Greetings and Salutations on the Prophet (PBUH)

Analytical Study of Salat and Salam

In order to fully appreciate the Qur’anic verse relating to salat and salam it is helpful to have a close and analytical study of its contents. Almighty Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
Undoubtedly, Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). O believers! You (too) send your blessings upon him and salute him with all respect.[1]
 

There are three important words in this verse, namely:

  1. Yusalloona — they send blessings
  2. Sallimoo — salute
  3. Taslima — respect

Yusalloona

The Arabic word of yusalloona is derived from the root word of ‘salat’. Taken in its original form it means worship or du‘a’, prayer. In this context it also signifies a sense of nearness and proximity, a consequence of people gathering in mosques for prayers. This is a physical and spiritual congregation. This theme of connection and nearness can also be seen in other derivatives of the word salat:

  • mussalee: the runner up in a horse race since he is the companion of the winner, the closest to him than any other
  • salaa: the middle part of the human body which joins the upper and lower limbs together
  • salayah: a flat stone on which condiments are added together and ground with a muller
  • miswalah: a broom that collects segments of dust
In short all of the derivatives of salat convey the meaning of relation, nearness, togetherness and connection. Yusalloona creates a beautiful imagery of Allah blessing the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) with His proximity and close relation abolishing the distances between them.
Then he (Muhammad) approached, came closer and was at the distance of two bow-lengths or (even) nearer.[2]
 
Traditional concepts of separation vanish away and the Noble Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) gradually rises up to the stages of Divine proximity. This process continues and will continue forever. Moreover, it is not only Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) who is pleased with His servants sending salutations upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) but that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) is pleased with the pleasure of His beloved Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). As He says:
And Allah and His Messenger have greater right, that he should be gratified.[3]
 
When Muslims send blessings upon the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) they do so with humility, modesty and reverent respect. Salat is also taken to mean the heat of fire which straightens the crookedness of wooden sticks. In the same manner yusalloona signifies a worshipper wanting correction of his inner and outer self by prayers and other worships.

Sallimoo

In this verse Believers are also being asked to salute, ‘sallimoo’ the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). The Arabic word of sallimoo is derived from the word salam, meaning peace. It is not sufficient just to send simple salat upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) but to salute him too, acknowledging his high rank and status. A salute is normally given to a person of seniority, a leader or a statesman. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is deemed by Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to be the worthiest of all those who deserve to be saluted. One of the Companions, Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) comments that the command of salat and salam is the magnification of Divine remembrance. Allah the Almighty continues to arrange such conditions as to pave the way for the exaltation and dissemination of the Holy Prophet’s dignity, excellent qualities and matchless lifestyle.

Tasleema

Allah Almighty also informs the believers as to the manner of giving salute and offer salam namely with respect, tasleema. Reverence and respect for the holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) must never be absent in any matters pertaining to him. Time and time again, Allah has given us strict guidelines to honour him and hold him in the highest of esteem. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says:
....that you may assist and honour him, and celebrate His praises morning and evening.[4]
 
The Companions in particular were ordered to speak softly and quietly in the Prophet’s presence, to be humble and modest in their behaviour towards him:
O you who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as you may speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds become vain and you perceive not.[5]
 
So sending salutations upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is no exception. It must be done in a most honourable manner, with sincerity, love and affection.

Difference between Salat and Salam

In the preceding pages it is very apparent the extent to which Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) loves His beloved Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and wishes His servants to remember and respect the exalted status through the greetings and salutations sent upon him. However, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) in all His mercy has also allowed Muslims to benefit too. One who offers salat, Allah exalts him, forgives his sins and Allah’s blessings are upon him. Salat ascends the seeker’s supplication and gets a favourable reception from Allah. There is also no guarantee of the acceptance of a dua (supplication) without invoking blessings on the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). A tradition of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) states:
Fadalah bin ‘Ubayd reported: Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) was sitting amongst us, there entered a person and he prayed as saying, "O Allah! Forgive me, have mercy upon me." Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said, "O worshipper! You have made haste in praying. When you pray and sit (at the end) laud Allah of what He is worthy of and send blessings upon me and then supplicate Him." The narrator said: Then another man prayed after him and he lauded Allah and invoked blessings of Allah upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said to him, "O worshipper! Make a supplication and it would be responded."[6]

Once ‘Umar bin Khattab (رضي الله عنه) said to his nation:
The supplication is stopped between the heaven and the earth and nothing of it ascends, till you invoke blessing on your Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم).[7]

There is also a distinction in the type of reward given to Believers, dependent upon whether they send salat, dua, prayers on to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) or send salam, peace on to the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). The difference in reward is of type and degree. In the case of sending salat upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), believers receive ujrat, ‘spiritual wages’ for their act. Just as a labourer will be given reward for his hard work in the form of monetary wages, a Believer who sends prayers receives spiritual wages in the form of forgiveness and blessings form Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). The Noble Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) has guaranteed the intercession for those who send salutations if they ask Allah for it. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-Aas (رضي الله عنه) reported that he heard the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) saying:

When you hear the mu’adhdhin, repeat what he says, then invoke blessings on me for every one who invokes blessings on me once, will receive ten blessings from Allah. Then ask Allah for the waseelah to be granted to me. It is a position in paradise that may not be granted to any but one of Allah’s servants, and I dearly hope that I will be that servant. Whoever asks Allah for the was&eelah for me, my intercession is guaranteed for him.[8]
 
This reward has also been carefully designated by Almighty Allah and its degree fixed. The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said:
He who invokes blessings upon me once, Allah showers ten blessings upon him and obliterates (his) ten sins and elevates him by ten ranks.[9]
 

He who blesses me once, Allah blesses him ten times.[10]

 
‘Abdullah bin Masood (رضي الله عنه) reported Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) as saying:
The one who will be nearest me on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who invoked most blessings on me.[11]
 
Abu Talhah (رضي الله عنه) narrated assigning it to his father:
Allah’s Messenger came one day with a gleaming countenance and said, "Jibreel came to me and said," (Verily your Lord says,) "Muhammad! Does it not please you that one amongst your Ummah should invoke blessings on you and I should bless him ten times and one amongst your Ummah should send greetings of peace to you and I should send ten greetings of peace upon him.[12]
 
If a believer sends salam upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) the reward is much higher in rank and degree. Muslims who pay salam upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) will be given a reply and have the same returned to them by Almighty Allah and the angels. Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) stated:
There is no Muslim who invokes blessings upon me (salutes me), but Allah returns to me my soul till I respond to him in return.[13]
 
Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) reported the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said:
There is no Muslim in the east and the west who salutes me, but I and the angels of my Lord answer him.[14]
 
‘Abd-ur-Rahman bin ‘Awf (رضي الله عنه) narrates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said:
I met Jibril who said: I give you good news that Allah has said, "Whosoever asks for peace for you, I ask for peace for him, whosoever blesses you, I bless him."[15]
 
Amir bin Rabeeah (رضي الله عنه), on his father’s authority, said that he heard the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) saying:
The angels will continue to bless anyone who blesses me, as long as he continues to do so, so the servant should either reduce or enhance this.[16]
 
Ibn Wahb (رضي الله عنه) related that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said:
Whosoever asks for peace on me ten times, it is as if he has freed a slave.[17]
 
To be honoured with a reply and blessings is a great and prestigious reward. Sending the salute of peace upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is the fulfillment of the command of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) but the reward of a reply is the love of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) for his Ummah. Through a reply a believer obtains spiritual attachment, nearness and proximity known as qurbat. In sending salat, the reward is fixed by Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). A Muslim will receive his tenfold reward or expiation of ten sins. In the case of sending peace and blessings, a Muslim receives manifold blessings in return. These blessings are multiple and great in number since the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is grand in his mercy.
 
Through salat the conveyance of a dua, prayers to be sent to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) create an indirect link with him, since sins will be forgiven through the Prophet’s intercession. However sending salām is an opportunity to send a direct address upon him creating a direct link with him. Out of his love and compassion Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) has made it incumbent upon himself to reply. He becomes happy from the addresses of his followers and blesses them too.
 
Despite this distinction this does not mean that we should only send salam upon the Prophet saw) as opposed to salat. In fact both of them should be sent according to the commandment. However, Allah out of His infinite mercy has allowed Muslims to benefit manifold from their acts.

Angels’ Salutations

In the Qur’anic verse under discussion, it has been denoted that angels also shower blessings and salutations upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم):
Undoubtedly, Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). O believers! You (too) send your blessings upon him and salute him with all respect.[18]
 
According to Islamic traditions there are different groups of angels engaged in various forms of worship. Some angels are reciting Allahu Akbar[19] and some are reciting Subhan-Allah.[20] Others are worshipping in the standing position; some in a bowing position and some are worshipping in the state of prostration. In short their worships and positions are numerous and multifarious.. In contrast this restriction is not valid for the greetings and salutations upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). All these groups of angels are equally and unexceptionally engaged in showering blessings and salutations upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) together.
 
It is often the case that if one loves somebody dearly, holds him close to the heart then the lover will always look for ways and means of hearing about his beloved. He will become happy if others praise his beloved, become pleased if they salute and respect him and become delighted if they remember him in their prayers. If onlookers are scattered, busy in their own affairs, the lover will desire that they concentrate upon his beloved just as he himself has become engrossed in him. In order to demonstrate his love, he may wish that he alone should not praise his beloved but that it should be done by all of creation. It is therefore quite significant that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) states that all of His Angels send blessings upon His Noble Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). Allah the Almighty has said that this Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is the best of all Prophets and His love for him is above the love for all else.
 
So the angels convey the loving greetings and salutations of the faithful from dawn to dusk. Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) likes these presents and invokes blessings upon the senders. As he (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) stated:
The mobile (squads) of angels in the earth conveys to me the blessings invoked upon me by my Ummah.[21]
 

Invoke blessings upon me, since blessings invoked by you are conveyed to me wherever you may be.[22]

 

He who invokes blessings upon me by my grave, I will hear him and he who invokes upon me at a distance it will be conveyed to me.[23]

 
It is also a reflection of his exalted status that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) not only commands His earthly creation to send blessings but that He orders the heavenly creation, pure, pious and made of light to do the same. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) listens to the blessings invoked on him but they are also presented to him in a magnificent manner by the angels. This is just intended to exalt and elevate the stature of the Noble Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) as Allah knows the deeds of people but the angels also inform Him about them.
 

Invoke Blessings on the Prophet’s Name

In accordance with the Qur’an and the sunnah, it is also obligatory to invoke blessings on the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) to elevate his status and pay glorious tribute to the greatest benefactor of humanity. Whenever the Prophet’s name is pronounced, it is compulsory to invoke blessings on him, because this is the sunnah of Almighty Allah, Prophet Adam (عليه السلام), His angels and the commandment of His beloved Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) himself condemned those who do not invoke blessings upon him. The reason is that Allah has raised the remembrance of his beloved Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and none has the authority to lessen it:
The miserly is he, before whom I am mentioned and he does not invoke blessings on me.[24]
 

Verily the most miserly amongst people is he, before whom I am mentioned and he does not invoke blessings on me.[25]

 

Let his nose be smeared with dust, in whose presence I am mentioned, and he does not invoke blessings upon me.[26]

 
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) called him astray who does not invoke blessings upon him. It is stated as follows:
 

He who forgets (abandons) to invoke blessings on me, misses the road (leading) to the Paradise.[27]

 
Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) also reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said:
If people sit in an assembly in which they do not remember Allah nor invoke a blessing on their Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), it will be a cause of grief for them (on the Day of Judgment).[28]







1. Qur’an (al-Ahzab) 33:56.
 
2. Qur’an (an-Najm) 53:8-9.
 
3. Qur’an (at-Tawbah) 9: 62.
 
4. Qur’an (al-Fath) 48:9.
 
5. Qur’an (al-Hujurāt) 49:2.
 
6. Tirmidhi related in al-Jai‘-us-saheeh, b. of da‘awat (supplications) ch.65 (5: 516 # 3476) and graded it hasan (fair).
 
7. Tirmidhi related in al-Jami‘-us-saheeh, b. of salat (prayer) ch.352 (2: 356 # 486).
 
8. Muslim, as-Saheeh, b. of salat (prayer) ch.7 (1: 288-9 # 384); Abu Dawood, Sunan, b. of salāt (prayer) 1: 144 (# 523); Tirmidhi, al-Jami‘-us-saheeh, b. of manaqib (virtues and merits of the Prophet and his companions) ch.1 (5: 586-7 # 3614); Nasai;, Sunan, b. of adhān (the call to prayer) 2: 25-6; Ahmad bin Hambal, Musnad (2:168); Ibn Khuzaymah, as-Saheeh, 1: 219 (# 418); Muhammad Khateeb Tabraizi, Mishkat-ul-Masabeeh, b. of salat (prayer) ch.5 (1: 215 # 657); Husayn bin Masood Baghawi;, Sharh-us-sunnah, 2: 284-5 (# 421); ‘Ala’-ud-Din ‘Ali, Kanz-ul-‘Ummal, 7: 700 (# 20998).
 
