Assalamualaikum. It means 'Peace be upon you'.
The Salam is a simple wish and prayer that every Muslim male and female wish upon each other all over the world.
As we speak, there are millions if not billions of Muslims who are spreading the Salam all around the planet.
Such a wonderful greeting of wishing peace upon one another should actually propagate the beauty of Islam to each and every person whom we meet.
The world is getting too impersonal and crazy as the clock ticks by.
Every day we see people get into trouble as a result of their couldn't care less attitude and good manners is something one rarely sees being put to practice in society, no matter where we are?
True Muslims will always watch their mannerisms especially in interacting with family, friends and even strangers?
Spreading the salam is a wonderful way of breaking the ice and a key to making new friends and contacts.
The other day, as we were exploring Selangor's coastal areas, we reached a place called Pantai Kelanang, a beach area in Mukim Langat.
It was time for my Asar prayers and I came across a group of youngsters hanging out near the beach. So I gave my Salam to the group and they responded in return.
By that Salam, I sort of broke through what would otherwise be a wary perception of a group of strangers viewing a newcomer to their locale.
Such is the awesome binding power of love and goodwill that the sincerely expressed Salam can create and establish between people who are Muslims.
When one gives the Salam to another Muslim, there comes into effect a bond between the Salam giver and Salam recipient.
This is the bond of 'Ikhwanul Muslimin' @ the 'Spirit of Brotherhood' between Muslims.
Salams given sincerely have blessings being accorded to the giver and the responding recipient has their minor sins forgiven by Allah at that very moment.
So says the Blessed Prophet Muhammad Sallalahu Alaihi Wassallam in his hadiths.
Here is a very good article derived from the writings of LutonMuslims.co.uk.
Importance of greeting one another with salaam
All people have the custom of greeting one another, and every group has its own distinctive greeting that distinguishes them from other people.
The Arabs used to greet one another with the words “An’im sabaahan” or “An’imu sabaahan” [equivalent to “Good morning”], using words derived from “al-ni’mah”, which means good living after the morning. The idea was that because the morning is the first part of the day, if a person encounters something good in the morning, the rest of the day will be good too.
When Islam came, Allaah prescribed that the manner of greeting among Muslims should be “As-salaamu alaykum,” and that this greeting should only be used among Muslims and not for other nations.
The meaning of salaam (literally, peace) is harmlessness, safety and protection from evil and from faults.
The name al-Salaam is a Name of Allaah, may He be exalted, so the meaning of the greeting of salaam which is required among Muslims is, “May the blessing of His Name descend upon you.” The usage of the preposition ‘ala in ‘alaykum (upon you) indicates that the greeting is inclusive.
Ibn al-Qayyim said in Badaa’i' al-Fawaa’id (144):“Allaah, the Sovereign, the Most Holy, the Peace, prescribed that the greeting among the people of Islam should be ‘al-salaamu ‘alaykum’, which is better than all the greetings of other nations which include impossible ideas or lies, such as saying, ‘May you live for a thousand years,’ or things that are not accurate, such as ‘An’im sabaahan (Good morning),’ or actions that are not right, such as prostrating in greeting.
Thus the greeting of salaam is better than all of these, because it has the meaning of safety which is life, without which nothing else can be achieved. So this takes precedence over all other aims or objectives.
A person has two main aims in life: to keep himself safe from evil, and to get something good. Keeping safe from evil takes precedence over getting something good…”
The Prophet (SAW)made spreading salaam a part of faith.
Bukhari and Muslim narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar that a man asked the Messenger of Allaah (SAW): “What is the best thing in Islam?” He said, “Feeding others and giving the greeting of salaam to those whom you know and those whom you do not know.”
Ibn Hajar said in al-Fath (1/56): “i.e., do not single out anybody out of arrogance or to impress them, but do it to honour the symbols of Islam and to foster Islamic brotherhood.”
