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The Proper Manners of Salams & Gatherings

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Shaykh Ashraf Ali al-Thanawi

The Proper Manners of Salams and Gatherings

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

The Proper Manners of Salams & Gatherings
from Adab al-Mu`ashara (Social Etiquette) by Imam Ashraf Ali Thanwi

The Proper Manners (Adaab) of Giving Salams

  1. In a gathering where a talk or discussion is taking place, the person entering should not draw attention to himself by making salaam. He should not become an interference in the talk. He should lower his gaze and silently sit down. When later the opportunity arises, he may make Salaam.
  2. Adopt the practice of mutual Salaam. Whenever meeting a Muslim, say: ASSALAMU ALAIKUM. In reply say: WA ALAIKUMUS SALAAM. Other ways are baseless.
  3. When a person conveys the Salaams of another to you, reply: ALAYHIM WA ALAIKUMS SALAAM. This is best. If someone replies: WA-ALAIKUMUS SALAAM, it will also suffice.
  4. One person of the group making Salaam will be representative of the whole group. His Salaam will be adequate on behalf of the group. Similarly, if from the gathering one person replied, it will suffice on behalf of the whole gathering.
  5. The one who initiates the Salaam obtains greater reward.
  6. When replying to the Salaam of a person, the Salaam should be made verbally [f: and it is obligatory that it be audible], not by a sign of the hand or a nod of the head.
  7. Better repayment for a favour will be when the repayment is somewhat more than the act of favour rendered. Thus, the reply should be more than the Salaam (greeting). If ASSALAMU ALAIKUM was said, the better reply will be WA ALAIKUMUS SALAAM WARAHMATULLAAH. If WA BARAKAA TUHU is also added it will be an added merit.
  8. It is waajib (obligatory) to reply to the Salaam which is written in a letter. This reply may be in writing or verbally.
  9. The Fuqaha have said that in reply to the Salaam which is written in a letter, one may say ALAIKUMUS SALAAM or even ASSALAMU- ALAIKUM.
  10. In a letter in which a dua is written, the Salaam should be written first since this is the Sunnat method.
  11. Instead of writing or saying the Salaam, to say any other term or to adopt the greeting of any other community is bid’ah. Such an alien greeting is in fact alteration of the Shariah.
  12. A person who is engrossed in a conversation or in some work should not be greeted. The new-comer should not intrude with his hand-shaking. Such an act is uncultured and causes distress to others.

The Proper Manners (Adaab) of Social Gatherings

  1. When you have to wait for someone in a gathering, do not sit in such a place or in such a way as to convey that you are waiting. This action will create unnecessary anxiety for the one whom you are waiting for. Sit down quietly at a distance from the person in an inconspicuous way. (An emergency or urgency will obviously be excluded from this rule)
  2. When going to meet a person then on arrival notify him in some way of your presence. Such notification may be by Salaam, speech or by sitting down (in a gathering) where you may be observed. (This rule does not apply to a public gathering, e.g. a public lecture in a Masjid or other public venue.) Without having informed the person concerned of your arrival do not sit down in such a place which conceals your presence. It is quite possible that he may engage in some conversation which is not meant for your ears. In this way the private affairs of another person may be unwittingly overheard. It is not permissible to overhear the secrets and private affairs of others without their consent. On such occasions if it transpires that someone is engaging in a private conversation without having knowledge of your presence, then immediately leave the place. If this happens while the speaker is under the impression that you are asleep, then immediately reveal that you are not asleep. If the matter being discussed pertains to the infliction of harm or loss to you or to any Muslim, then it will be permissible to overhear such schemes and plots to enable you to protect yourself.
  3. When sitting in the company of a person do not sit in such close proximity as to cause inconvenience to him nor sit so far away that it becomes difficult to conduct the conversation with ease.
  4. Don’t sit staring at a person who is involved in some work. This distracts his attention and disturbs his peace.
  5. It is disrespectful to unnecessarily sit directly behind someone in close proximity. The person in front is disturbed thereby.
  6. When someone is sitting and engaged in some work do not stand in his presence waiting for him to attend to you. Sit down and address him as soon as he is relieved of the work.
  7. When going to meet a person do not sit with him so long as to inconvenience him or to cause an impediment in his work.
  8. Where people are gathered do not spit or clean your nose in their presence unnecessarily. For such acts leave their presence.

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