By: Farook Mohammed Jr.

Student – MAI Institute

In the world today, we often hear the phrase “Salaam… Salaam”, but what is it? The Merriam-Webster defines Salaam as follows: ‘a salutation or ceremonial greeting in the East.’[1] However, it is much more than that.

The world today has many forms of greetings or salutations which they came about out of traditions, courtesies, and manners, such as “Hello” or “Good day”, or “Top of the Morning to You”. The Salaam is a bit different, not just in literal meaning, but also in the inner context of the phrasing itself; it has a deeper connection and implication for the people who use it; the Muslims.

As Muslims, we are taught that the greeting used for one another is the Salaam. Let’s be clear here, the Salaam is not a single word, but rather a phrase, As-salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barkatuhu, and its reply is slightly altered as, Wa Alaikumus-salaamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barkatuhu. In Arabic script, they look like this:

As-salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barkatuhu

‏اَلسَلامُ عَلَيْكُم وَرَحْمَةُ اَللهِ وَبَرَكاتُهُ‎

Trans. Eng.: Peace be upon you and God’s mercy and blessings

Wa Alaikumus-salaamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barkatuhu

وَعَلَيْكُمُ ٱلسَّلَامُ وَرَحْمَةُ ٱللَّٰهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

Trans. Eng.: And upon you be peace and God’s mercy and blessings

Comparison of Greetings

The wording of the greeting is much more than merely arbitrary words put together, but word with meaning and significance, with a prayer for your wellness and goodness in mind.

We are under the impression that these greetings are Muslim-originated but are you aware that these greetings pre-date the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be On Him)? In fact, these greetings, or rather the Hebrew version of it was used by the Jews long before in the time of Musa (Moses). A similar version is also found in Aramaic scripts.

Where Did It Originate?

With the advent of Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be On Him) we learned about our Salaams and the deeper connection and connotation. In fact, from an Islamically theological point, the Salaams pre-date the arrival of mankind on Earth. We are taught that the origin in a narration from the Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be On Him).

Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet (Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be On Him) said,
“Allah said: [to Adam] Go and greet with peace these groups of assembled angels and
listen to how they greet you, for this will be the greeting among your progeny.
Adam said: Peace be upon you.
The angels said: Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah.
Thus, they added the mercy of Allah.”

Don’t you think it wonderful that we use greetings inspired by the Lord himself to mankind to be used as a means of greeting one another? We tend to give attached importance and inner meanings to items which have history behind it. Which salutation is older and more meaningful than the one taught to our first father by the Lord of Mankind and his Angels?

Why is the Reply Different?

A person listening to the Salaams given between Muslims might ask the question, “Why is the reply different in sentence structure from the given Salaam?” When told As-Salaamu Alaikum, why isn’t the reply the same words, As-Salaamu Alaikum? Why is the reply stated as “Wa Alaikumus-Salaam”?

Well, the answer is not a linguistic one, but rather an implied one. You see, the reply is stated with the Arabic word for ‘and’ which is ‘wa’. This means that the reply is connected to the first given Salaam which makes the given and the reply connected as one statement; unity between words and hearts.

Implied Connotation of the Salaams

The Salaams as said above, means much more than just the sum of the words. It holds a deeper meaning for the users. When stated it implies that you are my brother/sister, I trust you and assure you are safe with me, and I am safe with you. It means that we are connected with a bond of brotherhood under our religious code. It assures one another of protection of self and property from harm by one another. With outstretched hands fostering unity and embraces with promote brotherhood, our Salaams are much more than a selection of arbitrary words melded together.

The Importance

So, why is it so important for us? Why is it such a matter of contention amongst people that they pronounce it correctly? Why is it necessary that we expect to be given Salaams from another known Muslim?

As Muslims, the source of all our undeniable teachings and unshakeable practices stem from firstly the Holy Qur’an (Words of the Almighty) and then supported by the Sahih Ahadith (Recorded Sayings/Practices of the Prophet).

 In the Holy Qur’an, Our Lord The Most High instructs us,

“…greet one another with a greeting of peace from Allah, blessed and good.”[3]

He further instructs us on a manner of etiquette in replying to the Salaams…

“When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous,
or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things.”

So, reply the same or better to the Salaam given to you. If you are greeted with As-Salaamu Alaikum, reply with the same or better, such as Wa Alaikum-mus-Salaam wa Rahmatullah.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be On Him) said,
“There are six things due from the believer to another believer:
Visiting him when he is ill, attending (his funeral) to him when he dies, accepting his invitation when he invites, giving him Salam when he meets him, replying to him when he sneezes and wishing him well when he is absent and when he is present.”

The Rewards for Salaams

Are you aware that your Salaams can enter you into the Paradise (Jannah)? Yes! Read the words of our beloved prophet of Allah (Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be On Him). He said,

“O people! Spread (the greeting of) Salaam, feed others, uphold the ties of kinship, and pray
during the night when people are sleeping, and you will enter Paradise with Salaam (Peace).”

He also said to us,

“Shall I not tell you of something which, if you do it, you will love one another?
Spread (the greeting of) peace among yourselves.

It is also a way to gain closeness to the Almighty. The prophet also said in this aspect,

“They said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! When two men meet, which of them initiates the Salaam?’
He said: ‘The nearest of them to Allah.”

In conclusion, we see that the Salaams are not just words of Hello and Hi, but rather they are words which unify hearts and people, originated and prescribed by the Lord Almighty, as a means of goodness and well-wishes to one another, so that we may get closer to Allah and make it a means of our entry into Paradise.

May we be amongst those who promote and spread Salaams, Ameen.



[2]          Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith# 5873.

[3]          Holy Qur’an, Surah An-Nur, Chapter 24, Verse 61.

[4]          Holy Qur’an, Surah An-Nisa, Chapter 4, Verse 86.

[5]          Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Hadith# 2737.

[6]          Riyadus Saliheen, Hadith# 848.

[7]          Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadith# 68.

[8]          Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Hadith# 2694.

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