This has perhaps happened to too many of you, maybe all of you. You have given salaam to someone out of respect or affection, or simply out of politeness, and the recipient did not even bother to respond, or at the most made a grunt to acknowledge your salutation. It hurt you bad.
The reverse is also not uncommon in our society. Someone gave us a warm salaam and we looked away, not even managing a twinkle in our eyes in acknowledgement; giving a smile was a far cry. It hurt the other person badly.
In this auspicious holy month of Ramadan, let us make vows, privately and sincerely, to improve our own. For whatever government is elected come December, reformed, preformed or deformed, if we as individual citizens do not transform ourselves worthy of better governance our sacrifices as a nation since 1/11 shall be futile.
I can safely assure you, even being largely ignorant of societal practices in other faiths, that similar good manners are propounded by every religion, and even among those who are not that much religious. For we are all His servants in His country, that is the universe.
The following is a reminder to all of us:
“When Islam came, Allah, the Sovereign, the Most Holy, the Peace, prescribed that the manner of greeting among Muslims should be 'Al-salaamu alaykum'. The meaning of salaam (literally, peace) is harmlessness, safety and protection from evil and from faults. The name al-Salaam is a Name of Allah, 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.'
“Al-salaamu 'alaykum is better than all other greetings which include impossible ideas or lies, such as saying, 'May you live for a thousand years,' or things that are not accurate, such as '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.”
“The Prophet, Sallellahu Alaihe Wa-sallam (SAW) (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) made spreading salaam a part of faith. Several hadith [tradition of the Prophet (SAW)], Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawood, al-Nisaa'i, and Ibn Hibbaan narrated from 'Abd-Allah ibn' Umar that a man asked the Messenger of Allah (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.'”
“It has been narrated from Hazrat Ali (RA) that the Holy Prophet (SAW) said, 'Commonly in Islam there are six rights of a Muslim upon a Muslim: when he meets him he should give him salaam; when he invites him (to a meal) he should accept it; when he sneezes and says 'Alhamdulillah' he should bless him; when he falls ill he should visit him; when he dies he should accompany his funeral and he should prefer for him that which he prefers for himself.”
“The Holy Prophet (SAW) said, 'A rider should give salaam to a walking person, a walking person should give salaam to a seated person, a small group should give salaam to a larger group, whoever then responds to salaam, it is for his benefit, and he who does not respond to salaam, is not from amongst us.' (Bukhari and Muslim) In one narration by Bukhari, it is added: 'A little or young person should greet an older one'.
“On these bases Allama Nawawi in his commentary of Sahih Muslim hadith has said, 'To commence salaam is Sunnah and to reply is Wajib (obligatory)', but this essentiality is of the nature of ‘kifaya', meaning thereby that if a few persons out of the whole assembly or group respond to the greeting it will absolve all of the responsibility of response but if no response comes forth from any quarter all are held responsible for it.”
“Islam has encouraged the custom of greetings among the members of society because it leads to love and friendship. This is supported by the Prophet (SAW)'s hadith: 'You will never enter Paradise until you become believers, and you will not become believers until you love each other. Shall I guide you to something that makes you love each other? Spread greetings with peace among you.' (Muslim hadith)
Answering a greeting is obligatory: 'When you are greeted with a greeting, reply with a better one or return it...' (Surah An-Nisa'a, 4: 86)”
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