In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Umar [may Allaah be pleased with him] said that Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “Beware of sitting on the roads (i.e. the pavements, pathways where people pass by)! But if you must sit, then fulfil the rights of the road”. They asked, “What are the rights of the road?” He said, “Lower the gaze, respond to Salaam and give directions to the one who has lost his way”.
Al-Allaamah Zayd Bin Haadee Al-Mad’khalee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated:
This hadeeth contains guidance – from the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] – for the entire Ummah. Firstly, they should refrain from sitting on the roads (i.e. the pavements, pathways etc) because different people do walk past them. Sitting on the road has obligations – in relation to it – to be fulfilled and there are forbidden deeds which one must avoid. Secondly, it is permissible to sit, but the one doing so is required to give the roads its rights – fulfilling what is commanded and avoiding what is forbidden.
Indeed the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] made known the rights of the road in this hadeeth, saying, “Lower your gaze”. The women and others walk past, therefore it is obligatory to divert one’s gaze away from every Haraam, and first and foremost is that one is not to look at strange women (i.e. women he has been forbidden to look at). (see footnote a)
“Reply to salaam”: When a passer-by gives salaams, it is obligated on you to respond because Allaah said:[وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُم بِتَحِيَّةٍ۬ فَحَيُّواْ بِأَحۡسَنَ مِنۡہَآ أَوۡ رُدُّوهَآۗ – When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally] [Surah An-Nisaa. Aayah 86] (see footnote b)
“Guide the one who has lost his way”: Not every person knows the right way (to get to his destination). It maybe that some people are unaware of the way to get to the place they want to go to, so if they ask you for advice – that you give him direction and you know where the place is, it is obligated on you to give him directions. You should make an effort to give him directions, because Allaah continues to aid a slave (of His) as long as the slave helps his Muslim brother. (1)
Removing Something Harmful From The Path is An Act of Charity
Abu Hurairah [may Allaah be pleased with him] narrated that Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “There is Sadaqah (charity) to be given for every joint of the human body (as a sign of gratitude to Allaah) every day the sun rises. To judge justly between two persons is regarded as Sadaqah, and to help man concerning his riding animal by helping him to ride it or by lifting his luggage on to it, is also regarded as Sadaqah, and (saying) a good word is also Sadaqah, and every step taken on one’s way to offer the compulsory congregational prayer is also Sadaqah, and to remove a harmful thing from the way is also Sadaqah. [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Number 2989]
Al-Allaamah Saaleh Al-Fawzaan [may Allaah protect him] stated, “Removing harmful things from the pathways of the Muslims or from the pathways of the people in general, also removing harmful things from the pathways of the animals – one should not place harmful things in pathways that will harm pedestrians; one should not leave a harmful thing which another person left in a pathway. It has been reported in a hadeeth that the Prophet, ‘While a man was going on a way, he saw a thorny branch and removed it from the way and Allaah (The Mighty and majestic) became pleased by his action and forgive him for that’. [Saheeh Al-Bukhari. Number 652]. He was entered into paradise because of his act of kindness to pedestrians.
But how about those who place harmful things in the roads, such as stones, thorns, planks of woods, metals, and spilling water on the road, which may be impure, and placing rubbish on the roads?! The person who does this has greatly sinned and everyone passer-by supplicates against him. The deed of this person is oppression and the supplication of the oppressed person is answered. Therefore, a Muslim should hasten to remove harmful things from the path in order to receive this reward mentioned in the hadeeth. (2)
Footnote a: Al-Alaa Bin Ziyaad [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Do not (allow) your eyes to follow the garment of a woman because one’s gaze places desire in the heart”. [Az-Zuhd By Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullaah). 311]
Al-Allaamah Saaleh al Fawzaan [may Allaah preserve him] said: Safety from the fitnah of women is by way of lowering the gaze, distancing oneself from paying attention to them and following them. Allaah [The Most High] said: [قُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ – Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts from (illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allaah is All-Aware of what you do]. [Surah An-Nur. Aayah 30]
So, lower your gaze away from that which Allaah has made forbidden and do not enter places of fitnah so that you are safeguarded. This is one of the means to safety from fitnah. [Sil-silatu Mu-allifaat Fadheelatus Sheikh No: 7. page: 43-44]
The Shaikh also said, “Lowering one’s gaze is a means to protecting the private parts and not restraining one gaze is a means to corrupting the private parts. Therefore, if you want to protect your private parts from lewdness, lower your gaze. If you leave your eyesight roam about freely – looking at what Allaah has made unlawful, then indeed it will lead you to lewdness”. [t’haaf At-Tullaab Bi-Sharhi Mandhommah Al’Aadaab’ page 87. Slightly paraphrased]
Footnote b: Shaikh Abdus Salaam Burjess [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Imaam Ibn Abdul Barr [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: “The obligation of returning the Islamic greeting is (found in the) statement: [وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُم بِتَحِيَّةٍ فَحَيُّوا بِأَحْسَنَ مِنْهَا أَوْ رُدُّوهَا – When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally]”. [Surah An-Nisaa. Aayah 86]
Imaam Ibn Katheer [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: “To give the Islamic greeting is voluntary and it is an obligation to return it. This is what all the scholars say- that it is an obligated on the one who is given the salaam to reply and he has sinned if he does not reply, because he has opposed Allaah’s command”.
