Question # 121: Is it permissible to respond to Salaam while eating?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

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Dear questioner

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer:  It is permissible to give salaam whilst eating, and there is nothing in the Sunnah to indicate that it is not allowed. The wide spread saying that there is no salaam whilst eating (“la salaam ‘ala ta‘aam”) has no basis in Islam and is not a hadith. However, some scholars stated that if a person is eating and has food in his mouth and someone greets him in this situation, he does not deserve an answer.

Long Answer: It is permissible to give salaam whilst eating, and there is nothing in the Sunnah to indicate that it is not allowed. The wide spread saying that there is no salaam whilst eating (“la salaam ‘ala ta‘aam”) has no basis in Islam.

Al-‘Ajlooni (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Kashf al-Khafa’: [The phrase] “there is no salaam whilst eating” is not a hadith.

Some of the scholars stated that the expression referred to above has a sound meaning, if what is meant is shaking hands or responding to the greeting when a person has food in his mouth.

Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Adhkaar: An example of that is if a person is eating and has food in his mouth. If someone greets him in this situation, he does not deserve an answer. But if it is whilst he is eating but he does not have food in his mouth, then there is nothing wrong with someone giving salaam, and he has to respond.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al-Suhaym (may Allah preserve him) said: This expression is a saying among the people and it is not a hadith. Its meaning is correct if what is meant is shaking hands, but with regard to simply giving salaam, it is not disallowed when one is eating.

(The above reply is based on the answer provided by Islam Q&A)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam