What is the ruling of nodding your head when greeting someone ? Answer: ﺑﺴﻢ اﷲ اﻟﺮﺣﻤﻦ اﻟﺮﺣﯿﻢ In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful It is not sufficient to greet someone or reply to their greeting by way of gesture, e.g. waving one’s hand or nodding, when one is capable of speaking. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “He is not of us who resembles other than us. Do not resemble the Jews and Christians, for verily the greeting of the Jews is by way of gesturing with the fingers, and the greeting of the Christians is by way of gesturing with the palms.” (Tirmizi: 2695) In another narration the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Do not greet how the Jews greet, for verily their way of greeting is with the palms and heads.” (Fathul Baari: v. 11, p. 14, Hadith is narrated by Nasai from Jabir [r.a.] with a good chain) We can deduce from the aforementioned narrations that the Jews and Christians would suffice with gestures when greeting/replying to greetings without uttering salam, thus one should abstain from this practice. However, it is permissible to greet or reply to a greeting with a gesture (i.e. with the hand or head) on the condition that you combine the gesture with a verbal salam; to corroborate this it is mentioned that the Prophet (s.a.w.) passed through the Masjid one day and a group of women were sitting, so he greeted them by waving his hand (Tirmizi: 2697). The interpretation of this Hadith is that the Prophet (s.a.w.) combined the gesture with a verbal salam. The evidence of him saying salaam in addition to the gesture is found in another Hadith narrated by Abu Dawud: “He (s.a.w.) said salaam to us.” In conclusion, the Sunnah method of greeting another Muslim is by saying salam to the extent that he hears you; similiar is the case when responding to his greeting. If someone desires to gesture with their hand, then he may do so on the condition that he couples it with a verbal salaam just like it has been established from the Hadith. As for a slight nod which does not resemble bowing, it would be permissible, however one should also accompany it with a verbal greeting so it does not fall under the category of resembling non-Muslims. Nevertheless, greeting by means of nodding is not established from the Hadith, hence if one wants to greet with a gesture, it would be better to gesture with the hand, instead of nodding, coupled with a verbal salaam.
(Fathul Salam fi Ahkam Al-Salam: p. 87-88 [Maktaba Al-Obekan]; Tuhfatul Ahwazi: v. 7, p. 473 [Darul Fikr]; Aadabul Mu’aasharat: p. 48 [IDARA ISHA’AT E DINIYAT (P) LTD.]; Tuhfatul Almai: v. 6, p. 475-476 [Maktaba Hijaz Deoband])
Only Allah knows best
Written by Maulana Mohammad Ahsan Osmani Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah Darul Ifta Birmingham