How do we say hello?


Thank you to Paula Drewek

Allah -u- Abha.  God is Glorious! It is used only among Baha’is and it is not used with others around for fear that Baha’is are passing around some “mumbo-jumbo” with the word (which is very foreign to most Americans).  Accent on the 2nd syllable.


Thank you to Raman Singh

The traditional Sikh greeting is Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.
This translates to the Khalsa (the Pure Ones) belong to Waheguru (God – the wonderful God that brings us from darkness to light) and that victory belongs to Waheguru.

What this means is that if we make ourselves pure we will become one with God.  And because all of creation is under the order and command of God truth and victory always belong to God. It is imperative that we try to give up our ego and follow the order of the the Supreme. This will be our victory.

The other very commonly used and more casual Sikh greeting is Sat Sri Akal. This means that Truth (God) is forever.  It originated as a response to a battle cry Jo Bole So Nihal – those who answer are blessed – the answer is Sat Sri Akal. This call and response is often heard in Sikh Gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) even today. It is no longer a battle cry but more of an appreciation or a call to action.


Thank you to Rabbi Dorit Edut


The word “shalom” which is used in modern Hebrew and has ancient roots, has three meanings: “Hello”, “Goodbye” and “Peace”.  You really have to know from what context the person using this word is speaking.   The three-letter root of the word refers to several things: “peace”. “wholeness”, “completion”, or “safe”.  Its origin is in the Bible where one of the earliest times it is used as a greeting is in Genesis 29:6 when Jacob who has traveled to his mother’s family in Mesopotamia, inquires about the well-being of his uncle Laban from some sheepherders -“Hashalom lo – Is he well?”

Over time the traditional greeting became “Shalom Aleichem – Peace be upon you!”  and the response to that was to reverse the words” Aleichem Shalom – which basically means the same thing, though it stresses that the idea of peace be also upon the one who sent the original greeting, ie: Upon YOU may there be peace!” There is an Arabic equivalent of this that is still used today.

Speakers of modern Hebrew, however, use the less formal greeting of just “Shalom” which is often responded to with a doubling of this “Shalom,shalom!”. Also the modern equivalent of “How are you?” in Hebrew is “Mah sh’lom-cha?”  for a male, and “Mah sh’lomech?”  for a female – which literally means ” How is your peace/well-being?”

On the Sabbath, Jews greet each other with “Shabbat Shalom!” – “A Sabbath of Peace!”.  The idea of “Shalom” ie, Peace is central to the Jewish belief in the purpose of our lives here on earth – we are each to work to create peace in this world in every aspect of our lives and those of all other beings.  Our Rabbis felt this was so important, that one who did not respond in the same way to another’s greeting of peace, is considered a robber, that is, he/she has robbed the other of a greeting of peace. Greeting another with peace, according to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, was a way of creating a kind of unity between two people.

Thank you Chandru Acharya

The traditional Hindu greeting is Namaste.  “Namaste” is spoken with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest.

It means: I bow before the divinity in you.

When two people say Namaste to each other. Both greet each other by bowing to the divinity in each other.

The Islamic Greeting and its Etiquette

Thank you Victor Begg

Muslims all over the world use the Islamic greeting, “Assalamu alaikum”, which means peace be unto you, Shalom alaikhum in Hebrew and Shanti in Hindi.

Notice the interfaith peace greetings among all faiths. One of the names of God, the Almighty, is ‘Peace’. The essential meaning of the word ‘Islam’ is ‘peace that one achieves through practice of faith’.

The rule in Islam is that when we are offered a greeting, we return it with a better one or with its equal at least. God orders in the Qur’an:

“When a greeting is offered you, answer it with an even better greeting,
or (at least) with its like. God keeps count of all things.”

[Surah an-Nur; 4: 86]

The very wording helps generate a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Muslim communities are very diverse. Thus, when two Muslims meet, whatever ethnicity, sect, color they belong to or language they speak around the globe as total strangers, the universal greeting of peace makes them feel they have common grounds.

Muslims when offered a greeting, they sometimes reply with an addition: ‘Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatu Allah wa barakatuh.’ This means: ‘And to you be peace together with God’s mercy and blessings.’ Thus, the reply adds a prayer that the person who offered us a greeting should be blessed with God’s mercy, both in this life and in the life to come.

What is the history of the Islamic greeting, when did it start, and who was the one who chose it?

Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, “When God created Adam he told him to go and say Assalamu Alikum to a group of Angels and listen to their reply. It is your greeting and the greeting of your descendants. Adam went and said: Assalamu Alikum they said Assalamu Alikum Wa Rahmatulah.”