation greetings was a gift of God for 38 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS strengthening the bond of love among mankind. They frequently exchanged salutation greetings in homes, meetings, places of business.in the streets and among people who they knew and those they did not know as well. The Holy Prphet said: “Convey salutation to those who you know and also to those who you do not know.”(Tafseer-i-Kabeer,vol.6,p.40) Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II, following the example of the Holy Prophet of Islam as well as the Promised Messiah, encouraged us to exchange salutations. It should not be set aside considering it as something unnecessary. • It should be properly pursued and freely exchanged among ourselves. The elders should greet the young ones and the young should properly greet their elders. The salutation is a part of the muslim law and should be cheerfully conveyed. Peace and Allah’s mercy and His blessings be on you. These are the words of greeting which one Muslim says to another. Americans have different ways of greeting people. As a rule, the greeting is according to time; for example, “good morning,” “good evening,” etc. Once the writer, while a student, stayed in a dormitory. One fine morning, while passing by, the writer greeted a student saying, “good morning’. But to the surprise of the writer, the other student said, “what is so good about this morning?” The writer thus discovered that normally people hesitate to utter the word “good” and confine themselves to saying “morning” and “evening”, etc. These words, therefore, cannot stand for greetings, because, morning, evening are like other mornings and evenings. Americans do say “Hello” sometimes. But in a cheerful mood they say “Hi”. These are pathetic words in urdu language. Having reached America, the writer could not understand why the Americans who apparently seem to be happy, utter “Hi”, as if they were in some kind of pain! Do Christians, have a mode of greeting? They may say “Hello, Hi, morning,” etc. but these are, as such, devoid of any spiritual significance. The Muslims, on the other hand, shower blessings of Almighty on one another. One says, Assalamu Alaikum, peace be on you. The other responds, Wa Alaikum Assalam , peace be on you too. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, has exhorted that the Muslims should begin their conversation with Assalamu Alaikum, REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 39 There is no specific time when these words should be uttered. These greetings can be exchanged any time, any place, whenever and wherever Muslims meet each other. When, someone is leaving the house, he or she will say, Assalamu Alaikum. Similarly, when one is returning home, one will say, Assalamu Alaikum. No matter how may times a person leaves home and returns, he or she utters these words and in return, hears Wa Alaikum Assalamu, which invokes peace andyblessings on him or her too. It is equally a good practice to say Assalamu Alaikum while going to bed and and saying Assalamu Alaikum, while seeing each other in the morning. The idea is that one should get used to mvoking the blessings of Almighty upon members of the family also. If someone goes to so’meone else’s home, or she must first say Assalamu Alaikum and then seek permission to enter the house. If someone does not like to express Assalamu Alaikum, on the threshold he or she should not be given permission to enter the house. Once, someone came to the door of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, and wanted to come in. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, asked someone to tell that person the proper way to seek such permission. The person then said Assalamu Alaikum, and sought permission. When the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, came to someon’s door, he would stand to one side to avoid looking inside, he would then say Assalamu Alaikum, and the occupants knew he was there. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, has said that saying more and more Assalamu Alaikum, will increase the bonds of affection among mankind. He has, therefore asked his followers to spread the greetings of Assalamu Alaikum, among themselves. Every Muslim, therefore, greets the other person with the words Assalamu Alaikum, so people should know each other. Rather, the greetings can be extended to even those who do not know one another. Once the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, passed by a group of people where there were both believers and non-believers and the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, said, Assalamu Alaikum. He also said that Muslims should not stay on non-speaking terms with one another for more than three days. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, has said that the better of the two will be the one who is first to say Assalamu Alaikum, to the other. 40 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS It is a matter of rule that the Junior should first say Assalamu Alaikum, to the senior. One who is riding should say Assalamu Alaikum, to the one who is walking. One who is walking, should say Assalamu Alaikum, peace be on you, to the one who is sitting. A small gathering should be first to say Assalamu Alaikum, to large gathering. If, one person, from a gathering, says Assalamu Alaikum, , it will be sufficient to be considered as group representation. As such, one person saying Wa Alaikum Assalam in reply, will be considered to represent the whole group. Anyone who is coming to join a gathering should be the first to say Assalamu Alaikum. Anyone who wishes to attract attention should say Assalamu Alaikum, peace be on you. On the telephone, it is a good practice to start the conversation with Assalamu Alaikum, instead of saying Hello, on the phone, it is good to say Assalamu Alaikum, to get the attention of the other party. