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VIRTUES OF BLESSINGS AND SALUTATIONS
The most important and foremost virtue is the command and order of Allāh Himself. Allāh says in the Qur’ān:
Verily, Allah and His angels confer blessings on the prophet: O you who believe! Confer blessings on him, and greet him with a goodly salutation. (Qur’ān 33:56)
Allāh has ordained many different commands in the Qur’ān such as prayer (ṣalāh), fasting, pilgrimage (ḥajj) etc. He has also described the noble characteristics of many blessed Prophets and honoured them. After creating Sayyidunā Ādam u, He ordered the angels to prostrate towards him. However, nowhere has Allāh stated in any command or in any honour that He is also a participant in this act and that the believers should follow suit. This respect is solely for the Leader of both worlds, the Pride of the World e. Allāh first attributes the act of conferring ṣalāt towards Himself and after attributing it towards His angels, finally orders the believers that they too should also confer ṣalāt upon him.
What virtue could be greater than Allāh and His angels also participating with the believers in this act? Furthermore, those with knowledge of Arabic know that the verse begins with the particle inna adding great emphasis to its meaning and the future and present tenses have also been used, indicative of continuity. In other words, it is most certain that Allāh and His angels are constantly conferring blessings upon the Noble Prophet e.
ʿAllāma Sakhāwī (may Allāh have mercy on him) writes, “The verse, being in the present and future tenses which denote continuity and permanence, establishes that Allāh and His angels are always conferring blessings upon the Noble Prophet e.”
The author of Rūḥ al-Bayān writes, “Some scholars have written that the meaning of Allāh conferring His blessings is raising the Noble Prophet e to the Praised Station (Al-Maqām al-Maḥmūd), which is the station of intercession, and the ṣalāt of the angels is praying for the Noble Prophet’s e status to be elevated and seeking forgiveness for the Noble Prophet’s e followers. The meaning of the believers conferring blessings is following the Noble Prophet e, having love for him and mentioning his beautiful qualities. This honour granted by Allāh to the Noble Prophet e is much greater than the respect shown to Sayyidunā Ādam u by means of ordering the angels to prostrate before him, because Allāh Himself is engaged in this honour of the Noble Prophet e, whereas only the angels were ordered to prostrate before Sayyidunā Ādam u.”
The intelligent will realize that such an honour has been bestowed upon neither any other Prophet, nor his followers.
Allāh the Exalted confers blessings upon him. Thereby, his excellence is manifest to all the creation.
The scholars have noted that the Noble Prophet e is being addressed with nabī in this verse rather than with his name Muḥammad e, as in the case of other Prophets who have been mentioned by name. This is out of paramount respect and esteem of the Noble Prophet e. In one place where the Noble Prophet e and Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm u have been mentioned together, the Noble Prophet e is mentioned by nabī and Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm u is mentioned by name. Allāh says,
Surely the nearest of mankind to Ibrāhīm are those who followed him and this Prophet and those who believe. And Allāh is the patron of the believers. (Āl ʿImrān 3:68)
Wherever the Noble Prophet e has been mentioned by name, it is for a specific reason. ʿAllāma Sakhāwī (may Allāh have mercy on him) has discussed this point in detail.
It is worth noting at this point that the word ṣalāt which has been attributed towards Allāh, His angels and the believers simultaneously is a synonymous word with many different meanings and used for various purposes, as already mentioned by the author of Rūḥ al-Bayān.
The scholars have expounded many meanings for the word ṣalāt in this verse, and in each place the most appropriate meaning in relation to Allāh, His angels and the believers will be meant. Some scholars have written that ṣalāt upon the Prophet e means praise and respect of the Noble Prophet e with mercy and affection. Furthermore, this praise and respect will be according to the rank and status of whoever the act of conferring ṣalāt is attributed to. For example, it is said that the father is kind to his son and that the son is kind to his father, or that the brothers are kind to one another. Now it is obvious that the kindness shown by the father to his son will differ to that shown by the son to his father and that of the brothers to one another.
Likewise, Allāh’s conferring ṣalāt upon the Noble Prophet e means Allāh is praising and honouring him with mercy and kindness. The angels are also conferring ṣalāt but their ṣalāt, blessings and respect will be according to their own position. Thereafter, the believers are ordered to confer blessings [which is also in accordance to their own status].
Imām Bukhārī (may Allāh have mercy on him) has narrated from Abū ʿĀliya (may Allāh have mercy on him) that the meaning of Allāh conferring ṣalāt is to praise the Noble Prophet e in the presence of the angels and the blessings of the angels are their prayers. Sayyidunā Ibn ʿAbbās y has interpreted yuṣallūna [in the verse] as yubarrikūna, meaning they pray for blessings.
Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar (may Allāh have mercy on him) states that this meaning complies with Abū ʿĀliya’s opinion, except it is more specific in context. Elsewhere, after mentioning the various meanings of ṣalāt, he mentions that Abū ʿĀliya’s (may Allāh have mercy on him) opinion is the most preferred, namely that Allāh’s ṣalāt is praising the Noble Prophet e and that the ṣalāt of the angels and others is requesting Allāh to confer ṣalāt. Furthermore, this request is for an increase in the blessings already being conferred, not for the conferring of blessings to be initiated.
It is mentioned in a narration that when this verse was revealed, the Companions y said, “O Messenger of Allāh e, we know how to convey salām (the salām in the al-taḥiyyāt [in the five daily prayers]: As-salāmu ʿalayka ayyuhan nabiyyu wa raḥmatullāhi wa barakātuhu). Teach us how to confer ṣalāt.”
The Noble Prophet e then taught the following: Allāhumma ṣalli ʿalā Muḥammadin wa ʿalā āli Muḥammad.
(This will be discussed in detail under the first ḥadīth of Chapter Two).
Allāh ordered the believers to confer ṣalāt upon the Noble Prophet e. The Noble Prophet e taught the method thereto; request Allāh to eternally confer his infinite mercies upon him, for the blessings and mercies of Allāh are boundless. This is also from the mercy of Allāh that the further blessings he confers upon the Noble Prophet e due to our request are attributed to us, as though we had conferred them, when in reality Allāh alone is conferring ṣalāt. Who possibly had the ability to present the Noble Prophet e with the gift of blessings, befitting his lofty status?
Shāh ʿAbdul Qādir (may Allāh have mercy on him) writes, “Requesting Allāh to shower His mercy and blessings upon His Noble Prophet e and his household is a great act of virtue. Mercy befitting the Noble Prophet’s e descends upon him and by conferring once, tenfold blessings are conferred upon the suppliant. It is now the choice of the suppliant how much he wishes to acquire.” (The ḥadīth Shāh ʿAbdul Qādir (may Allāh have mercy on him) is referring to will be mentioned under ḥadīth three).
We also understand from this that the objection some ignorant people raise that the verse is ordering the believers to confer blessings upon the Noble Prophet e, whilst the believers say, “O Allāh, confer blessings upon the Noble Prophet e,” is ridiculous. [Their objection is that] the very action Allāh ordained upon the believers was returned by the believers to Allāh.
Firstly, when the Companions y asked the Noble Prophet e how to implement the Qur’ānic order after this verse was revealed, this was the method taught by the Noble Prophet e, as mentioned above. Secondly, our requesting Allāh to confer His choicest blessings is much greater than anything we could present to the Noble Prophet e on our own part.
ʿAllāma Sakhāwī (may Allāh have mercy on him) writes in Al-Qawl al-Badīʿ, “It is written in the book of Amīr Muṣṭafā Turkamānī Ḥanafī (may Allāh have mercy on him) that if one asks what wisdom is there in Allāh ordering us to confer ṣalāt when we counter this order by saying, ‘O Allāh, confer ṣalāt upon Muḥammad e,’ asking Allāh instead to confer His ṣalāt (In ṣalāh we say, ‘O Allāh confer blessings upon Muḥammad’, instead of ‘I confer blessings upon Muḥammad’), the answer is that the Noble Prophet e is faultless. On the contrary, we are full of faults and defects from head to toe. So how is it possible for one full of defects to rightfully praise he who is pure from all blemishes? Hence, we request Almighty Allāh that He personally confers ṣalāt upon the Noble Prophet e, so that the ṣalāt upon our pure Prophet e emanates from the Lord most pure.”
Likewise, it is narrated from ʿAllāma Nayshāpūrī (may Allāh have mercy on him) in his book Al-Laṭā’if wa al-Ḥikam that a person should not say “I confer blessings upon Muḥammad” in his ṣalāh, as the person is not worthy of this. Instead, he should request his Lord to confer blessings upon the Noble Prophet e, in which case, Allāh is in reality conferring blessings upon the Noble Prophet e and allegorically, it is attributed towards us as a supplication.
Ibn Abī Ḥajalah (may Allāh have mercy on him) also mentions something to the same effect. He says that when Allāh ordered us to confer blessings but our blessings could not reach the due right, we made this request to Allāh; He alone truly knows what befits the status of the Prophet e. This is the same as in the supplication of the Noble Prophet e: “O Allāh, I cannot fully praise You. You are as You have praised Yourself.”
