What is the correct Quranic greeting in the Quran?
“Assalamu alaykum”, “salamun alaykum” or “salam”?: This article explains why Sunni sand Shia Muslims do not even know how to correctly greet people today in the light of the Quran and therefore de facto disregard God's command in the Quran and prefer to give preference to the greeting found in hadiths which contradicts the Quran in several ways.
When Muslims greet people, it reflects that Islam is a religion of “Peace”, as well as the fact that we are all here to spread the message of “Peace” around us.
“Peace” (Salam) on earth and everywhere in the universe is the ultimate goal of Islam; this is why God commanded us to greet people in a very specific manner in the Quran, wishing “Peace” (Salam) to everyone.
The degree of corruption of Islam in the world is so extreme in every way that even for such a simple thing as greeting each other, Muslims are usually completely unaware that their greeting is either never correct or not always correct, and is therefore corrupted.
There are several reasons for such blindness:
1. Most of the time, the most obvious nonsense goes unnoticed, especially when it is right in front of us.
2. People follow the crowd blindly.
3. The Quran establishes the truth and blatantly points at their mistakes, they open their eyes, but they cannot see because they assume that what they inherited from their parents and society is by definition correct and there is no need to reevaluate such beliefs.
1. What is the greeting decreed by God in the Quran?
The first question you need to ask yourself before reading this article is: “When you meet believers, how do you greet them exactly?”. Please say it aloud or in your mind. Now, let’s compare with the Quran:
1.1 “Salamun ‘Alaykum!”
وَإِذَا جَآءَكَ ٱلَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِـَٔايَٰتِنَا فَقُلْ سَلَٰمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ كَتَبَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ ٱلرَّحْمَةَ
أَنَّهُۥ مَنْ عَمِلَ مِنكُمْ سُوٓءًۢا بِجَهَٰلَةٍ ثُمَّ تَابَ مِنۢ بَعْدِهِۦ وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَنَّهُۥ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(6:54) And when those who believe in our revelations [lit. “verses”] come to you, then say: “Salamun ‘alaykum!” (May Peace be upon you!). Your Lord decreed Mercy upon his own soul. He who commits evil out of ignorance, then repents thereafter and reforms, He is indeed Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.
As we can see, greeting believers using the proper expression is a Quranic command and 6:54 defines it as “Salamun ‘alaykum!”, NOT as “Assalamu 'alaykum!”, the expression almost universally used in the Muslim world. The following verse is another example that true believers, following the example of the Quran are required to greet people properly:
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا تَدْخُلُوا۟ بُيُوتًا غَيْرَ بُيُوتِكُمْ
حَتَّىٰ تَسْتَأْنِسُوا۟ وَتُسَلِّمُوا۟ عَلَىٰٓ أَهْلِهَا ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
(24:27) O you who believe, do not enter homes other than your homes, unless you have requested permission and have greeted its inhabitants. It is preferable for you, that you may reflect.
فَإِن لَّمْ تَجِدُوا فِيهَا أَحَدًا فَلَا تَدْخُلُوهَا حَتَّىٰ يُؤْذَنَ لَكُمْ وَإِن قِيلَ
لَكُمُ ارْجِعُوا فَارْجِعُوا هُوَ أَزْكَىٰ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ
(24:28) And if it appears to you that no one is inside, do not enter, until permission has been granted to you. And if you are told to leave, then leave. It is purer for you, and God is aware of everything you do.
1.2 The second valid Quranic greeting: “Salam!”
وَلَقَدْ جَآءَتْ رُسُلُنَآ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ بِٱلْبُشْرَىٰ قَالُوا۟
سَلَٰمًا قَالَ سَلَٰمٌ فَمَا لَبِثَ أَن جَآءَ بِعِجْلٍ حَنِيذ
(11:69) And then our messengers came to Abraham with good news; they said: “Salaman!” (Peace!) He replied: “Salam!”; and it didn’t take long before he brought a roasted calf.
إِذْ دَخَلُوا۟ عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا۟ سَلَٰمًا قَالَ إِنَّا مِنكُمْ وَجِلُونَ
(15:52) When they introduced themselves to him, they said: “Salaman!” (Peace!). He replied: “We are apprehensive of you.”
2. What is the greeting in the afterlife?
“Salamun ‘Alaykum” and “Salam” are valid Quranic greetings on Earth. We will use, God willing, the very same greetings in Paradise:
2.1 “Salamun ‘Alaykum!”
