What does ‘Salawaat’ on Prophet Muhammad & his family mean?


What does Salawaat mean, and why does it hold such a high importance in our faith?


The Almighty Allah (SWT) orders in the Holy Qur’an all believers to join Him and the angles in sending Salaam and Salawaat to the Holy Prophet (SAW):

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

“Verily, Allah and His angels send Salawaat on the Prophet. O you who believe, send your Salawaat on him, and submit (to him in all that he has brought for you) a thorough submission” (33:56)

  • Meanings of Salawaat:

Salawaat is the plural form of Salat which literally means ‘to call’ (Du’a) – a call to someone to try to get their attention.

In Arabic language, this type of calling, if done by someone with a higher status is called ‘Rahma’ (mercy and blessing), and if done by someone from a lower status called ‘Du’a’ (pray).

It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s) in explaining the meaning of Salawaat:

الصَّلَاةُ مِنَ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ رَحْمَةٌ وَ مِنَ‏ الْمَلَائِكَةِ تَزْكِيَةٌ وَ مِنَ النَّاسِ دُعَاءٌ

“Salat from the Almighty Allah means a ‘mercy’, and from the angels ‘exoneration’, and from people a ‘prayer’.” (Sadooq, Ma’anel-Akhbar, p. 368)

Salawaat of Allah (SWT) and that of the believers:

It is proven in Islamic mysticism that the noor (light/essence) of the Holy Prophet of Islam (SAW) is the first creation. That means, his holiness is on the peak of the cone of creation. Existence began from him and reaches the rest through him (peace be upon him and his pure progeny). Thus, the Salawaat of the Almighty Allah (SWT) upon the Prophet (SAW) means sending His constant ‘mercy of existence’ to him. This divine mercy reaches the rest of the creation through the Holy Prophet (P) and hence he is ‘a mercy for the worlds’ (Rahmatan Lel-Aalameen). Likewise, people’s invocation does not reach the Almighty Allah (SWT) unless through His Messenger (SAW). Thus, when believers send their Salawaat to the Holy Prophet (SAW) they are in fact calling for the divine mercy through His Messenger (SAW). Therefore, the benefits of Salawaat eventually return to the believers themselves.

Salawaat of the Angels:

As stated in the above mentioned narration, the Salawaat of the angels is ‘tazkiya’ which means ‘to exonerate’. The spiritual status of the Holy Prophet (SAW) is higher than all the angels. Therefore, the Salawaat of the angels means that they constantly exonerate  Holy Prophet (SAW); in that he is completely free from their own deficiencies and beyond. Thus, it was for this reason that the angels were commanded to prostrate before Adam in whose physical lineage the Seal of the Prophets would be born.

  • How to perform the Salawaat:

While the Holy Qur’an commands the believers to send Salawaat to the Holy Prophet (SAW), there is no instruction on how to perform this ritual. Similar to most of other Islamic rules the Holy Prophet (SAW) has taught Muslims the method of performing Salawaat .

The Shi’a and the Sunni scholars have narrated from Ka’b Ibn Ojra who asked the Holy Prophet (SAW):

يا رسول الله قد علمنا السلام عليك فكيف الصلاة عليك قال: قالوا اللهم صل على محمد و على آل محمد كما صليت على ابراهيم و على آل ابراهيم انك حميد مجيد و بارك على محمد و على آل محمد كما باركت على ابراهيم و آل ابراهيم انك حميد مجيد.  (صحیح البخاری ج6 ص 217 و تفسیر البرهان ج4 ص 489)

“O Allah’s Messenger! We know how to say Salam to you, but how is Salat on you? He said: Say: ‘O Allah! Send your Salat onto Mohammad and the Family of Mohammad, as You sent your Salat onto Ibrahim and the Family of Ibrahim, surely You are  worthy of all praise, the Glorious, and bless Mohammad and the Family of Muhammad as You blessed Ibrahim and the Family of Ibrahim, surely You are worthy of all praise, the Glorious.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 6 p. 217, and Tafsir al-Borhan, vol. 4 p. 489)

In addition to the above prophetic instruction, the Holy Prophet (SAW) has warned the believers against excluding his holy household when sending Salawaat to him.

