Greeting non-Muslims or a group of Muslims and non-Muslims

Q: What is the ruling on greeting a Kafir (disbeliever)? In other words, if a Muslim says to a non-Muslim: "As-Salamu `Alaykum (Peace be upon you)", is this permissible or not? What is the ruling on someone who enters upon a group of Muslim and non-Muslim people; what should a person say when greeting them? What is the ruling on returning the greeting to a non-Muslim? In other words: what if a Kafir says: As-Salamu `Alaykum? How should we respond?

A: It is impermissible for a Muslim to greet non-Muslims first. If a Muslim enters upon a group of people consisting of Muslims and non-Muslims, it is permissible to offer the greeting with the intention of addressing the Muslims amongst them. As for returning the greeting of the People of the Book, it should be by saying "Wa `Alaykum (same to you)" only.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.