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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Don’t greet Non-Muslims with “Salam” or “Namaste”: Deoband Fatwa

As is well known, Muslims greet other Muslims with “Salam Aleikum” (which means may peace be upon you).  It is the shorter form of the longer greeting “Salam Aleikum va Rehmat-ullahi va Barakatu” (which means “may peace be upon you and the mercy and bounties of Allah be upon you”). 

It is lesser known that this greeting is reserved only for Muslims.  A Muslim is not supposed to greet a Kafir Hindu with this greeting (though many do, out of ignorance of Islamic diktats).   To clarify this, take a look at the fatwa number 166/127=H/1429 from Darul Uloom at Deoband (one of the largest Islamic seminaries in the world, and one of the most influential).   Here, it says, in response to the following question:

Can we greet a Non Muslim with Salam? If not Why? 

It says:

You can greet them with adaab arz and by moving your hand. These are better ways to greet non-Muslims. However, we should not use the prevalent greeting words of non-Muslims which have religious base; since many words do not have right meaning as per Islam beliefs. 

The URL for this fatwa is http://www.darulifta-deoband.com/home/en/Rights–Etiquettes/10391

So, Muslims should not greet Hindus with their greetings.  Instead they should use a “weaker” greeting , such as adaab.  Furthermore, they should not use the Hindu greeting of “Namaste” or “Namaskar” since it does not have the right meaning as per Islamic beliefs.  By this it is meant that Namaste or Namaskar begins with Namah (from naman) which in Islam is reserved only for Allah, not for fellow human beings.  

When even the basic greeting of Muslims differentiates between Hindus and Muslims, is there really any sense in talking about a mythical “Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb”?  Can Hindus and Muslims really ever live together as brothers when fundamentalist Islam’s core idea is to direct aggression and a sense of separateness towards Kafirs? These are hard questions that we wish Gandhi and Nehru had asked in 1947, and at least today’s leaders should ponder over.  

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Vinay Kumar
Vinay Kumar
Devout Hindu and practising brahmin, very interested in history and current affairs of Bharat. Do not believe in birth-based "caste" but rather varna based on swadharma and swabhava, and personal commitment to that varna's dharmas. I don't judge people by the religion they profess: every human being should be treated with equal dignity. At the same time, I don't judge a religion by the people I know who profess it. A religion, like any doctrine, should be subjected to critical examination using facts and reason.


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