Bismillah Al Rahman Al Raheem
Bukhari Volume 3, Book 43, Number 625:
Narrated Muawiya bin Suwald:
I heard Al-Bara’ bin ‘Azib saying, “The Prophet orders us to do seven things and prohibited us from doing seven other things.” Then Al-Bara’ mentioned the following:–
(1) To pay a visit to the sick (inquiring about his health),
(2) to follow funeral processions,
(3) to say to a sneezer, “May Allah be merciful to you” (if he says, “Praise be to Allah!”),
(4) to return greetings,
(5) to help the oppressed,
(6) to accept invitations,
(7) to help others to fulfill their oaths. (See Hadith No. 753, Vol. 7)
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessing be upon him) observed: You shall not enter Paradise so long as you do not affirm belief (in all those things which are the articles of faith) and you will not believe as long as you do not love one another. Should I not direct you to a thing which, if you do, will foster love amongst you: (i. e.) give currency to (the practice of paying salutation to one another by saying) as-salamu alaikum. Muslim Book 001, Number 0096:
It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr that a man asked the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) which of the merits (is superior) in Islam. He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: That you provide food and extend greetings to one whom you know or do not know.(Muslim)
Abu Sa’id Kbudri reported Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: Avoid sitting on the paths. They (his Companions) said: Allah’s Messenger. there is no other help to it (but to sit here as we) hold our meetings and discuss matters there. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: If you have to sit at all, theg fulfil the rights, of the path. They said: What are their rights? Thereupon he said: Keeping the eye downward (so that you may not stare at the women), refraining from doing some harm to the other and exchanging mutual greetings (saying as-Salamu ‘Alaikum to one another) and commanding the good and forbidding the evil. Muslim Book 024, Number 5293:
Praise be to Allaah.
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” – Translator], 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 “Al-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 (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made spreading salaam a part of faith. Al-Bukhaari (12, 28 and 6236), Muslim (39), Ahmad (2/169), Abu Dawood (5494), al-Nisaa’i, (8/107) and Ibn Hibbaan (505) narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar that a man asked the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “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 (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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 (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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 (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) explained that this salaam spreads love and brotherhood. Muslim (54), Ahmad (2/391), and al-Tirmidhi (2513) narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also explained the reward earned by the one who says salaam, as was reported by al-Nisaa’i in ‘Aml al-yawm wa’l-laylah (368) and al-Bukhaari in al-Adab al-Mufrad (586) and by Ibn Hibban (493). They reported from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that a man passed by the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) whilst he was sitting with some others, and said “Salaam ‘alaykum (peace be upon you).” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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 (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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 (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “[He will have] thirty hasanaat.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded us to return salaams, and made it a right and a duty. Ahmad (2/540), al-Bukhaari (1240), Muslim (2792), al-Nisaa’i in al-Yawm wa’l-Laylah (221) and Abu Dawood (5031) all reported that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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.”