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, once passed by a group of youths, and he was the first to say Assalamu Alaikum. Similarly, it is reported that while passing by ladies, he would say Assalamu Alaikum, . Once the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, was sitting among others. Someone came and said Assalamu Alaikum, . The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, responded and some one heard him uttering ten. then another person came to join the company and said Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, responded and then said “twenty”. Afterwards, another person came and said Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, responded and said “thirty”. It is said that these numbers referred to the blessings the person would recieve, on the priniciple that a good deed gets a tenfold reward. Generally speaking, if someone says Assalamu Alaikum, peace be on you, the response is : Wa Alaikum Assalam, peace be on you too. If someone says Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah, peace and Allah’s mercy be on you, or if someone says Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu, peace and Allah’s mercy and His blessings be on You, the response is , Wa Alaikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuhu, peace and Allah’s mercy and His blessings be on you too. It is obligatory on every Muslim to say Assalamu Alaikum, to REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 41 another Muslim and it is equally obligatory on every Muslim to respond to the greeting. It is also recorded that nearest to God are those who are first to say Assalamu Alaikum. The companions of the Promised Messiah always took the lead in saying Assalamu Alaikum, whenever they met. It is reported that Hazrat Maulvi Sher All, for instance, would call Assalamu Alaikum, to others as sooon .as he reached within hearing distance to them; thus he never allowed to slip by any opportunity of earning the promised blessings. . The Companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, were very keen to say Assalamu Alaikum, and Wa Alaikum Assalam. In case they were going together on a journey and one of them became separated from others for a short while, he would say Assalamu Alaikum, on rejoining. The Muslims are a people who love peace. So if someone quarrels and disputes with them, they avoid unpleasantness by saying peace when leaving the scene. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, once said, “should I tell you one thing that you would start loving each other? Make it your habit to say Assalamu Alaikum, frequently among yourselves.” Once the Companions wanted to know one good deed in Islam. It is recorded that the Holy Prophet told them to say Assalamu Alaikum, frequently. It is said about the Promised Messiah that he would look affectionately at a person who said Assalamu Alaikum, peace be on you, or responded to this greeting. It is also known that the Promised Messiah would invariably write Assalamu Alaikum, while writing any letter. Once the Promised Messiah, the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, asked some of his followers who were sitting together, to trace certain reference. They got to work and began sending him the references on small slips of paper, beginning with Assalamu Alaikum. One of them forgot to write this greeting on one of his slip of paper. The Promised Messiah reminded the person that he should not have forgotten to write Assalamu Alaikum,, no matter how numerous these slips became. The Promised Messiah said that no matter how frequently and how often you meet and address someone, you must say or write Assalamu Alaikum. It is recorded that the Promised Messiah fell sick and more than once he receieved the revelation ‘Assalamu Alaikum’, and he recovered soon afterwards. The Tazkirah (book containing revelati- ons 42 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS of the Promised Messiah) records several revelations of the Promised Messiah which say ‘Assalamu Alaikum’. It is known that Hazrat Khalifatul Masih III, while on a European tour, despatched several times a gift to the Community, and his gift was Assalamu Alaikum. It is refreshing to know that it is the custom of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (present Head of the Ahmadiyya Community) to greet the congregation with Assalamu Alaikum, when he comes to lead prayers and also when he leaves after prayer. Salam is also part of Salat daily prayers. At the time of “Attashahud”, one fervently says: “All reverence and all prayer and all piety is for Allah. Peace be upon you O Prophet and the Mercy and the Blessings of Allah. Peace be on us and the righteious servants of Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger.” Again, on bringing one’s Salat (prayer) to an end, one turns one’s face to the right and says: ‘Peace and Blessings be on you and then turns his face to the left and repeats the words of the salutation. Muslims, according to the Holy Quran, also believe that Peace will be the word heard in paradise. Islam is, therefore, the religion through which one can find peace, not only in this world, but also in the Hereafter. Muslims, therefore, should make it a habit to exchange frequently the greetings of Assalamu Alaikum, Peace and Allah’s mercy and His blessings be on you. GUARD WELL THY HEART Everything thou hast in thy mind, Every thought thou nourisheth, Other than that of God And of winning His approbation Is an idol which thou worshippeth. O thou weak of faith! Beware of these hidden idols! Guard well thy heart, And keep it always Out of their reach.