The Manner of Greeting and Shaking Hands According to the Sunna of the Prophet

According to the Prophet's Sunnah, greetings are given by saying "As Salamu Alaikum"; the reply to this greeting is "Wa Alaikum Salam" and when the words "Wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu" are added to the greeting, the reward is increased.

In Surah Nisa of the Qur'ân, Allah Almighty commands His servants to greet each other, and to spread greetings across the face of the earth.

"When you enter any of these houses, greet one another with a blessed, pure and good salutation appointed by Allah." (Nur 24:61)

"When you are greeted with a greeting, answer with one better, or (at least) with the same. Surely Allah keeps account of all things." (Nisa 4:86)

Allah Almighty not only commands us to greet one another, but also commands us to bestow greetings upon His Beloved servant and Messenger; in order for us to understand the importance of sending greetings to His beloved Prophet, Allah revealed that He and His Angels bestowed greetings upon the Prophet in the following verse of the Qur'an:

"Surely Allah and His angels bless the Prophet. O you who believe, invoke the blessings of Allah on him, and pray to Allah to bestow His peace on him, greeting him with the best greeting."(Ahzab 33:56)

With the glory of one His beautiful names, Allah revealed to His servants ‘As-Salam', the Paradise, the abode of the devoted servant who has attained faith, and successfully undergone the trials in this world; in the following verse this is described as the abode of peace. 

"And Allah invites to the Abode of Peace and He guides whomever He wills to a Straight Path."(Yunus 10:25)

The reason why Paradise is referred to as the ‘abode of peace' is because it is an abode of contentment and bliss, and those who enter Paradise will certainly live an eternal life of peace. Another reason is that Allah and His Angels bestow greetings upon all the inhabitants of Paradise.

"Peace!" is the word from the Lord All-Compassionate (to His believing servants)."(Ya-Sin 36:58)

"And the angels will come to them from every gate, (saying): "Peace be upon you, for that you endured patiently."(Ra'd 13:23/24)

The manner of greetings, which could be thought of as a code or a symbolic feature, was revealed to his people by Prophet Muhammad via his words and his actions. The manner of greeting others, the duty of giving greetings first, and the manner of replying to the greetings is defined in the following hadith of the Prophet:

"The young should greet the old, the passerby should greet the sitting one, and the smaller group of persons should greet the larger group of persons."(Buhârî)

Of course, a Muslim should immediately greet another Muslim when they meet, for the rank of a person who bestows greetings first in the eyes of Allah is defined in the following hadith:

The greetings of peace passed that have been passed down to us Muslims Prophet Adam - greetings that will continue to be the salutation until the Day of Judgment - are symbolically significant among Muslims today.

"Those who are nearest to Allah are the ones who are first to give a greeting." (Abu Dawud)

When a Muslims enters a place or a meeting where there are other Muslims or when they leave the meeting, they should bestow the greetings of Allah. The Prophet explains this in the following hadith:

"When one of you comes to an assembly, he should give greetings and if he feels inclined to get up, he should give greetings, for the former is not more of a duty than the latter."(Abu Dawud)

According to the Prophet's Sunnah, greetings are given by saying "As Salamu Alaikum"; the reply to this greeting is "Wa Alaikum Salam" and when the words "Wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu" are added to the greeting, the reward is increased, as described in the next hadith:

Imran bin Husain reported: A man came to the Prophet one day and bestowed the greetings of Allah on him. "As Salamu Alaikum." After the Prophet had replied, the man sat down. Then the Prophet turned to him and said: "You have earned ten rewards" Then another man came and said: "As Salumu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah," and the Prophet responded by replying to his greeting, and the man sat down. The Prophet turned to him and said: "You have earned twenty rewards" Then another man came and said: "As Salamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu," and sat down after the Prophet had responded to his greetings. The Prophet turned to him and said: "You have earned thirty rewards." (Abu Dawud)

When a Muslim enters their home, they should greet their family in the best possible way, for this will increase prosperity and benevolence both for this person and their family. When we do this, we are fulfilling a command of Allah that was revealed in Surah Nur verse 61; we will also gain rewards for performing one of the Prophet's sunnahs.

