Islamic Shari'a regulates in such a way how to repay the respect given by someone. That when someone receives respect from others he is ordered to repay that respect with a better or minimal respect with respect that is commensurate with the respect received.
This is as stated by Allah in Sura An-Nisa verse 86:
وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُمْ بتحية فحيوا بأحسن منها أو ردوها إن الله كان على كل شيء حسيبا
means: “And if you were honored then please reply to honor it with a better or retaliate with reverence worth it.”
Sheikh Nawawi Banten in the book of his commentary Marâh Labîd or also known as Tafsîr Al-Munir describes the above verse at length. According to this native Indonesian cleric, the verse teaches that if you are greeted by someone, then reply to the person who is greeting the greeting with a better greeting than him, or reply to the greeting with an equivalent greeting.
Technically Sheikh Nawawi details how to reply with better ones. If someone is greeted with the sentence assalâmu'alaikum it should be answered with the sentence wa’alaikumussalâm wa rahmatullah . Whereas if the greeting is greeting assalâmu'alaikum wa rahmatuulâh then it should be answered with a sentence wa’alaikumussalâm wa rahmatullâhi wa barakâtuh . However, if the giver of greetings utterly utters the sentence assalâmu'alaikum wa rahmatullâhi wa barakâtuh the answer is the same as the greeting, namely [wa'alaikumussalâmwarahmatullâhiwabarakâtuh. This kind of answer is the most stubborn answer in replying to someone's greeting, because that is the greeting that is read in the tasyahud recitation.
Furthermore Sheikh Nawawi explained that the law of answering greetings is mandatory. However, if the greeting is addressed to a group of people then the law to answer it is mandatory kifayah where if there are some people who answer then it is the obligation to answer for the other part. However, it would be better and foremost if everyone in the group answered the greetings addressed to them to show respect and raise that respect to the greeting giver.
Whereas not replying to greetings is an insult, and insult is an act that brings fading. While acts of harm are prohibited behavior. According to Sheikh Nawawi. Yes, when someone sincerely greets others but the greeting is unrequited then it might hurt him and give birth to prejudice towards the person being greeted. This is certainly strictly forbidden by Islam and therefore not replying to greetings is unlawful.
So what if the one who greetings is a non-Muslim, is it obligatory to reply to his greetings? And may you greet them?
Sheikh Nawawi in the same book quotes several hadiths and the opinions of the ulama on this matter.
A hadith quoted by him that the Messenger of Allah sallallaâ 'alaihi wa sallam said:
لا تبدأ اليهودي بالسلام وإذا بدأك فقل وعليك
Meaning: “Do not start the Jew with greetings and if he starts you then answer by saying” wa 'alaika . “
Abu Yusuf argued, “Do not greet each other and do not shake hands with them. If you enter in the midst of them, say assalâmu 'alâ man taba'al hudâ (welfare for those who follow the instructions). “
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While some scholars gave reliefs to allow overtaking greetings to non-Muslims if needed. Whereas if they begin to greet us first, most scholars argue that the greeting should be replied with the words wa 'alaika .
In a hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari Rasulullah sallallaâ' alaihi wa salam said:
ل سلم عليكم أهل الكتاب فقولوا وعليكم
Meaning: “If the scribes greet you then say wa 'alaikum .”
it is understood that it is permissible to answer the greetings delivered by a non-Muslim and suffice with the words wa 'alaika or wa' alaikum .
If translated in Indonesian can be described as follows:  Greetings from non-Muslims: Assalâmu'alaikum (may you be saved)
Answer: Wa 'alaikum (hopefully above you too)
The next question is, can you answer greetings to non-Muslims by including the sentence wa rahmatullâh ?
Imam Al-Hasan in this regard, is allowed to answer greetings to a non-Muslim with sentence wa 'alaikumussalâm but it is not permissible to add it to the sentence wa rahmatullâh . This is because God's grace is His forgiveness. Whereas not a Muslim may ask for forgiveness for a non-Muslim.
In the end Syekh Nawawi quoted an opinion stating that replying to greetings with a better reply applies if the person who greets greetings is a Muslim. Whereas if those who greet are non-Muslims, then replying is enough with the equivalent. Wallâhu a'lam .
 (Ustadz Yazid Muttaqin)
This Article was Published On: NU Online
Translated by Google Translate