وَبَيْنَهُمَا حِجَابٌ وَعَلَى ٱلْأَعْرَافِ رِجَالٌ يَعْرِفُونَ كُلًّۢا بِسِيمَىٰهُمْ
وَنَادَوْا۟ أَصْحَٰبَ ٱلْجَنَّةِ أَن سَلَٰمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ لَمْ يَدْخُلُوهَا وَهُمْ يَطْمَعُونَ
(7:46) And between the two (Heaven and Hell), there will be a rampart/separation, and over the highest part (Al ‘Arâf) will be men who will recognize each other from their distinctive marks; and they will call out the dwellers of paradise in the following manner: “Salamun ‘Alaykum!” (May peace be upon you). And they won’t enter it, but will eagerly long [for it].
ٱلَّذِينَ تَتَوَفَّىٰهُمُ ٱلْمَلَٰٓئِكَةُ طَيِّبِينَ يَقُولُونَ سَلَٰمٌ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱدْخُلُوا۟ ٱلْجَنَّةَ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
(16:32) To those whom the angels cause to die while in a state of purity, they say: “Salamun ‘Alaykum! (May peace be upon you!); enter paradise as a result of what you have achieved.”
وَسِيقَ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّقَوْا۟ رَبَّهُمْ إِلَى ٱلْجَنَّةِ زُمَرًا حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا جَآءُوهَا وَفُتِحَتْ
أَبْوَٰبُهَا وَقَالَ لَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا سَلَٰمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ طِبْتُمْ فَٱدْخُلُوهَا خَٰلِدِينَ
(39:73) And those who reverenced their Lord will be driven to the Garden in groups until they reach it; its gates will have been opened and its guardians will tell them: “Salamun ‘Alaykum! (May peace be upon you!). You have done well, so enter and live therein forever!
The very same expression is used in the following verses, not as a greeting, but more as a prayer:
سَلَٰمٌ عَلَيْكُم بِمَا صَبَرْتُمْ فَنِعْمَ عُقْبَى ٱلدَّارِ
(13:24) “Salamun ‘Alaykum (May peace be upon you) for what you patiently endured. What an excellent abode your final destination is!
وَإِذَا سَمِعُوا۟ ٱللَّغْوَ أَعْرَضُوا۟ عَنْهُ وَقَالُوا۟ لَنَآ أَعْمَٰلُنَا
وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَٰلُكُمْ سَلَٰمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ لَا نَبْتَغِى ٱلْجَٰهِلِينَ
(28:55) Every time they come across [lit. “hear”] vain talk, they turn away from it, saying: “We are responsible for our deeds, and you are responsible for your deeds. Salamun ‘Alaykum! (May peace be upon you!); We do not aspire to behave like the ignorants.”
دَعْوَىٰهُمْ فِيهَا سُبْحَٰنَكَ ٱللَّهُمَّ وَتَحِيَّتُهُمْ فِيهَا سَلَٰمٌ
وَءَاخِرُ دَعْوَىٰهُمْ أَنِ ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلْعَٰلَمِينَ
(10:10) Their invocation therein will be: “Glory to You, O God!”. Their greeting therein will be: “Salam!” (Peace); and their final invocation will be: “Praise be to GOD, Lord of the universe.”
وَأُدْخِلَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَمِلُوا۟ ٱلصَّٰلِحَٰتِ جَنَّٰتٍ تَجْرِى
مِن تَحْتِهَا ٱلْأَنْهَٰرُ خَٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ تَحِيَّتُهُمْ فِيهَا سَلَٰمٌ
(14:23) Those who believed and accomplished righteous deeds will be admitted into gardens underneath which streams flow. They abide therein forever, by the grace of their Lord. Their greeting therein will be: “Salam!” (Peace).
تَحِيَّتُهُمْ يَوْمَ يَلْقَوْنَهُۥ سَلَٰمٌ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَرِيمًا
(33:44) Their greeting the day they meet Him will be: “Salam!” (Peace). And He has prepared for them a most honorable reward.
سَلَٰمٌ قَوْلًا مِّن رَّبٍّ رَّحِيمٍ
(36:58) “Salam!” (Peace!): A greeting from a Most Merciful Lord.
3. Two reasons why the overwhelming majority of Muslims’ greetings are corrupted
3.1 “Assalamu ‘Alaykum!” (السلام عليكم) is not the same as “Salamun ‘Alaykum!” (سلم عليكم)
The Quran is the perfect Arabic language, why would we or should we corrupt it?
