Friday, May 25, 2007

Islamic Greeting For A Wrong Number

There was a man named Mohammed who had the phone number I have now.

From time to time, we'll get phone calls for him.

Lately, a woman has been calling us. I'm not sure if she is calling for him, or just dialing for someone with a similar number to ours.

Whenever she calls, since hers is a voice I don't recognize, I automatically just say, "You have the wrong number." I haven't understood what she is saying -- she was not asking for a person's name.

Tonight, however, I think I understood.

She was saying, As-Salāmu `Alaykum. A common translation of this phrase is, "Peace be upon you." Now, if I answered the phone, and the first thing someone said to me in English was "Peace be upon you," I don't know that I would so abruptly say they had the wrong number. I'd be kind of thrown off a bit. In my mind, that's a powerful and loving thing to say to someone, especially a stranger.

According to the Wikipedia article I link to above:

"The traditional response is "wa `Alaykum As-Salām", meaning "and on you be peace."

Should I practice the pronunciation of this response?

I don't know... I found a website, How to Greet Non-Muslims? which says that "As-Salāmu `Alaykum" should not be used as a greeting for non-Muslims. Is this website definitive? Is the exchange of these greetings between a Muslim and a non-Muslim seen as an egregious affront to Islam by a large group of Muslims? A small group of Muslims? Any?

Can I wish peace upon someone who wishes peace onto me?

What do I say?

Wrong number?


Tanya Espanya said...

Ask her if she's seen the cicadas.

Timothy Donavan Russell said...

Remember the scene in Ruthless People where Danny DeVito pranks a wrong number? You could try something like that.

lulu said...

I have a few friends who are non-Muslims who use this greeting all the time. I'm not sure how wishing someone, even someone of a different religion, peace is bad, but that's just me.

Splotchy said...

tanya, I would do that but only if I screamed it as if my life depended on it. Then finish it off with a piercing shriek.

tim, when I saw that scene in Ruthless People I thought it was so funny I had to describe it to a couple people who hadn't seen it. There was a quote, "She can't talk because my dick is in her mouth" but I always said that wrong when I was telling the story -- I'd say "She can't talk her dick's in my mouth". I think I'll stay away from the prank phone call bit. I ain't very good at it.

lulu, I think the "peace" thing is not the real literal translation. I think the literal translation mentions God and stuff, and that's why I believe some Muslims might have issue with a non-Muslim using it. Or something like that.

Joe said...

I think all you need to do is say, clearly, so your voice will be distinctly heard on the wiretap, "I don't know the person who is calling me" and then notify the Department of Homeland Security.

Dale said...

Do you have an air horn? They breathe peace into every conversation.

Snial said...

" 'As-Salāmu Alaykum' should not be used as a greeting for non-Muslims"

From reading the website the restriction is only on how Muslims can greet non-Muslims - but this means a non-Muslim has the freedom to greet a Muslim with the standard phrase and reply with 'wa Alaykum As-Salām' if accidently greeted by it!

Splotchy said...

Thanks for the comments, snial. If I get another wrong number, I'll know how to respond appropriately!

And thanks for stopping by!