In the olden days, people would correspond with each other using letters, etc. Nowadays, we send messages through e-mail, fax, etc. and the message reaches the addressee the very next moment. My question is about the Salaam sent through e-mail, fax, etc. Is it fine if we reply to it verbally or is it necessary that we should send the return greeting back in the way that we got it?
To greet someone with Salaam is a Sunnah and returning it is Wajib, regardless or whether the Salaam is received directly, through someone or through a letter, e-mail, fax, etc. In all these cases, returning the greeting is Wajib.
However, it is left to us whether we reply to it verbally or we send the return greeting back through the letter, e-mail, fax, etc. It is not necessary that we should reply to it in the same manner as we received the greeting. As given in Radd Ul Muhtaar, Vol. 5, Pg. No. 494.
Translation: It is Wajib to reply to the Salaam written in a letter, as the written words of someone not present is like the talk of someone who is present. Usually, people care not careful about this. When somebody sends a Salaam through a letter to you and you receive the letter, then replying to it is necessary, whether it is verbally or through a letter.
And Allah The Most Merciful and The Most Beneficent knows best.
Mufti Syed Ziauddin Naqshbandi Qadri,
[Professor, Islamic Law, Jamia Nizamia,
Founder-Director, Abul Hasanaat Islamic Research Center]