Bismillahir rahmanir raheem
This is the first part of the #ThingsMuslimsSay series in an effort to dig deeper into the phrases we use everyday to put meaining back into them in sha Allah. I always start my blog posts with the “basmallah” and go on to great my readers with the salaam. The salaam is what I’ll be writing about today.
‘Asalaamu alaikum’ literally means ‘peace be upon you’. It is the greeting that every Muslim should give to their fellow Muslim brother or sister when they see them. It is a unique greeting to Muslims and we say it every day. In return, we should reply “walaikumu salaam…” (and unto you be peace) but we can discuss this later on in the post inshaAllah.
As-Salaam is one of the beautiful names of Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala and comes from the root letters ‘seen’, ‘laam’ and ‘meem’. It means He subhanahu wa ta’aala is the Giver or Source of Peace. So when you convey the salaam, you are asking Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala to bring the receiver peace.
Now, today, there are various ‘versions’ of the salaam floating about. ‘Slamaykum’, ‘salaam’, ‘salaam’, and ‘Aslamlaykum’ are some that I hear but conveying the salaam properly is a form of dua and every dua is an act of ibaadah which should be done in the correct way. When you make a dua for your Muslim brother or sister, the angels will say “and to you”, so if you make a dua for peace, then the angels will also make dua that you find peace to, subhanAllah! And we could all do with some peace in this duniya!
It was narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar that a man asked the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasallam): “What is the best thing in Islam?” He said, “Feeding others and giving the greeting of salaam to those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” Muslim (39)
Ahadith like this show the importance of giving salaam even to those you don’t know. Even I fall victim to this and I pray Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala forgives me. I’ll be walking down the road and I see a sister coming towards me, in my heart I want to give her salaam but I just can’t get the words out because I’m scared she won’t say salaam back (this has happened to me many times). We should remember that even when someone doesn’t return the salaam, we’ve done our best to give give them in the first place and in sha Allah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala will reward us for it.
Al-Sanoosi said in Ikmaal al-Mu’allim (1/244): “What is meant by salaam is the greeting between people, which sows seeds of love and friendship in their hearts, as does giving food. There may be some weakness in the heart of one of them, which is dispelled when he is greeted, or there may be some hostility, which is turned to friendship by the greeting.”
Just by giving a simple salaam, you may meet a new friend or strengthen someones heart in sha Allah. Spreading the salaam is a means of expressing the love that we should have for one another as did our Beloved Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasallam) and we should aim to imitate Him (saw) in every way. Our means of entering jannah is via the Qur’an and sunnah, so following them as much as we can, can only increase our chances inshaAllah.
Abu Hurairah narrates, that the Prophet (saw) said “You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you about something which, if you do it, you will love one another? Spread salaam amongst yourselves.” – Muslim (54)
Another issue that should be addressed is, “if someone says ‘asalaamu alaikum’, do I return with the same or do I increase upon it?” I know what it’s like, you see a sister in passing and she gives you salaam, you return the salaam and add “wa rahmatulahi wa barakatu” and by the time you’re finished she’s gone subhanAllah! So after this happening a few times you just give back a simple “walaikumu salaam” and totally leave off from adding anything to it. But remember, this greeting is a dua and we should not be stingy with our duas. Let’s take a look at the ahadith in sha Allah to discover the importance of adding to the salaam.
Abu Hurairah (radhiyallho anhu) narrated that “a man passed by the Messenger of Allaah (salAllahu alayhi wasallam) whilst he was sitting with some others, and said “Salaam ‘alaykum (peace be upon you).” The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasallam) said, “[He will have] ten hasanaat (rewards).” Another man passed by and said “Salaam ‘alaykum wa rahmat-Allaah (peace be upon you and the mercy of Allaah).” The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasallam) said, “[He will have] twenty hasanaat.” Another man passed by and said “Salaam ‘alaykum wa rahmat-Allaahi wa barakaatuhu (peace be upon you and the mercy of Allaah and His blessings).” The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasallam) said, “[He will have] thirty hasanaat.”
Don’t you want to earn 30 hasanat in sha Allah? If you’re lucky enough to live in a city like Birmingham or another multicultural centre, the possibilities are endless to the amount of hasanat you can earn in just one day of giving glad tidings to your fellow muslim brothers and sisters subhanAllah. Even in a smaller place, it’s such an uplifting feeling getting salaam from another Muslim when you’re not used to seeing many around.
In closing, I’d like to share one more ahadith.
Abu Hurairah (radhiyallaho anhu) said that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasallam) said: “The Muslim has five rights over his fellow-Muslim: he should return his salaam, visit him when he is sick, attend his funeral, accept his invitation, and pray for mercy for him [say “Yarhamuk Allaah”] when he sneezes.”
It is a right that we convey the salaam upon each other and we do it properly. If you give someone their rights in the duniya, Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala will give you your rights in the akhirah. Don’t deprive your brothers and sisters of a simple dua that benefits both you and them.
The next word we’ll be discussing is ‘JazakAllahu khayrun/khairun.’
Wasalaam – Peace Be With You