Is it Rude to Say Assalamualikum?

Assalamualaikum is an Islamic or Arabic word that translates roughly to “peace be with you”.

There is little difference between saying “god bless you” and assalamualaikum. That said, as with most words with religious or spiritual meanings, you need to understand when and where it is appropriate to say it.

Read on below, and discover the in-depth answer to whether or not it’s rude to say assalamualaikum!

Is it Rude to Say Assalamualaikum?

There are almost zero circumstances in which it is seen as rude to say assalamualaikum. The meaning of the Arabic/Islamic word is “peace be upon you”. Whether you are saying it first, or as a reply, it isn’t rude at all. In fact, not saying it back to someone who has first directed the phrase at you may be considered rude.

How Rude Is it?

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Saying assalamualaikum rates 1 out of 10 on the rude meter. That said if it is used with offensive intent to someone of non-Islamic faith, saying the word jumps to 10 out of 10 stars on the rude meter. It is only rude to say assamualaikum if you mean for it to be rude.

Why is it Rude?

Saying assalamualaikum to someone who is not of the Islamic faith, or from an Arabic country, isn’t considered rude unless they have otherwise informed you (and you say it to them anyway). 

Why is it Not Rude?

The meaning of the word assalamualaikum itself is the furthest thing from rude; peace be with you. How could one be considered rude by wishing peace upon another human being? The only way it is rude to say the word is by doing so with malicious intent.

Other Options to Do Instead

If you are unsure if saying a religious-spiritual word like assalamualaikum is going to be interpreted as rude by someone, it is wise to refrain from using such language. Instead, say what you mean with basic words that they understand (that way the message is the same, and there is no risk of unintended offense/misunderstanding).

Common Questions

What does assalamualaikum mean?

Assalamualaikum is a spiritual-based/religious word that has a meaning roughly translating to “peace be upon you”. It is one of the main religious words used by members of the Islamic faith, all around the world (much like Christians say “god bless you”).

Is it rude to say assalamualaikum to people of non-Islamic faiths?

While it isn’t any ruder to say assalamualaikum to someone of non-Islamic faith than it is to say “god bless you” to a non-Christian, those who don’t understand the meaning of the word may find it offensive out of a defensive instinct. That’s why you should consider saying what you mean, in as many words (“peace be with you”, “god bless”, or similar), rather than summing it up with this Arabic word that English speakers aren’t exactly familiar with.

How do you respond to someone saying assalamualaikum or salam?

If you understand the word, and how it is being addressed to you, you should respond in like kind. That means replying with “assalamualaikum” or “god bless you too” is considered appropriate (though not exactly necessary or expected).