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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Is the world ever left without the presence of a representative of God?


In your lecture “The glad tidings of Ahmad’ in the eHawza, you mentioned that there was no prophet/messenger that came between Prophet Jesus (a.s) and Prophet Muhammad (s). Is the world ever left without the presence of a divine representative?




The Almighty Allah in Surah 5, Ayah 19 states:

“O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Now has come to you Our Messenger (Muhammad) making (things) clear unto you, after a break in (the series of) Messengers, lest you say: “There came unto us no bringer of glad tidings and no warner. ” But now has come unto you a bringer of glad tidings and a warner.”
Also, in Ayah 6 of Surah 36 we recite:

“In order that you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are heedless”.
From the above and similar Ayaat, the majority of our scholars conclude that the era between the ascension of Prophet Jesus (a.s) and our Holy Prophet (s) was the era of Fatra (break in series of Messengers). That means during that period God had not sent any Messengers. However, as the abovementioned Ayaat negate the existence of ‘a messenger’ (who would come with a new Message and Scripture) some scholars – such as Sh. Sadooq and Allamah Majlesi – suggested that there have been prophets without any official and public missions. They rely on some narrations to prove their points. For example, Sh. Al-Kolayni narrated from an unauthenticated person called Bashir al-Nabbal that Imam Sadiq (a.s) is quoted to have said:

While Allah’s Messenger was sitting a lady walked in. The Holy Prophet (s) welcomed her, took her hand and sat her down and said: (She is) the daughter of the prophet Khalid Ibn Senan.” (al-kaafi, 8:342)

However, as these narrations lack authenticity there is no unanimity on this opinion.

As for reconciliation between the abovementioned Ayaat and the narrations that confirm the earth will never be vacant of any ‘divine proof’ we need to bear in mind that:

1. The ‘divine proof’ is not limited to ‘a prophet or a messenger’. Their successors are also divine proofs on earth.

2. Besides, ‘the proof of God’ does not have to necessarily live among people. Therefore, Imam al-Mahdi (atfs) has been the ‘divine proof’ for the last 1200 years while in occultation. All Muslims believe that Khidr (a.s) is alive and has been alive since and perhaps before the time of Prophet Moses (a.s). Thus, it is possible for Khidr (a.s) to be the ‘divine proof’ during that era. Imam Ali (a.s) says in the third sermon of Nahjul-Balagha:

“Yes indeed, the earth will never be vacant from ‘someone who stands for Allah’s sake with a proof’ whether he be apparent or hidden.” (Nahjul-Balagha, maxim 147)

3. Also, as Muslims we believe Prophet Jesus (a.s) was not crucified and is still alive though in a kind of occultation.

And God knows best.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Can I look at the face of a Prophet in a movie?


Is it permissible to watch a movie about a Prophet that shows the actor playing a Prophet if you look down every time they show the Prophet’s face? I really want to watch this movie about Prophet Sulaiman (pbuh) because I don’t really know his story that well. Is it okay to look at his face in the movie if his face is shown, or do I need to turn my face or lower my gaze?


According to a number of scholars, it is permissible to show the faces of the prophets in a movie and thus permissible to look at them. So you fan watch the movie without any problems. If the scholar you do taqleed to does not allow this, then you can as you said turn your face away at the appropriate times

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

Why do the prayers of the Prophets in the Qurán start with “Rabbana”


Why do the prayers of the Prophets in the Holy Qurán start with “Rabbana” ربنا ?
For example :  ربنا هب لنا , ربنا اتنا في الدنيا حسنه


The divine attribute of “Ar-Rabb” (الربّ) literally means to gradually nurture something or someone towards their perfection. Thus, parental responsibility is التربیۀ -to nurture their children. و قل رب ارحمهما کما ربیانی صغیرا.

Therefore, Ar-Rabb means the cherisher and the nurturer, and ‘lord’ is not an accurate translation. This attribute of nurturing and cherishing, when used alone, it should be used only for Allah (SWT). Some scholars believe that Ar-Rabb is the Great Name (الاسم الاعظم) of God, because any blessing for our perfection will be given to us by pleading to Ar-Rabb. i.e. the blessing of knowledge: ربّ زدنی علما, or any other blessing رب انی لما انزلت الیّ من خیر فقیر. It is for this reason that most supplications begin with ‘Ya Rabb’

The Almighty Allah (SWT) has promised to grant a supplication when the supplicant beseeches to Ar-Rabb: ادعوا ربکم فاستجاب لهم ربهم.

Considering the nurturing nature of Ar-Rabb, it is narrated that “whoever mentions Ya Rabb much, Allah (SWT) will protect him with regards to his  children.” (al-Kaf’ami)

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

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Was the Holy Prophet martyred or did he die a natural death?


Was the Holy Prophet poisoned (or killed) and martyred or did he die a natural death?


In general, the famous opinion (among the Shi’a and Sunni scholars) is that the Prophet (P) was poisoned by a Jewish woman after the battle of Khaibar. We do have a narration with a sound chain of narrators which states this.

