All praise is due to Allāh, the Lord of the entire creation. May the Peace and Salutations of Allāh be upon His Messenger, the Seal of the Prophets and the Imām of the God-fearing, and upon his Companions and all those who follow them in goodness until the Last Day. To proceed;

This is the 145th gathering of Liqāʾ al-Bāb al-Maftūḥ which takes place every Thursday. This gathering is on the 2nd Thursday of the month of Shaʿbān in the year 1417 AH. We will begin this gathering by mentioning whatever Allāh ﷻ makes easy of the tafsīr of Surah al-Dhāriyāt. We stopped at the statement of Allāh ﷻ, [Ibrāhīm] said:

۞ قَالَ فَمَا خَطْبُكُمْ أَيُّهَا الْمُرْسَلُونَ

Then for what purpose you have come, O’ Messengers?” (Q 51:31)

However, I see that I should speak about the manner of extending the greeting of peace when the Angels greeting with “Salāma” and Ibrāhīm replied, “Salāmu”. We mentioned previously that the response of Ibrāhīm was better than the initiation of the Angels, this is because the response of Ibrāhīm was [a nominal sentence (a sentence beginning with a noun) – it gives the meaning of stability and continuity] in contrary to the greeting of the Angels.

Responding to the Greeting of Peace [al-Salāmu ʿālaykum]:

Know that responding to the greeting of peace is an obligation, due to the statement of Allāh ﷻ;

۞ 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, Allāh is Ever a Careful Account Taker of all things.” (Q 4:86)

Allāh ﷻ stated “when you are greeted..” and He did not mention the person extending the greeting to us, therefore this [verse] includes any individual that greets us, accordingly we greet him and we respond to him with a similar or better greeting than the greeting he extended to us. As Allāh has stated:

۞ 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, Allāh is Ever a Careful Account Taker of all things.” (Q 4:86)

So he began with a better greeting because that is more virtuous “or (at least) return it equally.” Meaning return the greeting equally – and this includes the Jews, Christians, Buddhists and other than them. If they greet us, we return the greeting to them. Nevertheless we do not initiate the greeting to a Jew or a Christian since the Prophet ﷺ prohibited that.

The greeting of peace is “al-Salāmu ʿālaykum” this is what has been Islamically legislated. As for saying “Hello and welcome” [Ahlan wa Sahlan wa Marḥaban], “How are you…?” or whatever resembles this type of speech, then it has not been Islamically legislated. That which has been legislated is for you to begin with “al-Salāmu ʿālaykum” and due to this, it has been narrated in a adīth when the Prophet ﷺ went on the miʿrāj [from Makkah to Masjid al-Aqṣā] and passed by the Prophets, he said to them “al-Salāmu ʿālaykum” and they returned the salutation and then said “Welcome O’ righteous Prophet.” Therefore, begin with “al-Salāmu ʿālaykum” and in reply to the salutation, it can be similar or better, such as, “ʿAlaykum al-Sālam” or “ʿAlaykum al-Sālam wa Raḥmatullāh” or “ʿAlaykum al-Sālam wa Raḥmatullāhī wa Barakatū” all of this is allowed.

We see many people, when they are greeted with the greeting of peace they respond with “Ahlan wa Sahlan wa Marhaban” or they say “Marḥaban” this is not sufficient. Meaning, if he said “Ahlan wa Sahlan” until the end of time then this is not permissible because Allāh ﷻ says: “or (at least) return it equally.” And it is known that the one who says “al-Salāmu ʿālaykum” is supplicating for your security and safety from deficiency and shortcoming and from every sickness of the heart and body. It is not sufficient for it to be said “Ahlan wa Sahlan” rather, you should reply with “ʿAlayka al-Sālam” or “ʿAlaykum al-Sālam” and if you were to add “wa Raḥmatullāhī wa Barakatuh” then that would be even better.

The Greeting of the Youth Upon the Elder:

Who is supposed to initiate the greeting of peace? The sunnah has clarified this: the youth greet the elder because the right the elder has over the youth is greater than the right the youth has over the elder. Therefore, the youth initiate the greeting of peace to the elder. Yet if it happens that the youth did not extend the greeting to the elder, does the elder abandon the giving the greetings altogether, because it is his right, or does he (the elder) initiate the greeting so that the sunnah is not neglected? The answer is: he [the elder] should initiate the greeting of peace so that the sunnah is not abandoned. So a person saying, “It is my right! Why didn’t he extend the greeting of peace to me?” is a mistake. It is true that you have the right and it is Islamically legislated that he should give you the greeting of peace, still if he does not then you should extend the greeting of peace.

The Greeting of the Person Walking to the Person Sitting:

Similarly, the one who is walking greets the one who is sitting. Therefore, if an individual passes by some people sitting, he greets them even if they are younger than he is. It was from the guidance of the Prophet ﷺ that he would greet the youth when he would pass by them, and in this is a great benefit. Part of that [benefit] is humility, that a person humbles himself when he greets a people smaller than him. And from it (the benefit) is mercy because your greetings of peace to the young is a type of mercy and the Prophet ﷺ informed of this. Also from it [the benefit] is getting these youth accustomed to the greetings of peace, that is, that a youth learns that it is from the distinguishing characteristics of Muslims that they greet one another with the salām, and so he takes from this good manners and character that will benefit him in his youth and old age.

The Greeting of the Majority to the Minority:

Does the majority greet the minority or does the minority greet the majority? Just as it was with the young upon the elder, the minority greets the majority. For example, if two groups meet – a group of 6 and a group of 5 who [initiates] the greeting? The congregation of 5 greet the congregation of 6, since the congregation of 6 have an extra that has a right – the extra individual has a [extra] right. As a result, the minority greet the majority and if the minority do not greet them, the majority should initiate it so that they do not neglect implementing the sunnah amongst themselves.

