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Assalamualaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh
A statement we say so often yet how many of us have ever thought about its meaning and more importantly its implication? It is a statement that embeds within it a powerful message. So let us explore this statement with the aid and assistance from Allah.
The 1st word in this statement is As-Salaam which is the Name of Allah. We are not saying ‘Salaam’ but rather we are invoking the name of Allah ‘As-Salaam’.
Once Angel Jibreel came to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and said, Allah sends His Salaam to Khadijah (RA). Her reply was: ‘innAllaha huwas Salaam, indeed Allah, He is (As-)Salaam
So when we say As-SalaamuAlaikum we are saying, ‘May Allah’s name As-Salaam be upon you’ (or I greet you with Allah’s name as-Salaam).
Alaikum = Upon you
Notice we are not saying As-Salaamu ilaykum (to you) but As-SalaamuAlaikum (upon you) because Alla (upon) includes ALL of you, So we are saying ‘May as-Salaam cover you/ every part of your body/ above you and below you in front of you and behind you…’
What does the name of Allah as-Salaam mean?
We have covered in depth the meaning of the name of Allah, As-Salaam HERE
Allah’s name as-Salaam means that He is complete, free from anything evil (or anything that can even be considered negative) in His Names Attributes or Actions. He, As-Salaam is free from anything that is considered to be less than perfect. He As-Salaam, is perfect and everything other than Him is imperfect (in one way or another). He is free from any imperfections and deficiencies. The One who grants peace and security.
So when we say As-Salaamuilakum we are saying ‘May the one who is complete/perfect free from any imperfections and deficiencies make YOU complete/perfect free from any imperfections and deficiencies. ‘May as-Salaam the one who is free from anything evil protect YOU from anything that is evil/harmful.
So we are asking Allah to make the one we are greeting to be under the protection of His name As-Salaam. Since Allah is perfect He is the One who can make others perfect, since Allah is free from all defects He is the one who can protect us from defects and deficiency and from attributes/ characteristics that are considered negative (whether physically spiritually or mentally etc)
When we say As-Salaamuilakum we are making Dua. Yes its a greeting but in essence your praying to the Allah saying YA SALAAM I ask you to make him (the one whom I am greeting) SAALIM (protected from everything that can harm him in his deen dunya and akhirah).
Can you think of how many things can harm a person in this dunya let alone in ones deen? Or in the grave or in the Day of Judgment? The list is long, they are too many to count however, when you greet your brother with As-Salaamuilakum you are asking Allah to protect him from every type of harm/evil both in this dunya and akhirah.
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (RA) said to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “O Messenger of Allaah, what should I say to them (i.e., to the occupants of the graves)?” He said, “Say: As-salaamu ‘ala ahl il-diyaar min al-mu’mineen wa’l-Muslimeen (As-Salaam be upon the inhabitants of the graves, from the believers and Muslims)….. [Muslim]
Here it is understood we are not greeting the inhabitants of the graves as they cannot hear us rather here we are making dua for them, As-salaamu ‘ala ahl il-diyaar your asking Allah to keep them safe/ protect them from any type of harm/discomfort or punishment they may be going through.
The ulamaa said when you greet someone with As-Salaamuilakum this is an Aqdul amaanah (covenant) between you and him, you have made a special covenant with him, even in war if a soldier comes to you or you go to him and say As-Salaamuilakum you have given him your word that he will be protected from you and you will not betray him, kill him, abuse him etc its like a contract such that he has come under your protection.
So every time you meet a Muslim and you say As-Salaamuilakum you are giving him your word that you will not harm him in anyway (physically or verbally etc) you make a promise to him that he will not see anything from yourself towards him except good (no plotting no envy, betray, BACKBITING etc) all he will see from you is Salaaam purity/ clarity in your intention/ heart towards him.
When you greet your brother its as if your saying to him, ‘Whatever happened between us before this moment (greeting) is forgiven/forgotten because I have given you salaam’.
The salaf used to say ‘Sometimes I would feel something (ill feelings etc) in my heart towards my brother but the moment he would say As-Salaamuilakum to me, it would erase everything (ill feelings) in my heart (towards him)’.
Abu bakr said as-Salaam it is a security. (That the person you greet with salaam has a pledge from you that you will not harm him in anyway, and that he is safe from you).
So to summarize. When you greet a Muslim 1) You attach Allah’s name As-Salaam to him so that the Barakah from that name will be upon him. 2) You are making dua for him 3) You make a declaration that he will not see anything from you accept goodness and purity of intention and that your heart is free from any evil towards him. (whether words or deeds)
After saying Assalaamualaikum now we say warahmatullah
Allah’s mercy is one of the most dominant/reoccurring Names of Allah. So what does it mean in this greeting? Your asking Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem to give the one your greeting such that they are going to live in good and die in good and be Resurrected upon good and enter into Jannah, which is the Rahmah of Allah.
Rahma entails that one is gentle, forgiving, compassionate, loving, kind (and this is why Jannah is the Rahmah of Allah, because it is ONLY due to His kindness that the believers are given Jannah) etc so when we add warahmatullah we are asking Allah to treat him with love and kindness, compassion forgiving gentleness etc All of this in one statement warahmatullah. So let us make it a habit to add warahmatullah when we greet our brothers perhaps Allah will be merciful towards us.
Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you. Sunan At-Tirmidhi
Barakaat (Blessings) the single of which is Barakah. This word comes from the Arabic word Birkah which is a pool of rain when it gathers in one place (eg. in the desert) such that all these droplets come together to become a lot of water.
What do you expect happens when a lot of water gathers in the desert in one place (a pool)? We see that area becomes full of life, we see greenery. We see people moving homes just to live closer to this pool of water etc
This is Barakah, that a lot of good is gathered in one spot and that a lot of good comes out of that same spot. So when we say wabarakaatuh (and Allah’s barakaat upon you) we are saying May Allah put a lot of goodness in you and May a lot of goodness come out of you.
Also it is said Barakaah indicates something that will remain/last. Ibn Jawzee said this greeting (assalamualaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh) indicates 3 things.
1) When you say warahmatullah your asking that a lot of good happens to him (i.e a lot of kindness goodness love reward gentleness from Allah will come to him)
2) and assalamualaikum your asking that he be protected from every evil and anything that can prevent him from taking advantage from this mercy (mentioned above)
3) and then you say wabarakaatuh your asking Allah that the situation of this person (that Allah’s Salaam and Rahmah is upon this person) that he will remain in this position, that it will never change (such that he is always protected and shown much kindness)
Your asking Allah to give him a lot of good and to make sure there is nothing that will prevent him from enjoying this good and asking Allah to keep this good with him all the time.
walhamdulilah This concludes the topic of The meaning of the greeting Assalamualaikum
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How should we return the greeting of salaam from a non-Muslim? Click HERE
And Allaah knows best.