From at an early age, we were taught to greet someone with “Assalamualaikum”. It’s what we say at school whenever our teachers come in, to our elders, when we walk into a house. It is a simple but profound greeting that defines a Muslim, but often, not given that much attention. In fact, we use other forms of greeting another, like ‘hey’, ‘hi’ or ‘hello’. Let us explore the richness of the beautiful greeting of salaam.
The meaning of salaam is peace, which refers to harmlessness, safety and protection from evil and from faults. The name al-Salaam is a name of Allah, May He Be Exalted. “Assalamualikum” means “May Peace Be Upon You”. This is a greeting of peace, not only for us humans, but also any creation that worships God.
The benefits of saying salaam:
- Identifies a believer and the salaam is part of Imaan. When you greet salaam to someone, it is as though you have declared peace and that you will not harm them. In our everyday lives, when we meet another Muslim, the salaam you give is you giving your word that you will not harm him, physically or verbally.
- When you identify that he or she is a believer, you ignore her past and her race or class, etc. It encourages believers to be a worldwide community, bounded together by faith. It does not matter what skin your colour is, what language you speak, or what your background is. The salaam unites us and disregards the labels that we carry.
- Dua. When you say the salaam, you are asking Allah (SWT) to grant to your fellow sister.
- Blessing. The salaam increases the blessing on your family, and upon entering the house, when there is no one home, it increases the blessings.
When you enter houses, greet (with peace) from yourselves with a salutation from Allah, blessed and good.” (Surah an-Nur: 61)
Offering salaam first is considered to be a ‘sunnah’ or optional, while returning Salaam is considered to be obligatory.
Abu Hurairah (Ra) narrated that the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) 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).
Have you ever had a moment when you met someone you or your family knows, and they say “send my regards to your mum”? In my view, this means “kirim salam” a common Malay gesture we use in Brunei. To send someone’s regards refers to respect and admiration. Sometimes it is a greeting, which means to tell them you said hello and wish them well.
Make “Assalamualaikum” something you like to say everyday, and you will get used to it. Reap the benefits, and include it in your day-to-day routine, such a sending an e-mail, a text message or answering a phone call.
The salaam helps people develop their relations with others when it is exchanged. It sows the seeds of love and sisterhood in their hearts. It also helps remove any hostility among themselves; spreading the love. It also works as a mediator between two parties who might forsake one another for whatever reason it may be. It helps us be closer to each other, removes any inch of arrogance and encourages us to be modest and polite. Start greeting others with the beautiful and blessed greeting of “Assalamualaikum” as it is a prayer of peace and blessing that helps develop social harmony among ourselves.