The Greeting of the Passenger Riding to the Person Walking:

A passenger (on a means of transport) and a person walking meet. One is walking and the other is riding in his car or upon his camel. Who initiates the greeting? The passenger greets the one walking because the passenger is higher up, so he greets the walker – this has been mentioned in the sunnah.

The Greeting of the Person Ascending to the Person Descending:

Does the person ascending initiate the greeting upon the one descending or does the person descending initiate it upon the one ascending? The answer is: the one ascending greets the one descending. If two people meet at the same level on a flight of stairs [for example], the one going up greets the one coming down.

If the Sunnah Has Not Mentioned a Certain Scenario:

If the sunnah has not mentioned which of the two initiates the salām [in a certain scenario] then the second party initiates the greeting. The Prophet ﷺ said ‘It is not allowed for a Muslim to boycott his brother for more than three. They meet and so this one turns away from that one, and that one from this. And the better of them is the one who initiates giving the salutation to his brother.’ The Prophet ﷺ said “the better of them” this is proof that whoever initiates the greeting is better. This is because if you greet a person, then you would have gained 10 good deeds, and if your companion responds to your greeting he would also receive 10 good deeds. But what is the reason for him receiving 10 good deeds? The reason is the one who initiated the greeting. If you did not greet him then he would not have responded. So you become the cause for him to perform a righteous action, so you will receive the same reward as him. Then they [the scholars] presented upon this a problem. They said: “How can a sunnah [recommended action] be better than an obligatory action?” and the Islamic principle states that an obligatory action is better than a recommended action, as Allāh ﷻ has mentioned in a adīth Qudsī; “My slave does not come closer to me with anything more beloved to me than the obligations upon him…” Their answer to this problem is that this [specific] obligatory action was built upon the recommended action, so the recommended action, for the one who started it has its own specific reward and also for him is the reward of the obligatory action of the person returning the greeting.

Extending the Greeting Audibly:

It is befitting that the salām be audible. Some people meet you and greet you but you have doubt as to whether the person has given the salām or not because he did not raise his voice; this is wrong. Raise your voice so that you show your joy to this brother who has met you or extended to you the greetings of peace. Do not greet him with a bothersome tone or a low voice that cannot be heard. There are some people who extend the greeting of peace in an unpleasant tone. Indeed the religion is moderate, between extremism and negligence, so we say: greet your brother with a greeting that he can hear, accompanied with the correct manners and respect.

Smile and Be Cheerful:

From the mannerisms of greeting is that a Muslim is cheerful and smiling. Indeed it is a good deed that you meet your brother with a smile, and showing a cheerful face, warm heart and smiling towards your brother is no doubt something desired, because it involves bringing joy to your brothers, and this is something that is highly recommended and rewarding due to the statement of the Prophet ﷺ “every good deed is charity” therefore every good is charity.

The Types of Relayed Greetings and How They Are Returned:

If a greeting has been relayed to you, such as if an individual says: Such and such a person says “Salāmu ʿalaykum..” reply “ʿAlayka” or “ʿAlayhi al-Salām”, or if you desire, you can reply with “ʿAlayhi al-Salām”, meaning to the person who asked him to relay it.

However if the greeting has been written – such that a person wrote to you and mentioned, “Salāmu ʿalaykum wa Raḥmatullahī wa barakātuh” – if you want to respond to him then return his greetings. So for example, an individual wrote to you and stated, “Salāmu ʿalaykum wa Raḥmatullāhī wa barakātuh” so in responding you should write, “In Reponses: wa ʿalaykum al-salām wa Raḥmatullāhī wa barakātuh. I have read your letter and I have understood what it contains and the answer is so on and so on…” Many people today do not give due care to this.

You find that a person writes a reply and begins it with “Salāmu ʿalaykum wa Raḥmatullāh…” this is good. However, the one [who wrote to you initially] extending the greeting of peace upon you needs a reply [to his greeting]. So reply, “wa ʿalaykum al-salām wa Raḥmatullāhī wa barakātuh. Your letter has reached me or I have read your letter and I have understood it, and this is the answer to it….” Answer what he has asked of you. This is the case if the greeting of peace has been written, then replying to it in writing is proper. In the case that there is no need to reply, for example, an individual writes to you informing you of some news and there is no need to reply. In this case, when you have read the writing you should say [verbally], “wa ʿalaykum al-salām wa Raḥmatullāh wa barakātuh.” I do not say [this reply is] obligatory, because your companion cannot hear, but [it is] recommended. Your friend has supplicated for you in your absence so you should likewise supplicate for him in his absence.

Shaking Hands With the Entire Gathering:

Is there proof from the Qurʾān and Sunnah to shake hands with everyone in the gathering, or did the Prophet ﷺ do such a thing?

I do not know anything of this from the sunnah, so therefore it is not befitting for you to do. Some people today, when they enter a gathering, shake hands with the first person until the last. According to what I know, this is not legislated, rather shaking hands is made upon encountering, but doing so when entering a gathering is not from the way of the Prophet . Neither did his companions do such a thing, rather the Prophet ﷺ used to sit wherever there was a space in the gathering. Similarly we have not heard that the Companions would stand up to greet the Prophet ﷺ when he sat in a gathering. Therefore, shaking hands in this manner is not authorised.1

Placing the Hands on the Chest After Extending the Greeting:

From what we know, this action has no basis in Islam. It has not been legislated to touch or place the hand on the chest after shaking hands, rather this is an innovation if the person doing so believes that this is bring him closer to Allāh.2

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1 Liqāʾ al-Bāb al-Maftūḥ [18/48] of Shaykh ibn al-Uthaymīn

2 Al-Fatāwa al-Islāmīyyah [4/408] of Shaykh Ibn Bāz