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 What Is the Ruling for Greeting Non-Muslims?

Can a Muslim initiate greeting first to a non-muslim or an unbeliever? Is it okay if a Muslim greets a disbeliever with the word "Assalamu Alaikum"?


In the name of Allah the Most Merciful the Most Compassionate
Firstly, it is not allowed to initiate (greet first) the salutation of “Salam” to a non-Muslim. Salam (greeting-salutation), first of all, is a kind of dua and honoring. It means to show value and honor for the addressee. That’s why hadith says: “Do not initiate the greeting of Salam to a non-Muslim (a Jew or a Christian). (Muslim)” Because, it is known that the Muslims have higher status before Allah, so they should not humiliate themselves in front of a non-Muslim by greeting them first. And Ahlan wa sahlan (welcome), Marhaban (hello) and so on, these sort of words are a kind of honouring them, so it is like initiating the greeting of salaams with them, which means we are not allowed to greet in the first place.
Secondly, the Jews, in the time of Prophet, used to greet Him (pbuh) by saying, “Al-saam’u alaikum ya Muhammad (Death be upon you, O Muhammad).” That means they were praying that the Messenger of Allah would die. So the Prophet said: “The Jews say ‘al-saam alaikum (death be upon you),’ so if they greet you, then say, ‘Wa ‘alaikum (and also upon you).’
If a non-Muslim greets a Muslim by saying “al-saamu alaikum,” then he should respond by saying “wa alaikum (and also upon you).” The fact that the Prophet said “wa alaikum” indicates that if they were saying “as-salamu alaikum (peace be upon you),” then peace will also be upon them, i.e., whatever they say to us, we say to them. We should say something similar to them, because the greeting should be returned back as the same manner.
But also, as we understand from the hadith below; if a Jew, Christian or other non-Muslim clearly says “as-salamu alaikum,” while greeting us, it is permissible for us to say “alaikum assalam.” (Muslim) If we are greeted, then we should return their greeting in similar terms and manners and this is the correct view. If they greet us first in a proper way, then we have to return their greetings back because it is fairer and Allah commands us to be fair and treat others well, as the ayah says:
“When you are greeted with a greeting (of peace), then answer them with a better greeting or at least return with the like.” (Nisa: 86)
In terms of returning back the greeting of non-Muslims, Muslims should give respond in the shariah prescriptions:
Anas reported that the Companions of Allah's Apostle (pbuh) said to him: The People of the Book offer us salutations (by saying as-Salamu- Alaikum). How should we reciprocate them? Thereupon he said: Say: Wa Alaikum (and upon you too). (Muslim: Book 26: Hadith 5381)
Finally, if there is a strong need to greet first a non-Muslim (or an unbeliever), some ulama say there is no sin in that, but it should be something other than the greeting of salam, such as saying “How are you?” etc. In that case the greeting is for a reason, not to honor him.
A group of scholars said that it would be permissible to greet a non-Muslim first, on condition that it serves a purpose and has necessities such as for fear of his harm, because of blood ties (relatives), seeking help from them, companionship, for the purpose of commerce, a journey, or for other reasons that require the greeting first. But waiting for them to initiate salam is better.
Allah is Qadir (the Omnipotent) and Alim (The All-Knower) and He knows best with His Eternal Knowledge. Kaynak: http://askaquestionto.us - What Is the Ruling for Greeting Non-Muslims?

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