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What Does 'Salaam' Mean? Peace or Surrender?
« on: January 28, 2013, 01:17:54 AM »
Brother Joseph - Salam!

There seems to be a difference of opinion on the meaning of salam. Some say it means surrender and others peace. Can you pls clarify?

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Re: What Does 'Salaam' Mean? Peace or Surrender?
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 01:20:00 AM »
RESPONSE PROVIDED BY JOSEPH ISLAM ON ANOTHER THREAD

http://quransmessage.com/forum/index.php?topic=703.msg2623#msg2623


Dear All,

Salamun Alaikum.

The primary meaning of the root SLM means to become safe, secure, and free from fault or blemish [1]. Even in the act of salutation in the form of a greeting, one implies a prayer for another's safety, security and freedom from any kind of evil or strife to the person. In other words, to be safe and sound or in a state of peace.

Although the root SLM can be nuanced given context, a central theme running through its meaning is one of peace. For example, the noun ‘salam’ can mean peace as in 4:90-91 or to surrender as in verse 16:28. The noun 'salim' can mean pure / secure / unimpaired or sound as in verses 26:89 and 37:84 or the derivative verb 'musallamah' can have further shades of meaning such as in verses 2:71, and 4:92.

As many will already know, Arabic nouns have two genders (masculine and feminine). Nouns in the 'main' take a male form unless a female is the subject of the noun or there is a feminine suffix ending such as 'ah'. (e.g. muslim'ah). Exceptions to the rule do exist such as 'sama' which although is a feminine noun, it isn't attributed to a female subject nor does it have a suffix such as 'ah' or 'at' which would make it feminine.

There are some nouns such as 'silm' (genitive masculine) but can be treated as either masculine or feminine or known as a 'common gender'. Other examples of common genders would include words such as 'ankabut' (spider), 'sultan' (authority / power), 'zawj' (can apply to husband or wife), 'imad' (column or a pillar) etc.

The genitive noun 'salm' is also best rendered as 'peace' as can be clearly noted in verses such 8:61 and 47:35. Linguistically, 'silm' also means peace (state of peace) or a reconciliation as shown in the following excerpt [2] (salm / silm), both of which are derivatives of the same root.

However, in verse 2:208 either meaning of 'peace' or 'submission' can be inferred or theologically derived. For example, one attains a state of 'peace' once they have 'submitted' (in submission) to the true religion of God. Hence, why I feel different commentators capture the nuance of the word differently in this verse.

Even in the somewhat related Semitic stock such as Hebrew, the related word carries similar meanings to the Arabic root SLM.

For example, according to Hebrew Concordances (7965) Shalom can mean:

1) completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
    1a) completeness (in number)
    1b) safety, soundness (in body)
    1c) welfare, health, prosperity
    1d) peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
    1e) peace, friendship
        1e1) of human relationships
        1e2) with God especially in covenant relationship
    1f) peace (from war)
    1g) peace (as adjective)
[3]


I hope that helps, God willing.
Joseph.


REFERENCES:

[1] http://quransmessage.com/images/slm1
Source: LANE. E.W, Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 4, Page 1412
[2] http://quransmessage.com/images/slm2
Source: LANE. E.W, Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 4, Page 1414
[3] Hebrew Dictionary (Lexicon-Concordance), [online] http://lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/7965.html, [Accessed] 21st January 2012.