Smiling and Saying Salaam

Assalamu `alaykum!!!!” I began, excited to speak with a new friend over the phone. “Wa `alaykum… [sigh]… assalam [apathetic sigh],” was the reply. Subhan’Allah (Glory to God), I thought. I’m so excited to speak with her, but she seems quite bored or exhausted. Did she have a bad day? Did I do something wrong? Does she not want to speak with me?

After becoming more acquainted with her, I realized that her reply had nothing to do with me or her day; she just naturally is an extremely calm and composed person.

This realization was empowering; it meant that her lack of visible or audible enthusiasm had nothing to do with me; I didn’t have to take it personally. I could keep calling. However, not everyone has this realization- especially when it goes down in the masjid (mosque).

How many of us have entered a masjid, for the first time, or the hundredth time and found not a single friendly face? How many of us have tried to say Salaam (the greeting of peace) to someone passing by us in the prayer hall, only to be ignored, stared down or receive in reply a hasty, apathetic Salaam? How many of us have felt that we never wanted to return to that particular masjid because of all the unfriendly faces?

The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) has told us: “O People! Spread salaam, feed the hungry, be in touch with your kin, and pray while people are asleep (at night) you shall enter paradise peacefully.”1 And he ﷺ was asked about the best actions and he replied: “Feeding the hungry, and saying salaam to those you know and those you don’t know.”2

Remember that time when someone you didn’t know was walking towards you with this enormous smile… and then continued to walk right past you as they enthusiastically greeted the person right behind you? Imagine if you had been greeted in that way… especially if you did not even know the person. And then, upon questioning if you knew the person, he or she replied, “You’re my brother/sister in Islam!” How would that make you feel? Welcomed? Special? Accepted? Imagine the reward of that person who would make you feel like you belong.

We constantly call for unity in our communities. We call to be united against oppression globally but what are we doing to help create bonds of unity with those in our own localities? What are we doing to help strengthen our relationships so that we’ll insha’Allah (God willing) be united in calling for justice?

Read the wisdom of the Prophet ﷺ: “You will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another: ‘spread salaam‘ (the greeting of peace) among you.”3 Loving one another is linked with saying Salaam! If we really want to feel united in order to help our Ummah (Muslim community)- let us begin where the Prophet ﷺ has instructed us- let us spread the Salaam!

Additionally, giving the Salaams and meeting fellow believers can be a means of having our sins forgiven! This Ramadan, in addition to all that cheek kissing we do, let’s seek to establish a blessed sunnah (traditions and practices of the Prophet ﷺ)- one through which, our sins will insha’Allah be forgiven.

The Prophet ﷺ has told us, “When two Muslims meet (give salaam), and shake hands, they are forgiven their sins before they part (with each other).”4

Observe yourself next time you meet someone and you automatically go for the hugging and cheek kiss thing (1…2…3…4…7 times? Everyone does it differently!). Do you ever shake hands? In addition to exuding all that physical love, let’s begin to clasp hands, hoping that with the connection of our hands will be the obliteration of our sins.

Finally, while spreading the Salaam, it’s important to be aware of an important fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) ruling which accompanies the blessed greeting. Allah tells us, “And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally” (Qur’an, 4:86).

We should, at minimum, return the greeting with its like or give them an even better greeting.

It is wajib (an obligation) to respond to someone who has greeted you, and it is a blessed Sunnah to start the greeting. The Prophet ﷺ has even told us: “The person closest to Allah is the one who precedes others in greeting.”5

Who knows who is closest to Allah other than Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (Exalted is He)? Let’s race to be amongst those closest! Let us try to be the first ones to say Salaam!

This Ramadan, let us, by Allah’s Mercy, be the ones who help people feel like they want to RUSH back to the masjid because they feel like it is truly their home.

Let us smile, shake hands, and spread sincere and warm Salaams to all that we see! May Allah make it a means, by His Mercy, of allowing us to enter Jannah bis salaam (Paradise with peace).

  1. Tirmithi []
  2. Bukhari and Muslim []
  3. Muslim []
  4. Abu Dawud []
  5. Abu Dawud []

About the author

Maryam Amirebrahimi

Maryam Amirebrahimi

Maryam Amirebrahimi received her master’s in Education from UCLA, where her research focused on the effects of mentorship rooted in Critical Race Theory for urban high school students of color. She holds a bachelor’s in Child and Adolescent Development from San Jose State University, where she served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for two consecutive years. Currently, she is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies through Al Azhar University’s distance learning program. Maryam spent a year studying the Arabic language and Qur’an in Cairo, Egypt, and has memorized the Qur’an. She has been presented the Student of the Year award by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Maryam frequently travels to work with different communities to address a variety of social issues and writes about topics related to social realities, women’s studies and spiritual connections on


  • Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu 🙂
    Love it.
    JazakiAllahu khayran for this, beautifully said, masha Allah. Allahumma salli ala sayyidina muhammadin wa aalihi wa sallim. May Allah forgive us, guide us, help us, the muslims of this ummah to unite and hold hands through our saying of salaam and smiling. May peace prevail within our hearts, our minds, our bodies, and our souls. May we all love one another for Allah’s sake. Ameen.

    It’d be beautiful for the muslims of this ummah to hold hands on the Day of Judgement in Allah’s Shade, because we had not refrained from spreading salaam, and from smiling at one another out of pure geniality. SubhanAllah. May Allah bless you sister, forgive and pardon you, and grant you and your loved ones jannah for expressing this with such beautiful sentiment masha Allah. Ameen.


