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Fiqh of salams - What is the sunna of giving and returning salams?

By Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Q) There seems to be so much related to giving salams in the sunna and guidance... Can you tell us some of the details?

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

1. Giving the salams is a sunna.

2. It is recommended to make the salam audible to the other party (if present in person).

3. Returning the salams is a communal obligation--such that if a group hears it, then at least one must answer it, though only the one answering it is rewarded.

4. Returning the salams in a manner that is audible to the other party (if present in person) is necessary (wajib) -- such that if one doesn''t raise one''s voice such that the other party can hear it, then the obligation of returning the salams is not fulfilled.

5. The sunna is to say "As-Salamu `Alaykum," though it is better to add "wa Rahmatullah." It is optimal to say "As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh."

6. It is sunna to respond in the same manner, and to make return the same or more emphatic than the initial greeting -- though one doesn''t go beyond "wa Barakatuh."

7. It is an immediate duty to respond to salams. It is prohibitively disliked and sinful to delay it without an excuse (such as being busy with something else, like eating or some pressing work).

8. If someone conveys to one another''s salams, it is necessary (wajib) to respond immediately; and it is recommended to include the one who conveyed the salams in one''s response. One can say, for example, "wa `Alayka wa Alayhi As-Salam," or (in English) "As-Salamu `Alaykum to you and them."

9. If you commit to convey salams to someone, it becomes necessary (wajib) to do so -- as this becomes a trust (amana). However, if one didn''t make a commitment to do so -- such as by saying, for example, "I''ll try to convey your salams to them" -- then it is recommended, not necessary, to actually do so. This also applies to conveying salams to someone visiting the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) at his noble and blessed grave.

10. It is from the sunna to greet those whom you know and those whom you don''t; and to greet and return the greetings of even children.

11. It is from the sunna to be of positive and cheerful disposition when greeting others.

12. It is from the sunna for men to shake hands with men when they meet; and for women to shake hands with women when they meet.

See also the hadiths of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) on the sunnas of greeting, from Imam Nawawi''s Riyad al-Salihin (''Gardens of the Righteous''):

Book of the Greeting

* 131. On the Excellence of the Greeting and the command to make it common practice
* 132. On the form of the greeting
* 133. On the adab of the greeting
* 134. On the recommendation to repeat the greeting to the one he meets after a short time since he has come in or gone out and then returned immediately, or a tree or the like has come between them
* 135. The recommendation to greet when entering one''s home
* 136. On greeting children
* 137. On a man greeting his wife, female relatives and women who are not relatives if no temptation is feared
* 138. On the prohibition against being the first to greet an unbeliever and how to return their greeting
* 139. On the recommendation to give the greeting when leaving an assembly and parting from one''s companions
* 140. On asking permission to enter and its adab
* 141. On the making it clear that the Sunna is that when the one from whom one asks permission to enter says, "Who is it?"
* 142. On the recommendation to bless someone who sneezes when he praises Allah and dislike of doing it if he has not praised Allah
* 143. On the recommendation to shake hands when meeting and having a cheerful face, and kissing the hand of a righteous man and kissing one''s child

Article taken (with Thanks) from

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