By the Egyptian House of Fatwa
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 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