ʿAllāma Sakhāwī (may Allāh have mercy on him) says, “Once this point has been established, one’s ṣalāt upon the Noble Prophet e should be conferred in the manner taught to us by the Noble Prophet e. This is how one’s ranks will be elevated. Confer blessings abundantly, giving this act its due importance and with steadfastness, for an abundance of ṣalāt is from amongst the signs of love for the Noble Prophet e. Whoever loves something mentions it frequently.”
ʿAllāma Sakhāwī (may Allāh have mercy on him) has also narrated from Imām Zayn al-ʿĀbidīn (may Allāh have mercy on him) that conferring ṣalāt upon the Noble Prophet e abundantly is a sign of the People of Sunna (ahl al-sunna).
ʿAllāma Zurqānī (may Allāh have mercy on him) writes in Sharḥ al-Mawāhib, “The purpose of conferring ṣalāt is to gain proximity with Allāh by obeying His order, and to fulfil a portion of the rights of the Noble Prophet e binding upon us.”
Ḥāfiẓ ʿIzzuddin Ibn ʿAbdus Salām (may Allāh have mercy on him) says, “Our conferring of ṣalāt is not an intercession for the Noble Prophet e, for how can we possibly intercede on his behalf? The fact is that Allāh has ordered us to repay a benefactor for his favours, and there is no greater benefactor than our beloved Prophet e. As we were incapable of repaying the Noble Prophet e for his favours, Allāh pitied our weakness and taught us how to repay the Noble Prophet e by ordaining the conferring of ṣalāt. Since we were incompetent of this too, we beseeched Allāh that He Himself should reward the Noble Prophet e in a manner that befits His majesty.”
The aforementioned verse of the Qur’ān orders the believers to confer ṣalāt, whereby the scholars have deemed the conferring of ṣalāt to be compulsory.
(This will be discussed in detail in Chapter Four under the first point).
ʿAllāma Rāzī (may Allāh have mercy on him), in his Al-Tafsīr al-Kabīr, has discussed an objection which may arise at this point; When Allāh and His angels confer ṣalāt upon the Noble Prophet e, what need is there for us to do so? The answer to this is that our conferring of ṣalāt upon the Noble Prophet e is not because he is in need of it in any way. If this were the case, then the angels would not need to confer ṣalāt after Allāh had conferred it. Our conferring of ṣalāt is rather an expression of reverence for the Noble Prophet e. Similarly, Allāh has commanded the believers to remember Him, when Allāh is in no need of this remembrance.
Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar (may Allāh have mercy on him) has written that some people questioned him as to why the word ṣalāt has been attributed to Allāh in the Qur’ānic verse and not the word salām. He replied that it maybe because salām has two meanings: (i) supplication (ii) to follow and obey. Both meanings are correct with respect to the believers, and thus they have been given this order. However, the latter meaning is improper with respect to Allāh and His angels and for this reason, salām has not been attributed to them.
ʿAllāma Sakhāwī (may Allāh have mercy on him) has mentioned a very frightening incident regarding this verse. He narrates that Aḥmad Yamāni (may Allāh have mercy on him) said, “I was in Sanʿā. I saw that a large gathering was surrounding a person. Upon enquiring, people told me that this person used to recite the Qur’ān in a most melodious voice. When he came to the verse yuṣallūna ʿala ’l-nabiyy, he read yuṣallūna ʿalā ʿaliyy ’l-nabiyy, which means Allāh and His angels confer blessings upon ʿAlī t, the prophet. (This person was most probably a rāfiḍī) [members of a sect which insults the Companions y and excessively praises Sayyidunā ʿAlī t]. No sooner had he read this that he became dumb, was struck with leprosy and was left blind and paralysed.”
This story contains a severe warning. May Allāh protect us from disrespecting Him, His Holy Book and His Noble Prophets. Out of our ignorance and disregard, we are oblivious to what we utter. May Allāh save us from His wrath.
Sayyidunā ʿAbdullāh ibn Masʿūd t narrates that the Messenger of Allāh e said, “Indeed, those closest to me on the Day of Judgement will be those who confer blessings upon me the most.”
ʿAllāma Sakhāwī (may Allāh have mercy on him) narrates in Al-Qawl al-Badīʿʿ from Al-Durr al-Munaẓẓam that the Noble Prophet e said, “He who confers blessings upon abundantly from amongst you will be the closest to me on the Day of Judgement.”
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