Offer a sincere greeting [4:86]

blog Apr 22, 2023

Before we dive into today's reflection:

Wishing you and your loved ones a Blessed Eid. May all of our efforts be accepted by the Beneficent inshallah and may we be guided to continue some of the good habits and efforts that we undertook this month. Ameen.

I am so grateful that you decided to join us on this month long journey of reflecting on some verses from the Quran and I am deeply appreciative of your attention. If you have found these beneficial, I would love to hear how and what specifically. If you have any suggestions for improvement, please do share those as well. If you have missed some or would like to review them at any point, the posts are archived on the blog, the podcast and YouTube (links below).

Some of you have reached out to request that we continue beyond the month of Ramadan and so inshallah, we will continue with these brief reflections once a week so please look out for those.

For those who would like a deeper dive into the Quran, we have been running a Quran Study Circle for women for many years, the recordings of which are available online on the podcast and on the Quran Study Circle Facebook Group. For women who would like to join our Quran Study Circle, please email me and I can send you a link to the whatsapp group for information on when we start again.

And now for today's reflection reflection from the Quran:

In Sura Nisa (4:86), Allah says: And when you are offered a greeting, respond with a greeting that is better, or return it (with a equal courtesy).

Reflection: One of the easiest ways to build and strengthen social bonds is to greet others sincerely. As Muslims, we are meant to greet one another with the greeting: "Peace be upon you". What a beautiful since peace is what human beings are ultimately searching for. As we are wishing peace to one and another, let us cultivate that peace within our own hearts as well as we cannot share what we do not have.

Traditions inform us that spreading greetings of peace along with sharing food with others, maintaining family relations and praying in the middle of the night are acts that are highly regarded by Allah swt and will grant one Paradise.

While the initial greeting is highly recommended, this verse stresses that a response to a greeting initiated by others is incumbent upon us. The greeting that we return should preferably be better or at least equal to that which was offered.

Why: Initiating a social exchange while beneficial, can be challenging for those who are introverted, shy or socially awkward.

When we return a greeting offered with one equal to or better than what was offered, we validate the other and encourage them to connect with us. In a sense, we are rewarding them for their initiation of reaching out. This action reduces much of the emotional and psychological risk that we experience in reaching out which shows us up as hesitation or shyness.

The verse also points to one of the foundational principles of Islam, which is the concept of Ehsan, to do good to others, to do better, to return every favour by adding to it, to vie with each other in doing better.

Amongst families and loved ones, simple rituals of connection strengthen family bonds during good times and hold relationships together during challenging times. Offering salaam to each other is one beautiful example of a simple and powerful ritual of connection. Even in the midst of conflict or when we are mad at each other, holding strong to this simple ritual keeps the lines of connection open and it sends a message of peace to our own brains and to the brains of the other person.

How: The Holy Prophet (saw) taught the Muslims that when someone greets you with Salaam Alaikum, (peace be on you), return it with As Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah (peace be on you and the mercy of Allah). And when someone greets you with As Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah, (peace be on you and the mercy of Allah) say As Salaam Alaikym wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatahu (Peace be on you and the mercy of Allah and His blessings). That is the complete salam.

And if someone greets you with the complete salam then there is no need to add more to it, simply return it with the same greeting.

We hear numerous stories about how the Holy Prophet (saw) was the first to initiate this greeting, to salute newcomers and to extend his hand for a hand shake. He was especially attentive to children and in initiating the greeting towards young ones and he reminded his companions to spread the greeting of salฤm, and said that through this simple act, the good in our homes will increase and that it will please the angels and bring down blessings upon the home.

This beautiful command is so simple to implement.

Let us practice being the first to initiate the Salaam, even and especially to those who may be younger, with less financial means or social status or belonging to a marginalised group.

And when someone says "As Salaam Alaiykum" "May peace be upon you", lets pause for just a moment and actually wish them peace from within our hearts as well as saying it with our tongues. We can even visualize peace descending on them from above or growing within themselves. This is a short, simple Islamic version of the Buddhist loving-kindness practice which has been intensely studied and validated for personal and relational wellbeing in recent times.

Doing this as a regular practice has so many benefits. It reminds us to practice letting go of any ill feeling or misunderstandings towards others as we wish them peace and imagine the feelings of peace descending on them and on our relationship as we greet them.

Let us start on Eid Day!!

This verse in action: If we were practicing the spirit of this verse, there would be peace in our hearts, in our relationships, in our homes and in the world. We would wish others well as we said Salaam to them and we would harbour goodwill and affection for them in our hearts.

Asalaam Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu


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