The famous Sunni scholar; Ibn Hajar al-Haytami narrated:

أنّ رسول الله صلّى الله عليه وآله قال: لا تُصلُّوا عَلَيّ الصلاةَ البَتراء، قالوا: وما الصلاةُ البَتراء ؟! قال: تقولون: اللّهمّ صلِّ على محمّدٍ، وتُمسِكون، بل قولوا: اللّهمّ صلِّ على محمّدٍ وعلى آلِ محمّد. (الصواعق المحرقۀ، ص 87)

“Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: Do not send an incomplete Salat on me. The Companions asked: What is the incomplete Salat? He explained: to say: “O Allah send Salat onto Mohammad”, and then you stop. Rather you should say: O Allah send Salat onto Mohammad and the Family of Mohammad.”

(al-Sawa’equl-Mohreqah, p. 87)

  • The merits of Salawaat:

Although the merits of sending Salawaat are more than what I can mention here, I’d like to conclude with a few only:

  1. “There is no (recommended) act more precious than Salawaat onto Mohammad and his Family.” (al-Kaafi, vol. 2, p. 358)
  2. “Whoever is unable to find a compensation for his sins then let him send Salawaat on Mohammad and the Family of Mohammad repeatedly, for surely it will destroy the sins thoroughly.” The Imam then added: “Salawaat onto Mohammad and his Family equals Glorification, Unification and Exclaiming God’s greatness.” (al-Amali, p.73)
اللهـــم صل على محمــد و آل محمـــد   و احشـرنا مع محمــد و آل محمــد

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

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How to offer Salat (prayers) on airplane?


How does one pray on an airplane? How do I find the Qibla (prayer direction), and can I pray whilst sitting down?


It is a very spiritual experience to pray in the air and of course it is an obligation too. So make sure you don’t miss it! You can find out the local time either by looking outside or by asking the cabin crew. Also, usually you can find Mecca in Saudi Arabia on your screen, otherwise, simply ask the cabin crew to help you find the direction of Saudi Arabia and Mecca in particular.

Then, if you are allowed to offer your prayer in a standing position, you can find a place where you can stand for prayer. Otherwise, just offer your prayer whilst seated in your chair, positioning your face towards the Qibla. Remember to take off your shoes. For Ruku’ you can just bend a bit forward and keep your hands on your knees, and for Sojood you may put your stone on your food tray. Remember to touch the floor with your big toes.  If the Qibla is in your opposite direction, then sit in front of your chair – facing your chair – to face the Qibla and put your stone on your chair for Sojood.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

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Do we have to wake up to pray the Fajr Prayer?


Do we have to wake up for Salaat Al Fajr ? Or can we pray it once we wake up?


It is obligatory upon a baligh (mukallaf, one who has reached the age of accountability) Muslim to wake up and pray fajr prayer between dawn and sunrise. So yes, one has to wake up before sunrise to pray their fajr prayer. If they deliberately do not do this, they are taking their prayers lightly and this is a sin.

Answered by: Dr Ali Alsamail
Certified by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Which is better to recite, adhaan or iqamah?


Based on an authentic tradition, before starting prayers, which is better to recite, adhaan or iqamah?


Recitation of both Adhan and Iqamah prior to every obligatory prayer(performed individually or in congregation) is highly recommended. There are several ahadith which elude to their merits. Below is one such hadith and possibly the one you were referring to:

Imam As-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said: “One who offers his prayers along with Adhan and Iqamah, two rows of angels pray behind him, while one who offers his prayers with only the Iqamah and without the Adhan, one row of angels pray behind him.” The Imam (peace be upon him) was asked: “And how long is each row?” The Imam (peace be upon him) replied: “At the very minimum, its length is the distance between East and West, while at the maximum, its length is the distance between the earth and the heavens.”

Wasa’ilush Shi`a, Volume 4, Page 620


Answered by: Dr Ali Alsamail

Certified by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Intention for prayers and wudhu


What intention should one make before making wudhu (ablution) or before starting to pray?


