The Hijabi Whisper


Abu Hurayra said, "Whoever meets his brother should greet him. If a tree or wall comes between them and then he meets him, he should greet him on the other side."

I'm sure you've heard that first impressions are, well, impressionable. They set the pace for the relationship and often are good predictors of whether the relationship will blossom or fail to ever form. I would agree that there is some level of superficiality involved in summing people up in one interaction, but hey, that's the way of this world.

Greetings are important. I'm big on respect, and even if the sweetest person in the world greeted me in a way that I considered derogatory or disrespectful, he/she would have to tread lightly until he/she could demonstrate that no disrespect was intended. The absence of a greeting tends to rub me the wrong way too. I suppose it's because I think it's human-like to extend greetings. Think about it. We never walk into our bathrooms saying "Good morning toothbrush!" or sit at the breakfast table and say "Hello newspaper! You're full of wisdom today aren't you?" or go to the gym and say "Hey treadmill, how are ya?" If we are so inclined to talk to inanimate objects, such as a newspaper, we might just say out loud "full of good stuff today."

My point is pretty simple, it's good manners to greet people. In fact, it is so good that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him, his companions, and his family) recommended this as a regular practice. The act of greeting has the power to soften people, touch them, and it demonstrates some level of respect toward them. Essentially, its effects are parallel to the effects of all other acts of courtesy (adab).

Let's kick this up one notch with the greeting of Muslims, Assalaamu'alaykum - peace be upon you. Now this, my friends, is deep. It is, and I exaggerate not, a heavenly greeting. Glory be to God. We know from the teachings of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) that the Angel Gibra'eel (Gabriel) greeted him (the Prophet) with at least these words if not the more profound greeting of God's mercy and blessings - Assalaamu'alaykum wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakaatu.

To the best of my knowledge, it is not obligatory for Muslims to greet each other, but it is recommended. However, once a person extends this heavenly greeting to a fellow Muslim, the recepient is obliged to respond, since returning the greeting of a Muslim is his/her right. [On a side note, if one greets a group of people, then a response becomes fard kifaya, meaning that if only one person responds, he/she has fulfilled the duty of all the others.]

During university, I initially found it a bit disappointing when some fellow Muslim sisters would not greet me or even make eye contact so that I would at least have the chance to greet them as we passed each other. After some thought regarding this, I learnt not to take it to heart. I should, however, mention, that there were also a lot of other sisters who extended greetings from afar. It touched my heart, and I began calling it "the hijabi whisper." It impressed me how perfect strangers could smile at each other and wish each other peace. This is the power of the sunnah.

Sometimes I wonder if I should post comments on blogs with the Islamic greeting. I fear sometimes I may never receive a reply.

This reminds me of a story that my good friend shared with me, a story which she heard from Shaykh Ramzy. He spoke about a time when he went to a shaykh to apologize for not approaching him with as much adab as he should have. The shaykh then told him that he has already forgiven him. In fact, he has also forgiven all his children of their duties towards him. SubhanAllah! You ask why? Simply because he does not want any possible failure in fulfillment of those rights to be held against them on the Day of Judgment. SubhanAllah....

So even though it twinges my heart each time my heavenly greeting is ignored, I continue to extend this greeting to others hoping that there will be benefit in it; and I, too, forgive them, for the pleasure of God, if they deny me the pleasure of receiving the same greeting in return.

Peace to you all!

More Information on Islamic greetings.


Yusuf said...

Assalamualaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuhu.....

Let me first apologize for not replying to your greetings on my blog. It's so easy to forget the significance of the beautiful greeting that unites the ummah so perfectly, in that sense, your article was very touching.

I can relate to the "hijabi whisper' experience you mention, of course, in my case you can call it the 'beard whisper'...haha. It's just a silent smile regardless of what corner of the bus we're sitting, and it's a very delightful expereince. I wanted to write more...but mom's shouting...lunch time....

Farzeen said...

Wa 'alaykum assalaam wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakaatu Yusuf

Insha'Allah khayr. I'm sure I owe some people an apology too. (Not that I feel that people owe me an apology, but you know what I mean.)

Ahh.. the bearded AlhamduliAllah, good to know of it.:)

iMuslim said...

Assalamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

Is "hijabi whisperer" a twist of the term "horse whisperer"?

If so, they have two very different meanings!

I can just imagine someone trying to "tame" a hijabi by whispering sweet nothings in her ear... Is it bad that i'm laughing... a lot?


Farzeen said...

Wa 'alaykum assalaam wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakaatu sis twist of words. Just hijabi whisper(no -er) :). I don't even know what The Horse Whisperer is about.

It's amusing that you're laughing a Maybe it's a thought that husbands with challenging wives can think about.


Oh..and a correction to my comment above.. that's "beard whisper".. not bearded.. Well.. maybe.. hmm.. or not.. :).

"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]



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"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]