Giving Salaam to One Person (As-Salaamu Alayk)
By Shaykh AL-Uthaymeen (may Allah rest him in Jannah)
Shaykh Al-Uthaymeen was asked about the description of Salaam.
He (may Allah have mercy upon him) answered by saying,” Say As-salaamu Alayk if you are greeting one person and As-Salaamu- Alaykum if you are greeting a group of people. The proof for this is found in the hadeeth about the man who came to the masjid and didn’t pray correctly. After finishing he went to Allah’s messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and said, “As-Salaamu Alayk ya Rasulallah”- Peace be on to you oh Messenger of Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) returned the greetings. Then he(peace and blessings be upon him)said,” Redo your prayer; as you didn’t pray correctly.”
Now if you are giving the greetings to two people then say,” As-salaamu Alaykum. It is permissible to greet two people using the plural tense. And if you are greeting your mother how would you greet her? Say As-salaamu Alaykee ya ummi-peace be on you mommy. Why? Because whenever you talk to a female the Kaf (كِ ) takes a kasra.
If you entered in a room and greeted your aunts and there were four or five of them, how would you greet them? You would say,” As-salaamu Alaykunna wa Rahmahtullahi wa barakatahu.” The Kaf (ك ) follows suit to the person being addressed .i.e (ك, كم, كن )
How does a Muslim reply to someone who says to him “ As-salaamu Alaykum wa Rahmahtullahi wa barakatahu, or Salaamu Alayk. The person responds by saying,” As-salaamu Alayk wa Rahmahtullahi wa barakatahu.” as well. There is no harm in doing this. It is important to say As-Salaamu Alayk. Is it wrong to say,” Alaykumus Salaam wa rahmahtullahi wa barakatahu? Does a person say it with the wa ( و ) or without it? To say it either way is fine, but it is better to say “Wa alaykum As-salaam.”
What do we say about the person who replies to our greeting with greetings like; “Welcome, May Allah preserve you come in, Today is a happy day, This is one of the best days, or May Allah grant you success, increase your knowledge, piety and guidance etc. Are these legitimate replies to the greeting-As-salaamu alaykum? Even though he extended a reply; I say (Shaykh Uthaymeen) if a person filled up the earth with every reply possible it could never take the place of “Alaykus salaam”. And while replying without this word he is a sinner.
To reply with Salaam or one better is an obligation for the Muslim.
This is taken from Allah’s verse,
وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُمْ بِتَحِيَّةٍ فَحَيُّوا بِأَحْسَنَ مِنْهَا أَوْ رُدُّوهَا
“When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally.” [ an-Nisa’I 86 ]
Taken from Darus wa Fatawa Al-Haram Al- Madanee by Uthaymeen (1/81)