Posted on Sep 14, 2017
You’re walking down the street and from the corner of your eye, you spot a fellow Muslim.
Quick! What do you do?
You might make eye contact, give a quick smile and whisper “Assalamu Alaikum.”
Or, you might quickly look away and hope that the other Muslimah does not see you.
Your intent for not saying As-Salam is most likely not malicious. Maybe you feel awkward greeting a stranger. Or you fear the rejection of your Salam. Maybe you just don't care to say it because you don't know the importance and benefits of giving Salam.
Whatever your reasonings to not say Salam may be, the reasons to say and reciprocate Salam are far better. Here are a few reasons why you should always give Salam when you see a fellow Muslim or Muslimah:
1. Giving Salam can be both Sunnah and Fardh
To say As-Salam is a sunnah of the Prophet (S), and to reply to As-Salam is Fardh (obligatory). The importance of initiating it is mentioned in multiple hadiths. One of the most prominent mentions of As-Salam is in the hadith narrated by Ali (RA): Our beloved Prophet Mohammad (S) said:
"Commonly in Islam there are six rights of a Muslim upon a Muslim: when he meets him he should give him salaam; when he invites him (to a meal) he should accept it; when he sneezes he should bless him; when he falls ill he should visit him; when he dies he should accompany his funeral, and he should prefer for him that which he prefers for himself."
According to this hadith, to say As-Salam is to fulfill our duty upon another Muslim. But once As-Salam is said to you, then it becomes fard (obligatory) on you to reciprocate. Allah (S) says in the Holy Quran in surat Al-Nisai’:
“And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet with a better (greeting) than it or return it; surely Allah takes account of all things." (4:86)
As you can see, giving As-Salam has great religious significance and importance.
2. Spreading Peace
One of the most obvious benefits of Salam is that it spreads peace. The literal translation of “As-Salaamu Alaikum” is “Peace be upon you.” If you were to take it a step further and say "As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmat-Allahi wa Barakatuh," you are not only asking for peace for the person, but also for the mercy and blessings of Allah (S). If there is one thing that this world needs the most right now, it would be peace, blessings, and Allah (S)'s mercy, so why not spread that around? Now, of course, you saying As-Salam to a random Muslim at the mall would not stop wars and bring world peace, but the message intends to encourage peace and good vibes between each other.
3. Practicing Ihsan
Ihsan is a matter of trying to obtain excellence in one's worship. Saying As-Salam to a passing Muslim means you are taking the extra step to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet's (S) teachings. Putting forth the extra effort ad saying the full "As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmat-Allahi wa Barakatuh" is another way that we can practice ihsan.
4. Expiating Your Sins + Gaining Good Deeds
While this is the most self-serving reason of the bunch, it is still just as important! When you say Salam to a fellow Muslim, your sins are not only forgiven but Allah (S), the most merciful and the most generous, also gives you ten good deeds for every As-Salam you say. According to the sunnah, the Prophet (S) said,
“When two Muslims meet (give salaam), and shake hands, they are forgiven their sins before they part (with each other).”
Abu Huraira also reported that once, a man passed by the Messenger of Allah (S) while he was sitting with some people, and said “As-Salaamu Alaikum.” The Prophet (S) said, “He will have ten hasanats." Another man passed by and said “As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmat-Allah,” and the Prophet (S) said he will have twenty hasanats.” Another man passed and said “Assalamu-alaikum wa Rahmat -Allaahi wa barakaatuh,” and the Prophet (S) said he will have thirty hasanats.”
5. Creating Community
Regardless of any personality and lifestyle differences between you and any Muslim you see, spreading As-Salam creates a connection between them and yourself. This connection transmits positive, peaceful vibes that are rooted in your Muslim identities, and immediately, this creates a common ground between you and makes you feel like you are not alone. Highlighting this common ground between you and another Muslim can be the first step towards facilitating an interpersonal relationship, but, at the very least, it creates a sense of belonging and sisterhood (or brotherhood). Who doesn't want that?! With everything happening in the world, it is important for us as individuals to recognize the importance of building a community, and spreading As-Salam helps us do that.
So, if you see a fellow Muslimah walking down the street, go ahead and give her your best smile and your most enthusiastic Salam!
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Drop a quick Salam in the comments below and let us know who you are! Let's spread some peace and blessings to each other! :)