Al-Salām (Peace) is one of Allah’s names. Allah says: “He is Allah, besides whom there is no God, the King, the Holy One, Peace, the Giver of Security...” [Sūrah al-Hashr: 23]
Allah is the bringer of peace who spreads peace throughout creation. Since life was first created, it has been predominated by long stretches of peacefulness, security, tranquility, and contentment. Allah is Peace and from Him emanates all peace. It is as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O Allah! You are Peace and from You is peace. Blessed be You, possessor of glory and honor.” [Sahīh Muslim (091)]
It is a astonishing that some people who invoke Allah by this noble name live their lives in contention and hostility towards the world. Every aspect of their lives is full of strife, from within themselves, to their outward behavior, in their thinking, and with their families. How can such a person find peace with the Lord?
Al-Salām as “Soundness”
The name al-Salām also connotes “soundness”, the idea of being free from blemish. It conveys that meaning that Allah is free from every shortcoming and deficiency, like fatigue, sleep, sickness, or death. Allah’s existence is one of absolute perfection. Allah says: “Allah, there is no God but He, the living and self subsisting. Neither slumber nor sleep overtake him.” [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 255]
Allah is free from anything that would contradict with his absolute self-sufficiency. Nothing can fatigue Him or elude Him. Nothing is beyond his reach.
The People of the Scripture attribute such a deficiency to Him when they claim that He rested on the seventh day, after creating the heavens and the Earth. This is why Allah says: “Indeed We created the heavens and Earth and everything between them in six days, and We were not touched by any fatigue.” [Sūrah Qāf: 38]
If Allah wills anything to happen, He just says “Be!” and it is. [Sūrah YāSīn: 28]
This same connotation of the name al-Salām applies to Allah’s knowledge. Allah is free from ignorance, doubt, and indecision. Nothing is hidden from His knowledge. His knowledge is not acquired through learning. It is absolute, complete, and wholly accurate, comprehending everything in the past, present, and future without exception.
“Do you not see that Allah knows all that is in the heavens and on Earth? There is not a secret consultation between three, but He makes the fourth among them, - nor between five but He makes the sixth,- nor between fewer nor more, but He is in their midst, wheresoever they be.” [Sūrah al-Mujādilah: 7]
“It is the same (to Him) whether any of you conceals his speech or declares it openly; whether he lurks by night or walks forth freely by day.” [Sūrah al-Ra`d: 10]
Likewise, His speech is free from all falsehood and injustice. Allah says: “Perfected is the Word of your Lord in truth and justice.” [Sūrah al-An`ām: 115]
His pronouncements are true and His decrees are just. His Law and every expression of His will are perfect. Allah’s Law is full of wisdom and knowledge, as is the Qur’ān which He revealed to His Prophet (peace be upon him). The Qur’ān is rich in meaning, multilayered, guiding humanity in every way to what assures there welfare in this world and the next. It is unfortunate that so many people who read the Qur’ān are content to neglect this richness and blindly follow traditions and rote knowledge. They have become incapable of creative thinking and renewal, and as a consequence wallow in the backwardness, ignorance, and cultural decline that we witness today.
Allah is free from having any contender, rival, or partner in His dominion. He alone holds sovereignty over Creation, both in this world and the next.
His decree and His command are free from tyranny and injustice. The prophet (peace be upon him) relates to us that Allah says: “O my servants! I have forbidden Myself to act unjustly and have made it forbidden for you among yourselves, so do not oppress one another.” [Sahīh Muslim (2577)]
From the perfection of Allah’s justice, He forbids Himself to ever act unjustly and makes it forbidden for us to oppress one another. He says: “And your Lord is not in the least unjust to His servants.“ [Sūrah Fussilatz: 46]
Allah commands us to cultivate this quality within ourselves and never act unjustly towards one another. By acting justly, we are engaged in an act of devotion to our Lord, since Allah is not only just, but He loves justice and those who act justly. In the same way, He is all-knowing, and He loves knowledge and those who possess knowledge. He is beautiful. He loves beauty and those who cultivate beauty within themselves. He is generous, and He loves generosity and charitable people. These are all among the attributes of our Lord.
This connotation of soundness, this freedom from blemish, extends to His actions: to what He gives and to what He withholds. When Allah keeps something from us, it is not due to stinginess or scarcity. Glory be to Allah above that! It is from His infinite wisdom that He withholds what He withholds from his servants. Some people are better off wealthy while others are better off poor. “Allah enlarges the livelihood of whom He will, and straitens (it for whom He will); and they rejoice in the life of the world, whereas the life of the world is but brief comfort as compared with the Hereafter.” [Sūrah al-Ra`d: 26] Likewise, some people benefit more by being healthy while others benefit more from experiencing illness. Allah knows what each of us needs and what is ultimately in our best interests.
All of Allah’s attributes share in this perfection, this freedom from deficiency. Allah’s attributes do not resemble to created things. He is incomparable. It is from Allah’s wisdom that we, as created beings, are subject to the limitations and shortcomings inherent to our nature and to the tribulations of living in the world. Allah on the other hand is al-Salām, the one who is free from all shortcomings.
Allah’s name al-Salām is truly great in its meaning in that it articulates the perfection that all of Allah’s names possess – that each and every one of Allah’s attributes is free from shortcomings.
When we greet each other with peace by saying: “Al-Salām `alaykum”, we are invoking this name of Allah, and in doing so, we are communicating this connotation of Allah’s perfection as well as the idea of peace.
And indeed Allah has made “peace” the salutation of the believers: “Their salutation on the Day they meet Him will be ‘Peace!’ ” [Sūrah al-Ahzāb: 44]
He has commanded us to use this salutation: “So when you enter houses, greet yourselves with a salutation from Allah.” [Sūrah al-Nūr: 61] Therefore, a believer invokes peace upon himself and upon others with this salutation.
Allah is the Bestower of Peace
Indeed, Allah greets his creatures in this world with the salutation of peace.
“Peace be upon Noah in all the worlds.” [Sūrah al-Sāffāt: 79] “Peace be upon Abraham.” [Sūrah al-Sāffāt: 109] “Peace be upon Moses and Aaron.” [Sūrah al-Sāffāt: 120] “Peace be upon Elias.” [Sūrah al-Sāffāt: 130] “Peace be upon the Messengers.” [Sūrah al-Sāffāt: 181] “Say: Praise be to Allah, and peace be upon the servants He has chosen.” [Sūrah al-Naml: 59] “Peace be upon those who follow guidance.” [Sūrah TaHā: 47]
Allah’s salutation upon His servants is His decree that they will be safeguarded in this world and the next. Though they are subject to the trials and tribulations that others experience in the world, Allah bestows upon their hearts contentment and certainty of faith which transforms their difficulties into a boon and a rewarding experience. Theirs are contented hearts, at peace with whatever Allah decrees for them.
The eminent Companion Sa`d b. Abī Waqqās was blessed in that his prayers were always answered. When he became blind, people would ask him: “Why don’t you beseech Allah to restore your sight?”
He would reply: “By Allah! My being content with Allah’s degree is dearer to me than what else I desire.”
O Allah! You are Peace and from You is peace. Blessed be You, possessor of glory and honor.