Let's connect with a smile and a salam

AS a new Muslim, one of the first aspects of Islam that intrigued me most was the ideal of the Ummah. The sense of solidarity and universal brotherhood, which constitutes the Ummah, is exclusive to the religion of Islam. Nothing even minutely similar exists in the other world religions. I greatly anticipated the commonality and unity that Islam offered.

By Sumayyah Meehan

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Published: Fri 20 Jul 2007, 9:36 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:55 AM

After taking the Shahada, I began to seek it out vehemently. Eight years into my Islam and I am still searching. The ideal of the Ummah, which I learned about through the Holy Quran and Hadith, has since proved to be elusive.

This sense of the Ummah, which is also written about in scores of Islamic literature, is something I have yet to experience first hand. The majority of the Muslim sisters I come in contact with are segregated into their own little cliques. The Pakistani sisters socialise with other Pakistani sisters. The Arab sisters socialise with other Arab sisters. I am a pale white Irish American and have yet to find the niche where I belong.

If this trend of segregation between Muslims, based on cultural lines, continues, I fear the bridge will never be gapped.

What is most troubling about this growing trend of segregation is the neglect and abandonment of basic Islamic duties.

For example, the requirement of saying “Assalamu Alaikum”. Once again, it has been my experience that saying Salaam is also dictated by cultural lines or rather cultural bias. The Arabs greet other Arabs and other cultures follow suit by reserving the Islamic greeting for their fellow countrymen.

Ibn Hibbaan narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar that a man asked the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “What is the best thing in Islam?” He said, “Feeding others and giving the greeting of salaam to those whom you know and those whom you do not know.”

I have to admit that I am guilty of neglecting the Islamic greeting as well. However, my neglect is not due to bias, but rather due to shyness and fear of rejection. The fact that I am a ‘niqaab’ wearing sister also does not help matters. I often fear that if I do say “Assalamu Alaikum”, it will go unheard, so I suppress the greeting.

The importance of spreading Salaam is well documented in the Sunnah of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “By the One in whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you something which, if you do it, you will love one another? Spread the greeting of salaam amongst yourselves.”

Subhan’Allah! Allah has given us all the tools necessary to achieve Jannah, but even we ignore these simple rules. How can we expect to be successful on the Day of Judgement if we spend our lives ignoring the decree of our Creator and especially by ignoring the Sunnah of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)? We Muslims prefer to walk around with quiet scowls on our faces. We prefer to ignore the common bond that unites us as brothers and sisters in Islam. Why? Is it because we were late for work or because we are in a bad mood? The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “The best (in conduct) among you before Allah, is the one who greets first.” We should be competing to say the Salaam first.

We should race to put a smile on our fellow Muslim’s face. We should be overjoyed that yet another day has come and we are alive. And that we are still here able to serve Allah and stockpile more good deeds. Insha’Allah.

So the next time you pass a fellow Muslim on the street or in the market, don’t forget to spread the greeting of Salaam. And even if it goes unheard or it is not reciprocated, at least Allah Almighty will give you credit for doing it. Insha’Allah!

Sumayyah Meehan is a Kuwait-based American writer whoembraced Islam

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