‘I am not being arrogant’

Q: Assalamu alikum our dear respected imam.
Imam, are we Muslim women required to reply to the greetings or smiles of stranger men at work, in school (class mates), and in public?
My opinion and feelings (that are worth nothing when commands of Allah are mentioned): when some of my class mates smile, or say hi to me, most of the time I feel very uncomfortable, because it seems like they are trying to be super nice for some reason… in general, I find it unnecessary for me to reply to them, and other times I find not very modest of me to reply to them since I am trying to follow the sunnah and modesty of the prophets wives sallah Allahu alaihee wassalam. Plus, I cant predict the evil intentions that could exsist in some men’s minds. Imam, pardon me, I am not being arrogant, I said all that because I dont want every man to start saying hi to me, then it becomes how are you, then indulge into conversations with stranger men, my iman is weak, I dont want to risk it. I hope I am not being unnecessarily exterme.
In advance, jazakum Allahu kullu khairen a’anna.

Time: Monday June 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm

A: وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

We are living in strange times. Many times, a thing to do may seem religious, however, the consequence of it may prove otherwise. As Muslims we must do good and our result must also prove good when an act is fulfilled.

Under general conditions, a woman is not obligated to respond to the salam of a strange male, more so in the settings you have described. If the man is old/woman is old, beyond the age of normal desire and to responding would not add to greater corruption, in such a situation there would no problem in responding.

In all conditions you should respond in your heart, for salam also functions as a type of prayer. You should not deprive yourself from receiving or giving a dua. This can be done silently.

Allah certainly Knows Best.

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One response to “‘I am not being arrogant’

  1. worried mother

    As-salaam-alaikum sister. I think you can determine the intention of the salutation of “hi’. If you feel it to be a introduction to have a conversation or flirt then avoid it with no eye contact. If someone says, “As-salaam-alaikum” to me, I always assume the intention to be exactly that, ‘peace be upon me”. Sometimes, it is just something in a crowd of non-muslims, that is nice to be able to have our own greeting. Do what is comfortable for you but, it sounds like you may want to start wearing ‘nikab’
    (full face covering) so as not to have any contact with men in a non-muslim society. I have had strangers greet me in this way that are not muslims, in fact, and I always respond because it is something that shows they respect me to wish peace upon me and not just say hi, and I think it to be quite kind. I always had the impression that you must always reply to salaams, I now know you can just say it silently to yourself, if you prefer. Jazakullah khair.