وَلَقَدْ نَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُمْ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّمَا يُعَلِّمُهُۥ بَشَرٌ لِّسَانُ
ٱلَّذِى يُلْحِدُونَ إِلَيْهِ أَعْجَمِىٌّ وَهَٰذَا لِسَانٌ عَرَبِىٌّ مُّبِينٌ
(16:103) We are fully aware that they say, “A human being is teaching him!” The tongue of the source they hint at is non-Arabic, and this is a pure Arabic tongue.
In all Arab countries, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, the United States, France, the United Kingdom,… and wherever else they may be around the world, The overwhelming majority of Muslims customarily greet each other the same way using the expression “Assalamu ‘alaykum” (السلام عليكم , lit. May the Peace be upon you!). One exception is Turkey where people do use the Quranic expression “Salamun ‘alaykum!”, but we will see in the next section that it is often misused.
Some people may say that “Assalamu ‘Alaykum!” and “Salamun ‘Alaykum!” are the same or almost the same, that it is not a big deal, but the Quran is divinely precise and is the perfect Arabic tongue. Why not simply submit to God’s command to the letter instead of trying to find excuses? How hard is it to simply say “Salamun ‘Alaykum” as Allah commands us to (6:54)?
3.2 Saying “AsSalamu ‘Alaykum!” or even “Salamun ‘Alaykum!” to less than three people is another distortion of the pure Arabic language
It does not matter if Muslims speak to one, two, or more people, or if they greet a man or woman: Sunnis and Shias all repeat in unison the same greeting: “Assalamu ‘alaykum”.
The corruption is very simple: In “(As)salamu(n) ‘alaykum” (May [the] Peace be upon you), “alaykum” means “upon you” and the pronoun “kum” is the second person masculine plural, referring by definition to three or more people in Arabic. If you greet one or two persons (two calls for the dual plural in Arabic), why in the world would you use the regular second person plural (three or more)?!
The only exception when it is understandable you can say “Salamun ‘alaykum!” to only one or two persons present at the same time is when you greet people you are visiting in a home and you know in advance that there are at least three people living under the same roof and you intend to greet the entire family at the same time. This is of course not valid if you know in advance that only one or two people live in the house, or if you meet a friend in the street.
“Salamun ‘Alaykum!” is used four times as a greeting in the entire Quran, and the expression occurs 6 times overall. In all instances, it logically and consistently refers to three or more people. Aside from the above mentioned possible exception, Saying “Salamun ‘Alaykum!” to less than three people is incorrect Arabic and just plain ridiculous; there is no other way to put it.
The degree of corruption in the Muslim world is such that the overwhelming majority of people are unaware of even the most obvious and absurd corruption.
In correct Quranic Arabic, if you choose to say “May Peace be upon you” instead of the more simple expression “peace”(Salam), you should say:
- “Salamun ‘alayka!” (سلم عليك, May peace be upon thee) if the person is a male.
- “Salamun ‘alayki!” if the person is female.
- “Salamun ‘alaykumâ!” (سلم عليكما) if you speak to two people, (males or females, the same “dual” pronoun is used).
- Your greeting “Salamun ‘alaykum!” (سلم عليكم, May peace be upon you!) is correct if and only if you speak to three or more people and at least one of them is male.
- The greeting “Salamun ‘alaykunna!” (سلم عليكن, May peace be upon you!) is what will be said to three or more females.
Other possible pronouns:
- Salamun ‘alayya (سلم على) = May peace be upon me.
- Salamun ‘alayhi (سلم عليه) = May peace be upon him.
- Salamun ‘alayhi (سلم عليها) = May peace be upon her.
- Salamun ‘alaynâ (سلم علينا) = May peace be upon us.
- Salamun ‘alayhim (سلم عليهم) = May peace be upon them (masculine, three or more people).
- Salamun ‘alayhunna (سلم عليهن) = May peace be upon them (feminine, three or more females).
- Salamun ‘alayhumâ (سلم عليهما) = May peace be upon them (dual form: two people, masculine or feminine)
If someone doesn’t master the above distinctions, he or she can then use the alternative Quranic greeting that is always valid regardless of how many people you are greeting: “Salam!” (سلم).
