Importance Of Greeting One Another

Our Prophet 'sall-Allahu 'alaihi wa sallam' states in a hadith-i-sharif [1]: "You (Muslims) have contracted two serious illnesses from past ummats (followers of past prophets): jealousy and shaving. When I say shaving, I do not mean that they shaved the hair on their heads. I mean that they shaved their religion from the roots and annihilated it all together. I swear to you that anyone who has no belief will never enter Paradise. Unless you love each other, you cannot obtain belief. In order to be able to love each other you should greet (salam)[2] each other often."

This hadith-i-sharif clearly shows the importance of exchanging greetings (salam) and commands its practice. When two Muslims meet each other, it is sunnat [3] for one of them to say "Salamun alaikum" and it is obligatory (fard) [4] for the other one to reply "Wa alaikum salam". It is not permissible (jaiz) [5] to greet each other with other phrases that are used by disbelievers or by hand, body or other mimicry. When two Muslims see each other from a distance so that they cannot hear each other, it is permissible for them to repeat the abovementioned phrases for greetings (salam) or to greet each other by raising their right hands up to their eyebrows. When exchanging greetings with disbelievers, it is permissible to use phrases used by them, in order to avoid instigation (fitna) [6]. Arousing instigation is forbidden (haram) [7] . Not arousing instigation by following the directions given above with respect to exchanging greetings with disbelievers is very rewarding (thawab) [8].

[1] hadith (sharif): i) a saying of the Prophet ('alaihi 's-salam).; al-Hadith ash-sharif: all the hadiths as a whole; ii) 'ilm al-hadith; iii) Books of the hadith ash-sharif. iv) Al-hadith al-qudsi, as-sahih, al-hasan: kinds of hadiths (for which, see Endless Bliss, II).
[2] salam: i) greeting, peace, good wish; ii) the phrase "Assalamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullah" said at the end of salat.
[3] sunnat: i) act, thing that was, though not commanded by Allahu ta'ala, done and liked by the Prophet ('alaihi 's-salam) as an 'ibada (there is thawab if done, but no sin if omitted, yet it causes sin if continually omitted and disbelief if disliked; the Sunna; i) (with fard) all the sunnas as a whole; ii) (with the Book or Qur'an al-karim) the Hadith ash-sharif; iii) (alone) fiqh, Islam.
[4] fard: an act or thing that is commanded by Allahu ta'ala in the Qur'an al-karim. Fard (or fard) means (any behaviour or thought or belief which is) obligatory. Islam's open commandments are called fard (pl. faraid).
[5] jaiz not forbidden by formal or informal rules, explicitly sanctioned or authorized by religion, lawful, legal; allowed, permitted
[6] fitna: the widespreading of statements and actions that harm Muslims and Islam. : disunion among Muslims.
[7] haram: an action, word or thought prohibited by Allahu ta'ala.
[8] thawab: Muslims will be rewarded in the Hereafter for all their pious actions which they have done in the world. The rewards which Muslims will be given in the Hereafter are called thawab. The word is used as an adjective as well as a noun. For example, when we say that an action is very thawab we mean that Allahu ta'ala will give many rewards for the action. Rewards which Muslims will be given in the Hereafter.