Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blessings and Salams to Prophet s.a.w

The meaning of Blessings and Salāms upon the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam)

What is the meaning of Blessings and Salāms upon the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam)?
In the Name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
All praise and thanks are due to Allāh, May Allāh blessings and peace be upon His Messenger.

1. The meaning of blessings upon the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam)

According to the majority of scholars, the phrase, “Blessings upon the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam - peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)” means the mercy from Allāh; prayers for forgiveness offered by the angels; and duā’ offered by ummah. Abu al-Āliyah, one of the earlier scholars contemporary scholars – are of the view that the meaning of blessings upon the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is Allah’s praise for him being among the “higher group” (al-mala’ al-‘a’la, i.e., the angels, ref. al-Saffāt 37:8), and the prayers of the angels and the Muslims for blessings upon him (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) to be praised by Allāh for being among the “higher group” (the angels). Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allāh have mercy on him) wrote a book on this topic entitled Jala’ al-Afhām fi Fadl al-Salāti wa’l-Salām ‘ala Khayr il-Anām, in which he discussed at length the meaning of blessings upon the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), the rulings thereon, and its benefits.  

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Sālih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allāh have mercy on him) said: 

The phrase “Bless Muhammad (salli ‘ala Muhammad)” 

It was said that blessing from Allāh means mercy, blessings from the angels means prayer for forgiveness, and blessing from humans means duā’. 
  • If it is said: “The angels sent blessings upon him,” it means that they prayed for forgiveness for him.  
  • If it is said, “The khatīb sent blessings upon him,” it means that he prayed for blessing for him. 
  • If it is said, “Allāh sent blessings upon him,” it means that He bestowed mercy upon him. 
 This is well known among the scholars, but the correct view is something different, because blessing (salāh) is more specific than mercy. Hence the Muslims are unanimously agreed that it is permissible to pray for mercy for every believer, but they differed as to whether we may pray for blessings (using this specific word of salāh or salli ‘ala…) for anyone other than the Prophets. If the word salāh here is taken to mean mercy, then there is no difference between them, and just as we pray for mercy for a person we may send blessings upon them. 

Moreover, Allāh says (which means):

“They are those on whom are the Salawāt (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones”

[Al-Baqarah, 2:157]. 

The word rahmah (mercy) is mentioned in conjunction with the word salawāt (blessings), which indicates that they are two different things, so the meaning of the verse is clear. The scholars (may Allāh have mercy on them) used the word salāh (blessings) in some places and the word rahmah (mercy) in others, so salāh is the not the same as mercy. The preeminent is what Abu al-‘Āliyah (may Allāh have mercy on him) said: The salāh (blessing) of Allāh upon the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is His praising Rasulullah among the “higher group” (the angels). 

So the phrase “Allāhumma salli ‘alayhi” (O Allāh send blessings upon him) means: O Allāh, praise him among the higher group, i.e., among the angels who are close to Allāh. 

If someone were to say that this is unlikely from a linguistic point of view, because salāh in Arabic means supplication, not praise, the answer to that is that the word salāh is also connected to the word silah (gift), and there can be no doubt that praise for the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) among the higher group (angels) is one of the greatest gifts, for praise may sometimes be more important to a person than all else. So a correct mention is a great gift. 

Based on this, the correct view is that sending blessings (salāh) upon him means praise for him along the higher group (the angels).  

[Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 3/163, 164]  

2. The meaning of Salams upon the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam)

While the meaning of sending salāms upon him (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), means praying for the soundness (salāmah) of his body during his lifetime, and the soundness of his religious commitment , the soundness of his body in the grave, and his safety and well being on the Day of Resurrection. 

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Sālih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allāh have mercy on him) said: 

The phrase “al-salāmu ‘alayka” 

The meaning of al-Salām is one of the names of Allāh, because the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Alāh is al-Salām (the One Free from all defects)” and Allāh says in al-Qurān (which means): “the King, the Holy, the One Free from all defects” [al-Hashr, 59:23]. The meaning is: May Allāh protects, keep safe and take care of His Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam). It is as if we are saying: Allāh is watching over you, protecting you, helping you, etc.  

