Is it permissible for me to return the salaams of a woman who is a stranger to me, i.e., a non-mahram?.Praise be to Allaah.
Allaah has commanded us to
spread the greeting of salaam, and has enjoined us to return the greeting to
all Muslims. He has made the greeting of salaam one of the things that
spread love among the believers.
Allaah says (interpretation
of the meaning):
" When you are greeted
with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least)
return it equally. Certainly, Allaah is Ever a Careful Account Taker of all
And it was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said:
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
said: "You will not enter Paradise until you (truly) believe, and you will
not (truly) 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."
Narrated by Muslim, 54.
In the answer to question
there is a lengthy discussion on the importance of greeting with salaam and
returning the greeting.
The command to spread the
greeting of salaam is general and applies to all the believers. It includes
men greeting men and women greeting women, and a man greeting his female
mahrams. All of them are enjoined to initiate the greeting of salaam, and
the other is obliged to return the greeting.
But there is a special
ruling that applies to a man greeting a non-mahram woman, because of the
fitnah (temptation) that may result from that in some cases.
There is nothing wrong with
a man greeting a non-mahram woman with salaam, without shaking hands with
her, if she is elderly, but he should not greet a young woman with salaams
when there is no guarantee that there will be no fitnah (temptation). This
is what is indicated by the comments of the scholars, may Allaah have mercy
Imam Maalik was asked: Can
a woman be greeted with salaam? He said: With regard to the elderly woman, I
do not regard that as makrooh, but with regard to the young woman, I do not
Al-Zarqaani explained the
reason why Maalik did not like that, in his commentary on al-Muwatta':
Because of the fear of fitnah when he hears her returning the greeting.
al-Shar'iyyah (1/370) it says: Ibn Muflih mentioned that Ibn Mansoor
said to Imam Ahmad: (What about) greeting women with salaam? He said: If the
woman is old there is nothing wrong with it.
Saalih (the son of Imam
Ahmad) said: I asked my father about greeting women with salaam. He said:
With regard to old women, there is nothing wrong with it, but with regard to
young women, they should not be prompted to speak by being made to return
Al-Nawawi said in his book
al-Adhkaar (p. 407):
Our companions said: Women greeting women is
like men greeting to men. But when it comes to women greeting men, if the
woman is the man's wife, or his concubine, or one of his mahrams, then it is
like him speaking to another man; it is mustahabb for either of them to
initiate the greeting of salaam and the other is obliged to return the
greeting. But if the woman is a stranger (non-mahram), if she is beautiful
and there is the fear that he may be tempted by her, then the man should not
greet her with salaam, and if he does then it is not permissible for her to
reply; she should not initiate the greeting of salaam either, and if she
does, she does not deserve a response. If he responds then this is makrooh.
If she is an old woman and
he will not be tempted by her, then it is permissible for her to greet the
man with salaam and for the man to return her salaams.
If there is a group of
women then a man may greet them with salaam, or if there is a group of men,
they may greet a woman with salaam, so long as there there is no fear that
any of the parties may be tempted.
Abu Dawood (5204) narrated that Asma' the
daughter of Yazeed said: "The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) passed by us woman and greeted us with salaam." Classed as saheeh
by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
And al-Bukhaari (6248)
narrated that Sahl ibn Sa'd said: "There was an old woman of our
acquaintance who would send someone to Budaa'ah (a garden of date-palms in
Madeenah). She would take the roots of silq (a kind of vegetable) and put
them in a cooking pot with some powdered barley. After we had prayed
Jumu'ah, we would go and greet her, then she should offer (that food) to
Al-Haafiz said in
Concerning the permissibility of men greeting
women with salaam and women greeting men: what is meant by its being
permitted is when there is no fear of fitnah.
Al-Haleemi was quoted as
saying: Because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
was infallible and protected from fitnah. Whoever is confident that he will
be safe from temptation may greet (women) with salaam, otherwise it is safer
to keep silent.
And al-Muhallab is quoted
as saying: It is permissible for men to greet women with salaam and for
women to greet men, if there is no fear of fitnah.
And Allaah knows best.
See Ahkaam al-'Awrah wa'l-Nazar by Musaa'id ibn Qaasim al-Faalih.