I have a question about the following hadith:
“The Muslim is not allowed to abandon a Muslim brother for more than three days. If three days pass and he meets him, he should greet him. If he (the other believer) returns his greeting, then they share the reward, but if he does not return it, he (alone) will incur the sin.”
My question is, when you see a Muslim whom you know very well, and you see him and you just walk past him and do not initiate the Salaam greeting, but you just walk past him and do not say anything to him, will this be considered "abandoning" this Muslim? The reason why I am asking is that I have read from one of your fatwas that initiating the Salaam greeting is only an action of the Sunnah but that replying to it is obligatory. I am confused, could you please answer this? May Allaah reward you for your time.
Here is a link to the fatwa which I referred to: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=showfatwa&Option=FatwaId&Id=129435
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
There is no contradiction between the fact that it is a Sunnah and not obligatory for a Muslim to initiate the Salaam and what was reported about the prohibition of abandoning him. To clarify this, a Muslim may not say the Salaam to his Muslim brother without abandoning him and without there being any cutting of relations between them or any dissension. So there is no correlation between the two at all.
It should be pointed out that a Muslim should not refrain from saying the Salaam to his Muslim brother if he meets him, as this makes him and the nation miss much goodness.
Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet said, “You will not enter Paradise unless you believe, and you will not believe unless you love each other. Shall I tell you about something, if you do it you will love each other? Spread the Salaam amongst yourselves.” [Muslim]
The hadeeth which you mentioned in the question was reported by Abu Daawood and An-Nasaa’i, and Shaykh Al-Albaani classified it as hasan (good) in Saheeh At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb.
Allah knows best.
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