Being raised in an Islamic community , I grew up hearing the phrase ” As-salamu Alaykom ” several times throughout the day. As one person entered and the other left I would hear the Islamic greeting being repeated over and over again and I myself would greet others by saying ” As-salmu Alaykom” with all pride and joy.
As I moved on to university a new kind of greeting appeared, a greeting that was cool and hip and was suitable for everyone of all religions and backgrounds – it was non-other than the famous “Hi” .I had been accustomed to using my Islamic greeting however all my attempts to use it in university had failed and every-time I used it I would get the same reply a reply that I was not accustomed to. Because I wanted to fit in and did not want to seem as an inflexible person I gradually stopped using my Islamic Greeting and began using ” Hi” with almost everyone I met , I did not do it on purpose, it just happened out of habit .
Every weekend or so I would go back to my village and would go back to greeting people by saying ” As-salamu Alaikom ” and it felt great and then I would go to Beirut and go back to using the phrase ” Hi” .
For some resaon I felt that there was something wrong , when there was someone who was religious next to me in university I would not say Hi and when they weren’t there I would use it. I felt torn between two greetings and I decided I was going to do something about it . I googled the phrase ” Hi ” and it turned out that it stands for Nothing, it has no meaning and no value .
Then I attempted to understand the phrase ” As-salmo Alaykom” , its literal meaning is ” Peace be upon you ” and to me that is just beautiful, except it had never crossed my mind . For centuries people have been searching for peace , through yoga, prayer, volunteer work and so many other ways. I realized how rich this greeting was because of its history and the mere fact that it was mentioned in the Quraan made it magnificent .
All this time I had been wishing people to find peace and because I had not really understood the value of this beautiful phrase I chose to replace it with something that meant nothing at all just to fit in. I had made up my mind and I took the decision to go back to using to ” As-Salmu Alaykom ” no matter what .
Today my non-Muslim friends greet me using the Islamic greeting and I am proud of that and as I look back I realize that although it took me a while to grasp the true meaning of the phrase I finally say it with all pride and belief that it is the most beautiful thing you can greet someone with. Sometimes when practicing religion we do things out of habit and social pressure but as adults and thinkers we have a responsibility to question our practices and understand where they come from . By doing so we will begin to appreciate every small act , every prayer and every greeting .
May Peace Be Upon you All !