Greeting the People of the Book

Q 3: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Spread Salam (Islamic greeting of peace) (Part No. 24; Page No. 139) among those whom you know and those whom you do not." (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) He (peace be upon him) also said: "Do not initiate greetings with the Jews and the Christians; and if you meet any of them on a road, force them to its narrowest (alley)." (Related by Muslim) In yet another Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "If the People of the Book greet you, you should say, "The same to you." (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) How can we reconcile these Hadith? Do the Mushriks (those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) fall under this category? The People of the Book are now intermixing with Muslims everywhere. Some so-called Muslims unfortunately copy the People of the Book and the Mushriks in the way they dress, walk, and talk. We take refuge with Allah (Exalted be He) from this. How authentic are the Hadith mentioned above? May Allah benefit us and you!

A: The general permissibility of encouraging the spread of Salam as indicated in the first Hadith has been confined by the other Hadith which forbids initiating greetings with the People of the Book. Accordingly, it is prohibited to spread Salam among the Jews, the Christians, or Kafirs (disbelievers).May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.