    When ever I was in the masjid, I always felt like maybe I was being too open or showing impropriety when I greeted people, male and female alike. I'm always so excited to see people, one of the people in charge of the masjid even told me that I'm too loud hahah!

    But alhamdulilah, insha'allah I'll tone down the volume a bit, but this article gives me hope that Allah (swt) will forgive me for my sins and insha'allah reward me, because I sincerely love greeting people!

    Walhamdulilah! Jazakum'allah khairan for the lovely article!

  • Sometimes, a person relays a salaam to another person. For example, Muhammad says to Omar that Fatih says salaam to you. Is it wajib for Fatih to give a greeting in return at the moment of hearing the salaam being relayed?

    • Ustadh Haq, who also, may Allah bless him, posted a response to a question below, taught me the following:

      – If someone asks you to convey your Salams, you can mentally or verbally accept to do so or not to do so. If you accept to do so, it becomes wajib on you to convey it.
      – Once it is conveyed, it becomes wajib on that person who is receiving the Salam to respond to the Salam.

      Proof for this is the following, as mentioned by the Ustadh: “A man came to the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) and said “My father sends his Salam to you”, so the Prophet replied “and may peace be upon you and upon your father” Hafidh Ibn Hajar and Sh. Ibn al Qayyim mention that giving it to the person who conveys the salam as in this instance is recommended but replying to the one who sent it is wajib as Aisha did when the Prophet informed her that Jibril gave her Salam she said ” and peace be upon him and the mercy of Allah” [Bukhari].

      Similarly, imam Qurtubi and Sh. Ibn Battal, use such hadith to conclude that giving Salam to a person who is absent, as in this case, is wajib as it is when they are present.

      As for whether it is wajib to reply immediately , Ibn Hajar says it is. (Fath Bari 11:38). If the person who was told to send the salam, if he willingly accepts it, then Imam Nawawi says it is wajib on him to do so, but if the other person just tells him without him accepting it, then it won’t be.”

      He also mentioned this is the Hanafi view.

      I had no idea the Salams had so many fiqh details and think the fiqh of Salam needs another article specific to that.

      jazak Allahu khayran, wa Allahu `alam

  • Jazakallah Khair for this awesome post! I have to admitt that this is something that I really need to work on so thanks for explaining the benefits and rewards of preceding others in saying Salaam!

  • I have learned that greetin back is for a woman not wajeeb if a non mahram man greets her , I think that should be mentioned too, because if I as a man will greet many women tomorrow and non of them will greet me back I then understand why, this happend to me alot because many disrespectful men try to get in contact with a muslimah through the salam, which many women feel as disrespect when she didnt show any interest before.

    I believe this ruling is open to fiqh ,maybe there is another ruling that should be promoted also if someone doesnt understand and doesnt feel comfortable with the ruling above-mentioned =)

  • I’d like to know if it is wrong to say Assalamu Alaikum to the brothers as well as the sisters. I live in Ireland, we have a small but close-knit community in my city. I know quite a lot of the regulars at the mosque. On occasion I have met brothers in the street and they look away. Personally , I feel as we are a minority that we need to know each other. It makes me feel that if I had a problem I would be more comfortable approaching a non-Muslim for help than those brothers, though their wives are friends. I think I read somewhere that Prophet Muhammed, saw, greeted men and women he met in the street, isn’t he our example!

    • u can give anyone young or old, a man or a woman, a sheikh or a sheikha the salaam ,even if they look away, even if they dont give you the salaam back, men r obligated to give it back even if it is a woman who gave the salaam,

      men dont expect women to say salaam to them and they r afraid to give the salaam to muslim women because they dont want to disturb anyone,they dont know if they r married or somethn like that but at the moment u give it to them they will give it back, because they have to !

      salamu alaikum to everyone

    • Sheikh `Abd al-Rahmân b. Ibrâhîm al-`Uthmân, professor at al-Imâm University:

      It is obligatory to reply to the greeting of peace given by a Muslim, regardless of whether that Muslim is a man or woman.

      Allah says: “If you are addressed with a greeting, then reply with a greeting that is better or return the (same) greeting.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 86]

      However, when replying to the greeting given by a member of the opposite sex, one must take care to reply in a suitable manner that is free from flirtation or innuendo.

      The ruling is different regarding initiating salutations of peace with members of the opposite sex. It is merely permissible to do so when there is no fear of temptation. In the case where there is fear of temptation for either party, which is sometimes the case when a young man greets a young lady, it should be avoided. As long as no temptation or mischief is feared, then there is no objection to initiating greetings with members of the opposite sex.

      The proof for this is what is related by Asmâ’ bint Yazîd that: “the Prophet (peace be upon him) passes us – we were a group of women – and he greeted us with peace.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (5294) and Sunan Ibn Mâjah (3701)]

      Sahl b. Sa`d related: “There used to be an old lady among us who, on Friday, would harvest greens. When we departed from our Jumu`ah prayers, we would greet her with peace.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (938)]

      (This is also the view of Hanafi scholars, although a minority say if there is fear of fitna, than the obligation to respond for the woman drops – Allahu A’lam)

  • I lived in Toronto Ontario Canada and if I would greet someone walking down the street. They would look at me as though I was somehow disturbed. I moved to a small northern town in Ontario and I found that if I didn’t greet someone walking down the street, I was looked at as though I was disturbed. The fealing of peace I get when I greet someone with “Assalamu alaikum and they respond with walaykum salam” is very much loved and needed. I would like to thank all the wonderful muslims I have met on my journey to peace.

  • alhamdhulillah. Real tym fact and in shaa allah v and other global ppl obey Quranic verses & follow Hadidth and Sunnah., ameen…

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