Greeting is part of the people’s civilized societal behavior. It is a clear feature of co-existence or sociability. It is a way to confirm that the greeter is friendly and the greeting is a conduct that helps keeping the relationships among people of the same community quite stable and durable. When you greet the others, you show them that you are well-brought up, well-educated and that you accept and recognize them as partners or as constituents of your life’s edifice. You also acknowledge that without them your life will become dreary, tedious and chilly. Therefore, greeting is important as a lifestyle to keep the affection and warmth, which is the basis of your relationship with your community, alive.
People are used to greet each other using expressions such as,
- Hello! Hullo! Hallo!
- Good morning!
- Good afternoon!
- Good evening!
- Salut! [French]
- Ahlan! [Arabic]
- Guten Tag / Abend [German]
- Ciao [Italian]
- Buon giorno / sera [Italian]
These greetings however are no more than words or habits that do, in essence, assert nothing very special. Someone may greet you just to gauge you and then suddenly attack you. I mean that there’s no pledge in those expressions since they are void of any meaning or commitment of any sort. If someone wished you “good morning!” or “good evening!”, he didn’t, necessarily, assure you anything. It doesn’t mean that you can trust him or her just because s/he was courteous with you. S/He could harm you if s/he intended to do so.
Among all the greetings human beings use, “Assalamu Alaykum ” [السلام عليكم ] which is “Peace be upon you ” that Muslims all round the glob adopt, is, in my view, the best and the most expressing greeting form of all. Thanks to its meaning loaded with a lot of different feelings, intentions, attitudes etc, the connotation of the expression is opulent and filled with meaningful reassuring hints that make the greeted confident that you won’t harm him/her because you give him/her the covenant that you won’t.
The expression is charged with many precious virtues that only this expression can bear.
- Firstly, there’s a deep consideration of the person you greet i.e. you admit that s/he exists and occupies a place in your life; that s/he cannot be ignored or overlooked - and this quality is shared with the other greeting forms.
- Secondly, there is a promise that you represent no threat for the person you meet and that s/he has nothing to worry about from you at all; which none of the other greeting forms confirm.
- Thirdly, the “you” in “Peace be on you” is always plural even though the saluted person is alone be it a little boy/girl, an adult or an old man/woman. This is an exceptional hint of respect for the individual in the greeting.
- In brief, “Assalamu Alaykum” is almost an oath in which you solemnly swear that you won’t hurt the person you greet.
Once a passer-by utters the greeting expression, “Assalamu Alaykum!”, “Peace be on you!” What does he implicitly communicate to you?
He communicates a lot of messages among which, He gives you a word of honor that:
You, the greeted, are thus obliged to answer him, “Peace and the mercy of Allah the almighty be upon you, too” to show him that you understand his message and that you accept its content and promise to be harmless and state that you won’t threat or deceive him as well.
- You are in complete security with him!
- He doesn’t represent any danger for you!
- He promises not to harm you.
- He is a peaceful person.
- He comes in peace.
- You don’t have to be alarmed.
- And of course he is inquiring if..
- You accept the covenant of peace he offers?
The greeting-covenant, in the main, is not between the greeter and the greeted only, but there is a third part that both of the two worship notably Allah (God) because it is with His name that the two “sign” the covenant (greeting) and He will in no way accept that one of the two would break the convention. He would be considered dishonest, deceitful and untruthful. His reward however is punishment in this life or in the Day of Judgment. The problem is that this covenant nowadays has been being transgressed and almost reduced to nothing and this is the craft of the mischievous people who want to destroy the good ideals and the best morals that mankind ever had.
Religion apart, “Assalamu Alaykum” is the safest, the most graceful, the shortest way to hearts, and the most trust-based means of establishing connection with the others. The human warmth, that people start to lose in their overloaded agenda of business affaires and egocentricity, can revive by means of this act of gallantry that only people should be ready and willing to make tangible. Giving assurance to your interlocutor, so as the trust is mutual and the interaction goes smoothly between you, is more than simple words that you toss indifferently – so to speak – but a badge that gives the others an idea about your character, spirit and the amount of responsibility you can bear.
As we all know, "Man is hidden under his tongue", we can evaluate him from the words he speaks no matter how few they might be. If you say good things you are evaluated as good but if you articulate some awful, dirty, shocking words, you are considered as brainless, vain, futile, valueless or dishonest. “Assalamu Alaykum” then is the best evidence you can give to prove that you are really a human being fit for veneration and respect provided that you mean what you say!
والسلام على من اتبع الهدى