Q&A (Fatwa)

#365: Replying the Salām of a Kāfir


” Another question please: How do we reply to the Tasleem of a Ahlul-Kitaab or a Kaafir?”


Alhamdulillaah. May Allah be merciful upon us and you, aameen.

On the issue of a believer initiating the salaam with the kaafir or replying him when he makes the salaam, the verdicts of the Fuqahaa are at a variance.

The majority of the fuqahaa among the predecessors and those that came before them held the stance that it were impermissible for a Muslim to initiate the taslim (salami alaykum) to a kaafir or to reply him completely. Rather they held that it was obligatory to respond to him by saying ‘Wa alaykum’ or ‘Alaykum’.

The evidence for this is the hadith that was recorded by Imaam Muslim in which the Rasul – salallaahu alayhi wasallam – said:

“Do not initiate the salaam to neither the Jew nor the Christian. And if you meet one of them on the street, then constrict them to the less spacious part (of the road).”

At the same time, a group from among the fuqahaa held that it were permissible to begin by initiating the Salaam to them and to reply them when they make the salaam but by using the singular pronoun (Assalamu Alayk) for the single and plural (Assalaamu Alaykum) for the plural whereas if it were a Muslim, it is preferred to use the plural pronoun (Assalaamu Alaykum) even if the one being greeted was a single person.

This is the verdict of Ibn Abbaas, Ibn Muhayriz and Abu Umaamah, and it is a minority position within the Shaafi’i madh’hab.

A third congregation hold to the position that it is permissible only in times of necessities or to achieve some interests of the Din. This is the fatwa of Imaam An-Nakha’i, Ikrimah and Al-Awzaa’i.

Al-Awzaa’i said:

“If you made the salaam to them, then pious men before you have done so, and if you don’t, then before you pious men have done same.”

The verdict that holds weight is that of the majority that it is not permissible to either initiate the salaam nor respond to them fully and to reply with the wording ‘Wa alaykum’ or ‘alaykum’.

Allāh knows best.

Bārakallāhu Fīkum
Jazākumullāhu Khayran.

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