Ibn Rajab said in al-Fath (1/43): “The hadeeth makes the connection between feeding others and spreading salaam because this combines good actions in both word and deed, which is perfect good treatment (ihsaan). Indeed, this is the best thing that you can do in Islam after the obligatory duties.”
Al-Sanoosi said in Ikmaal al-Mu’allim (1/244): “What is meant by salaam is the greeting between people, which sows seeds of love and friendship in their hearts, as does giving food. There may be some weakness in the heart of one of them, which is dispelled when he is greeted, or there may be some hostility, which is turned to friendship by the greeting.”
Al-Qaadi said in Ikmaal al-Mu’allim (1:276): “Here the Prophet (SAW )was urging the believers to soften their hearts.
The best Islamic attitude is to love one another and greet one another, and this is achieved by words and deeds.
The Prophet (SAW) urged the Muslims to foster love between one another by exchanging gifts and food, and by spreading salaam, and he forbade the opposite, namely forsaking one another, turning away from one another, spying on one another, seeking out information about one another, stirring up trouble and being two faced.
Love is one of the duties of Islam and one of the pillars of the Islamic system.
One should give salaams to those whom one knows and those whom one does not know, out of sincerity towards Allaah; one should not try to impress other people by giving salaams only to those whom one knows and no-one else. This also entails an attitude of humility and spreading the symbols of this ummah through the word of salaam.”
Thus the Prophet (SAW) explained that this salaam spreads love and brotherhood. Muslim narrated from Abu Hurayrah (RA) that the Messenger of Allaah (SAW) said: “You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you about something which, if you do it, you will love one another? Spread salaam amongst yourselves.”
Al-Qaadi ‘Ayaad said in al-Ikmaal (1/304): “This is urging us to spread salaam, as mentioned above, among those whom we know and those whom we do not know.
Salaam is the first level of righteousness and the first quality of brotherhood, and it is the key to creating love.
By spreading salaam the Muslims’ love for one another grows stronger and they demonstrate their distinctive symbols and spread a feeling of security amongst themselves. This is the meaning of Islam.”
Abu Hurayrah (RA) related that a man passed by the Messenger of Allaah (SAW) whilst he was sitting with some others, and said “Salaam ‘alaykum (peace be upon you).”
The Prophet (SAW) said, “[He will have] ten hasanaat (rewards).”
Another man passed by and said “Salaam ‘alaykum wa rahmat-Allaah (peace be upon you and the mercy of Allaah).”
The Prophet (SAW) said, “[He will have] twenty hasanaat.”
Another man passed by and said “Salaam ‘alaykum wa rahmat-Allaahi wa barakaatuhu (peace be upon you and the mercy of Allaah and His blessings).” The Prophet (SAW) said, “[He will have] thirty hasanaat.” [Nasaai]
The Prophet (SAW) commanded us to return salaams, and made it a right and a duty.
Abu Hurayrah (RA) said that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The Muslim has five rights over his fellow-Muslim: he should return his salaams, visit him when he is sick, attend his funeral, accept his invitation, and pray for mercy for him [say “Yarhamuk Allaah”] when he sneezes.” [Muslim & Bukhari]
It is clear that it is obligatory to say salaam and return salaams, because by doing so a Muslim is giving you safety and you have to give him safety in return. It is as if he is saying to you, “I am giving you safety and security,” so you have to give him the same, so that he does not get suspicious or think that the one to whom he has given salaam is betraying him or ignoring him.
The Prophet (SAW) told us that if Muslims are ignoring or forsaking one another, this will be put to an end when one of them gives salaam.
Al-Bukhari reported that Abu Ayyoob (RA) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (SAW) said: ‘It is not permissible for a Muslim to forsake his brother for more than three days, each of them turning away from the other if they meet. The better of them is the first one to say salaam.’”
And AbdAllah ibn Amr related that a man came to Rasul Allah and asked him, “Which Islam is the best?” He said, “To feed the hungry and to give salam to those you know and those you don’t know.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Sadaqa Rasulullahi Sallalahu Alaihi Wassallam.