Sanni K. Yusuf

I have heard people say so, but I have never seen people do as alleged. The allegation is becoming deafening and its accompanying effects really worrying. This stimulated me to make findings regarding the matter, but the results I got were rather dicey and seemingly confusing. While some said the allegation was true, others maintained that it was a mere figment borne out of suspicion and hate for the alleged. They say muslims in sunnatic outlook – beard, trousers, long hijab etc. don’t return or respond to the greeting by muslims who do not look like them. What! That is serious!

I find it out of place and preposterous that a muslim will deliberately ignore the teslim of a fellow muslim – a brother in faith, for that matter. What for? Whoever is guilty of such is apparently a sufferer of abject ignorance and a rejecter of Allah’s bounties. Perhaps such an ignoramus isn’t aware that greeting in Islaam is an act of worship; and that responding accordingly is obligatory.

“When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with that which is better, or (at least) return it equally.” Q4:86.
This verse lucidly shows that any form of greeting that is Islamically legit should be responded to exactly as initiated or even bettered. The verse, scholastically speaking, suffices a proof to appropriately reply to a non-muslim’s greeting, let alone a muslim, for that matter. I still can’t believe that such exists.

Without mincing words, the one who deliberately does not return the greeting by a fellow muslim, apart from incurring debts upon himself, is missing great rewards. Initiating the Islamic greeting – salaam alaykum, though voluntary by its ruling, is highly rewarding, as contained in the following words of the holy Prophet.

Narrated Abu Umaamah Al-Baahilee who said that the Messenger of Allah said: “The worthiest person to Allah is the one who initiates salaam to people.”(Saheeh Wa Da’eeful Jaami’is-Sageer: Hadeeth 2011). If extending salaam to muslims is sunnatically considered a worthy phenomenon, how much more returning it?

Greeting in Islaam even goes beyond the tongue. Some other body parts are equally involved to incur a fuller guerdon.

Narrated Hudhayfah bn-Alyamaan from the Prophet who said: “Verily, when a believer meets another believer and says salaam to him and handshakes him, his shortcomings are dispensed the way leaves of a tree are scattered.” (As-Silsilatus-Saheehah: 526). If mere initiation of greeting and handshake could result in expiation of sins, why then would a muslim whose understanding of Islaam is apt, and whose head isn’t paining him jettison such deliberately? I still can’t imagine the occurrence of this omen.

Greeting with salaam was legislated by Allah. Returning it appropriately, accordingly and correspondingly was obligated by Him. Therefore, going contrary to it, no doubt, is an unfortunate show of effrontery against Allah.

In Al-Jaami’u-s-Saheeh, it was reported by At-Tirmidhee that the Messenger of Allah said: “When Allah created Adam and blew in him soul, he (Adam) sneezed and said Al-hamdulillaah. He thanked Allah with His permission, then his Lord said to him: may my mercy be upon you, o Adam. Go to those angels, among whom are seated and say (to them): As-Salaam Alaykum; they replied: Wa alaykumus-salaam Warahmatullaah. He then returned to his Lord and He (Allah) said: verily, this has become your greeting and the greeting of your progeny.” Al-Jaami’us-Saheeh Sunanut-Tirmidhiy: 3368.

“…this has become your greeting and the greeting of your progeny,” so said our Lord. That was a command which was adhered to by the Prophet. Why will you do otherwise? What do you stand to gain ignoring your sister’s greeting? Don’t you belong to the progeny of Adam again? Aren’t you an adherent of Muhammad anymore? You had better change if you are culpable as alleged.

With the aforementioned verse and traditions, it should be clear to the allegers that refusal to return salaam by anyone can never be on account of religious understanding. May be there are mundane scores you need to settle between each other. You should therefore, stop alleging the sunnah for the shortfall of its adherent – they are human, and fallible, too. Stop making issues where there should be none. Challenge whoever you feel is doing that to you, maybe she/he has a reason that may even shock you and appeal to your mind.


  1. All praise is for ALLAH azawajal alone.
    I pray ALLAH azawajal continue to increase you (Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman) in knowledge.

    I feel this is very important that it should have been added to this write up…..

    There is a lengthy discussion on the importance of greeting with salaam and returning the greeting.

    The command to spread the greeting of salaam is general and applies to all the believers. It includes men greeting men and women greeting women, and a man greeting his female mahrams. All of them are enjoined to initiate the greeting of salaam, and the other is obliged to return the greeting.

    But there is a special ruling that applies to a man greeting a non-mahram woman, because of the fitnah (temptation) that may result from that in some cases.

    There is nothing wrong with a man greeting a non-mahram woman with salaam, without shaking hands with her, if she is elderly, but he should not greet a young woman with salaams when there is no guarantee that there will be no fitnah (temptation). This is what is indicated by the comments of the scholars, may Allaah have mercy on them.

    Imam Maalik was asked: Can a woman be greeted with salaam? He said: With regard to the elderly woman, I do not regard that as makrooh, but with regard to the young woman, I do not like that.

    Al-Zarqaani explained the reason why Maalik did not like that, in his commentary on al-Muwatta’: Because of the fear of fitnah when he hears her returning the greeting.

    In al-Adaab al-Shar’iyyah (1/370) it says: Ibn Muflih mentioned that Ibn Mansoor said to Imam Ahmad: (What about) greeting women with salaam? He said: If the woman is old there is nothing wrong with it.

    Saalih (the son of Imam Ahmad) said: I asked my father about greeting women with salaam. He said: With regard to old women, there is nothing wrong with it, but with regard to young women, they should not be prompted to speak by being made to return the salaam.

    Al-Nawawi said in his book al-Adhkaar (p. 407):

    Our companions said: Women greeting women is like men greeting to men. But when it comes to women greeting men, if the woman is the man’s wife, or his concubine, or one of his mahrams, then it is like him speaking to another man; it is mustahabb for either of them to initiate the greeting of salaam and the other is obliged to return the greeting

    But if the woman is a stranger (non-mahram), if she is beautiful and there is the fear that he may be tempted by her, then the man should not greet her with salaam, and if he does then it is not permissible for her to reply; she should not initiate the greeting of salaam either, and if she does, she does not deserve a response. If he responds then this is makrooh.

    If she is an old woman and he will not be tempted by her, then it is permissible for her to greet the man with salaam and for the man to return her salaams.

    If there is a group of women then a man may greet them with salaam, or if there is a group of men, they may greet a woman with salaam, so long as there there is no fear that any of the parties may be tempted.

    Abu Dawood (5204) narrated that Asma’ the daughter of Yazeed said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) passed by us woman and greeted us with salaam.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.

    And al-Bukhaari (6248) narrated that Sahl ibn Sa’d said: “There was an old woman of our acquaintance who would send someone to Budaa’ah (a garden of date-palms in Madeenah). She would take the roots of silq (a kind of vegetable) and put them in a cooking pot with some powdered barley. After we had prayed Jumu’ah, we would go and greet her, then she should offer (that food) to us.”

    Al-Haafiz said in al-Fath:

    Concerning the permissibility of men greeting women with salaam and women greeting men: what is meant by its being permitted is when there is no fear of fitnah.

    Al-Haleemi was quoted as saying: Because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was infallible and protected from fitnah. Whoever is confident that he will be safe from temptation may greet (women) with salaam, otherwise it is safer to keep silent.

    And al-Muhallab is quoted as saying: It is permissible for men to greet women with salaam and for women to greet men, if there is no fear of fitnah.

    And Allaah knows best.


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