Sam Shamoun & Jochen Katz
The Quran instructs Muslims how to greet people:
And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet with a better (greeting) than it or return it; surely Allah takes account of all things. S. 4:86 Shakir
Ibn Abbas used this text to prove that Muslims are to greet Jews, Christians, Magians:
1107. Ibn 'Abbas said, "Return the greeting to whomever it is, Jew, Christian, or Magian. That is because Allah says, 'When you are greeted with a greeting, greet with one better than it or return it.' (4:86)" (Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari (Muslim Morals and Manners), XDIII. The People of the Book; online source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Muhammad, on the other hand, disagreed with Ibn Abbas and even taught something contrary to the Quran:
1102. Abu Basra l-Ghifari reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "I will ride to the Jews tomorrow. Do not give them the greeting first. If they greet you, then say, 'and on you.'"
1103. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Do not give the People of the Book the greeting first. Force them to the narrowest part of the road." (Ibid.; bold and underline emphasis ours)
138. Chapter: On the prohibition against being the first to greet an unbeliever and how to return their greeting. The recommendation to greet the people of a mixed assembly of Muslims and unbelievers
866. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Do not initiate the greeting to the Jews or the Christians. When you meet one of them in the road, force him to the narrowest part of it." [Muslim]
867. Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When the People of the Book greet you, say, 'And on you.'" [Agreed upon]
868. Usama reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, passed by an assembly consisting of Muslims and some idolworshippers and Jews as well and the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, greeted them." [Agreed upon] (Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous); source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
The Salafi version of the Riyad has a note to 866:
Commentary: This Hadith prohibits Muslims from greeting non-Muslims first. It also tells us that when the road is crowded, we should use the middle of the road and let the non-Muslims use its sides. This Hadith shows the dignity of Muslims and the disgrace and humiliation of the non-Muslims. (Riyad-us-Saliheen, compiled by Al-Imam Abu Zakariya Yahya bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Ad-Dimashqi, commentary by Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf, revised by M.R. Murad [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore, First Edition: June 1999], Five. The Book of Greetings, Chapter 138: Greeting the non-Muslims and Prohibition of taking an Initiative, Volume 2, p. 711; online source; italic and underline emphasis ours)
And notice how the two Jalals explained Q. 4:86:
And when you are greeted with a greeting, as when it is said to you, 'Peace be upon you', greet, the one that greeted you, with better than it, by responding to him with, 'Peace be upon you, and God's mercy and blessings', or return it, by saying back to him what he said; in other words, it is a duty to greet in one of these two ways, the former being the preferred one. Surely God keeps count of, He holds [you] accountable for, all things, and requites accordingly, including things such as returning a greeting. The Sunna specifies that one should not return the greeting of an disbeliever, an innovator, a wicked person, and of the one that greets a person who is in the act of relieving himself, or one in the bath, or one eating - indeed it is actually disapproved with the exception of the last. To the disbeliever [who says 'peace be upon you'] one should simply say, 'And upon you'. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source)
Muhammads instruction is neither similar nor better to the greeting that would be given to him. Another Muslim completely disregarded what the Quran teaches:
1115. 'Abdu'r-Rahman said, "Ibn 'Umar passed by a Christian who greeted him and Ibn 'Umar returned the greeting. He was told that the man was a Christian. When he learned that, he went back to him and said, 'Give me back my greeting.'" (Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari, XDIII. The People of the Book; bold and underline emphasis ours)
It is obvious from the foregoing that Islams so-called sound narrations contradict the plain teachings of the Quran.
How deliberately insulting Muhammads instructions of not greeting Jews and Christians really are, becomes even clearer when read against the background of how Muslims should greet each other:
447. Giving the greeting first
978. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah created Adam, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and his height was 60 spans. He said, 'Go and greet those (a group of angels who were sitting down) and listen to how they answer you. It is your greeting and the greeting of your descendants.' He said, 'Peace be upon you,' and they replied, 'Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah.' They added, 'and the mercy of Allah'. All who enter the Garden will have his form, but creation has continued to decline until now.'"
448. Giving the greeting to people
980. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "You will not enter the Garden until you believe and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I tell you something the doing of which will give you love of one another?" "Yes, Messenger of Allah," they replied. The Prophet said, "Make the greeting common practice among you."
449. The person who greets first
982. Bashir ibn Yasar said, "No one preceded ? or got ahead of ? Ibn 'Umar when giving the greeting."
983. Jabir said, " "Someone riding should greet someone walking, and someone walking should greet someone sitting down. When there are two people walking, the better of them is the one who gives the greeting first."
984. Ibn 'Umar said that al-Agharr (who was a man from Muzayna and had been a Companion of the Prophet) was owed some measures of dates by a man from the Banu 'Amr ibn 'Awf who came to him many times. He said, "I went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he sent Abu Bakr as-Siddiq with me." He continues, "Everyone we met greeted us. Abu Bakr said, 'Don't you know that when people give the greeting before us, they have the reward? Give the greeting before them and you will have the reward.'"
985. Abu Ayyub reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "It is not lawful for a Muslim man to separate himself from his brother for more than three days. When they meet, and one turns away and the other turns away, the better of them is the one who gives the greeting first."
452. It is a duty for one Muslim to greet another Muslim when he meets him
991. Abu Hurayra said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'The rights a Muslim has over another Muslim are five." He was asked, "What are they?" He replied, "When he meets him, he should greet him, When he gives him an invitation, he should accept. When he asks him for advice, he should give him good counsel. When he sneezes and praises Allah, he should wish him mercy. when he is ill, he should visit him. When he dies, he should accompany him." (Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari, XDI. Greetings; online source)
Apart from this being common sense, these narrations confirm that greeting another person is a sign of love and respect. Therefore, deliberately withholding a greeting, not greeting others, is an obvious sign of disrespect, contempt, and hatred.
Hence, as it stands Muhammads Sunna in many ways clearly violated the commands of the Quran.
One final observation on the above quoted narration 985: When there is tension between two people, this hadith makes clear that the person who breaks the ice and greets the other one first, is the better person, better in the sense of his faith and spiritual maturity. The Islamic instructions of not to greet Jews and Christians first, and to reply only with the most meager greeting possible ("and on you"), gives indirect testimony that the Jews and Christians who greet Muslims are better than them in regard to their faith and spiritual maturity — better even than Muhammad himself.
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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