Etiquette


The Excellence of Salam (Edited by Mawlana Badrul Islam)

Two people related by Faith should use the expression of peace and security to address each other. Thus Islam taught Muslims to say Assalamu ‘alaykum (meaning ‘Peace be upon you’) and replaced all other forms of greeting.

In this small greeting is hidden an excellent and comprehensive prayer, kindness and affection for the young, and respect and attention for the elders.

Almighty Allah employs the same greeting in the Glorious Qur’an to address His beloved Prophets as a mark of His favour and esteem on them. ‘Peace be on Nuh among the people’ (37:79); ‘Peace be on Ibrahim’ (37:109) ‘Peace be on Musa and Harun’ (37:120); ‘Peace be on Ilyas’ (37:130); ‘Peace be on those sent (to warn)’ (37:59); and ‘Peace be on His slaves whom He has chosen’ (27:59). Believers will also be welcomed into Paradise with the same expression: ‘Enter here in peace, free of fear’ (15:46) and ‘Peace on you for the patience you observed. So, how excellent is the ultimate abode’ (13:24).

Salam is a distinctive practice of Islam and Muslims have been encouraged to spread this greeting. The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said: “Oh people! Worship Allah, The Beneficent, feed His servants, and spread salam much, and you will reach Heaven in peace [and safety].” (al-Tirmidhi)

Divine reward for the blessed act of practising Salam is explained in a Hadith. Once a person came to the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam and said, “Assalamu alaykum”. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam returned the greeting and when the man had sat down, he said, “Ten rewards have been written for him due to this salam”. Thereafter another person came and said, “Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi” (‘Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah’). The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam returned the greeting and when the man had sat down, he said, “Twenty rewards have been written for him”. Then another man came and said, “Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh” (‘Peace be upon you; and the mercy of Allah; and His blessings’). The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam  returned the greeting and when the man had sat down, he said, “Thirty rewards have been written for him”(al-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud). Such was the value of salam with the early Muslims that it is related Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar radhiyallahu ‘anhuma  would go to the marketplace solely for the purpose of saying salam to whomsoever he met.

Apart from signifying the sentiments of joy, regard and well-wishing salam also has a deep spiritual aspect. The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, “The one who is the first to greet is free from pride” (al-Bayhaqi). Thus, to precede in greeting another is a sign of freedom from vanity. It can also be a cure for the grave [and deadly] sin of pride [and haughtiness].

The importance of salam is further emphasized by the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam who advised that salam be exchanged a second time if after the meeting of two Muslims, even if it be for a brief moment, they are separated by a tree, wall, or rock, and meet again.

Salam should be said when entering or leaving one’s home. A Hadith tells us that this is a source of blessing to the person saying it as well to the family members. Similarly, the person arriving at a gathering should be the first to greet those who are present; the young are instructed to take the lead in greeting the elders; those passing should greet those sitting; and men of a smaller group should greet men of the larger group.

To shake the hands in simultaneity with salam marks the fulfillment of the objective of salam. The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, “Shaking hands denotes the completion of greeting”. (al-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud)

Salam is in essence a really beautiful teaching of Islam. It not only increases love and affection between Muslims but is also a cause of their forgiveness. The Prophet of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, “When two Muslims meet and shake hands, and at the same time glorify Allah, and beg forgiveness for themselves, they shall be forgiven.” (Abu Dawud)

(Adapted from the chapter ‘Rules and Proprieties of Meeting’ in the book ‘Meaning and Message of the Traditions’ (Ma’arif al-Hadith) by Maulana Muhammad Manzur Numani)   

Mawlana [Rashid Ahmad] Gangohi would strongly emphasise abundant invocation of  blessings and peace (salawat) upon the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to his disciples, devotees, friends and sincere seekers. He would describe the invoking of blessings and peace upon the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as being beneficial for both worlds.

He once advised in a letter ‘‘invoke blessings and peace upon the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) regularly, for that is extremely beneficial for the needs of both worlds.’’ (Maktubat Akabir-e-Deoband, (Deoband: Mi‘raj Book Depot), p. 56)

Hakim al-Ummat Mawlana [Ashraf ‘Ali] Thanawi would say of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi: ‘‘I saw that Mawlana Gangohi would always be reciting a wird (litany) of salawat and that he talked very little.’’ (Wa‘z al-Nur, p.20)

His disciples had been instructed by him to invoke blessings and peace upon the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) at least three hundred times a day.

[…] Mawlana Gangohi would say, ‘‘If you are unable to invoke blessings and peace this many times, you should not go without invoking blessings and peace at least once [a day].’’ He would say, ‘‘we are indebted to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). If you are then miserly in invoking blessings and peace upon him, it is a matter of great disrespect and loss.’’ He preferred the Durud-e-Ibrahimi, which is [usually] recited in salat (prayer). (Bis Barey Musalman, p. 205)

Akabir-e-Deoband Awr ‘Ishq-e-Rasul (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, p.247-248 (Karachi: Maktabah Arsalan, May 2003) By Muhammad Arsalan ibn Akhtar.

Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan Gangohi, may Allah shower His mercy upon him, related:

‘‘A [daily] gathering would take place in the company of Shaykh al-Hind [Mawlana Mahmud Hasan Deobandi] (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) after Fajar prayer in which tea would be served. Attendees would be involved in conversation with one another. However, ‘Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) would remain seated quietly, his head bowed. He would not partake in conversation. Gradually, people would finish drinking tea and leave. Then, Shaykh al-Hind (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) would enquire, ‘‘Shah sahib, do you wish to say something?’’ He would then raise his head and answer, ‘‘Yes, I have a query regarding a particular Hadith.’’ Shaykh al-Hind (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) would answer his query and thereafter, the Shah (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) would leave.’’

Malfuzat-e-Faqih al-Ummat: p. 231, Vol 3 (Karachi: Dar al-Huda, September 2005 ed.) by Mufti Muhammad Faruq Mirathi.

Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) advised: 

‘‘Loving the din and people of din is a great thing. However, to focus on the faults of others whilst not assessing one’s own faults is incorrect.’’ 

Malfuzat Hadrat Madani, p.76 (Delhi: Dar al-Isha‘at, July 1998 ed.) by Mawlana Abu ‘l-Hasan Barah Bankwi

Mawlana Sayyid Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) wrote: 

‘‘It was a greatly blessed day and fortunate hour of my life when I attended in the service of Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali Lahori, the amir of Anjuman Khuddam al-Din [situated at] Shiranwala Gate, Lahore. My life has two major turns from where it chose a new path (a better and blessed path, I believe). The first was when I became acquainted with Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali [Lahori]. The second occurred when Allah took me to Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas (may Allah shower His mercy upon him). 

If I had not met Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali, my life – whether good or bad – would have been very different to my current one. It probably would not have a taste for, nor inclination towards anything save literature, history and writing. 

Gnosticism, finding the path and traversing it are great things. Being in Mawlana’s company created, in the least, a yearning to seek Allah, the sweetness of [uttering] Allah’s name, a love for the people of Allah, recognition of my own deficiency and the need for my rectification and perfection. And for us laypeople this is the greatest fortune and bounty.’’ 

Chalis Barey Musalman (Karachi: Idarat al-Qur’an, November 2001 ed.) Vol. 1, p. 630, compiled by Sayyid Hafiz Muhammad Akbar Shah Bukhari.

[…] ‘Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) would say, ‘‘there are many teachers [of the Islamic sciences] in this era, however, there is only one personality who is a faqih. He is Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri.’’ 

 Malfuzat-e-Faqih al-Ummat: p. 177, Vol 3 (Karachi: Dar al-Huda, September 2005 ed.) by Mufti Muhammad Faruq Mirathi.

Mawlana ‘Ashiq Ilahi Mirathi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) writes: 

‘‘Mawlana ‘Abd al-Majid Hazarwi would relate, ‘‘When I began studying hadith under the tutelage of Sayyid Nadhir Husayn Dehlawi[1], I would feel anxiety in my heart and would often see dreams in which I was surrounded by roaming piglets. Seeing these dreams I became completely disheartened and went straight to the company of Mawlana Fadl-e-Rahman[2] (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) in Ganj Muradabad. I explained to him what I was studying and the nature of my dreams. Mawlana asked me, ‘‘Where do you study?’’ I replied, ‘‘In Delhi, with Mawlana Nadhir Husayn.’’ He suggested, ‘‘Go to Mawlana Rashid Ahmad in Gangoh. That is where the bastion of hadith is.’’ Thereafter, he continued to praise Imam Rabbani (Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (may Allah sanctify his secret)), and said, ‘‘Go there, relay my salam to him and inform him that you have been sent by Fadl-e-Rahman.’’ Thus, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Majid arrived in Gangoh. When he went to Mawlana [Rashid Ahmad Gangohi], he was sitting on a stool for ablution, brushing his teeth with a miswak. He smiled upon seeing Mawlana ‘Abd al-Majid. The latter greeted him with salam and relayed Mawlana Fadl-e-Rahman’s salam and message. He informed him, ‘‘Mawlana praised you greatly and I am now here having been sent by him.’’ Upon hearing this, Mawlana said with complete humility, ‘‘He praises others since he himself is worthy of praise, otherwise I know what I really am.’’ 

Mawlana ‘Abd al-Majid relates, ‘‘Finally, I commenced [the study of] hadith and benefited from Mawlana [Rashid Ahmad Gangohi], and from that very day my distress began decreasing and my happiness continued to increase daily.’’ ’’ 

Tadhkirat al-Rashid, Vol. 2, p. 320-321 (Lahore: Idara Islamiat, Jumada ‘l-Thaniyah 1406 AH / March 1986 CE edition) by Mawlana ‘Ashiq Ilahi Mirathi. 


[1] A renowned Ahl al-Hadith scholar of the sub-continent

[2] For details about Mawlana please see footnote no. 4 of the following entry: Imam Hakim al-Ummah Thanwi (1863–1943 CE): The link between the Juniors and Seniors

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