“The library is closing in fifteen minutes. Due to the winter storm there is a state emergency and we will be closing at three-thirty. Please bring the books for check out to the circulation desk”, announced the librarian, as Raiyan and his new study partner Tom were busy in their preparation for the big science test. Looking out the window as the white flakes poured down, Raiyan and Tom smiled at each other and one of them said, “Wow! Check it out! That’s pencils down for sure!” Thrilled at the thought of a possible snow day, they prepared to bundle up and called for their rides. “As-Salaamu-’Alaikum (Ever wonder what it means?) Mom! This is Raiyan. The library is closing because of the snowstorm. Could you come and pick me up?” His mother told Raiyan that she would be there in a few minutes. Tom did the same, and then both of them started walking towards the exit. After a few moments, Tom broke the silence and posed a question: “Raiyan, what did you say to your mom at the beginning of your conversation?” After thinking about it a bit, Raiyan realized what Tom meant and said, “Are you asking about As-Salaamu-’Alaikum?” Tom said yes and asked, “What is that phrase? What does it mean? Why do you say it?”
Hmmm… Salamun ‘Alaikum? In the Qur’an?
Hey Kids, do you know where the words “Salamun ‘Alaikum” appear in the Holy Qur’an? Find out and send us the name of the surah and the number of the verse that contains these words.
Helpful Hint: The three numbers you may be interested in could be 476. Arrange them in the following way and check the Qur’an to see whether you came up with the right answer: Number of the Surah:Numbers of the Verse In the Surah, e.g. 2:10 would be Surah Al-Baqrah (2nd surah), verse 10.
Raiyan was speechless. He thought to himself, “I honestly don’t have a clue!” but he did not have the heart to say that to Tom. He did not want to admit to his buddy that he did not know the meaning of the greeting he used every single day. He thought to himself, “Oh! Why does this happen to me? Mom, where are you?” As he was wondering how to reply to Tom’s question, a blue sedan stopped in front of the building and Raiyan saw his chance. He quickly got up to leave and promised Tom that he would call him later. “Whew! Al-Hamdulillah! (I think Raiyan knows what this means. Do you?) Saved at last!” thought Raiyan and jumped into the car. “As-Salaamu-’Alaikum Mom, am I glad to see you!” said Raiyan. He told his mother about the question Tom had asked him. His mother chuckled softly as she heard Raiyan’s story and then asked, “Tell me Raiyan, what do you think it means? Take a guess.” In an effort to come up with an answer, Raiyan meekly said “Hello…?” and his voice trailed off. His mother smiled and said, “In a way you are correct because it is an expression of greeting. But unlike ‘Hello’, which has no real meaning, Muslims have been taught to greet each other with the words ‘As-Salaamu-’Alaikum’ which means ‘Peace be upon you all’”. Raiyan listened and then asked, “Mom, Ms. Fatimah, my Islamic Studies teacher, usually adds a little more to ‘Wa-’Alaikum As-Salaam’. What’s the phrase that she adds and why?” His mother replied that Muslims can say some extra greetings to wish better for their Muslim brothers and sisters and to get extra blessings for themselves. She told him that the words “Wa Rehmatullah” mean “And the Mercy of Allah” and the words “Wa Barakatuhu” mean “And His Blessings”.
“Mom, where are we going?” Raiyan asked, as he noticed they had passed the street that led to their house. “Eisha is at the mall, son...” is all that Raiyan heard because he was already lost in thought, thinking about what his mother had just told him. “As-Salaamu-’Alaikum Wa Rehmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu (Peace and the Mercy of Allah and His Blessings be upon you all). Peace, Mercy, Blessings! Wow! Hmmm…” thought Raiyan. And then as his eyes narrowed, a mischievous grin spread across his face and he said “You know Mom, if I knew I was wishing so much good by saying salaam I would not say it to that unpleasant kid at Sunday school.” “Raiyan, the purpose of the Salaam is to ask for Allah’s peace and blessings for each other. Even if that kid is not very nicely behaved, you should still try to be good to him. Maybe one day he’ll start behaving better—exchanging the Salaam increases love and friendship among Muslims,” explained his mother. Raiyan did not look too convinced, so his mother decided to share a story with him. “Raiyan, once I and your friend Ali’s mom had a misunderstanding, and of course this was a long time ago, and because of that, we stopped talking to each other”. “But Mom, I thought Ali’s mom is one of your really good friends!” said Raiyan. “Yes dear,” sighed his mother, “we didn’t want our friendship to end but neither of us wanted to accept the blame. Even though I did not talk to her, I would still dutifully greet her with the Salaam every time I met her, and she would always reply back, thinking that I was still on speaking terms with her, even though I was just doing it as a matter of duty. To make a long story short, she started talking to me and after a while we patched things up. If I had not obeyed Allah by giving the Salaam to her, we might never have talked to each other again. It taught me the lesson that obeying Allah, even in small matters, can put things right.”
Their ride ended with his mother’s story. As Raiyan went into the mall to call his sister, he was still thinking about this story that his mother had just told him. “As-Salaamu-’Alaikum Raiyan,” said Eisha as she walked towards him after parting with her friends. “Raiyan! Let’s hurry up,” she said, “We should not keep Mom waiting.” Just as they were about to go out the glass door, a familiar voice cried “Salaam Eisha!” and to Raiyan’s surprise it was one of Eisha’s non-Muslim classmates, Pooja. Eisha greeted her back and after a couple of minutes the two girls parted and Raiyan and Eisha were in the parking lot walking towards their car. “‘Salaam Eisha?’ Since when?” Raiyan asked, a little confused. “Well, she asked about it when she saw me saying it to Zainab at the school,” replied Eisha. Then, with a shrug, she added, “After a few days, what do you know, she starts greeting us with the short form. I think she liked the idea of starting the conversation with the message of peace.” “Ha! Would you believe that!” said Raiyan as he shook his head in amazement. When their mother heard about this, she quizzed them, “Do the two of you know how to reply if a non-Muslim greets us with the Salaam?” They both shook their heads. “Well,” their mother said, “The proper way to return the Salaam to someone who isn’t a Muslim is to say ‘Wa-‘Alaikum’ (And upon you), that is, minus the word ‘as-Salaam’”. Raiyan then started telling his sister about the question Tom had asked him earlier in the library, and how very embarrassed he had been at not knowing the answer. “Well, now that Mom has explained to you what it means, you should give him a call and describe it to him from start to finish, in detail. I am sure he’ll be impressed!” concluded Eisha as she tenderly put her arm around her younger brother, and they all got off at the front door of their house.