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  If a Muslim hears a Jew or Christian saying: (assalaamu alaikum) should we respond to him with (wa alaikum) as obviously dictated by the hadith or we should respond to him by saying: (wa alaikum salaam)?

The Answer: some scholars said if we are sure of the usage of the word (salaam), then it necessitates that we respond with salaam


Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: if the person is certain that the Dhimmi (Jew or Christian) is clearly saying ‘al-salaamu ‘alaykum’ to him, and he has no doubts about that, should he say ‘wa ‘alayka al-salaam’ or shorten it to ‘wa ‘alayk’? What is indicated by the evidence and principles of sharee’ah is that he should say ‘wa ‘alayka al-salaam’, because this is more just, and Allaah commands us to be just and to treat others well… this does not contradict any of the ahaadeeth on this topic at all, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded us to shorten the greeting to ‘wa ‘alayk’ because of the reason mentioned above, which is that they deliberately used to say ‘al-saam ‘alaykum’ instead of ‘al-salaam ‘alaykum’, as indicated in the hadeeth narrated by ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her). He said, “Do you not see that I say ‘wa ‘alaykum’ when they say ‘al-saam ‘alaykum’?” Then he said, “If the People of the Book greet you with salaam, say, ‘Wa ‘alaykum.’”Allah; The Most High says:

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When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy…(Qur’an: 4: 86). Thus He guided towards goodness and enjoined justice, and this does not negates the traditions on this topic in anyway, because he peace and blessings of Allah be upon him just ordered that the responder should limit his respond to the word( wa alaikum) due to what they(jews) used to mentioned in their greetings as was stated in the hadith of Aisha(may Allah be please with her)-he said: (didn’t you hear what I said (wa alaikum) when they (greeted and )said:may death be upon you”. He also said: “when the people of the book greet you people say : wa alaikum”. This rule can only considered when the reason that necessitated it is present and not in other instances different from it. Allah says:

 

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And when they come to thee, they salute thee, not as Allah salutes thee, (but in crooked ways): And they say to themselves, "Why does not Allah punish us for our words?" Enough for them is Hell: In it will they burn, and evil is that destination!”{ Qur’an: 58:8}, hence, if the reason (that necessitated the above ruling) is absent and one of them offers us greetings and said: assalaamu alaikum warahmatullah) then of course, justices in greetings demands that it be responded the like of it. Still with this permissibility of responding the greetings of the people of book when they greet, one should not say to them: “ wa alaikum salaam, but should only say: alaikum or wa alaikum

 

Aisha may Allah be please with her reported: a group of the jews entered upon the Messenger of Allah may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and said:, "As-Samu 'Alaika (i.e., death be upon you), so I understood what they said, and I said to them, "As-Samu 'alaikum wal-la'na (i.e. Death and Allah's Curse be upon you)." The Prophet said, "Be gentle and calm, O 'Aisha, as Allah likes gentleness in all affairs." I said, "O Allah's Prophet! Didn't you hear what they said?" He said, "Didn't you hear me answering them back by saying, 'Alaikum (i.e., the same be upon you)?"

 

Narrated Ibn 'Umar: Allah's Apostle said, "When the Jews greet anyone of you they say: 'Sam'Alaika (death be upon you); so you should say; 'Wa 'Alaika (and upon you).'"

 

Narrated Anas bin Malik: A Jew passed by Allah's Apostle and said, "As-Samu 'Alaika." Allah's Apostle said in reply, "We 'Alaika." Allah's Apostle then said to his companions, "Do you know what he (the Jew) has said? He said, 'As-Samu 'Alaika.'" They said, "O Allah's Apostle! Shall we kill him?" The Prophet, said, "No. When the people of the Book greet you, say: 'Wa 'Alaikum.'"

 

Ibn Hajar said:… a group of scholars from among the salaf(pious predecessors) opined that it is allowed to say when responding to their salaam: (alaikum salaam) just as it is responded to a muslim. They cited as their proof the words of Allah ‘ the Most High:

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But turn away from them? and say "Peace! {Qur’an: Zukhruf: 89}


Al-Marwardi related it to some scholars of the Ash-Shafi’e school of thought with the addition that one should not add the word ( warahmatullah)

 

An-Nawawi said: “this proof is weak and against the hadiths. It was also mentioned that it is allowed without any limitations. Again it was reported of Ibn Abbas and Al-Qama that it is allowed only in times of necessity. Al-Awzaa’e said: if you greet them(people of the book) then indeed the pious(before you) did greet them, and if you do not greet them, then the pious (before) did not greet them.

 

The right view among all these views is what was purported by the Hadith, which is specific with the people of the book. It was reported in a good chain of narration by Ahmad on the authority of Anas(may Allah be please with him) that he said: “ we were ordered to greet the people of the book not more than : wa alaikum

It is not allowed for a Muslim to respond to a colleague Muslim by saying: “wa alaikum” just as it is responded to a non-Muslim.

 

If a Muslim offered salaam on a man thinking that he is a Muslim, then it became apparent that he is not a Muslim what should he do?

 

Al-Baahi said that Ibn al-Arabi reported of Maalik that: “ if he initiated a man with a greeting thinking that he is a Muslim, then it became clear that he is a disbeliever, Ibn Umar used to take back the salaam from him. Ibn al-Abbi said: taking back the greetings has no any accredited benefit because nothing is incumbent upon him as he only intended offering salaam to a Muslim. Some scholars also said: taking back the salaam has some benefit and that it makes the disbeliever feels that he is not qualified to be initiated with the salaam.

 

Ibn Hajr said: “and this (taking back the salaam) becomes more incumbent if it is feared that someone (close by) may speak against it or imitate the one who offered such salaam if he is among those that are imitated.


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