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Why do we say ‘SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam’?

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Wednesday, November 03 20210

“SallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam” is a phrase that we should hear often, and yet, it seems that we do not hear it as much and as often as we should. As we exit the blessed month of Rabi’ al-Awwal, the month during which our beloved Prophet (ﷺ) was born, let’s dive into the meaning, occasions and reasons why we say this special phrase. Make sure to read until the end!

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What does “SallAllahu ‘alayhi Wa Sallam” mean?

The Islamic phrase “SallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam” – in Arabic: صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – can be translated as “may Allah SWT send blessings upon him, and peace”, or more commonly found as “peace and blessings be upon him” (with the implied understanding that it is from Allah SWT). 

Common transliterations and abbreviations used:

  • Sallallahu alaihi wasallam
  • salla allahu alayhi wasallam
  • salla llahu alayhi wa-sallam
  • SAW
  • SAAW
  • SAWS
  • PBUH

When Do We Say SallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?

This honorific phrase (or one of its accepted variant depending on the context) is to be added upon saying or hearing the name of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), as well as in other specific situations such as during the Tashahhud, also known as at-Tahiyyat (the part during which the worshipper sits down), in prayer. The phrase should also be included in writing where needed. There are differences of opinion among scholars as to whether abbreviations such as “SAWS” can be used in writing, or if the phrase should always be spelled out entirely. And Allah SWT knows best.

Why do we say SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?

Sending peace and blessings to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is, sadly, something that many Muslims do not do enough, or might do without realizing why they are doing it. In the hopes of motivating you to adopt the wonderful daily habit of showering blessings on the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), we have compiled a shortlist of the many rewards and benefits of doing so.

1. You carry out Allah’s SWT command:

Allah SWT says in the Quran:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ ۚ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا

“Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace.” (Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:56)

According to the commentaries (tafaasir) on this verse, Muslims are here commanded to do two things: “Salloo ‘alayhi” which means love the Prophet (ﷺ), praise him and pray for mercy for him, and “sallimoo tasleemaa” which means to pray for his well-being and security as well as to put our heart and mind at task of obeying him faithfully and sincerely.

2. You can get your sins erased:

Anas Ibn Malik reported that the Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever sends blessings upon me once, Allah… will erase ten sins from him, and will raise him ten degrees in status.” (An-Nasa’i Sahih)

3. It aids in the acceptance of your Duas:

Umar Ibn Khattab (May Allah Be Pleased with him) once said: “Dua is suspended between heaven and earth and none of it is taken up until you send blessings upon your Prophet (ﷺ)”. (At-Tirmidhi)

4. All your concerns will be removed:

Ubayy bin Ka’b (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

When one- third of the night would pass, Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would get up and call out, “O people, remember Allah. The Rajifah (i.e., the first Blowing of the Trumpet which will shake the whole universe and thus cause all life to cease) has come, followed by Ar-Radifah (i.e., the second Blowing of the Trumpet which will restore life and thus mark the Resurrection Day). Death has approached with all that it comprises. Death has approached with all that it comprises.” I said: “O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), I frequently invoke Allah to elevate your rank. How much of my supplications should I devote to you?” He said, “You may devote as much as you wish.” When I suggested a quarter, he said, “Do whatever you wish, but it will be better for you if you increase it.” I suggested half, and he said, “Do whatever you wish, but it will be better for you if you increase.” I suggested two- thirds, and he said, “Do whatever you wish but it will be better for you if you increase it.” I said, “Shall I devote all my supplications invoking Allah to elevate your rank?” He said, “Then you will be freed from your worries and your sins will be forgiven.” (At-Tirmidhi)

5. Allah will shower you with benefits:

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Whoever sends blessings upon me, Allah will send blessings upon him tenfold”. (Sahih Muslim)

6. It will bring you even closer to the Prophet (ﷺ):

Abdullah ibn Masood narrated that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “The closest of people to me on the Day of Resurrection will be those who sent the most blessings upon me.” (At-Tirmidhi)

According to Imam Nawawi, “nearest to me” refers to “those who are most entitled to my intercession.”