The abandonment of returning the Islamic greeting is an evil and ugly deed and many people have been afflicted with it in this era. And they are prevented from it due to pride and self-amazement. So, we gently say to all of them, ”Who are you?! And from what are you from?!” Allaah said:
مِنۡ أَىِّ شَىۡءٍ خَلَقَهُ ۥ
مِن نُّطۡفَةٍ خَلَقَهُ ۥ فَقَدَّرَهُ ۥ
From what thing did He create him? From Nutfah (male and female semen drops) He created him, and then set him in due proportion. [Abasa: Aayaat: 17-18]
Are you greater in status than the Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him? Indeed he returned the Islamic greeting of the young, the old, the free person and the slave, and he also greeted them. Therefore, let there be a good example in the Messenger of Allaah for you to follow. We ask Allaah for guidance and success for all. Also when a person is leaving a gathering and gives the salaam, it is obligatory to reply to him. [An Excerpt from ‘Al-Ilaam Bi-Ba’di Ahkaam As-Salaam’- pages: 11-12.slightly paraphrased]
Replying to The Greetings of non-Muslims
Shaikh Abu Khadeejah [may Allaah protect him] quotes Imaam Al-Albaanee [may Allaah have mercy upon] him, who stated: So I answered that it is permitted with the condition that the “salaam” of the non-Muslim is clear in wording, and that there is no distortion of the wording with his tongue as occurred with the Jews with the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) and his Companions (radiyallaahu ‘anhum), when some of the Jews said: “As-Saamu ‘alaikum (poison/death be upon you).” So the Prophet commanded that one respond with merely saying, “wa ‘aliakum (and upon you),” as has been reported in the collections of Bukhaaree, Muslim and others from the hadeeth of Aa’ishah (radiyallaahu ‘anhaa).
Investigation into the reason behind this legislation reveals that it is permitted to respond in kind if the condition mentioned is met. This is further supported by two further matters:
Firstly: The saying of the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam): “If the Jews greet you and say: “as-Saamu alaikum (poison/death be upon you),” then merely respond with: Wa ‘alaik (and to you).” Reported by Bukhaaree and Muslim, also al-Adab al-Mufrad, no 1106.
So the Prophet gave the reason by his saying “respond with: Wa ‘alaik (and to you).” And this is because they said: “As-Saamu alaikum (death be upon you).” And if this reason is removed as in the case wherein they say: “As-salaamu ‘alaikum (peace be upon you).” Then one responds with what is the same as it, which is: “Wa ‘alaikumus-Salaam (and peace be upon you)” And this position is further supported by the following, and that is the generality of the saying of Allaah, the Most High: [وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُم بِتَحِيَّةٍ فَحَيُّوا بِأَحْسَنَ مِنْهَا أَوْ رُدُّوهَا ۗ – “And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with one better than it or [at least] return it [in a like manner].” [An-Nisaa: 86] This verse in its general meaning also encompasses the non-Muslims. https://abukhadeejah.com/how-to-conduct-oneself-with-the-jews-christians-others-even-if-they-be-tyrants/
[Ref 1: At-taleeqaatul Maleehah Alaa Silsilah Al-Ahaadeeth As-Saheehah Vol 1. Page 158. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2: Excerpt from Al-Minhatur Rabbaaniyyah Fee Sharh Al-Arba’een. Pages 213-217. slightly paraphrased]