Tafseer (Quran Interpretation)

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

Subscribe to our mailing list!

About Ayah 4:59: why is the phrase ‘olil-amr’ only mentioned once in the Ayah?


I was discussing the verse 4:59 with a brother from the sunni school of thought and particularly the part relating to ‘olil-amr’. We believe that the ‘olil-amr’ is in reference to the Imams whereas the Sunni view is that it relates to leaders. My question is: why in the first part of the verse ‘olil-amr’ is mentioned but in the second part when discussing if there are differences, it says “refer to God and his messenger’ and ‘olil-amr’ is no longer mentioned?


Firstly, the phrase منکم (minkum) in اولی الامر منکم (olil-amri minkum) clearly indicates that the اولی الامر (olil-amr) must be a Mo’men (believer) because the Ayah is addressing the believers, so it definitely doesn’t apply to non-believers, as it doesn’t include the wrong-doers (الظالمین) either, because the almighty God in Surah Baqarah Ayah 124 has made it clear that His covenant of leadership does not include the wrong-doers. Therefore, the Ayah is commanding us to obey leaders who are divinely authorised. Obviously kings like Yazid in the past, and most of contemporary Arab leaders will be excluded. Thus, the assumption that the obedience of anyone who – in any way – leads a Muslim nation is totally foreign to the Ayah. At the time of the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) they were the best examples of اولی الامر (olil-amr) and hence it would only apply to them, and during their occultation a just, pious and learned believer will be the example of اولی الامر (olil-amr) as a representative of the Imams (a.s).

For the same reason اولی الامر (olil-amr) are not mentioned as the points of reference in a matter of dispute, to show that the authority intrinsically rests with Allah and His Messenger, and the اولی الامر (olil-amr) get their authority from Allah via the Holy Prophet (P). The wisdom of this expression is – and God knows best- that when say today, someone argues that so and so are also examples of اولی الامر  (as a matter of dispute) we are bound to refer to Allah and His messenger. If that individual is not authorised by them, then he is a fake leader and he has usurped the position.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

What is the purpose behind the creation of human beings?


My question is just for information, and not due to any doubt (Allah forbid): What is the reason behind creation of human beings? Allah (swt) knows everything and He knows what is awaiting each one of us and which actions they are going to perform, and if they are going to be of the people of paradise or the ones of hellfire. So, what is the aim and reason in view of the fact that Allah (swt) is just, and in view of the fact that Allah (swt) is not in need of any person to worship Him.


Please read the following Tafseer of Ayahs 56-58 of Surah 51, from Tafseer Namoonna by Ayatollah Makarim Shirazi:

The Aim of Creation:

Among the most important questions any one may ask himself is: “Why am I created? What is the purpose behind my creation?”

The verse gives a brief and yet rich answer to this question:

“I did not create Jinn and Mankind except to worship me. I demand no sustenance of them, nor do I want them to feed me; because I am the true Provider for, and the Sustainer of all creation.”

A wise being does not do anything without a purpose. Then what is the purpose of God behind our creation? Had He any shortcomings to make up by our creation? We do know that God’s existence is perfect in all aspects and respects.

The above verses put the emphasis and stress on Man’s service and worship, which is supposed to be the final goal of creation.

Then it is important to know what does service to God, or worshipping Him, really mean?

The Arabic “Abd’,’ which is usually translated to “servant” or “slave”, alludes to someone who completely belongs to his Lord. He puts himself into accord with His will. He never acts sluggishly in obeying his Lord. He is the most humble before his Master. Therefore being a true servant of God is the summit of nearness to Him. The servant in such a position serves his Lord unconditionally, and only to please Him.

It has been narrated from Imam Hussain (a.s) that: “Allah has created Man in order to know him. When he knows God, he will worship him. When he worships God (properly and with knowledge), he will not worship any one else other than God.”

To turn the matter the other way, we may say : “Creation is not a playtoy in the hand of God, He certainly has a serious purpose behind it.”

Knowingly or unknowingly, every creature is in search of his Creator. It seems that the ultimate goal of any creature is to move in search of his Creator, and to know Him more and more, and better. Worshipping God is a means of finding Him and knowing Him more.