Anas (ra) reported: The Prophet told me: "My son, when you enter your home bestow the greetings of Allah, for it is the source of  blessing for you and your family" (Tirmidhi)

In fact, even if there is nobody at home, a Muslim should bestow greetings when entering the house. In this case, the greetings should be "As Salamu Alayna Wa Ala Ibadillahis Salihin" (Muwatta, Greetings 8).

Regarding a non-Muslim, Muslims should wait for the non-Muslim to greet them, and then reply: "Wa Alaikum." The Prophet said : "Do not greet the Jews and Christians until they greet you"

One day a Companion asked the Prophet: "When the people of the Book greet us, how should we reply?" The Prophet answered: "Reply with the words: Wa Alaikum." (Muslim, Greetings 7)

We can only greet non-Muslims first if they are among a group Muslims, for when the Prophet came across a group of Muslims, Jews and disbelievers he greeted them. (Buhârî)

Musafaha means shaking hands; this too is an act of salutation. Bestowing the greetings of Allah, embracing one another, the shaking of hands between men, and the shaking of hands between women are all actions that the Prophet encouraged Muslims to perform as the most excellent manners of greeting others. Salutations and shaking hands are a form of charity and also a means of obtaining rewards. Greeting others and shaking hands is a duty that is not difficult to execute, but it is an action whose reward is great. In one of the hadiths, the Prophet explained the virtue of shaking hands: 

"When two Muslims meet and shake hands, Allah forgives the sins of both before they depart."(Abu Dawud)   

Abu Dhar explained: "There was never a time that any of us met with the Prophet and did not shake hands; he would greet us and shake hands with us every time we met. One day the Prophet sent for me, but I was not at home. When I reached home, they informed me that the Prophet had called, so I immediately went to him. The Prophet was sitting on a cushion, and when I entered the Prophet stood up and embraced me; for me this was one of the most emotional moments of my life."(Musnad)

Bestowing the greetings of Allah in the most excellent manner, shaking hands and embracing Muslims are all Sunnah acts, and they are actions that the Prophet greatly encouraged his followers to execute both verbally and by example. An important matter that must be considered regarding the shaking of hands is that it is prohibited for a woman to shake the hand of a man whom she can marry according to Islam.

Nevertheless, according to Islam a woman is permitted to greet a man and a man a woman if there is no question of a misunderstanding or provocation. There are reports in hadiths related by Buhârî and Tirmidhi of the Prophet greeting and returning the greetings of women sitting in the mosque.

The hadiths of the Prophet convey this manner of greeting others, a duty in the life of every Muslim: When two Muslims meet, they must greet each other by saying ‘As Salamu Alaikum' and replying with the words ‘Alaikum Salam', and then shake hands; in addition to this, if they convey greetings upon the Prophet by saying: ‘Allahumma Salli Ala Sayyadina Muhammad' they will be blessed with a greater reward.

Abdullah bin Amr bin As reported: One of the Companions asked the Prophet which deed is the best in Islam, and the Prophet replied: "Feeding people and greeting those you know and those you do not know."

According to another report by Abdullah bin Umar, the Prophet said: "Spread the greeting of peace, feed the needy, and encourage brotherhood among you as Allah Almighty has commanded."

In fact, the Prophet ordered spreading the greetings of peace between believers, and eliminating any prospect of neglect regarding this subject in the following hadith:

"If any of you meet his Muslim brother, he should bestow upon him the greetings of peace. If a tree, wall or rock comes between them and they meet again, they should repeat the greetings."(Abu Dawud)

In one of the hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah, we learn that that the first word of greeting given by Prophet Adam when he was created in the Heavens and the Angels prostrated before him was the word ‘Peace.'

 Prophet Muhammad said: "When Allah Almighty created Adam, He commanded: "Go and greet the group of Angels sitting there and listen carefully to their reply, for this will be the greeting for you and your descendants." So Prophet Adam went to the Angels and said: "As Salamu Alaikum", and they replied to his greetings with the same words, and added ‘Wa Rahmatullah' (Buhârî)

The greetings of peace passed that have been passed down to us Muslims from Prophet Adam - greetings that will continue to be the salutation until the Day of Judgment - are symbolically significant among Muslims today. With the sincere hope to spread the greetings of peace and to practice one of the traditions of the Prophet...As Salamu Alaikum...



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