In our era of globalization, we often come into contact with people who are different from us in many aspect. Despite all of the difference, sometimes we meet people who have, at least, one or two similarity such as religion, ethnic, race, etc. In this article, we are focus in religion, because as a Muslim, we must greet another Muslim with Salaam. Here is the reason why this is important for us, but first, we will explained the definition of Salaam.
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What is Salaam in Islam?
Salaam is greeting or salutation; in Islam it is usually “Assalamualaikum”, which is very standard salutation to among other Muslims. Based on Oxford Dictionaries, Salaam means “A common greeting in many Arabic-speaking and Muslim countries.” In Indonesia, Salaam is followed by a gesture from each other (either from the people who give Salaam first or person who receive it) such as handshake (if two peoples are male) or the palm is closed and just briefly touched the finger or fingertips alone (if two peoples are male and female, which is avoiding physical contact between the genders).
Sometimes, after Salaam the right hand is touch the left breast or heart area, or when doing Salaam is followed by kiss the hand (this is refer to elder person). This is influenced by a cultural norms in Indonesia, which is normally doing by other peoples. And so in other Muslim countries, which is influenced by norm or culture in their countries, and give a difference of Salaam.
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There are many sources which is refer to Salaam. It is also preferred to use the greeting when arriving and also while leaving. Abu Hurairah r.a said
“When one of you joins a gathering, let him say ‘Peace’. When he wants to get up and leave, let him say ‘Peace’. The former is not more important than the latter” (Tirmidzi)
According to hadith, Muhammad SAW was asked who should begin the greeting and he said,
“The one who is riding should greet the one who is walking and the one who is walking should greet the one who is sitting and the smaller group should greet the larger group”
(Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī , 6234; Muslim, 2160)
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In Surah An-Nur verse 61 tells :
“But when you enter the houses, greet one another with a greeting from God blessed and good”
And also, Allah SWT tells in Surah Ibrahim verse 23 :
“And those who believed (in the Oneness of God and His Messengers and whatever they brought) and did righteous deeds, will be made to enter Gardens under which rivers flow, – to dwell therein for ever (i.e. in Paradise), with the Permission of their Lord. Their greeting therein will be, salaam!”
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Importance and Benefit of Salaam
Salaam also has benefits for those who always say Salaam in every greetings to other people, as well as to non Muslim, as follows:
1) Salaam = Prayer
Behind the Salaam which is greet by other, it is contained the prayer for everyone to greet by. When we say only “Assalamualaikum,” to other people, it means “Peace be unto you.” and we must said “Waalaikumsalaam,” which means “And unto you peace,”. However, if you greet or being greet by fellow Muslim with longer and more complete salaam such as “Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.”, it contains more prayer for us, which it means “May God grant you protection, security, mercy and may He bless you.”, and we must respond with “Waalaikumsalaam warahmatullahi wabarakatuh”. This has been told in Surah An-Nisaa verse 86 :
“When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally.”
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2) Salaam : Virtue
When you greet others in this manner at every opportunity increases rewards. Every time a people who said “Assalamu Alaikum” or responds that greeting, they will get a rewards or their bank of rewards by good deeds will increase. From Imran ibn Hushain r.a said :
“One day a man passed by the Prophet Muhammad while he was sitting with some men, and said “Assalamu Alaikum”. The Prophet said “He will have 10 rewards”. Another man passed by and said “Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah”. The Prophet said he will have 20 rewards”. Another man passed and said “Assalamu alaikum wa rahmat ullaah wa barakaatuh”. The Prophet said, and he will have 30 rewards.” (Abu Daud)
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3) Salaam = Right of Every Muslim in the World
Prophet Muhammad SAW has been order to us for greet the fellow Muslims who we know or not, because as a Muslim, we are related by religion and have a rights to each other. This has been told in hadist
From Abi Hurairah r.a Muhammad SAW recite, “The Muslim has five rights over his fellow-Muslim: he should greet him with ‘salaam’, visit him when he is sick, attend his funeral, accept his invitation, and ask God to have mercy on him when he sneezes.” (Muslim)
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4) Salaam = Fixing Image of Muslim
Since 9/11, Image of Muslim has been portrayed as a terrorist and all bad things which is related by, and many events or things that damaging image of Muslim. Because of that, many Muslim in almost every countries in the world facing discrimination.
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One of the way to (at least) reduce and fixing the bad image of Muslim is spread the kindness, with Salaam is one of those kinds. And also, be a nice person to everyone. Perhaps this is not a fastest way to fixing and/or create the good image about Islam and Muslim; It needs a long time to do, but with a patience and consistency, it will work and bring a good deeds to us.
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5) Commanded by Allah
Salaam “Assalamualaikum” is the proper way to greeting other people and directly ordered by Allah SWT. Those who always do greetings in every meeting, Allah SWT promised that he or she will be rewarded one place in Jannah.
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To Whom We Can Greet?
We can greet or saying Salaam in every single person around the world. But there is some etiquette that must be known and understand by us. First, It is Mustahab if we greet one another, but became Wajib to reply the greet, and immediately. Second, It is Makruh when we greet one another in Shalat or Pray, and reply the Salam after Salat (for this terms, it means not to reply by “Waalaikum Salaam” but “Assalamualaikum,”).
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However, the things that must be our attention is only the Muslim person we can greet. It is permit-able if you greet with just “Assalamualaikum” (if you have a short time, such as when passing each other on the street) or longer and complete than the first such as “Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh”.
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If we met someone which is non-Muslim, it is enough to say formal greeting such as “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening.” Or non-formal way such as “Hello/Hi”. As a Muslim, we are not to expect Salaam from non-Muslim. But perhaps it is gonna be different if a non-Muslim person greet us with Salaam, even just “Assalamualaikum.” It will be explained more in the next part
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Greeting by Non-Muslim in Islamic View
In this part, we will explained about greeting by Non-Muslim. There are some source, which is from Hadist and Al-Qur’an tells about this topic. In Bukhari no. 6258 and Muslim no. 2163 said that :
From Anas ibn Malik narrated : Rasulullah SAW (or the Prophet SAW) said : “If the people in scripture greet you, then you should said reply “Wa’alaikum” (And on you).
Refer to that hadist, it is tells when we meet Jews or Christian which is said “As-saam alaikum,” which means “May death be upon you,” or it is not clear whether they have said “salaam”, then we should respond by saying “Wa ‘alaykum” (and upon you).
If, and only if, a non-Muslim greets us with the correct shar’i greeting (for example says ‘ Assalaamu ‘alaykum’ clearly), the scholars differed as to whether we have to return the greeting. The majority of scholars (or ulama in Bahasa) said that we do have to return the greeting, with longer Salaam (whether just Waalaikumsalaam Warahmatullahi or Waalaikumsalaam Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh). This is the correct view, and supported by Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) in Zaad al-Ma’ad 2/425-426 said:
“They differed as to whether it is obligatory to return the greeting. The majority said that it is obligatory and this is the correct view. A group of scholars said that it is not obligatory to return their greeting just as it is not obligatory to return the greeting of those who follow bid’ah. But the correct view is the first one. The difference is that we are commanded to forsake the followers of bid’ah by way of rebuke and to warn others about them, which is not the case with the Ahl al-Dhimmah (Jews and Christians)”
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That was the explanation about Salaam, from A to Z. From this article, we can take a lesson Salaam is not just a necessity, but also a prayer to each other. Rasulullah SAW has commanded us to greet each Muslim with Salaam, and from there we can get a lot of rewards from that. We hope you enjoy to read and get some or more benefit from this.