God is the source of all goodnesses and beauties. We are by instinct in love with goodness and beauty. Our progress and evolution depends on how near we approach the source of beauty.  Allah, through His Grace and Mercy provides for our progress towards beauty and goodness, which He has no benefit in our success and failure. He demands no sustenance from us, nor does He want us to feed Him. He is All-might and Power, and is the Provider for and Sustainer of all creatures.

Answered by: Sheikh Jafar Fathullah

Why does Allah (swt) add to their disease? [Holy Quran: 2:10]


“There is a disease in their hearts, so Allah added to their disease and they shall have a painful chastisement because they lied” [Holy Quran: 2:10]

Why does Allah (swt) add to their disease?



It means that Allah (swt) has established a law that good begets more good, and evil begets more evil.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

What does ‘The Book’ mean in Ayah 5:110 of the Holy Quran?


What does “The Book” mean in the following Ayah?:

“…and when I taught you the Book and wisdom and the Taurat and the Injeel…” [5:110]


In Ayah 5:110, ‘The book’ means the writing of the Taurat and the Injeel.

In the verse Allah (swt) mentions ‘The book’ first, and then explains what the book means i.e. it means the taurat and the Injeel. This is according to the following Tafseer book: (Majmaul-Bayaan fi Tafseer al-Quran).

Answered by: Sheikh Mohamd Jafar Fathullah

Doesn’t Ayah 9 of Surah 62 make Friday prayers obligatory to offer?


When one looks at Ayat no.9 in Surat Jum’a (Friday), it seems that it was revealed particularly to inform the believers of their obligation towards Salaatul jum’ah (Friday prayers). I have heard that that contrary to the above, this Ayah was revealed to order the cease of transactions at the time of Salaatul Jum’a.

How does the Ayat prove the later and NOT the more obvious previous explanation?


Becasue the Ayah doesn’t say ‘perform the Friday prayer’ (اقيموا صلاة الجمعه), to say its imperative and hence we must offer it.

What it says is: اذا نودي للصلاه

That means that when and only when, and if it was called for Friday prayer, then cease your transaction. Thus, calling for Friday prayer (based on the Ayah itself) is not Wajib (obligatory), what is Wajib according to the Ayah is ceasing the transaction at the time of Friday. prayer.

It is like I say: “if (or when) you go to the mosque, you should take off your shoes”. This doens’t mean its Wajib to go to the mosque, what is Wajib is taking off shoes when at the mosque.

Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Various questions on what the Holy Quran says about the Bible.


Peace be upon you! I was wondering whether you would be so kind to answer the following question:

‘Say: O People of the Book! Ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord….’ (Surah 5, Al Ma’idah, verse 68)  

Based on the above verse and numerous other ones, why do Muslims say the Bible has been corrupted? A comparison between these books as they were available in the sixth century with the ones from today clearly show that there are no changes in the main Christian doctrines.

As a practicing follower of Jesus I do not believe that the Quran is revealed by God. I do not mean to offend you by saying that but if I would believe the Quran to be divine revelation I would cease to be a Christian. However, I do believe that the Quran contains truth like many other books do too. All truth, of course, is God’s truth. Hence I am not unreasonable if I quote what is true from the Quran. I noticed that most Muslims deal with the Bible in the same way.

The following evidence proves that the terms ‘law’ and ‘Gospel’ have been used to refer to the whole Old and New Testament as well, as to the specific books of the ‘law’ and the ‘Gospel’ mentioned therein: 

Zabur revealed to Jewish prophet Hazrat Dawud (Al Nisa, 4 verse 163) not mentioned in Ali’Imran, verses 3 and 65; indicates inclusion in Tawrat.

Conclusion supported by hadith, Mishkat Al-Masabih, vol. 2, p. 1237: Ka’b is reported as quoting Tawrat with sayings that find parallels in book of Isaiah. Jesus and his followers used the words, “law” and “prophets” interchangeably to refer to the whole Old Testament.

