[Point 127] The author, (Imām al-Barbahārī) may Allāh have mercy upon him said; “The salutation is given to every servant of Allāh.”
A right that the Muslims have over one another is to spread the greeting between themselves. Allāh ﷻ mentioned;
۞ وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُم بِتَحِيَّةٍ فَحَيُّوا بِأَحْسَنَ مِنْهَا أَوْ رُدُّوهَا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَسِيبًا
“When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally. Certainly, Allah is Ever a Careful Account Taker of all things.” (Q 4:86)
and He ﷻ said;
۞ فَإِذَا دَخَلْتُم بُيُوتًا فَسَلِّمُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِكُمْ تَحِيَّةً مِّنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ مُبَارَكَةً طَيِّبَةً
“But when you enter the houses, greet one another with a greeting from Allāh” (Q 24:61)
meaning; they should greet one another since the believers are like one person or one body. The salām is the greeting of the believers on the day they will meet Allāh ﷻ.
He ﷻ said;
۞ تَحِيَّتُهُمْ يَوْمَ يَلْقَوْنَهُ سَلَامٌ ۚ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَرِيمًا
“Their greeting on the Day they shall meet Him will be “Salām:“ And He has prepared for them a generous reward (i.e. Paradise).” (Q 33:44)
Allāh ﷻ will greet them and the believers will hear His speech and His greeting. They will reply to him; “O’ Allāh you are al-Salām and from you comes al-Salām.” Similarly, the greeting between the people of paradise is al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum, they will greet one another with al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum in paradise, and just as they greet one another in this world with al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum. The spreading of al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum is a means of entering paradise in peace, just as it has been reported in the ḥadīth, “Whoever feeds the people, spreads the salām, prays at night whilst the people are asleep will enter paradise in peace.”1
Therefore spreading the salām between the Muslims is something desired and sought. And the meaning of al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum is: “Supplicating for the safety of the Muslims’, and it is also said that it means: “May the name of Allāh be upon you” because from the names of Allāh is al-Salām. So when you say “al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum..” it means “the name of Allāh upon you” since Allāh is al-Salām. This is a great statement that is spread amongst the Muslims. The Prophet ﷺ said, “None of you will enter paradise until you believe and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you about something which, if you do it, you will love one another? Spread salām amongst yourselves.”2
Therefore, the spreading of al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum develops love in the hearts, since if a Muslim were to meet you and he did not say al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum it may cause you to have something in your heart for him, you might say to yourself “Why didn’t he greet me?” But if he greets you then it would remove what you have inside your heart and you would befriend and love him. This endorses the statement of the Prophet ﷺ “Shall I not inform you what will make you love one another? Spread the Salām between yourselves.” So the spreading of the Salām has a great effect on the Muslims.
It is not sufficient for you to merely say “Ḥayāk Allāh…?” or “How is your morning..?” or ‘How is your evening..?” these are words that are subsidiary to al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum, so when you say “al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum..” then say “How are you…?” or ‘How is your morning..?” and its likes. Likewise it is not sufficient to merely make a gesture with the hand, since this is the greeting of the Jews,3 rather gesturing with the hand is only made if the Muslim is far, so upon you is to say al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum and then gesture with your hand in order to make it apparent to him that you have extended your greeting to him, in order that he may return your greeting.
1 Muslim (54), Aḥmad (2/391), and al-Tirmidhī (2513)
2 Muslim (54), Aḥmad (2/391), and al-Tirmidhī (2513) narrated from Abū Hurayrāh
3 [TN]: Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz. said: “It is not permissible to greet with a wave of the hand, rather the Sunnah is to greet and return the greeting with words. Greeting with a wave of the hand is not permissible, because it is an imitation of some of the non-Muslims who do that, and because it is contrary to what is prescribed by Allāh. But if a person gestures to the one whom he is greeting to indicate that he is saying salām, because he is far away, whilst also uttering the words of the greeting, there is nothing wrong with that, because there is evidence to that effect. Similarly, if the person who is greeted is busy praying, he may respond with a gesture, as was narrated in the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ. Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá, 6/352 of Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz.