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Salam Aleikum السلام عليكم

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by cooljazzplayer, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. cooljazzplayer New Member

    America - English
    Hi everyone,

    I understand that the arabic phrase "Salam aleikum" means "peace on you" in english. 2 questions:

    Is it just a greeting, or can it be used as a blessing?

    What is the actual written arabic? (Is it سلام على أنت ?)

    Thanks in advance!
    - - -
    Hola todos,

    Comprendo que el frase "Salam aleikum" significa "paz a ti" en español (o algo parecido). 2 preguntas:

    Es sólo un salutación, o también se puede usarlo como benidición?

    ¿Cómo se escribe en árabe? (Es سلام على أنت ?)

    ¡Gracias!
     
  2. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    Hi cooljazzplayer,

    It is a greeting and is also used for parting. It is used to invoke blessings as well, but normally in a different format. Like after the mention of a prophet's name, Muslims say عليه سلام which means "upon him be peace" and is pronounced 3alayhi salaam. But I've never heard it used to a first person in this way.

    It's written like this السلام عليكم
    And it is actually as-salaamu 3alaykum. If you wanted to say it like you did, you'd have to make it Salaamun 3alaykum.
     
  3. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    กรุงเทพมหานคร
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    What you've written, makes me assume that you think it is the singular "you" (ti, as you wrote in Spanish), but the suffix "-kum" (ـكم) means stands for the plural "you" (vosotros).

    Literally, السلام عليكم means "the peace (be) upon you (pl.)" in English and "la paz (sea) a vosotros":

    الـ - the (definite article)
    ـسلام - peace (connected to the article)
    عليـ - (up)on (preposition)
    ـكم - you pl. (connected to the preposition)

    The copula "be" isn't used in the present tense.
     
  4. xebonyx

    xebonyx Senior Member

    TR/AR/EN
    And the reason "kum"(كم) is used instead of "ke/ka"(ك) is it's a more respectful way of addressing someone.
     
  5. Ander Senior Member

    France
    Is that way of using -kum for one person out of politeness an Arabic usage or has it appeared in Modern Arabic in imitation of Western languages like French or German?
     
  6. suma Senior Member

    USA
    English, USA
    No that way of using kum is completely Arabic and not a borrowing. Other languages as you noted have indentical usages.
     
  7. cooljazzplayer New Member

    America - English
    Thanks for the explanation, it is very fascinating.
    - - -
    Gracias por el explicación, es muy fascinante.

    ¡Saludos!
     
  8. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    กรุงเทพมหานคร
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Well, yes, that too. You can use "as-salaamu 3aleykum" if you're addressing a "higher" person or a group of people. However, you must pay attention to the gender: If it's a higher-ranking woman you need to address politely or a group of women exclusively, the correct expression would be "as-salaamu 3aleykunna" (but I've never heard this :().

    If you want to greet only one man, it would be right to say "as-salaamu 3aleyka" and "as-salaamu 3aleyki" for a woman.
     
  9. suma Senior Member

    USA
    English, USA
    Speaking also as a Muslim and one who uses this greeting dozens of times each day. I can tell you that no one ever conjugates the pronoun. We just say kum to whoever is being addressed, one person or many, male or female. It's just such a common greeting.
     
  10. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    กรุงเทพมหานคร
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Yes, that's exactly how I would have used it myself, but according to the Google results (try the different versions), some Arabs really pay attention to the correct spelling. :)
     
  11. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    Since it was used (in the Qur'an and Hadith) over 1400 years ago before French even existed, I doubt it had much to do with French. I don't think it's related to German influence either, as Arabs didn't really have any contact with Germanic peoples in that time.

    Also you need to consider that this greeting is actually a very old Semitic greeting, and is actually found, in the exact same plural form, in other Semitic languages, like Hebrew & Aramaic. The statement "Peace be upon you" appears in the Bible, in both Hebrew & Aramaic, and I doubt they borrowed it from Europeans (who were probably too busy combing their animal skins and dancing around fires).
     
