The third right of the road is returning salaam. Islaam has recommended the use of the Islaamic greeting when encountering or leaving the company another Muslim because it unifies the hearts and strengthens bonds between Muslims. Imam Muslim reported that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "I swear by the One whose hand my soul is in that you will not enter Paradise until you believe. And you won't believe until you love one another. May I tell you something that if you practice it you will love another spread the (salam) Islamic greeting among you."
The foregoing makes it clear to us, that spreading salaam among Muslims is of the steps towards Paradise. This is because spreading salaam leads to increasing the love between our hearts. And the increase of love between our hearts will increase the eemaan (faith).
An authentic hadeeth reported by Imaam Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah states that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
"Oh you people spread salaam among you serve the food behave kindly with your blood relations and offer prayer at night when others are asleep and you will enter Paradise safely."
Also, Imaams Bukhari and Muslim reported that a man asked the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam), "what in Islam is the best?" He answered, "To feed people and to say salam to everyone whether you know them or not."
The scholars have agreed that starting with salaam is highly recommended and responding to it is obligatory because Allaah says:
"When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally. Certainly, Allaah is Ever a Careful Account Taker of all things." (Q4[Nisaa]:86)
Based on the foregoing verse, when the salaam is said to a group of people in a gathering it is obligatory for at least one of them to respond to the greeting. It is equally necessary (waajib) to return the salaams in a manner that is audible to the other party (if present in person). If one doesn't raise one's voice such that the other party can hear it, then the obligation of returning the salaam would not be fulfilled.
The sunnah is to respond in the same or in a more emphatic manner than the initial greeting, when the initiator of the greeting says "As-Salamu Alaykum." They should respond adding “wa Rahmatullah." However, it is optimal to respond with “wa alaykum salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. "
It is an immediate duty to respond to salaams. It is disliked and sinful to delay it without an excuse (such as being busy with something else, like eating or some pressing work).
If the one greeting you conveys someone else's salaam to you, it is necessary (wajib) to respond immediately; and it is recommended to include the one who conveyed the salams in your response. You may say, for example, "wa 'Alayka wa Alayhi As-Salam," or (in English) "As-Salamu 'Alaykum to you and them."
Aishah (RA) said that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said to her "O 'Aisha! This is Jibril and he sends his (greetings) salutations to you." 'Aisha (RA) said, "Salutations (Greetings) to him, and Allaah's Mercy and Blessings be on him," and addressing the Prophet (salalahu alayhi wa sallam) she said, "You see what I don't see." (Bukhari)
An-Nawaawee said: "... it is incumbent on the bearer of someone else's salaams to deliver it because it is an amaanah (trust) ... " He also said, "If a salaam comes to him from another person or (written) on a paper, it is compulsory to respond immediately and it is recommended to respond in a better form as reported by an-Nasaaee from the report of a man of Tameemee who conveyed to the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) the salaam of his father and the Prophet responded: "wa alayka wa ala abeeka as-Salaam" (Upon you and upon your father be peace).
If you commit to convey salaam of anyone to someone else, it becomes necessary (wajib) to do so - as this becomes a trust (amana) .as mentioned earlier. However, if you didn't commit yourself to doing 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.
It is from the sunnah to return the greeting of those you know and those whom you don't. It is also obligatory to return the greetings of even children. It is from the sunnah to be of positive and cheerful disposition when greeting others. It is equally from the sunnah for men to shake hands with men when they meet; and for women to shake hands with women when they meet.
Qatadah narrated: I asked Anas (RA) 'Was it a custom of the companions of the Prophet to shake hands with one another?" He said, "Yes." (Bukhari) Shaking hands with another Muslim will result in forgiveness from Allaah. Imaams Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi reported that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "If Muslims meet and shake hands with each other, they will be forgiven before they leave."
Imam At-Tirmldhi also reported a sound hadeeth that a man said: "O Messenger of Allaah if one of us meets his brother or friend, should he bow down to him? The Prophet said, "No." He asked should he hug him and kiss him? The Prophet answered, "No." He asked should he take his hand and shake it. The Prophet answered, "Yes." Anas (RA) said, "When the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) use to meet a man, he shook hands with him and the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) would not pull away his hand until the man would pull his hand away first."
What if the People of the Book start with the salaams to the Muslims? Some of the scholars say that it is allowed to return salaam and others say it's obligatory. Ibn Abbaass (RA) said, 'Whoever says As-salaam Alaykum to you, you have to return his greeting even if he was a Majoos (fire worshipper). He was referring to a verse from the Qur'an:
"When you ore greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it or (at least) return it equally. Certainly, Allaah is Ever a Careful Account Taker of all things.”(Q4[Nisaa]:86)
When leaving the majlis (sitting) of the road salaams are recommended just as when you meet. tmaams Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi reported in a sound hadeeth that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "When one of you joins a gathering he should greet those present; and when he leave them he should greet them because the first salutation is not better than the last one."
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited