Greetings and Salutations on the Prophet (PBUH)

Spiritual Benefits of Salat and Salam

Entering into a new millennium, we live in an age of technological advancements. World Wide Web sites and mass communication systems have brought mankind closer together, more so than ever before. Where once one would have waited months or even years to hear the fate of loved ones, news can now travels instantaneously. Yet despite this apparent closeness human kind has been left spiritually bereft. All materialistic demands and desires can be fulfilled in this world, but inner peace and contentment is difficult to find. This problem is being faced by Muslims themselves. Often due to a lack of knowledge and true understanding, Islam has been reduced to a din[1] of outward obligations and actions alone. Emphasis is being put upon completing legal requirements of worship alone without regard to the spiritual contentment of the heart.
 
The Muslim Ummah needs to create a spiritual attachment to the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) in order to fill this spiritual void. Love and affection for him can create a bond so strong that no materialistic onslaught can break. The creation of a powerful and resolute affiliation is the reason why the Companions (رضي الله عنهم) have been given such an elevated standing and enabled them to tackle the onslaught of the non-Muslim tribes. They are considered the best Muslim generation. Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) stated:
The best people are those living in my generation, then those who will follow them, and then those who will follow the latter.[2]
 
The primary reason for this honour was their close and indelible affinity to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). They lived with him, travelled with him, prayed with him, fought by his side and supported him fully. Moreover, they loved, revered and respected him like none other. In return for this loyalty, Allah the Almighty granted them a status unrivalled and unattainable by any other Muslim to be born after them. In Islamic history many Muslim scholars excelled in spiritual worship. They established their prominence in knowledge, became experts in the field of tasawwuf[3] and were renowned for their miracles. Some transcended in Islamic jurisprudence, grammar and logic. Others witnessed the enigmas of imam Ghazali and imam Razi. Unrivalled are the lectures and wise words of mawlana Roomi and shaykh ‘Abd-ul Qadir Jilani. Yet despite this none of them could attain the status of Abu Bakr Siddique (رضي الله عنه), ‘Umar bin Khattab (رضي الله عنه), ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan (رضي الله عنه) or ‘Ali bin Abu Talib (رضي الله عنه).
 
The latter had the close privilege and company of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). Although in this day and age one cannot reach the highs of those mentioned above, we can at least try and emulate an important aspect of their lives, namely creating our own link with Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). Sending salat and salam upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is one way of doing this. By observing this act, the hearty affiliation that results from it creates confidence in the sender and becomes the best credence to abide by the commands of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم).
 
This can be illustrated by a simple example. Suppose for instance a man, desiring to have a shave attends a barbers shop for this service. A barber’s razor is a sharp-edged instrument that can cut the jugular vein of a man instantly. However, on account of soothing confidence, the man surrenders his neck to the barber during the course of the shave. He is quite content that nothing unpleasant will happen to him. If man can create this type of confidence and trust with another individual, surely he should be able to do the same with the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). One of the best ways of obtaining this hearty affiliation and confidence is complete submission to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) by his disciple and the finest means of submission is offering sala and salam.
 
It is a common thing that the inception of a relationship begins with greetings. A link is established with an unknown person through greetings. It is incumbent upon all Muslims to greet each other with salutations of salam when they meet. This is regardless as to whether they are already acquainted. The obligation of paying salam is a sunnah of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and failing to do so is considered abhorrent, ill-mannered and a minor sin. Once a person receives a greeting though, it becomes obligatory to reply. This obligation cannot be ignored. Failure to reply constitutes a major sin. A universal greeting such as this, which crosses all linguistic and cultural barriers, creates an immediate link and cooperation, a powerful unifying force. This salutation is a cogent force which can melt and overwhelm all barriers and resentments. It can even bring enemies close together again. It allows warring parties to put aside their differences without ‘losing face’ and still address each other civilly.
 
So when a devotee starts his relationship with the inception of salat and salam upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) with steadfastness and constancy, the gradual process of appreciation by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) starts. Initially the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) pays heed to his devotee. Then the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) looks towards him with a smile and waits for his greetings. When there is a discontinuity in the greetings, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) asks the angels about the cause of this discontinuity. If the angels say that the person is sick, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) comes in his dream and soothes him. What more can a pious Muslim desire? Salat and salam is thus one of the most blessed, meritorious, and useful deeds in Islam. All those who are desirous to acquire deeds that constitute treasures for them, to harvest the most flourishing and glowing of hopes will Insha’Allah[4] always present salutations upon the Noble Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم).

 

Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallama tasleeman katheera

May Allah bless him and greet him abundantly.[5]







1. Arabic – way of life.
 
2. Bukhari transmitted it in his as-Saheeh, b. of shahadat (witnesses) ch.9 (3:498#820); ibid., b. of fada’il ashab-un-nabi (virtues of the Prophet’s Companions) ch.1 (5:2#3); ibid., b. of riqa’iq (softening of hearts) ch.7 (8:292#437); Tirmidhi in his al-Jami‘-us-saheeh, b. of manaqib (virtues) ch.57 (5:695#3859), and graded it hasan (fair) and saheeh (sound).
 
3. mysticism; sufism.
 
4. If Allah wills.
 
5. Some of the mentioned spiritual benefits of salat and salam narrated by Muhammad bin ‘Abd-ur-Rahman as-Sakhawi in his al-Qawl-ul-badi‘ fis-salat ‘alal habeeb-ish-shafi‘,pp.101-2.

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