  12. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    As Abu Rashid said, in Hebrew shalom aleichem.
     
  13. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    A small correction: the modern German polite form (to one or many people) "Sie" read: [zii] is the same as "sie" = they (and coincidentally as "sie"= she. So it's not the plural form of "du" (thou, you). The modern plural form "ihr" is just plural, has no polite meaning (in modern German!). Russian is similar to French toi, tu (sg) -> vous (pl); ты (ty) (sg) -> вы (vy) (pl).
     
  14. Ander Senior Member

    France
    My point was only to ask whether the plural form of the greeting addressed to only one person was an Arabic usage all the time from Quranic Arabic down to the present time, or whether it was an influence from Western languages on Modern Arabic.

    Some compare it with the shalom 3aleykhem of Hebrew. As far as I remember the Hebrew plural form is to greet several persons and for one person only the singular "thou" form is used, be it in the Bible or in modern usage.
     
  15. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I don't see why we'd use السلام عليكم solely in the plural. I very much believe that 3alaykum is variable.
    If you want a proof from the Qur'an, please read the verse 47 from the Surate Maryam (19) :

    { قَالَ سَلاَمٌ عَلَيْكَ سَأَسْتَغْفِرُ لَكَ رَبِّيۤ إِنَّهُ كَانَ بِي حَفِيّاً }


    I also read many times: سلامٌ عليكَ/عليكِ، سلامٌ عليكما، سلامٌ عليكنَّ ; the fact that السلام عليكم is the most commonly used form doesn't mean that the other forms are not used.

    One more thing: Don't you say in at-tashahhud التشهد at the end of prayer "السلامُ عليكَ أيها النبيُ" ?

    ***

    By the way, this whole topic was discussed in these threads:
    Peace be to you and the mercey of Allah.
    Arabic greetings.
    And one or two others.
    So, this is just a reminder for all those who'd like to open new thread to remember searching before asking, to avoid repetitions.
    Thank you. :)
     
  16. Ander Senior Member

    France
    That quote from the Quran and the others show that it is not the plural form which is used to greet one person out of politeness.
     
  17. Tajabone Senior Member

    Paris
    French, Berber (Kabyle), Arabic (classical and dialectal)
    Hello,

    I am very skeptical about the usage of a plural form as a way of politeness in classical Arabic. I do think it's a foreign and modern influence, namely a French one which is now integrated in MSA.

    When you read classical Arabic literature, the "vouvoiement" (talking to an individual with a plural pronoun) is quite absent form the classical literary corpus.

    As for "e-salamu 3alaykum", I was taught that it was due to a religious reason: you salute both the person in front of you and his personal angels.

    I do stick though to a philological perspective: this plural form seem to have already existed in other semitic languages (without being necessarliy a sign of politeness).

    As for the verse 47 from surat Maryam (19), many interpretations show that "e-salamu 3alayka" is meant as "I will not harm you, (father)"; the greeting (farewell) aspect of it can also be deduced from the general context (the other verses).

    In short, I don't think at all that a form of "vouvoiement" existed in classical Arabic corpora.

    Tajabone

    ps: I read once that "you" was the polite/formal way while "thou" the familiar/intimate one.
     
  18. suma Senior Member

    USA
    English, USA
    Yes there are quite many examples in Quran and classical lit, and modern lit of 3alaika, 3alaiki, 3alaikumaa, ect. I'm just saying that in everyday speech or writing you almost never hear that.

    As for the other comments, if the use of the Arabic plural you when addressing one person is not a form of politeness or respect, then why is it being used? for those that have argued that there is no polite you in Arabic.
     
  19. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    I think the important point to note is that the greeting in the plural form has become a set expression.

    For the everyday non-Arab Muslim, as-salaamu`alaikum is the standard greeting for a Muslim (reply = wa`alaykumu 's-salaam). The vast majority of non-Arab Muslims neither know anything about the different pronouns in Arabic, nor would they have "politeness" in mind when using the greeting.

    I don't know about Arabs, but it seems unlikely to me that the everyday Arab would pay attention to, and differentiate between, -ka, -ki, -kumaa, -kum, everytime he/she greets someone! It would sound too "fussy".
     
  20. suma Senior Member

    USA
    English, USA
    Agreed that non -Arabic speaking Muslims use the 3alaikum phrase as a set phrase without regard to sing, pl, masc, or fem. because they don't truly speak the language. But we're talking about those who speak and understand the language.

    Besides kum and antum are used elsewhere in the language when addressing a single individual, with long standing historical precedence that was not borrowed from French or any other language (except maybe Semitic family group) so if it's not used like this for purposes of politeness or respect then what are you or Tajabone suggesting??
     
  21. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I agree with Linguist's explanation.
    السلام عليكم has become a set expression even among Arab natives. We don't bother "adapting" the pronoun in this expression to the person(s) we're greeting.
    I even believe that the majority -or many persons, to not exagerate- don't even think about this, they just repeat the greeting as just that: a greeting, whithout analysing it linguistically.

    Edit:
    One more thing: I think that only people with good knowledge of fus7a can be aware of the idea of using the proper pronoun with the proper number and/or gender of greeted persons. And even those -with some exceptions maybe- won't change the set greeting.
    Sometimes I do it when writing to someone, I write السلام عليك but this is not something I do often.
     
  22. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    Well as I said, it's a set expression - even for Arabs. And as cherine has just said, Arabs don't analyse linguistically what they say when using the phrase.

    It's a form of what's called phatic communion. (well actually that's debatable - a topic for another thread?)
    Well then haven't you just answered your own query?
    I answered that in my last post - it's a standard greeting.
     
  23. Tajabone Senior Member

    Paris
    French, Berber (Kabyle), Arabic (classical and dialectal)
    I also agree with Linguist's explanation:
    "e-salamu 3alaykum" has become a set expression which is grammatically taken for granted by the majority of the native speakers.

    Of course, when you listen to Al-Jazeera, you will notice a formal and polite way of addressing to some important persons but this norm is a recent one and most likely due to the French influence (note that the Spanish way of politeness is realised through the third person ...).

    By the way, the majority of the handbooks designed for the French speaking learners of Arabic mention the absence of the famous "vouvoiement" (and it is one of the recurrent problems for Arabic speaking learners in French).

    During all my schooling in Arabic, I never came across with a plural you in Arabic among classical literature corpora, except for MSA. You won't either find it in the historical diplomatic correspondence (except for our present times).

    The plural form in the greeting is certainly not a way of politeness (at least, historically) even if it could be so nowadays, from a pragmatical viewpoint (through contemporary interactions between individuals and under the influence of a non-Arabic norm).
     
  24. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
    Looking at this post I saw the use of كم in letter writing is it for plural or formal singular or both?
     
  25. Tajabone Senior Member

    Paris
    French, Berber (Kabyle), Arabic (classical and dialectal)
    Since it's MSA, the plural is used as a formal/polite way.
     
  26. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
    So in MSA the plural has the formal meaning? Is it a classical usage? It seems like some people agree and some do not.:(
     
  27. Tajabone Senior Member

    Paris
    French, Berber (Kabyle), Arabic (classical and dialectal)
    Sorry Sofia :) What I wanted to say is that you can use the plural form as a mark of politeness, just like in French (tu = informal vs Vous = formal).

    In MSA, this norm exists and is generally applied without being systematically observed (unlike French where you could easily sound impolite by using tu instead of vous when talking to an unknown, older or respectable person or in a formal context).

    I have never seen this practice in classical Arabic texts (say historical documents,old literature, etc.)
     
  28. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I agree with Tajabone.
    Using the plural as a mark of respect wasn't the norm in classical Arabic, but it's very usual in the modern form of fus7a (MSA).
    Just as words like حضرتك، سيادتك ..... which are relatively new titles used to express respect, like the French "vous".
     