Some people try to evade the reality that their greeting is corrupted and claim that they say “AsSalamun ‘alaykum!” (or “Salamun ‘alaykum!”) even to one person because they greet the angels in charge of the person as well. First of all, it is not even true that they think about greeting the angels at the time they salute one person (they may claim it, but it is a complete lie). The example of how they finish their salât (when they pray by themselves) proves them wrong: Traditional Muslims turn their heads to the right and to the left and say every time: “Assalamu ‘alaykum…”, even when they pray by themselves; two angels are in charge of every human being according to the Quran, so if they salute each one of them at the end of the prayer it should be “Salam” or “Salamun ‘alayka” every time they turn their head to salute one angel. Again, this proves that their greeting is corrupted Arabic. The next section just seals the issue:
The Quran is not like corrupted Muslims, it makes the distinction to whom we are speaking to:
Abraham to his father:
قَالَ سَلَٰمٌ عَلَيْكَ سَأَسْتَغْفِرُ لَكَ رَبِّىٓ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ بِى حَفِيًّا
(19:47) He said, “Salamun ‘alayka!” (Peace be upon thee! = second person singular). I will implore my Lord to forgive you; He has been Most Kind to me.
وَسَلَٰمٌ عَلَيْهِ يَوْمَ وُلِدَ وَيَوْمَ يَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ يُبْعَثُ حَيًّا
(19:15) And Salamun ‘Alayhi (“May peace be upon him”) the day he was born, the day he dies, and the day he is resurrected.
وَٱلسَّلَٰمُ عَلَىَّ يَوْمَ وُلِدتُّ وَيَوْمَ أَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ أُبْعَثُ حَيًّا
(19:33) And asSalamu alayya (the peace rests upon me) the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I am resurrected.
Remark: There are two times in the Quran where we find the definite article “al” (the) associated with the word “Salam” followed by the preposition “’alaa” (عَلَىَ = upon) and the expression of a human being. It is when Jesus states that “the peace” rests upon his own soul. It is not a greeting (no, Jesus is not greeting himself!), it is not a prayer either: he is on the contrary stating a fact, because God let him know in advance that he was going to be blessed with peace on this earth and in the afterlife. We can assert that because 19:33 is modeled according to 20:47 where we also see the word “al salam” (not “salam”) and the preposition “alaa” (عَلَىَ = upon) is also followed by the expression of a human being:
فَأْتِيَاهُ فَقُولَآ إِنَّا رَسُولَا رَبِّكَ فَأَرْسِلْ مَعَنَا بَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ وَلَا
تُعَذِّبْهُمْ قَدْ جِئْنَٰكَ بِـَٔايَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكَ وَٱلسَّلَٰمُ عَلَىٰ مَنِ ٱتَّبَعَ ٱلْهُدَىٰٓ
(20:47) Therefore, go to him and say: “Verily, the two of us are messengers of your Lord. Send forth, therefore, the children of Israel with us, and afflict them not. Indeed, we have come to you with a sign from our Lord; the peace rests upon whomever follows the guidance!”.
In both 19:33 and 20:47 which makes it very clear, “al salaam” is used to state a fact, but it is never used for greetings nor even prayers. It is a fact that “the peace rests upon whomever follows the guidance!”. It is not a greeting, and it is not a prayer where you wish that “peace may be upon someone”. My point is that you cannot use 19:33 and 20:47 to claim that it is also correct to say “assalamu ‘alaykum”, because the Quranic context makes it clear that it is never used for a greeting or even a prayer.
As extensively proven in this article, the indefinite form “salamun” is consistently used to greet someone or as a prayer of peace.
We have the duty to ask ourselves the following question: “Why do traditional Muslims usually do not get it right even for something as simple as greeting each other?”
The answer is that traditional Islam (Sunni, Shia etc…) is massively corrupted in every way. It has nothing to do with the pure Islam described in the Quran. All “pillars” of Islam have been severely corrupted from the Shahadah to the Hajj; anyone who takes the time to inform himself by reading articles on this website (for example “Hadiths, the shame of Islam”, “Salât in the Quran” etc…) will judge for himself.