The person should have the intention of purity (al-Taharah) to gain proximity to Allah for wudhu (qurbatan ila Allah).

For daily prayers the following needs to be in the intention:
– Which prayer it is (e.g. dhuhr)
– Whether it is Qadha or adaa ( on time)
– Proximity to Allah

Remember the intention does not need to be said out loud. It just needs to be in the mind of the person such that if someone were to ask that person what they were doing, they would be able to answer.

Answered by: Dr Ali Alsamail
Certified by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

What is the reason and significance of Friday prayers (Salat al-Jum’ah)?


Is the reason for Jum’ah prayer (Friday) prayers to pay homage to an Imam? If not, what is the significance of Jum’ah? Does chapter 62:9 apply to Muslims today?  Why or why not? Does disagreement between scholars (on the obligation of Jum’ah or in general) necessarily mean one isn’t as knowledgeable as the other?


“O you who believe, when the call is proclaimed for the prayer  on the day of Friday, come to the remembrance of Allah (SWT) and leave off business, that is better for you if you did but know!” (62:9).

There are a number of wisdoms behind Jum’ah prayer:

  • It is a chance for the Muslims to remind one another to adhere to piety. It is important to have this reminder every week. This is perhaps why we have narrations indicating missing three Friday prayers in a row causes a seal over the heart: The Prophet (SAWA) said:

Whoever misses three Friday prayers, being indifferent to them, Allah (SWT) seals his heart.

’[Wasael al-Shi`aah , v. 5, p. 6, no. 25]

  • It is a chance for the Muslims to meet regularly and discuss important social and political issues. It is a platform for the leaders of the Muslim community to educate the community about such issues. This is why it is quite widely agreed that the second sermon of Friday prayer should be about the daily affairs of Muslims.
  • This is besides the hidden spiritual benefits of Friday prayer, which are indicated by some narrations that state that a person gains hasanat (good deeds) and is forgiven sins for every single step they take on the way to Friday prayer.

Even though the Imam (as) is in absence, he has directed the community to follow the knowledgeable and pious scholars of the community. Therefore attending Friday prayer remains a way of paying homage to the Imam and showing our obedience to him.

The other point to remember is that the command in the above ayah of the Holy Qur’an is unconditional i.e it speaks to all believers. Therefore, unless we have other evidence, we cannot say that it does not apply to Muslims for the last 1200 years of ghaybah (occultation), because this would be the majority of Muslims, and it does not make sense for a command from a Wise Legislator to exclude the majority of its addresees. Therefore, the ayah does apply to Muslims today.

Lastly, if scholars differ in their opinions, it does not necessarily mean one is more knowledgeable as the other. Scholars often have to deal with a large body of religious evidence, and sometimes they come to slightly different conclusions despite both being sufficiently knoweldgeable. This happens in all fields of science, even in empirical and clinical sciences which are supposed to be easier to come to conclusions about.

Answered by: Dr Ali Alsamail
Certified by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

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What is the best, and latest, time that ‘Isha prayer can be offered?


Someone told me it’s good to pray ‘Isha prayer late, but on most of the websites I checked it said ‘Isha prayer can be prayed until 12 a.m. I wasn’t sure if I should pray at the time of Azan or Iqamah, or as late as possible?


The time for ‘Isha prayer starts at Maghreb (when the sun has set and more than half the sky is dark). The time for ‘Isha ends at Islamic midnight (halfway between sunset and dawn- this is not always 12 am). If a person is separating their Maghreb and ‘Isha prayers, then the best time to pray ‘Isha is from when the twilight ends (i.e. when there is no redness left in the sky at all- this is around 90 mins after sunset) until one third of the night is over.

Imam al-Baqir (.as): “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: If I did not fear that I would make it difficult for my community, I would have delayed the ‘Isha prayer until the third of the night. And you are allowed (to perform the prayer) until the middle of the night and this is the extremely dark part of the night…” (Wasailul Shi’a, chapter 62 from the chapters on the times, hadeeth no. 3).

Answered by: Dr Ali Alsamail
Certified by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei