The human are social beings. They can not live in society peacefully without social harmony.The greeting of Salam is one of the best policies to develop social harmony. Salam helps people to develop their relation with others when they exchange it. It sows the seeds of love and brotherhood in their hearts. It also helps them to remove hostility among themselves.
The word ‘Salam’ is an Arabic word; that literally means ‘peace’. It also stands for harmlessness, welfare and protection from the evils and faults.
‘Salam’ is a name of Allah (SWT); the meaning of Salam is “May the blessing of his name descend upon you.” Thus when someone greets Salam to another it is as if he is saying to him “I am offering you safety and security and I have no intention to harm you anywhere.”
Salam was first introduced by the first human in this world, Prophet Adam (AS) and that was when Allah (SWT) asked him to offer Salam to angels. However, the angels did not accept his Salam.
The recommended greeting of a Muslim to other Muslims is to say “As-salamu-alikum.“ (Peace be upon you). The second part of the Salam is to add “Wa-rahmatullah”. The best form of Salam is to say in full: “As-salamu-alikum-wa-rahmatullahi-wa-barakatuh”.
The response to the Salam is similar in form and rewards. The least form of Salam is that one can say: “wa-alikumus-salam” and the best response is “wa-alikum mus-salam-warahmatullahi-wa- barakatuh”. The Prophet (Pbuh) said: “The best of the two persons is the one who begins with ‘Salam’ (Nawawi). He (Pbuh) also said, “The person closest to Allah is the one who proceeds others with greetings.” (Abu Dawud).
Offering Salam first is considered ‘sunnah’ or optional; while returning Salam is considered ‘wazib’ or obligatory. Allah (SWT) said, “And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it or at least return it equally.” (Sura an Nisa: Ayat 86). Abu Hurairah (Ra) narrated that the Prophet (Pbuh) said: “A Muslim has five rights over his fellow Muslim brothers: (1) He should return his Salam if offered ; (2) visit him when he is sick; (3) attend his salatul-janazah (funaral); (4) accept his invitation (5) and pray for mercy for him (say ‘warahamukallah’) when he sneezes.“ (Al-Bukhari-1240) and Muslim-2792).
Returning Salam is a must. The Prophets warned against not returning Salam. It was narrated from Abdur Rahman Ibn Shyba that the holy Prophet (Pbuh) said: “Whoever response his Salam, it is for his benefit; and he who does not respond to Salam, is not from amongst us.”
One can get many rewards by offering and returning Salam. Abu Huraira (Ra) reported that, “A man passed by the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) whilst he was sitting with some others and said, ‘As-salamu-alaikum’ (peace be upon you).’ The Prophet (Pbuh) said, ‘(He will have) ten rewards.’
Another man passed by and said, ‘As-salamu-alaikum-wa-rahmatullah (peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah)’. The Prophet (Pbuh) said, ‘(He will have) twenty rewards.’ Another man passed by and said, ‘As-salamu-alaikum-wa-rahmatullahi-wa-barakatuh) (peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah and blessing)’ The Prophet (Pbuh) said, ‘(He will have) thirty rewards.’” (An-Nasari-368 and Al-Bakhari-586).
Here, it is better to mention that Salam is sometimes discouraged in some situation including (i) when a person relieves himself ; (ii) when some one is asleep; (iii) when he is in the bathroom; and (iv) when he takes his meal. Offering Salam when someone is reciting the Holy Qur’an is permissible but is discouraged. The same role goes for someone who is making dua or is praying.
The head should never be bent as a sign of greeting. Muslims bend their heads only to Allah and to none else. Raising eye-brows, extending the arms, smiling, winking etc. can not be replaced with the uttering of the words in response of Salam.
Salam plays a vital role in developing social harmony. It spreads love and brotherhood among Muslims. Abu Hurairah (Ra) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) 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 Salam amongst yourselves.“ (Muslim-54 and Tirmithi-2513).
Salam works as a mediator between two persons who forsake one another for any reason. It was narrated by Abu Ayub Ansari (Ra) that Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) said: “It is not permissible for a Muslim to forsake his brother for more than three days (each of them turning away from the other if they meet). The better of them is the first to say Salam.” (Al-Bukhari- 6233).
Thus, Salam helps us to be closer to each other. It also removes arrogance and encourages us to be modest and polite. So, Muslims should practice offering Salam for developing social harmony and peace among themselves.
The writer is a student of Arabic
Department of University of Dhaka