QUESTION: As salamu alaikum. I have a question concerning the greeting of the Muslims. I hear some brothers and sisters say” Salam Alaikum” or “As Salam Alaikum.” Is it wrong to drop the “As” in the greeting? Please explain and elaborate. May Allah continue to guide you and bless you in your endeavors. Ameen.
IMAM EARL ABDULMALIK MOHAMMED: We must be concerned and interested in this kind of question. Our Muslim leaders must be prepared to understand this concern. Our brother who is asking this question is treating this matter very seriously. That is why he is asking me in this public setting. He wants to understand his Muslim life. He wants to make sense of all of these different expressions we hear coming from Muslim mouths. Much of what we hear are coming from Muslim mouths are without an Islamic vision or foundation. It is artificial. They do not know what they are saying or why. Why are they in this condition? The leaders have neglected this knowledge. They have treated it as a small matter. They consider themselves scholars now, so they are tackling the complicated matters of Shariah. They are in reality pretenders. These fundamental matters are what characterize us as a healthy and progressing Muslim people. It is these matters that Imam W. Deen Mohammed gave so much attention to, so that our Islamic life in community would be real and whole. Not a cheap copy of someone else's life and perception.
Our greeting is a sacred matter. Allah, the Most High, has authorized the use of His Name in our greeting. We say "As-Salaam Alaikum," that is Peace be upon you. As-Salaam is Allah's Name, according to the Holy Qur'an. The Holy Qur'an is the highest knowledge given to man after the natural world. "As-Salaam" translates the Owner and the Origin of Peace. If we say "Salaam Alaikum" isn't this the same thing? It is the same for the one who is ignorant, or the one who wants to cheapen or lessen the big responsibility and obligation that is associated with this. The ignorant person can be excused especially if that ignorance is fostered by the ignorant leadership. But, the one who wants the regular person, common Believer to not understand the obligation that is associated or is implied in the greeting is a devil. They want to take Allah out of the greeting, and they want the society that they are attempting to influence to come under their command and authority. They want to take out of the hands and minds and hearts of the common person access to responsibility for their own individual lives and life in society. How are they doing this? The greeting "As-Salaam Alaikum" is how man rules in society in the Islamic picture. Man stands first upon his nature that G'd, his Lord and Creator, created for him to benefit from. Then man learns from his nature and he receives Guidance from that Lord-Creator. Through the travails of man's existence he experiences periods of progress and decline, and he learns how best to understand Guidance and apply it to strengthen his society. When he gets to the point where he acknowledges that the combination of his nature that G'd created and the Guidance that G'd reveals to him advances him in his society, then he wants to create systems that store and propagate this understanding. When he recognizes that he should consciously submit himself to his Lord-Creator because it is his Lord-Creator that has provided these Merciful Benefits for him, G'd gives him language of his own to rule in the earth. In that language he turns to his right and guarantees the "haves" the dignity they desire. In that language he turns to his left and guarantees the "have-nots" the dignity they deserve. He is sitting on the throne of trust that his Lord-Creator intended for him, and he rules in the earthly order with "The Peace" that he has been granted as the language of his rule. His earthly order is Peace. And Allah says in the Qur'an that he summons man to the "Dar As-Salaam," the abode of Peace in man's society, with man on the throne ruling by the obligation of G'd's Peace. Not his notion of peace, but Allah's Peace.
Someone will say "In the Qur'an, the Prophet's say 'Salaam', not "As-Salaam." The Prophets and Messengers represent the heavenly origin and a reaching for the heavenly destiny, and a reaching for a reflection of that heavenly order to be established in the world. They are reaching to be Muhammed, and to be one with him. They are reaching for Muhammed's completed and perfected excellence. And when that reach accomplishes its mission and becomes the Muhammed society the greeting transforms to "As-Salaam Alaikum" because now man's world has reached the destiny Allah intended and man rules with Muhammed's logic.
The Islamic conscience of man's obligation in society was awakened in Imam W. Deen Mohammed. Allah breathed into him. He is the first and the conclusion. His body of knowledge is a guided reformation in Muslim life. He emphasized the Holy Qur'an teaching that our greetings to each other should be exact or better. He also taught that we must not think that we can change something Allah has made for us to benefit from in its pure form, and by changing it we are improving it. So when we greet "As-Salaam Alaikum" the response is exact or better. Wa Alaikum As-Salaam is a change, thinking we are improving the benefit. Exact or better is the rule in the Qur'an. "And," is not necessary. If someone insists on saying "Salaam Alaikum" then the proper response is "Alaikum," meaning that whatever they intend the same is on them. We emphasize that we are followers of Muhammed the Prophet and we embrace his way for the destiny of human society, and we follow the teaching of his predicted Representative in the modern world, the Guided-Reformer, Imam W. Deen Mohammed.
Thank you for your question. I pray to Allah that it is of benefit to you and any you share it with.