  29. Abu Bishr Senior Member

    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Hi Everybody

    I found this statement by a famous Islamic scholar by the name of Imam al-Nawawi in his famous collection of Prophetic sayings (RiyaaD al-SaaliHiin) in the Book on Greeting: Section on Manner of Greeting:

    يستحب أن يقول المبتدئ بالسلام: السلام عليكم ورحمة اللَّه وبركاته. فيأتي بضمير الجمع وإن كان المسلم عليه واحداً، ويقول المجيب: وعليكم السلام ورحمة اللَّه وبركاته. فيأتي بواو العطف في قوله: وعليكم.

    The translation goes as follows:

    [It is recommended that the the person who begins the greeting (i.e. who greets first) say: "As-Salaamu 'alaykum waraHmatullaahi wabarakaatuh", and he uses the plural form of the personal pronoun, even if the the one being greeted is a single person. The one responding says: Wa 'alaykum as-Salaamu waraHmatullaahi wabarakaatuh", and he uses the conjunctive Waaw, in his statement: "Wa 'alaykum ...]

    Now, Imam al-Nawawi passed away in 676 AH which corresponds roughly to the Gregorian 1277 AD. From this it seems to me that it was quite an established practice then already, and Imam al-Nawawi would not say something like this unless there was religious justification for it. Nevertheless, I'll do some more research in see if I can find this being traced to earlier sources.
     
  30. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    What about using the first-person plural, as in the Quran?
     
  31. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    You mean نحن ?
    Isn't it only used to refer to God? Isn't this a normal thing? I mean when na7nu is used to refer to God it connotes the glorification that He deserves.

    The same pronoun is used by humans to التعظيم or التفخيم like: أمرنا نحن أمير البلاد بكذا وكذا، رأينا نحن السلطان أن نفعل كذا وكذا . (whether this is good or bad from the point of view of religion is not of course a subject for this forum :) ).
     
  32. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    I meant it's a precedent for an early use of the plural form to indicate "greatness" (or whatever one wishes to call it).
     
  33. Abu Bishr Senior Member

    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Hi All

    I don’t normally have a problem with the suggestion that classically the plural form was not used to indicate plurality of veneration and respect and that this was a later addition to Arabic and to be associated with MSA. I do have a problem, though, with the insistence on this being the case. The problem that I have with this line of reasoning is that it forces one to interpret texts with plural forms to signify plurality of number rather than plurality of veneration and respect.

    To use an example: The Waaw of Masculine Plural (واو الجماعة) in the verb form ارجعوني in the following Quranic verse: (قال رب ارجعوني لعلي أعمل صالحا فيما تركت) according to the view that plurality of veneration does not exist, will have to be interpreted as plurality of number. Now, to interpret the Waaw here as indicating plurality of number in itself is not problematic if we say that it refers to God and the angels. However, if it refers to a plurality of gods then it becomes indeed problematic.

    Now, classical tafsir literature gives the following reasons for the use of plural form here:

    (1) to indicate veneration (للتعظيم)
    (2) to indicate emphasis as ارجعوني is equivalent to ارجعني ارجعني – ارجعني – (i.e. ارجعني mentioned three times) which is how some scholars interpret the dual form of Imru al-Qais’s opening lines to his famous “suspended ode” (قفا نبك من ذكرى حبيي ومنزلي ...)
    (3) to refer to Allah and the angels, or just the angels, and so on.

    The point is that none of them suggests a plurality of number such that it means a plurality of gods, as this goes against the entire spirit of the Quran.

    As for the use of first person plural to indicate veneration and respect, is abundantly clear from classical sources. Just check any classical Arabic grammar book for the explanation of a plural personal pronoun in the first person, and you will find the following: للمتكلم ومعه غيره أو للمعظم نفسه (it is used for the first person while there are others with him or him alone venerating himself).

