SALUTATIONS. Arabic as-salam السلام, “peace” Taslim , Heb. السلام عليكمshalom, the act of giving the prayer-of peace pl. taslimat. The duty of giving and returning a salutation is founded or ex-press injunctions in the Qur’an.
Surah xxix. 61 “When ye enter houses then greet each other with a salutation from God the Blessed and the good.”
Surah iv. 88 “When ye are saluted with a salutation, salute ye with a better than it, or return the same salutation.
‘Ali says that Muhammad established it as an incumbent duty that one Muslim should salute another. [FITRAH.] ‘The ordinary salutation of the Muslim is “as-Salamu ‘alaskum,” i.e. The peace upon you” And, the usual reply is Wo ‘Alai kum as salam or And upon you also be the peace.
The supposes origin of the salutation is given in a tradition by Abu Hurariah and relates that the Prophet said.
God created Adam, and his stature was sixty cubits; and God said to Adam, Go and salute that party of angels who are sitting down, and listen to their answers for verily it shall be the salacious and reply for you and your children! Adam then went and said to the angels ‘as Salamu alai-kum, i.e. ‘The peace be on you,’” and the angels replied, ‘as-Salamu ‘alsika wa rahmatu ‘llah,’ – i.e. ‘The peace be on thee, and the mercy of God.’”
This form is now usually given in reply by devout persons (Sahihu ‘ Bukhari p. 919)
Muhammad instructed his people as follows regarding he use of the salutation;—
The person riding must salute one on foot, and he who is walking must salute those who are sitting, and the small must salute the larger, and the person of higher degree the lesser. It is therefore a religious duty for the person of high degree, when meeting one of a lower degree; the giving of the Salam being regarded as a benediction. For,” says Mohammad, “the nearest people to God are those who salute first. When a party is passing, it is sufficient if one of them give the salutation and, in like manner, it is sufficient one of the party return it of those sitting down.”
The Jews in the time of Muhammad seem to have made the salutation a annoyance to Muhammad for it is related when they went to the Prophet they used to say, “‘As sammu ‘alai-ka, “On you be poison.” to which the Prophet always replied,” Wa alai ko,” ‘And on you.”
Uramah ibn Zaid says: “The Prophet once praised a mixed assembly of Muslims, polytheists, idolaters, and Jews, and, he gave the salutation; but he meant it only for the Muslims.”
Jarir relates that on one occasion the Prophet met a party of women, and gave them the salutation, But this is contrary to the usual practice of Muslims; and ‘Abdu l-Haqq, in his commentary on this tradition, says This practice was peculiar to the Prophet, for the laws of Islam forbid a man saluting a woman unless she is old.”
In the East it is usual to raise the right hand (the raising of the left hand being disrespectful, as it is the hand used for legal ablutions) when giving the Salam, but this custom, common though it be is not accordance with the traditions. For ‘Amr ibn Shu’aib relates, from his fore-fathers, that the Prophet said, “He is not of us who likens himself to another. Do not copy the Jews or the Christians in your salutation. For a Jew’s salutation is by raising his fingers, and the Christians salute with the palm of the hand. (Mishkat, book xxxi. ch. 1.)
In Central Asia, the salutation is generally given without any motion of the body, in accordance with the above tradition.
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam