Islamic insights for uplifting spirits any season

Jazib Mehmood, Student Jamia Ahmadiyya International Ghana
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Image: Library

Seasonal affective disorder, or winter blues, as it is more commonly called, is when the change of weather and lack of sunlight can make you more depressed or miserable. It affects millions of people every year and can prove to be a serious problem for some.

Last November, the BBC published an interesting article about a city in Sweden, Luleå, which is so far north that people living there see very little sunlight during the winter months. The city is one of the biggest in northern Sweden, but the people living there have a reputation for being quite reserved.

There are only three hours of sunlight during the winter, making face-to-face conversations in the city less common. So, to help raise the spirits of people, especially those who might feel lonely, the city began a campaign to help lift the mood of residents. The BBC article quotes the city’s social media post, which stated:

“Saying hello makes people comfortable and feel safe, it’s something we can all do to create a more pleasant Lulea. Your hello can make a difference.” (“Swedish city asks residents to say ‘hello’ to each other”,

As a Muslim, this was quite interesting to read. This is because my religion tells me that I absolutely must greet people, regardless of whether I know them or not. In fact, the Islamic method of greeting is also a very virtuous one. A Muslim is supposed to greet by saying “Assalamo Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu”, which means: “May the peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you.”

Teaching of the Holy Quran

To this end, Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Quran:

وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُمْ بِتَحِيَّةٍ فَحَيُّوا بِأَحْسَنَ مِنْهَا ‌أَوْ ‌رُدُّوهَا

“And when you are greeted with a prayer, greet ye with a better prayer or [at least] return it.” (Surah An-Nisa’, Ch.4: V.87)

Similarly, greeting before entering other people’s homes has also been greatly emphasised. The Holy Quran commands the believers:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتًا غَيْرَ بُيُوتِكُمْ حَتَّى تَسْتَأْنِسُوا وَتُسَلِّمُوا عَلَى أَهْلِهَا ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

“O ye who believe! enter not houses other than your own until you have asked leave and saluted the inmates thereof. That is better for you, that you may be heedful.” (Surah An-Nur, Ch. 24: V.28)

Similarly, the Holy Quran states:

فَإِذَا دَخَلْتُم بُيُوتًا فَسَلِّمُوا عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ تَحِيَّةً مِّنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ مُبَارَكَةً طَيِّبَةً

“But when you enter houses, salute your people — a greeting from your Lord, full of blessing and purity.” (Surah An-Nur, Ch. 24: V.62)

Practice of the Holy Prophetsa

Per these clear instructions of the Holy Quran, the Holy Prophetsa also presented us with his own beautiful example. He would greet passers-by, the old and the young, the Muslim and the non-Muslim. Before entering houses, he would greet the residents and would only enter once they had greeted him back and granted entry.

The Holy Prophetsa stated:

“It is not permissible for a Muslim to sever ties with his Muslim brother for more than three days. It should never happen that when friends meet each other, one turns his face to one side and the other to the opposite side. The best amongst them is the one who greets first.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab  al-adab, Bab al-hijrah, Hadith 6077)

Again, Islam, as taught by the Holy Prophetsa, commanded Muslims that:

“The young should greet the old, the passer-by should greet the sitting one, and the small group of persons should greet the large group of persons.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-dab, Bab at-taslim, Hadith 6231)

Once, a man asked the Prophet, “What sort of deeds or traits of Islam are good?” The Holy Prophetsa said, “To feed others and to greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitabul Adab, Bab as-salam li l-ma‘rafah wa ghayri ma‘rafah, Hadith 6236)

Similarly, he stated: “The better of the two is the one who starts greeting the other.” (Ibid., Hadith 6237)

This practice of greeting should not merely be a gesture; rather, it should be a heartfelt greeting. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa states:

“The Holy Prophetsa stated that the best way to create an environment of mutual love is to make it customary to greet others, and this means that when you greet with your lips, your heart should also be well-wishing the person [i.e., your greeting should be heartfelt and not mere convention.]” (Friday Sermon, 3 September 2004, Khutbat-e-Masroor, Vol. 2, p. 631)

Hallmark of an Ahmadi today

This Islamic teaching has also been emphasised in modern times. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, in his above-mentioned Friday Sermon from Switzerland, quoted a hadith that stated that the Holy Prophetsa would greet Muslims and non-Muslims as well.

Highlighting the significance of this practice of the Holy Prophetsa, he addressed the Jamaat and stated:

“The Holy Prophetsa greeted everyone in that gathering without exception. He never said, ‘I greet only the Muslims [in this gathering].’ Whereas the mullah of today says that you should greet so-and-so and not greet so-and-so. You all who are living here should also greet others in this society without hesitation. Then explain the meaning [of the Islamic greeting] to them. […]

“Thus, today it is obligatory on every Ahmadi to make this Islamic practice so prevalent that it becomes the hallmark of an Ahmadi.” (Friday Sermon, 3 September 2004, Khutbat-e-Masroor, Vol. 2, p. 639)

In conclusion, I find it deeply interesting that Islam, a religion that began in Arabia all those centuries ago, commanded Muslims to adopt a custom in a manner unseen or unheard of in other faiths. The fact that a city in Sweden has adopted this custom only goes to show how fortunate Muslims are to have teachings in their religion that could prove beneficial to them in ways that are – in some cases – only now beginning to become manifest.

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