What is the meaning of the phrase; “Allah returns my soul to me”?

Details of the Question

There is not one of you who sends his greetings upon me except that Allah returns the soul to my body and I return his greeting. (Abu Dawood, Manasik, 100; Ahmad b. Hanbal, II, 527) What does Allah returns my soul to me mean according to the hadith above?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The scholars of Islam have interpreted this hadith in two different ways:

a) What is meant my “Allah returns my soul to me” here is returning of the soul in grave after death. That is, the soul does not enter and exit the body all the time.  On the contrary, the returning of the soul after his death is in question.

According to this interpretation, the meaning of the statement is as follows:  

Anyone who sends his greetings upon me sends his greeting while my soul is in my body. And I receive his greeting.” (Azimababi, Awnul-Mabud, 6/27-28; Suyuti, al-Hawi, 2/147)

The body here is not the one in the world, it is the new body the soul wears in the life of grave and is a beautiful cover. (Said Nursi, 29. Söz 1. Menba – 29th word 1st Aim)

b) What is meant by the soul here is an angel that is peculiar to our Prophet (pbuh) and that never leaves him. When a greeting reaches him via that angel or directly, he receives the greeting. His fully luminous soul has not been removed.

Therefore, he hears the greetings of those who come to his grave directly and answers their greetings. Angels deliver the greetings of the ones away from him. (Awnul-Mabud, 6/29)

According to the statement of Abdurrauf al-Munawi, receiving his ummahs greetings never retains his heart from divine presence. (Faydul-Qadir, 5/467)

c) Affairs of the realm of barzakh are affairs of the hereafter; they cannot be measured by the worldly mind. (Ibn Hajar, Fathul-Bari, 6/488)

d) According to another narration of Abu Dawud, it is as follows: “Always send your greetings to me after my death. They will reach me wherever you are.” (Abu Dawud, Manasik, 97)

“This small mind cannot grasp those high realities.
   For, this scale does not weigh such a big weight.”

To sum up:

  • The virtue of greeting the Prophet (pbuh) is great.
  • Our Prophet (pbuh) hears the person who utters salawat for him and answers his greeting.

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