Is it permitted to say salam to non-Muslims.
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.
In another Hadith Anas bin Malik narrates that the Prophet (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “If the people of the Scripture greet you, then you should say (in reply), wa'alaikum (and on you).” (Bukhari: 8.275)
In a further Hadith Usama bin Zaid (radi allahu anhu) narrates that … the Prophet (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) passed by a gathering in which ‘Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salul was present and that was before ‘Abdullah bin Ubai embraced Islam. Behold in that gathering there were people of different religions: there were Muslims, pagans, idol-worshippers and Jews…Then Allah’s Apostle greeted them and stopped and dismounted and invited them to Allah (i.e. to embrace Islam) and recited to them the Holy Qur’an… (Bukhari: 6.89)
From the above Ahadiths it can be concluded that Muslims when meeting non-Muslims should not initiate the greeting (salam). However if they greet you with salam then reply with the words “wa’alaikum”. If when greeting a group which consists of Muslims and non-Muslims, then it is permissible to greet them with salam. However, the intention should be to greet the Muslims only.
Only Allah knows best.
Darul Ifta, Birmingham