However, there is a problem with the content of the narration. In the narration, the Jewish woman says that if Muhammad (pbuh) were to eat from the food, this would prove he is not a prophet! Therefore, if we believe the Prophet ate from this food and was poisoned by it, we are doubting his prophecy. In addition, the Holy Qur’an states “and We protect you from the people”, thus indicating the Prophet was safe from such plots.

Other evidence for the Prophet being martyred comes from the narration of Imam Sadiq (a.s): “There is none of us but is killed by sword or poison.”

The problems with this narration:

  • It is mursal (i.e. does not have a continuous chain of narrators)
  • It is most likely talking about the twelve Imams (as). This is proven by another hadith from Imam al-Hasan (as) talking about the Imams in particular, in which he says: “There is none of us (Imams) except he is poisoned or killed” (Biharul Anwar, 27:216)

Finally, there is a narration in Tafsir al-Ayyashi which states that the Prophet (pbuh) was poisoned by his two wives, A’isha and Hafsa.

The problems with this narration

  • It is only one narration
  • It is mursal (does not have a continuous chain of narrators) and is therefore weak
  • It is definitely not the opinion of our mainstream scholars
  • Absolute majority of our jurists (based on many authentic narrations) observe that the meat of the People of the Book is not Halal. However, Kosher is considered Halal by Sunnis. How then could the Prophet accept a meat cooked (and the goat would be normally killed by people at home) by a Jewess?!
  • We can’t rule according to this narration because without any prejudice according to the Sharia’ law one would be found guilty for murdering if:
  • a) Two just male witnesses give their testimony for it (just because a story is famous even among our respected scholars doesn’t mean its true. It is proven in the Principle of jurisprudence that الشهره is not a religious evidence. ربّ مشهور لا اصل له)
  • b) The murderer confesses that he/she has killed the murdered one.

None of the above conditions are met with regards to the two wives

 Yes, it is narrated in al-Bukhari and Muslim from Ayesha that they gave a medicine to the Prophet prior to his death:

 “’Aisha said: we gave him (pbuh) medicine while he was ill. He (pbuh) kept signalling to us not to give him the medicine. We thought it to be the dislike of an ill person for taking medicine. When he woke up he (pbuh) said: ‘did I not prohibit you from giving me medicine?’ We said: ‘we thought it was the dislike of the patient for medicine’. He said: ‘everyone in the house should take from the medicine while I watch them, except for Abbas (the Prophet’s uncle) because he was not present (when the medicine was being given to the Prophet pbuh)”.

 : قالت عَائِشَةُ لَدَدْنَاهُ في مَرَضِهِ فَجَعَلَ يُشِيرُ إِلَيْنَا أَنْ لَا تَلُدُّونِي فَقُلْنَا كَرَاهِيَةُ الْمَرِيضِ لِلدَّوَاءِ فلما أَفَاقَ قال أَلَمْ أَنْهَكُمْ أَنْ تَلُدُّونِي قُلْنَا كَرَاهِيَةَ الْمَرِيضِ لِلدَّوَاءِ فقال لَا يَبْقَى أَحَدٌ في الْبَيْتِ إلا لُدَّ وأنا أَنْظُرُ إلا الْعَبَّاسَ فإنه لم يَشْهَدْكُمْ.

The problems with this narration:

  • The narration does not say it was poison (thus no confession).
  • The narration is not mentioned in our books of hadith
  • The content of the hadith is problematic. Why would the Prophet punish all in the household except Abbas by making them drink the medicine? And if it was poison, they should all have died too

Other problems with the theory that the Prophet was poisoned:

If someone is poisoned he is usually expected to die soon after such as the case of Imam Hasan (a.s) not after about four years.

Also, the Almighty God says the following about the plots of hypocrites in assassinating the Prophet, which indicates although there have been attempt in killing the Prophet they did not succeed.

هموا بما لم ینالوا  -التوبۀ 74

“and they resolved that (plot to murder Prophet Muhammad SAW) which they were unable to carry out” (9:74)

In conclusion, it seems most likely that the Prophet (pbuh) died of natural causes and was not poisoned. And God knows best.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Why is ‘Ibrahim’ spelt differently in the Holy Qur’an?


Why is the word ‘Ibrahim‘ in chapter 2 of the Holy Qur’an (Surat Al-Baqarah) spelt differently than it is in every other chapter?


There is an expression in the science of calligraphy of the Qur’an (علم رسم الخط) called ‘فرش الحروف’ which means that there are certain words (الحروف here means الکلمات) which have no set rules for writing them; the scribes had instead relied fully on the way the Prophet (P) had pronounced those words. For example, the word ایِها is usually with الف at the end of it, but in three different parts of the Holy Qur’an it is written without it, like in Surat al-Rahman (Chapter 55) سنفرغ لکم ایهّ الثقلان. This is because the Holy Prophet (P) had recited it like that. The word ‘Ibrahim’ is also another such example.

In fact, this is another miracle and proof that the present Qur’an is exactly as it was revealed to the Holy Prophet (P) and the scribes of the revelation did not make any changes in it, rather they wrote it down exactly as they had heard from the holy lips of the Prophet (P).

For further infromation about the science of فرش الحروف, you may refer to the detailed books on علم التجوید and in particular ‘the Sciences of Quran’ by al-Zarqani vol.2 pp.362-366.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

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