Monday, 21 February 2011

Asalaamu alaikum (Peace be upon you)

In Bukhari Book 8, Chapter 9, it states:

Narrated by 'Abdullah bin 'Amr: A man asked the Prophet  عليه السلام, "What Islamic traits are best?"  The Prophet  عليه السلام said "Feed the people, and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know."

For those who do not know, Bukhari main source that we use for the Hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad ( عليه السلام).  The Hadiths are the sayings and behaviours that he displayed or said that we as Muslims strive to emulate.  To me, this hadith, especially the last third of it, has some meaning to it.

I live, obviously, in a small village.  There are only a couple of other Muslims here, Pakistani immigrants, who we do see the husband at least semi-regularly.  We always exchange salaams, salaams being the greeting that Muslims should greet each other with - Asalaamu alaikum.  It means "peace be upon you."  I am trying to get my sons in the habit of saying this when they meet or see another Muslim.  While it's hard to tell if a man is a Muslim, it's pretty easy to usually tell if a woman is, depending on if they are wearing hijab.  

On Saturday, while in the grocery store in London, there was a young couple with a baby, obviously Muslim. As we walked past, I told Hassaan to say asalaamu alaikum to the sister (her husband had gone down the aisle to get something).  Remember, I am also wearing hijab.  Hassaan gives her salaams, I give her salaams.  She just looked at us like we were crazy.  Maybe it's because we're white?  Maybe it's because while I was wearing hijab I was also wearing jeans?  Or more it was probably because she doesn't know us.  But as per the above hadith, we are supposed to greet our brothers and sisters in faith, whether we know them or not.

It's highly frustrating sometimes, because my kids don't have a Muslim community right here.  As Muslims, we are a global community,but the local community, in many regards, matters so much more because those are the ones you deal with regularly.  So when we do see other Muslims, it's not that I'm trying to strike up a friendship, I'm just trying to teach my sons proper akhlaq - manners.  Is it that hard to return salaams?  (Apparently, to some, unfortunately, it is.)

Giving and returning salaams can lead to some wonderful friendships.  While in a McDonald's about an hour north of us, after taking the boys to see Shrek 4, there was a fellow Muslimah and her three little boys.  Hassaan went up and gave her salaams.  She and I have started a great friendship, even took our boys tobogganing not that long ago and are planning to meet up again soon (now that the germs seem to have subsided out of both households!)  

So when someone gives you salaams, return them.  After all, not only is it what the Prophet (عليه السلام) told us we should do, but it could also lead to meeting some amazing new people.


  1. Asalaamu Alaikum

    I noticed in big cities that muslims don't really give salaams because there are so many muslims that it would be non-stop so I think they only give salaams to those they know. However many muslim have both answered and offered salaams to me in London. Maybe you need to go more to realize it. We go every month so I can see its pretty good. What's really annoying is saying salaam to a muslim that you know from the mosque but won't answer you in public because they are not "out of the closet". By the way glad you made a friend.

  2. I have a friend who's husband isn't "out of the closet" and he's a born Muslim. In some ways, it's amusing, but sad at the same time. You're right - if I were in London more I'd probably notice it. It's not so much that they didn't offer salaams, it was the look that I got when both Hassaan and I gave salaams like "who the heck is this crazy lady and why is this little white boy giving me salaams?" There are guys at work that are closet-Muslims. I find it particularly amusing when their names are Bilal and Ahmed. Like seriously - I see you at Muslim community events, at Eid prayers, and you pretend you're not Muslim at work. *roll eyes*