7. Your greetings will be received and returned by the Prophet (ﷺ):

Abdullah ibn Mas’ood said: The Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Allah has angels who go around on earth, conveying to me the Salaam of my Ummah.” (An-Nisa’i)

Abu Hurairah (May Allah Be Pleased with Him) once narrated that the Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) said: “There is no one who sends Salaam upon me, but Allaah will restore to me my soul so that I may return his Salaam.” (Abi Dawud Sahih)

In another hadith, Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whenever someone greets me, Allah returns the soul to my body (in the grave) and I return his greeting.” (Abu Dawud)

8. Act upon the warning of the Prophet (ﷺ):

`Ali bin Abi Talib narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The stingy person is the one before whom I am mentioned, and he does not send Salat upon me.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Some other ways to send salawat upon the Prophet (ﷺ):

  • Supplication during Tashahhud:
    التَّحِيّـاتُ للهِ وَالصَّلَـواتُ والطَّيِّـبات ، السَّلامُ عَلَيـكَ أَيُّهـا النَّبِـيُّ وَرَحْمَـةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكـاتُه ، السَّلامُ عَلَيْـنا وَعَلـى عِبـادِكَ الصَّـالِحـين . أَشْـهَدُ أَنْ لا إِلـهَ إِلاّ الله ، وَأَشْـهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمّـداً عَبْـدُهُ وَرَسـولُه
    “At-tahiyyat is for Allah. All acts of worship and good deeds are for Him. Peace and the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you O Prophet. Peace be upon us and all of Allah’s righteous servants. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.’ At-tahiyyat: all words which indicate the glorification of Allah. His eternal existence, His perfection and His sovereignty.”(Hisn ul-Muslim)
  • Prayers upon the Prophet (ﷺ) after the tashahhud:
    اللّهُـمَّ صَلِّ عَلـى مُحمَّـد، وَعَلـى آلِ مُحمَّد، كَمـا صَلَّيـتَ عَلـىإبْراهـيمَ وَعَلـى آلِ إبْراهـيم، إِنَّكَ حَمـيدٌ مَجـيد ، اللّهُـمَّ بارِكْ عَلـى مُحمَّـد، وَعَلـى آلِ مُحمَّـد، كَمـا بارِكْتَ عَلـىإبْراهـيمَ وَعَلـى آلِ إبْراهيم، إِنَّكَ حَمـيدٌ مَجـيد
    “O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and the followers of Muhammad, just as You sent prayers upon Ibraheem and upon the followers of Ibraheem. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty. O Allah, send blessings upon Mohammad and upon the family of Muhammad, just as You sent blessings upon Ibraheem and upon the family of Ibraheem. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty.’ send prayers: praise and exalt him in the highest and superior of gatherings: that of the closest angels to Allah. (al) has been translated in it’s broadest sense: some scholars are of the view that the meaning here is more specific and that it means: his (saw) followers from among his family.” (Hisn ul-Muslim)
    اللّهُـمَّ صَلِّ عَلـى مُحمَّـدٍ وَعَلـىأَزْواجِـهِ وَذُرِّيَّـتِه، كَمـا صَلَّيْـتَ عَلـى آلِ إبْراهـيم . وَبارِكْ عَلـى مُحمَّـدٍ وَعَلـى أَزْواجِـهِ وَذُرِّيَّـتِه، كَمـا بارِكْتَ عَلـى آلِ إبْراهـيم . إِنَّكَ حَمـيدٌ مَجـيد
    “O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and upon the wives and descendants of Muhammad, just as You sent prayers upon the family of Ibraheem, and send blessings upon Muhammad and upon the wives and descendants of Muhammad, just as You sent blessings upon the family of Ibraheem. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty.” (Hisn ul-Muslim)
  • According to Abu Muhammad Ka’b bin ‘Ujrah (May Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (SAW) came to us and we questioned him, “O Messenger of Allah, we already know how to welcome you (i.e., say As-salamu ‘Alaikum), but how should we show respect for you?” He (ﷺ) said: “Say: ‘Allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammadin, wa ‘ala ‘ali Muhammadin, kama salayta ‘ala ‘ali Ibrahima, innaka Hamidun Majid. Allahumma barik ‘ala Muhammadin, wa ‘ala ‘ali Muhammadin, kama barakta ‘ala ‘ali Ibrahima, innaka Hamidum Majid [O Allah, exalt the mention of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as you exalted the family of Ibrahim. You are Praised and Glorious. O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as You blessed the family of Ibrahim. You are Praised and Glorious.”‘ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Making a habit of saying “SallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam” upon saying or hearing the name of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and sending prayers and blessings upon him on a daily basis, beyond what we already recite in our prayers, is of utmost importance in the life of a believer, and it’s never too late to start! Get in the habit today insha’Allah!

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