Returning a Greeting to a Misbeliever

If you’re a Muslim socializing, studying, or working with nonbelievers, you are likely to get confused when it comes to communicating with them. To be kind, courteous, and respectful, some nonbelievers will say the Salaam to you, and to avoid appearing rude or disrespectful, you must respond in a way that Allah has appointed. Muslims must remember that Islam emphasizes the importance of being kind to others irrespective of their cultural and religious beliefs. Muslims are also encouraged to learn about others’ cultures and beliefs to promote harmony, better understanding, and communication. Allah tabarak wa ta’ala has directed Muslims to respond with Walekum in response to greetings from nonbelievers. The details are listed below:

Hisnul Muslim

Returning a greeting to a misbeliever

Good Etiquette Duas


Wa 'alaykum.

If one of the Christians and Jews (People of the Scripture) greets you saying As-Salaamu 'alaykum, then say (to him): And upon you.

[Hisnul 227] [Al-Bukhari, Muslim 4/1705.]

Etiquettes of Returning a Greeting to a Misbeliever

Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported, “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: When the Jews greet you, they say As-sam ‘alaykum (may death be upon you), so respond by saying ‘alayk (and also upon you)’’ - (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 5902; Muslim, 2461). Therefore, you can respond to the nonbeliever’s greeting in a way that is acceptable according to the Shariah.

Benefits of Returning a Greeting to a Misbeliever

We live in an increasingly diverse world. Muslims and nonmuslims coexist in workplaces, schools, and communities. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain an atmosphere of kindness and respect. Islam teaches us to live with peace and learn about the beliefs and cultures of others, as respect and kindness go both ways. If you’re in a situation where a nonbeliever learns about the Islamic way of greeting you out of respect, it is important to respond to their greeting in a similar manner. Avoiding their greeting can make you appear rude and disrespectful, which is in no way the character of a believer.


If a non-Muslim wishes you, Eid Mubarak, you can respond to it by saying ‘’thank you’’ or by saying ‘’Khair Mubarak’’ to reciprocate the goodwill of the person.
According to the opinion of Imam Nawawi, responding to Salam is obligatory and encouraged. While not responding may not be haram, it's considered improper conduct.