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How Do You Respond to the Greetings of Peace (Salams) in a Text Message?

   Shaykh Sulaymān al-Ruḥaylī

Is it obligatory to text back a response to "al-salāmu ʿalaykum"? What if someone does not respond in a chat? How do we interpret this (lack) of response and what are the manners of responding to it. 

bismallah

  

  If you conveyed the greetings of peace to your brother in a message and he did not respond in writing, do not ridicule him or become angry with him."
Dr. Sulaymān al-Ruḥaylī (حفظه الله)

Shaykh Sulaymān al-Ruḥaylī (حفظه الله) said: “If you conveyed the greetings of peace [i.e. the salams] to your brother in a message and he did not respond in writing, do not ridicule him or become angry with him, since a written response is not compulsory. Even though a written response is better, responding to the greetings of peace—which is compulsory—is achieved by responding verbally. May Allāh grant us love for one another for His sake.”

Translator's Note:

These benefits may be derived from the Shaykh's speech (حفظه الله) :

  1. Utilising the salutation to initiate a written conversation is permissible.
  2. Utilising the salutation to initiate a written conversation is recommended.
  3. Whether you respond verbally or in writing, you must respond to the written salutation. You have the option of typing a response or literally saying: "wa ʿalaykum al-Salām," which the sender will not hear; nevertheless, you must respond to the written salutation. Consequently, if you choose not to respond in writing, you must vocalise your response, even though the send will not hear it.
  4. You are sinful if you fail to respond to the written salutation.
  5. A written response is always better than a verbal response.
  6. The written word is like that of speech since:
    [A] In the same way the salutation can be used to initiate a verbal conversation, it can also be used to initiate a written conversation.
    [B] In the same way initiating a verbal conversation with the salutation is recommended, initiating a written conversation with it is also recommended.
    [C] In the same way responding to the verbal salutation is mandatory, responding to the written salutation is also mandatory.

    [D] In the same way failing to respond to the verbal salutation is a sin, failing to respond to the written salutation is also a sin.
  7. If your brother failed to respond to your written salutation, do not ridicule him or become upset with him as he may have responded verbally, which you were unable to hear.
  8. Avoid conjecture! Always think highly of your fellow brother.
  9. Extending the salutation generates love between ourselves.

Source: Shaykh Sulaymān al-Ruḥaylī’s Twitter Account 
Translated by: Musa Shaleem Mohammed

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