Letters and greetings

Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari

by Imam Bukhari
Translated by: Ustadha Aisha Bewley

XDIV. Letters and greetings

523. Answering a letter

1117. Ibn 'Abbas said, "I think that answering a letter is a duty, just like returning the greeting."

524. Letters to women and their reply

1118. 'A'isha bint Talha said, "I spoke to 'A'isha when I was under her protection. people used to visit her from all places. Shaykhs used visit me because of my place with her. Young men used to treat me as a sister and give me presents and write to me from their cities. I said to 'A'isha, 'Aunt, this is a letter from so-and-so and his gift.' 'A'isha told me, 'My girl, answer him and reward him. If you do not have anything to give, I will give you something.' She told her to give it to her."

525. How to write the beginning of a letter

1119. 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar wrote to 'Abdu'l-Malik ibn Marwan in order to pledge him his allegiance. He wrote to him, "In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, Most Merciful. To 'Abdu'l-Malik, the Amir al-Mu'minin, from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar. Peace be upon you. I praise Allah to you. There is no god but Him. I offer you obedience according to the sunna of Allah and the sunna of His Messenger as much as I can."

526. "Following on from that"

1120. Zayd ibn Aslam said, "My father sent me to Ibn 'Umar and I saw him write, 'In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, Most Merciful. Following on from thatÉ'"

1121. Hisham ibn 'Urwa said, "I saw some of the letters of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. After the introduction he said, 'Following on from thatÉ'"

527. Beginning letters with "In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, Most Merciful"

1122. It is reported that Zayd ibn Thabit wrote this letter: "In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, Most Merciful. To the slave of Allah, Mu'awiya, the Amir al-Mu'minin, from Zayd ibn Thabit. Peace be upon you, Amir al-Mu'minin, and the mercy of Allah. I praise Allah to you. There is no god but Him. Following on from thatÉ'"

1123. Abu Mas'ud al-Jurayri related to him that a man asked al-Hasan about reading, "In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, Most Merciful." He said, "That should be put at the beginning of letters."

528. The one who is put first in a letter

1124. Nafi' said, "Ibn 'Umar needed something from Mu'awiya and he wanted to write to him. People said, 'Begin with his name.' They kept on at him until he wrote, 'In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, Most Merciful, to Mu'awiya.'"

1125. Anas ibn Sirin said, "I wrote for Ibn 'Umar and he said, 'Write: "In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, Most Merciful. Following on from that: To so-and-so."'"

1126. Anas ibn Sirin said, "A man wrote in the presence of Ibn 'Umar, 'In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, Most Merciful, to so-and-so.' Ibn 'Umar forbade him and said, 'Say: 'In the Name of Allah. It is for Him.'"

[This had to do with using "ilâ" instead of "li".]

1127. See 1122.

1128. Abu Hurayra said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'A man from the tribe of Israel ­ and he mentioned the entire hadith ­ had his friend write to him, 'From so-and-so to so-and-so.'"

529. How are you this morning?

1129. Mahmud ibn Labid said, "When Sa'd's eye was gravely wounded in the Battle of the Ditch, they moved him to the house of a woman called Rufayda who used to treat the wounded. When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, passed by him, he would inquire, 'How are you this evening?' and in the morning, 'How are you this morning?' and he would tell him."

1130. It is related from Ka'b ibn Malik, who was one of the three to whom Allah turned that Ibn 'Abbas informed him that 'Ali ibn Abi Talib emerged from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in his illness from which he died and the people said, "O Abu'l-Hasan! How is the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, this morning?" He said, "Praise be to Allah, he is well this morning." 'Abbas ibn 'Abdu'l-Muttalib took him by the hand and said to him, "By Allah, in three days time you will be a subject. By Allah, I think that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, will die of this illness. I recognise death in the faces of the Banu Abdu'l-Muttalib when they are dying. Let us go to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and ask him who will have this authority. If it is for us, then we will know that, and if it is for other than us, we will know it and he can advise him to look after us." 'Ali replied, "By Allah, if we ask him for it and he refuses us, then the people would never give it to us afterwards. By Allah, I will not ask it from the Messenger of Allah."

530. Someone who writes at the end of a letter, "Peace be upon and the mercy of Allah" and writes so-and-so, son of so-and-so on the 20th of the month

1131. Ibn Abi-Zinad related from his father that he tool this letter from Kharija ibn Zayd and from the great members of the family of Zayd: "In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, Most Merciful. To the slave of Prophet, Mu'awiya, the Amir al-Mu'minin, from Zayd ibn Thabit. Peace be upon you, Amir al-Mu'minin, and the mercy of Allah. I praise Allah to you. There is no god but Him. Following on from that, you asked me about the inheritance of the grandfather and brothers (and he mentioned the letter). We ask Allah for guidance, preservation and firmness in all our affairs. We seek refuge with Allah from being misguided or ignorant or taking on what we have no knowledge of. Peace be upon you, Amir al-Mu'minin, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings and His forgiveness. Wuhayb has written it on Thursday, the 20th Ramadan, 42 (AH)."

531. How are you?

1132. Anas ibn Malik reported that he heard 'Umar ibn al-Khattab being greeted by a man and he returned the greeting. Then 'Umar asked the man, "How are you?" The man replied, "I praise Allah to you." 'Umar said, :This is what I wanted to hear from you."

532. How to answer when someone asks you, "How are you this morning?"

1133. Jabir ibn 'Abdullah reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was asked, "How are you this morning?" He replied, "Well. Away from people who do not attend funerals or visit sick people."

1134. Muhajir (who is as-Sa'igh) said, "I was sitting with one of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, called Dakhm, from al-Hadramaym. When someone asked him, 'How are you this morning?' Dakhm replied, 'We do not associate anything with Allah.'"

1135. Sayf ibn Wahb reported that Abu't-Tufayl asked him, "How old are you?" "Thirty-three years old," he replied. He said, "Shall I tell you a hadith which I heard from Hudhayfa ibn al-Yaman? A man from Muharib ibn Khasafa called 'Amr ibn Sulay', a Companion, was my age on that day and I was your age. Hudhayfa came to us in the mosque and sat at the edge of the people. 'Amr went over until he was standing in front of him and asked, 'How are you this morning (or evening), slave of Allah?' Hudhayfa said, 'I praise Allah.' 'Amr said, 'What are these hadiths which have come to us from you?' Hudhayfa said, 'What have you heard from me, 'Amr?' He said, 'Hadiths which I have not heard from anywhere else.' Hudhayfa said, 'By Allah, if I were to relate to you all that I have heard, you would be here with me until the middle of the night. 'Amr ibn Sulay', if you see Qays taking control of Syria, then beware and again beware. By Allah, Qays will not leave a believing slave of Allah without causing him to be in a state of fear or killing him. By Allah, a time will come to you in which the flood will not be stopped.' He said, 'Then what will help you against your people, may Allah have mercy on you?' He said, 'That is my business.' Then he sat down."