Making ‘Salam’ to non-Muslims
1. Greet back more courteously:
It is mentioned in the Qur’an in Surah Nisa Chapter 4 verse 86
“When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more Courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things.” [Al-Qur’an 4:86]
If someone wishes you ‘Assalamu Alaykum’ (meaning Peace be on you) you have to wish back more courteously ‘Wa Alaykum Salam Wa Rahmatullah’ (Peace and mercy of Allah be upon you). If someone wishes you ‘Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah’ then you have to wish back ‘Wa Alaykum Assalam Wa Rahamatullahi Wa Barkatuhu’ (May peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be on you).
If someone says ‘Assalamu Alaykum’, you can say loudly, with expression of enthusiasm ‘Walaykum Assalam’. Though the words are the same they emerge from the depth of one’s heart with more feelings. This is also more courteous.
If someone wishes you (with expression) ‘Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahamatullahi Wa Barkatuhu’ and if you cannot greet back more courteously then atleast greet back with equal courtesy (with expression) ‘Wa Alaykum Assalam Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barkatuhu’.
2. Many Muslims think that we cannot wish Salaams to a Non-Muslim:
There is a misconception among many Muslims who think that a Muslim cannot wish ‘Assalamu Alaykum’ to a Non-Muslim nor can he reply to the salutation. In Sahih Muslim in the “Kitab us Salaam” chapter 904 Hadith no. 5382 Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) is reported to have said, “when the Jews offer you salutations, some of them say ‘Assam-Alaykum’ (death be on you). You should say (in response to it) ‘let it be upon you’ i.e. ‘Alaykum’.
3. Qur’an gives permission to wish ‘Assalamu Alaykum’ to Non-Muslims:
a. The Qur’an mentions in Surah Mariam chapter 19 verse 41 – 46 that the father of Prophet Ibrahim was a mushrik (polytheist) and associated partners with God. When Prophet Ibrahim (Pbuh) asked his father not to serve the satan, his father replied, ‘I will stone you’ and removed Ibrahim out of the house. Prophet Ibrahim (Pbuh) replies in Surah Mariam chapter 19 verse 47
“Abraham said: ‘peace be on thee (Assalaamu Alaykum): I will pray to my Lord for thy forgiveness: for He is to me Most Gracious.’” [Al-Qur’an 19:47]
b. Allaah instructs Moses and Aaron in Surah Taha chapter 20 verse 47
that when they go to Pharoah they should say: “And Peace (Salaams) to all who follow guidance”. [Al-Qur’an 20:47]
This was the same greeting also used by Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) to greet Non-Muslim rulers.
c. Surah Al Furqan chapter 25 verse 63
“And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, ‘Peace!’ (salaam).” [Al-Qur’an 25:63]
d. Surah Al Qasas chapter 28 verse 55 (28:55)
“And when they hear vain talk, they turn away there from and say: ‘to us our deeds, and to you yours; peace (Salaams) be to you: we Seek not the ignorant.’ ” [Al-Qur’an 28:55]