9. Nasi, Sunan, b. of sahw (unintentional mistake), 3: 50; Ahmad bin Hambal, Musnad, 3: 102 & 261; Muhammad Hakim, al-Mustadrak, 1:550, and Dhahabi also graded it saheeh (sound).
 
10. Muslim, as-Saheeh, b. of salat (prayer) ch. 17 (1: 251 # 408).
 
11. Transmitted by Tirmidhi in his Sunan, b. of salāt (prayer), ch. 352 (2: 354 # 484); Bukhari, at-Tireekh-ul-kabeer, (5: 177 # 559); Baghawi, Sharh-us-sunnah, (3: 197 # 686); Muhammad Khateeb Tabraizi, Mishkat-ul-masabeeh, b. of salāt (prayer), ch. 16 (1: 278 # 923); Dhahabi, Meezan-ul-i‘tidal fi naqd-ir-rijal, (4: 228 # 8945).
 
12. Nasai, Sunan, b. of sahw (unintentional mistake), 3: 50.
 
13. Abu Dawood, Sunan, b. of manasik (rituals of hajj), (2: 218 # 2041); Ahmad bin Hambal, Musnad, 2:527.
 
14. Abu Nu‘aym Asbahani, Hilyat-ul-awliya’ wa tabaqat-ul-asfiya’,6: 349.
 
15. Muhammad Hakim transmitted it in al-Mustadrak (1:222-3) and Dhahabi also confirmed it; Bayhaqi in Sunan-ul-kubra (2:371 & 9:286); Qadi ‘Iyad in ash-Shifa, 2:650.
 
16. Ibn Majah, Sunan, b. of iqamat-us-salat was-sunnah fiha (establishing prayer and its sunnahs) ch.25 (1:294#907); Ahmad bin Hambal, Musnad (3:445); Husayn bin Masood Baghawi, Sharh-us-sunnah (3:198#688); Qadi ‘Iyad, ash-Shifa (2:651).
 
17. Qadi ‘Iyad, ash-Shifa, 2:653.
 
18. Qur’an (al-Ahzab) 33:56.
 
19. Allah is the Greatest.
 
20. Glory be upon Allah.
 
21. Nasai, Sunan, b. of sahw (unintentional mistake) 3: 43; Sulayman bin Ahmed Tabarani, al-Mu‘jam-ul-kabeer, (10: 219-20 # 10528-9); Ahmad bin Husayn Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab-ul-iman, (2: 218 # 1582).
 
22. Abu Dawood, Sunan, b. of manasik (rituals of hajj) (2: 218 # 2042); ‘Ali bin Abu Bakr Haythami, Majma‘-uz-zawa’id, 2: 247.
 
23. Ahmad bin Husayn Bayhaqī, Shu‘ab-ul-īmān, (2: 218 # 1583); ‘Ala’-ud-Din ‘Alī, Kanz-ul-‘ummal, (1: 498 # 1583).
 
24. Tirmidhi, al-Jami‘-us-saheeh, b. of da‘wat (supplications) ch.101, (5: 551 # 3546).
 
25. ‘Ala’-ud-Din ‘Ali, Kanz-ul-‘ummal, (1: 489 # 2146).
 
26. Tirmidhi, al-Jami‘-us-saheh, b. of da‘wat (supplications) ch.101, (5: 550 # 3545).
 
27. Ibn Majah, Sunan, b. of iqamat-us-salat was-sunnah fiha (establishing prayer and its sunnahs) ch. 25 (1: 294 # 908); Ahmad bin Husayn Bayhaqi, Sunan-ul-kubra, 9:286.
 
28. Narrated by Tirmidhi in his al-Jami‘-us-saheeh, b. of dua (supplication) ch.8 (5: 461 # 3380), and he graded it hasan (fair) and sahih (sound).

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