    My point then is that the insistence on the view that plural forms were never classically used to denote respect or veneration forces interpretations of Islam’s holy texts that are not in agreement with the overall theology that such texts preach which is the total Unity and Oneness of God. Therefore, it’s my contention that plural forms were classically used to signify veneration and respect as is clear from classical interpretations of these texts, and the linguistic evidence presented in the process.
     
  34. avok

    avok Senior Member

    Hi,

    In turkish we use "Selamun Aleyküm" not "Selam Aleyküm" why do you think there is an extra "un"?
     
  35. Saleh Al-Qammaari

    Saleh Al-Qammaari Senior Member

    Egypt
    Egypt/ Arabic
    Hi!

    I think it is said on the basis of adding Tanwiin to the word Salam
    سلامٌ عليكم


    It should be known that Tanween and the definite article "ال" can not be found in one word




    Best Regards
     
  36. avok

    avok Senior Member

    Hi I do not know what tanween is :( but thank you again
     
  37. Saleh Al-Qammaari

    Saleh Al-Qammaari Senior Member

    Egypt
    Egypt/ Arabic
    Sorry dear!

    This link my help you. Search for Nunation in it.

    By the way I got it from the sticky thread of resource

    You are welcome!
     
  38. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Hi Avok,

    A simple answer is that the "un" indicate an indefinite noun. salamun= peace; as-salam= the peace. There's no big difference in the meaning in both cases.
    And salamun alaykum is mentioned in the Qur'an several times, as well as as-salam. So they're both correct.
     
  39. avok

    avok Senior Member

    So, we can either say "salamun alaykum" or "as-salam alaykum"?

    thanks
     
  40. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Yes, Avok. Both are correct. The main difference is in the usage. I don't think the indefinite form "salamun alaykum" is used in any Arabic speacking country, though I might be mistaken. And, on the other hand, it seems that in the countries where Arabic is not the mainly spoken languages, the definite form "as-salamu alaykum" is not used.

    In other words: It's correct to say salamun alaykum :)
     
  41. avok

    avok Senior Member

    Thank you cherine , I guess I heard some people say "esselamün aleyküm"/ "as-salamun alaykum !!" here in Turkey, both "as" and "un" in the "same" expression!! But this must be wrong.

    By the way, "as-salamu alaykum" : "as-salamu alaykum"?? (the definite form)

    Byeeee
     
  42. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    as-salamun is incorrect because it gathers the definitnes "as" and the indefinitness "un" in one word.

    I'm sorry I didn't understand very much your last question.
     
  43. avok

    avok Senior Member

    Hmmm, sorry for my silly questions :) but I sometimes see "as-salamu alaykum" with "u" and sometimes see "as-salam alaykum" without "u". Which one is correct? (this time I am asking about the definite form). For example, the name of the thread is "salam aleikum" but you just wrote (as) salamu aleykum in # 40.
     
  44. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Ah! Ok. It's that you put the two words with "u".
    as-salamu=as-salam. The only difference is in marking or not the final vowel, which is in fact a diacritical mark.
    Diacritical marks, in Arabic, are not fixed vowels; i.e. they change according to the words case. So we can have as-salama, as-salamu, as-salami according to the case of the word (as-salam) or its position in the sentence. And this is something you can only know if you learn the grammar of the Arabic language.

    When I write as-salamu alaykum, it's because the case of the word salam in this sentence necesitates "u" and not "i" nor "a". And because it's rare to hear as-salam alaykum.
     
  45. avok

    avok Senior Member

    Hmmm... ok I see, thank youuu (for now :) )
     
  46. Qcumber Senior Member

    UK English
    Really? I have only heard "as salaam 3alai kum" so far.
    I have never heard "as salaamu 3alai kum" although I suppose it is used.
     
  47. AlJaahil Junior Member

    Vancouver
    Canadian English
    I was told it was always used in the plural regardless of who it was addressed because the idea wasn't/isn't just "you," it's "you and yours," i.e. your family/relatives/etc.
     

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