Salām is a noun that comes from the root sallama (to greet), and means a greeting, as Allāh says (interpretation of the meaning): “O you who believe! Send your Salāh (ask Allāh to bless) on him (Muhammad), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting (salutation, i.e. As‑Salāmu ‘Alaykum)” [al-Ahzāb 33:56]. The meaning of greeting the Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is to pray for him and ask that he be kept safe from all harm.  

One might ask, the salāh was obviously done during the Prophet’s (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) lifetime, but after his death, how can we pray that he be kept safe and sound when he (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has died? 

The answer is that prayer for safety and well-being are not limited to the time when someone is alive. 

There are the terrors of the Day of Resurrection yet to come. Hence the prayer of the Messengers when the people cross al-sirāt (a bridge over Hell) will be: “Allāhumma, sallim, sallim (O Allāh, grant safety, grant safety).” A man does not cease to face danger and harm just because he has died. 

So we pray for the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), that he will be kept safe from the terrors of the standing (on the Day of Resurrection). 

We also say that there may be a more general meaning, i.e., that safety and protection for him also includes protection for his sharī’ah and Sunnah, that they may be kept safe from the hands of those who would tamper with them, as the scholars said concerning the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “refer it to Allāh and His Messenger” [al-Nisā’, 4:59] – they said: Refer to him during his lifetime, and to his Sunnah after his death. 

Is the phrase “al-salāmu ‘alayka” a statement or a duā’? i.e., are you saying that the Messenger is protected, or are you praying that Allāh will protect him? 

The answer is that it is a duā’, asking that Allāh will protect him. So it is a statement that serves as a duā’.

 Is addressing the Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) like one person addressing another? 

The answer is no. If that were the case, then the prayer would be invalidated thereby, because no ordinary human speech is acceptable during this prayer. If that were the case, the Sahābah would have said it out loud so that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would hear them, and he would have returned the greeting, as happened when they met him. Ibn Taymiyah said in his book Iqtida’ al-Sirāt al-Mustaqīm: “…when you send Salams upon him, it is as if he is in front of you and you are addressing him.” 

Hence the Sahābah used to say “Al-salāmu ‘alayka” although he could not hear them, and they would say “Al-salāmu ‘alayka” when they were in one land and he was in another, and we say “al-salāmu ‘alayka” although we are in lands other than his, and in a time other than his. 

[Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 3/149, 150] 

3. The sending of Blessings for the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam)

The sending blessings for the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), that is prescribed is as narrated in the sahīh report from Abu Mas’ūd al-Ansāri (radiallāhu`anhu) who said: “The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) came to us when we were sitting with Sa’d ibn ‘Ubādah, and Bashīr ibn Sa’d said to him: ‘Allāh has commanded us to send blessings upon you, O Messenger of Allāh. How should we send blessings upon you?’ Rasulullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) remained silent until we wished that he had not asked him. Then the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Say:

 Allāhumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala āli Muhammad kamā sallaita ‘ala Ibrāhīm; Wa bārik ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala āli Muhammad kama bārakta ‘ala āli Ibrāhīm fi’l-‘ālamīn; innaka hamīdun majīd"

(O Allāh sends blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, as You sent blessings upon Ibrāhīm; and bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as You blessed the family of Ibrāhīm among the nations; Verily You are Most Praiseworthy, Full of Glory). 

And the Salām is as you know [i.e. as in the Tashahud]”

 [Muslim (803); Abu Dawud (976; 980); al-Nasā’ie; At-Tirmidzi: Hasan Sahih]

4. Sending Salāms upon the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alaihi wa Sallam)

Sending Salāms upon the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa Sallam) may be done by saying “Al-Salāmu ‘alayka ayyuha’l-Nabiyyu wa rahmat Allāhi wa barakātuh”(Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allāh and His blessings as done in the Tashahhud).Or it may take the form of a duā’, praying that Allāh may keep him sound, such as saying “Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam”(May Allāh send blessings and peace upon him).

And Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu)reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu `alaihi wa Sallam) said: "He Who blesses me once, Allah would bless him ten times" [ Muslim 808]

[See Dabā’i’ al-Fawā’id, 2/143]

And Allāh knows best.

[Excerpted with minor modification from Fatwa No: 69944 Islam QA]

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