Islamic Studies

Can I Initiate the Greetings of Peace to People of Other Faiths?

By the Egyptian House of Fatwa

The Question:

Can I give greeting to people of other faiths and traditions? I asked this in light of the following hadith that forbids us to do so to the Jews and order us to block the way in front of them as related by Imam Muslim. There are a number of people in my MSA who like to debate this topic. What is your advice to them?

Summary of the Answer:

1. The prohibition against offering the greetings of peace to non-Muslims and permitting them to pass is conditioned to times of war.
2. Muslims, under normal circumstances, are ordered to treat all people well.
3. One should avoid petty debates and focus on what benefits.

The Answer:

Dear brother:

The Prohibition of Greeting others is Restricted to Times of War

The Jews mentioned in the above texts were from the citizens of the Prophet’s city, al-Medina, and were guilty of high treason after many opportunities were presented to them to live in peace. This statement of the Prophet comes in the context of their war and treachery against the Prophet and his community; not in the context of peace and normalized relations.

This is explained by the narration of Imam Ahmed and al-Tabarani that states the Prophet [P.B.U.H] said on the day that war was declared on the Jews of Medina “We are going to surprise the Jews [by attacking them in the morning]! Do not initiate the greetings of peace to them.”

In the narration of Ahmed the Prophet [P.B.U.H] said, “Tomorrow morning we are going to ride against the Jews. Do not initiate the greetings of peace to them.”

Muslims, Under normal Circumstances, are Ordered to Treat all People Well

Allah, the Most High, legislated in His book good relations with non-Muslims who do not act treacherously nor seek to inflict harm upon the Muslim community. Thus, it is incumbent upon you to treat all people amicably and peacefully under such situations..

Finally, we encourage you not to waste your time engaging in such debates, but, instead, spend your time learning your religion correctly.

Allah knows best.
Egyptian House of Fatwa

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  • Salam

    Jazak Allah. I think one problem we have is that there are lot of tafsirs out there available to the common man, where we can see the exact context of any Quranic ayat. But it’s very hard for the common man to find the exact context of hadith like this. We all know the huge importance of finding the context for Quranic ayats, but many of us will find a single hadith like this, ignore the context, and then think its the be all and end all.

  • As-salam,

    I’m doing a research on fatwas related to greetings between muslims and non-muslims, and if it’s possible, I would like to have the full reference of this fatwa. I tried to search on the web, but did not found…

    I fully agree with you realist, it might be very hard for someone to always put the Quran verses and the Hadiths in the context that would enable us to fully understand it… Through studying Islam and doing this homework, I came to realize how exegesis are important and how, without it, someone might misinterpret what is written…

    Thank you!

  • Wa alaykum as-salam, Sister Claudia.

    There is a fatwa on which also supports this fatwa. Try searching for it there. It’s entitled “Salams is not only a greeting for muslims”, or something along those lines. That fatwa was approved by Shaykh Salman Al-Oudah, a very prominent Saudi Salafi scholar.

    Fi Aman Allah.

  • Salaam brothers and sisters

    I have read how some scholars have interpreted that we should not make friends with the Jews and Christians based on the Quran 5:51.

    What does that mean exactly? If someone can clarify for me that’d be great.

    Jaza K’Allah khair

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