What does this mean?
May Peace Be Upon You.
But this is not the ‘peace’ of the “hippies”. Nor is this Peace the absence of war, conflict, or opposition. That is to say, it is not only these things. This Peace is As-Salaam: freedom from defect, harm, or deficiency. This Peace is freedom from ignorance, from filth, from foul intention, from immorality. As-Salaam, the Peace is the absence of all these things due to submission (‘Islaam) to ALLAAH, who is in fact AS-SALAAM.
ALLAAH Is THE PEACE. HE Is AS-SALAAM; this is 1 of HIS 99 Names. HE Is THE ONE free from all defects. HE Is free from all deficiency. ALLAAH, as such, Is the source of peace, to those of HIS Slaves who are dutiful through Al-‘Islaam.
Therefore, saying “As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum” is not a greeting. It is not the Arabic ‘hello’. It is an invocation (du’aa) to ALLAAH on behalf of the person being addressed. It is the best wish of those who are well-wishers.
When the Muslim tells their Brother or Sister “As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum” they are asking ALLAAH, The LORD of All Realms, to Protect, Bless, and Guide them, and to Bestow HIS Mercy and Forgiveness upon them.
When the Muslim tells their Sister or Brother “As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum”, they extend their respect towards them, “’Alaykum” is the plural form of “to you”, similar to the French “vous” & the Spanish “usted”. However, every Muslim refers to every other Muslim this way all the time, the dearly respected elder to the learned youth, the loving son to the beloved mother, and so on…
Interestingly, As-Salaam is also one of the titles of Heaven, known more commonly as Janna. For in Janna, there will be no lewd talk; our bodies will be perfected without mucus or waste, free from all the flaws we now face. GOD Willing (‘Inshaa’ALLAAH), when we arrive there we will be whole.
What then shall the addressee say in response to this marvelous salutation?
“Wa ‘Alaykum As-Salaam”
(And To You Be Peace)