Will you give information about the importance of saying salawat for the Prophet? Why are hands wiped over the face after saying salawat when the name of the Prophet is mentioned?

Details of the Question

Will you give information about the importance of saying salawat for the Prophet? Why are hands wiped over the face after saying salawat when the name of the Prophet is mentioned?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

As it is known, it is an indispensible duty of every Muslim to say salawat whenever he hears the name of the Prophet. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in the Quran:

"Allah and His angels, send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him and salute him, with all respect." (al-Ahzab, 33/56)

Or, “surrender to him fully.”

When Allah utters salawat to His Prophet, it means to have mercy; when angels and we, human beings, utter salawat to the Prophet, it means to ask for the mercy of Allah for the Prophet. If he attains mercy, it means we attain mercy, too. Once, the Prophet begged Allah for his ummah until the morning and God Almighty sent him the following message through Jibril:

“We will satisfy you about your ummah and we will never depress you about them.” (Muslim, Iman: 346)

It is stated in verse 79 of the chapter of al-Isra as glad tiding that he would be given "a station of Praise and Glory", which calls us to be in a close and warm relationship with the Messenger of Allah. Thus, salawat is an important means that establishes, maintains and strengthens this warm relationship between him and us.

Accordingly, it is stated that it is fard for a Muslim to utter salawat once in his lifetime, that salawat after this fard one are wajib and that repetitions of salawat are sunnah; it is also stated that abandoning salawat causes deprivation of intercession (shafa'ah).

People who feel gratitude toward those who do them a favor will definitely feel gratitude toward the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who will be a means of salvation for them in the hereafter, and will utter salawat with respect and love when they hear his name; thus, they will attain his intercession through this loyalty.

"O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him and salute him, with all respect."As a necessity of the order of this verse, itis stated that it is fard for a Muslim to utter salawat once in his lifetime, that salawat after this fard one are wajib and that repetitions of salawat in the same place are sunnah.

It is understood that when a salawat is uttered, both our Lord and angels become pleased; besides, angels pray for those who utter salawat. We see in hadith books that some angels pray for a person who utters salawat, which elevates the rank of the Prophet (pbuh) in Paradise, by saying, “May Allah elevate your rank too” and the other angels say 'amin'. They react to those who do not utter salawat by saying, “May Allah not elevate your rank" and the other angels say 'amin'.

That is, those who utter salawat when they hear the name of the Prophet (pbuh) receive good du'a from angels and those who do not are cursed by them. Besides, the Prophet (pbuh) resents the members of his ummah who do not utter salawat; and he expresses his reproach for such a person by saying “May his nose soil with dust!”

There are numerous kinds of salawat. The most famous of them are the ones we read after at-tahiyyat in prayers “Allahumma salli ala Muhammadin wa ala ali Muhammad” and “Sallallahu alayhi wasallam”. The meaning of them can be expressed as follows:

–May the mercy of our Lord, asking for forgiveness of the angels and our greetings be on the Prophet Hz. Muhammad and on his family!

There are many hadiths of the Prophet regarding the issue; some of them are as follows:

“Do not make my grave a place of joy and feast. Send salawat and greetings to me. Your salawat and greetings reach me no matter where you are.” (Abu Dawud, Manasik: 97.)

“The best day of the days is Friday. Send salawat and greetings to me on that because your salawat and greetings are presented to me.” Somebody asked,

“O Messenger of Allah! How are our salawat and greetings presented to you when you die and no trace of you is left?” The Prophet said,

“Allah prohibited the soil from decaying the bodies of prophets.”(Abu Dawud, Salat: 201)

Once, Ubayy ibn Ka’b asked the Prophet,

“O Messenger of Allah! I send you a lot of salawat and greetings. What percentage of my prayer should I allocate to salawat?”  The Prophet said,

“As much as you wish.” Ubayy asked,

“Shall I allocate one-fourth of it?”The Prophet said,

“As much as you wish, but it is better for you if you increase it.”

“Half of it?”

“As much as you wish, but it is better for you if you increase it.”

“What if I allocate all of my prayer to salawat?”

“Then, Allah will relieve you of all your troubles and forgive your sins.”(Tirmidhi, Qiyamah: 23)

“There are travelling angels of Allah in the world. They convey me the greetings of my ummah.” (Mustadrak, 2:456, no. 3576)

Somebody asked, “O Messenger of Allah! We know how to send greetings to you, but how are we going to send salawat?” The Prophet taught him the salawat of “Allahumma salli, Allahumma barik” , which we perform after at-tahiyyat in prayers. (Bukhari, Tafsir 33:10; Tirmidhi, Tafsir 33:23.)

Salawat like this are prayers (du'a) peculiar to the Prophet; therefore, our Lord will not reject a prayer peculiar to him. If we start our prayers (du'a) with salawat and finish them with salawat having this in mind, we hope that our prayers will be accepted. 

It is better to say and write “Allahumma salli ala Muhammadin wa ala ali Muhammad” or “Sallallaha alayhi wa sallam” fully when we read and write; to write abbreviations like (sas) and(pbuh) means to write salawat. However, when abbreviations like those, which are placed for respect, are abundant in a text, the readers have difficulty in reading it and sometimes leads them to disrespect, which is contrary to the purpose of placing them. Rather than causing disrespect, it is better to decrease those abbreviations and leave it to the understanding of the reader.   

It cannot be said that salawat uttered for the Prophet will cause our sins to be forgiven. For, such a thing is not in question for the Prophet. It becomes a means of elevating his rank. Therefore, nobody can estimate and determine the rank of the Prophet. For, he receives myriads of salawat from his ummah every moment; it is understood that his elevation will never end and go on until Doomsday.

A Historic Example of Respect:

Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna had a servant called Muhammad. He always called him Muhammad, a name that he loved. Once, however, he called him by his father's name. The servant felt depressed and asked him why he called him by his father's name but not his own name, Muhammad. The Sultan said,

– I always had wudu when I called you; I always pronounced that name with wudu. However, I did not have wudu when I called you by your father's name. I would feel ashamed if I pronounced that name without wudu.

We remind this incident to those who did not feel and do anything when they hear this name.

To Wipe Hands over the Face

It is sunnah to utter salawat when the name of the Prophet is mentioned. Salawat is a form of du'a; after a du'a, the face is wiped by the hands; similarly, the face can be wiped by the hands after salawat.

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