4. The Quran warns us that one way to identify the enemies of Islam is that they do not greet people with the correct greeting decreed by God
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِينَ نُهُوا۟ عَنِ ٱلنَّجْوَىٰ ثُمَّ يَعُودُونَ لِمَا نُهُوا۟ عَنْهُ وَيَتَنَٰجَوْنَ بِٱلْإِثْمِ
وَٱلْعُدْوَٰنِ وَمَعْصِيَتِ ٱلرَّسُولِ وَإِذَا جَآءُوكَ حَيَّوْكَ بِمَا لَمْ يُحَيِّكَ بِهِ ٱللَّهُ
وَيَقُولُونَ فِىٓ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَوْلَا يُعَذِّبُنَا ٱللَّهُ بِمَا نَقُولُ حَسْبُهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ يَصْلَوْنَهَا فَبِئْسَ ٱلْمَصِيرُ
(58:8) Have you noted those who were enjoined from conspiring secretly, then insist on conspiring? They conspire to commit sin, transgression, and disobedience to the messenger. When they come to you, they greet you with a greeting other than decreed by God. They say to their own souls, “God will not punish us for our utterances.” Their only requital is hell, wherein they will burn; what a miserable destiny.
In a broader sense, the above verse teaches us that true Muslims follow strictly God’s command. They are united in one column (61:4) and greet each other as God Himself commanded it in the Quran. They say either “Salamun ‘Alaykum” (properly declined to the various persons singular or plural if need be) or simply “Salam”. They are not rebels who make up their own corrupted greetings (for example “Assalamu ‘Alaykum!”) and disregard God’s precise command even when confronted to the truth, or people who are too lazy to even mention the word “Salam”. This is particularly true in the era of the internet where Muslims write emails, messages on forums, social media etc… and do not even bother to use the proper Quranic greeting.
The deeper message behind verse 58:8 is that the first sign to identify a true Muslim is when he or she introduces himself or herself. Does He or she follow the Quran, or something else? This is not an insignificant detail, but a very profound and revealing statement.
God is the Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Lots of sincere Muslims are absolutely unaware that their greeting is corrupted because they are misled by the corruption that surrounds them. I pray that people who read this article will verify the Quranic verses pointed at for themselves, correct their greeting if necessary and spread the word around them. At this point, most traditional Muslims on Earth have lost the correct greeting, as if they were divinely prevented to say it correctly because there is a veil in front of them (the veil of “hadiths other than God and His verses”, see 45:6) which keeps them from understanding the Quran in its proper light. Their greeting simply happens to reflect their faith in general: It is corrupted.
5. Do we understand the depth of greeting someone?
وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُم بِتَحِيَّةٍ فَحَيُّوا۟ بِأَحْسَنَ مِنْهَآ أَوْ
رُدُّوهَآ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍ حَسِيبًا
(4:86) And when you are greeted with a greeting, then greet with a better one, or [simply] return the same one. God keeps a record of everything.
We saw that the Quranic greeting is specifically either “Salamun ‘Alaykum” (properly declined to the various persons singular or plural if need be) or simply “Salam”. Therefore, it is not necessarily the words that make the differences between a particular greeting and another, but how much heart and sincerity you put into it.
Greeting someone saying “May peace be upon you!” from the bottom of our heart is spreading the message of peace around us. It turns us into messengers of Peace.
In this life and as well as in Paradise, two valid greetings are used both by human beings and angels: “Salam!” (Peace) and “Salamun ‘Alaykum” (properly declined to the various persons singular or plural if need be).
When you meet someone who greets you saying “(As)Salamu(n) alaykum” and you simply answer “Salam”, “Salamun ‘alayka” or “Salamun ‘alayki” (to a woman), some people will look at you as if you had some kind of a problem. This is the paradox of Islam today where corruption is considered the norm. Anyone who stands for the pure Quranic truth always faces the risk to be considered a dangerous innovator. Is it a crime to submit to God completely and follow the Quran to the letter? People’s ignorance does not matter as long as we have God and His word (the pure Arabic Quran) on our side.
The Quran warns us that enemies of Islam do not use the proper greeting decreed by God in the Quran. This means that one of the ways to identify a true Muslims is how he or she introduces him or herself.
Most Muslims are victims of the corruption of the Muslim society. Let’s pass down the information about the correct greeting around us. You are welcome to ask native Arabic speakers and even experts of the Arabic language why they do not respect the pure Arabic language of the Quran when they say “(as)Salamu(n) ‘Alaykum” even to a single person. I guarantee you that they will be caught off guard and will not have any valid argument to counter what you will have said. Some will claim that they also greet the angels. It is not only false, it contradicts the precise way the Quran has been written, as proved earlier. Do they know better than Abraham who said “Salamun ‘alayka” (May peace be upon thee) to his father, do they know better than God who wrote the Quran in a perfect Arabic language? I don’t think so.
As true Muslims, we should not only greet people obeying literally to God’s command in the Quran, but we should also feel its profound meaning every time and act as messengers of Peace who spread the message of God in the world.