As-Salāmu `Alaykum (السلام عليكم) is an Arabic spoken greeting used by Muslims and to a lesser extent by Arab Christians and Jews. The term salam in Arabic means "peace". The greeting may also be transliterated as Asalam 'Alaykum which means "peace be upon you". The traditional response is Wa `Alaykum as-Salaam,(و عليكم السلام) meaning "and upon you be peace". This type of greeting is common in the Middle East, Africa, The Balkans and South Asia. Its Hebrew counterpart greeting is Shalom aleichem and its Maltese is Sliem ghalikom.


  • In Arabia the greeting is associated with two or three light cheek to cheek kisses (especially between the same gender).[1]
  • In Pakistan, the greeting is often accompanied with an obeisance; the slight bowing of the head. In Bangladesh, some parts of Pakistan, India and South Asia, the greeting is accompanied by raising the right hand to the forehead.
  • In Indonesia, the greeting is usually accompanied with a kind of two-handed "handshake", whereby the shaker's palms remain closed, and the fingers alone open to admit the other's proffered hand- which briefly touches the proffered's fingers or fingertips alone. In this way more adherent males and females may greet though touching- but remain true to the Islamic or cultural teachings forbidding physical contact between the genders. Occasionally, the right-hand will touch the left-breast or heart area after this "salem".
  • In Javanese culture, a remnant of feudalism is retained, where an elder's proffered right hand is taken and pressed briefly against the forehead. Some may instead briefly kiss the hand or the main ring. This is very common for young children to greet older relatives (of their parents' age, though on occasion if very polite children, younger). As per Turkey, "slm" is common for teen "SMS" or internet speak.

Some more pious Muslims may say "Selam" and then perform two very brief cheek kisses, or cheek brushes- but only among the same gender.

  • In Turkey, Many Turks use this statement and hugs each other, more secular and non-religious people, say "Selam" as an equivalent to "Hello" or "Hi". This use has extended onto the internet with the abbreviated "slm" being commonly used amongst Turks on social networking websites.
  • In Amharic (Ethiopian), the term "Selam" is used in place of "Tadias" which is the equivalent of "What's up". The word "Selam" has the same meaning in Amharic as in Arabic which is "peace".


The term As-Salāmu `Aleykum varies slightly in pronunciation from country to country, but always remains universally intelligible. The classical pronunciation of the greeting in Fus'ha (Classical) Arabic is [ʔæsːæˈlæːmʊ ʕæˈlæɪkʊm] Many people today omit the initial 'As' and pronounce the word as "Salaamu `Alaykum". In many parts of the world, indeed in most of the non-Arabic speaking countries the greeting is pronounced [asalaːmʊ aleɪkʊm] or in a similar variation. This is especially common in Africa, the South Asia, South East Asia and in Eastern Europe. Amongst various Arabic speaking countries there is also a varied pronunciation. In Morocco the greeting is usually pronounced [səleːmu leikum]


السلام عليكم
Peace be upon you

The term in Arabic uses the second person plural, even when used to address one person, similar to the use of vous in French. However the term may also be used addressing a person in the singular form both masculine and feminine, the dual form, or the feminine plural. This is how they are said:

As-Salāmu `Alayk(a) —Peace be upon you (m. sing.)

As-Salāmu `Alayk(i) —Peace be upon you (f. sing)

As-Salāmu `Alayk(uma) —Peace be upon you (to two people of any gender)

As-Salāmu `Alayk(unna) —Peace be upon you (f. plural - to three or more females only)

As-Salāmu `Alayk(um)—Peace be upon you (To a group of three or more people, where at least one is a male - or to a member of state such as a prime minister, president, king, or queen)

The correct classical Arabic response depends on who is addressing you. The same rules apply as above; -ka, -ki, -kuma, -kunna, -kum; </br> wa alayk(...) as-salām

(Note: According to classical Arabic pronunciation, the last vowel in each word is not pronounced unless it is followed by another word.)

Similarly, the word As-Salaam (السلام) may be replaced by Salaamun (سلامٌ). This form of the word is used in a passage of the Qur'an describing the greeting of the Angels towards the inhabitants of Paradise:

And angels shall enter unto them from every gate (saying) Salaamun ‘Aleykum (peace be upon you) for you persevered in patience! Excellent indeed is the final home!’— (Ar-Ra'ad 13:23-24)

The form Salaamun `Aleykum is especially used in Turkey, where it is spelled Selamün Aleyküm.

Islamic rulings related to the use of the greeting

It is also preferred to use the greeting when arriving and also when leaving. It was reported that Abu Hurayrah said “When one of you joins a gathering, let him say salaam. When he wants to get up and leave, let him say salaam. The former is not more important than the latter.” (Saheeh - at-Tirmidhi)

  • According to hadith the Islamic prophet Muhammad was asked who should "begin" the salam greeting, and he said:
"The one who is riding should greet the one who is walking, and the one who is walking should greet the one who is sitting, and the smaller group should greet the larger group." (Saheeh - Al-Bukhaari, 6234; Muslim, 2160)[2]
  • It is also stated that one should give the Salam greeting upon entering a house. This is based upon the verse of the Qur'an:
"But when you enter the houses, greet one another with a greeting from Allah (i.e. say: Assalaamu ‘Aleykum — peace be on you), blessed and good." (Al-Noor 24:61)
  • The trend of shortening the greeting to acronyms, such as A.S.,As'kum(in Malaysia) or AsA, is disliked; however, it is becoming common amongst Internet users in chat rooms and by people using SMS. As the full word is not written, it is disliked; however, the meaning is usually understood by the recipient. Other variations of this are adding 'wr wb' at the end as well. This trend is similar to writing (S) or 'SAWS' in place of 'Sallallaahu `Aleyhi wa Sallam'.


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