Compare John 10:34 with Psalm 82:6, 1 Corinthians 14:21 with Isaiah 28:11-12, etc. Various historical documents clearly show that the early church used “Gospel” as title for all or part of New Testament before Islam arrived: Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament, pg. 99,  Schaff, A Select Library of Nicene and Post- Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: First Series. vol. 8, pg. 7;  Ignatius (A.D. 115) in  “ad Philad.” 5; “ad Smyrn.” 7. B.B. Warfield , The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, p. 413.


Dear friend,

Many thanks for your question which includes inquiries about what the Holy Quran says about the Bible.

Allow me to begin with the same verse you had opened your email, though I’d rather quote the whole verse for a better understanding:

“Say (O Muhammad): O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! You have nothing till you act according to the Torah and the Gospel, and what has (now) been sent down to you from your Lord (i.e. the Quran). Verily, that which has been sent down to you ( Muhammad) from your Lord increases in most of them (their) obstinate rebellion and mischief. So be not sorrowful over the people who disbelieve.” (5:68)

The above verse has the following messages:

It is a response to those Jews and Christians (or even Muslims) who assume that just by merely having a Scripture they can embrace salvation.  In reality what matters is practicing our Scripture. Now, there are numbers of issues here:

a.  Where is the Gospel of Jesus? The Quran clearly confirms that:

“We sent Jesus son of Mary afterwards, and We gave him the Gospel (Injeel) (57:27). 

The term ‘Gospel’ is used in the words quoted from Jesus in the Bible a couple of times.  Luke clearly narrates that Jesus used to preach the Gospel, but Christian theologians interpret it in a literal sense (good news). According to the Quran, Gospel was the name of the Scripture revealed to Jesus, similar to Torah, Psalms, Quran etc. It seems the Gospel according to Jesus which is a Godly revelation was destroyed in early years after the ascension of Jesus to heaven. Thus, many authors (according to Luke) put their hands in writing what they could remember from Jesus, and hence many gospels were written. I’m sure you are aware that the present four gospels are not the only written gospels. So for today’s Christians there is no Gospel (of Jesus) to practice it.

b. Do Christians today practice the Torah? The term Torah refers (by the Rabbis and majority of Christian theologians) to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, although there are other scholarly discussions about it. We all know that Christians believe that all the Law is abolished by Jesus, hence there is no Law or Torah for them in a practicing sense. Thus, they consume the flesh of swine freely to mention an example.

It also invites the Jews and Christians to believe and practice the Quran as another revelation sent down to another Messenger of God.

The end of the verse shows that unfortunately many of the people of the Scripture at the time of the revelation of the Quran not only did not believe in the Quran, but they also increased their animosity against it.
– Can a practicing Christian who is following Jesus believe that the Quran is the Word of God?

Why not? Where and when did Jesus Christ say that you should not believe in any more coming Prophet or Messenger of God? Would it be possible that a Messenger of God denies other Messengers of God? According to your logic then the Jews also have a sound argument to deny Jesus as they do. Historically, there has been an ongoing debate between Jews and Christians as each claim that they are the only ones who receive the Grace and will be in Paradise. Let me quote to you what the Quran says on this issue.

“Verily, those who believe, and those are Jews and Christians, and Sabians; whoever believes in God (the Unique God) and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” You can find this verse in at least two places in the Quran, one is just in the next verse you quoted and another in (Chapter 2, Verse 62).

My friend, don’t you see the mercy of God in the above verse? If it were the words of Muhammad as an ordinary human, he too would call but to himself.

I assume you sort of accept the Quran otherwise you wouldn’t bother to quote from it. Then, this is the Quran quoting from Jesus that he was foretelling about the coming of Ahmad (the second famous name for Prophet Muhammad). Please see Chapter 61, Verse 6.

The Quran while confirming the previous Scriptures (in their original form) contains all their Laws besides extra messages that don’t exist in them.

“And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad) the Book (this Quran) in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it and encompassing over it (the Scripture). So judge among them by what God has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging away from the truth that has come to you…” (5:48).

Thus, believing in the Quran in comparison to the previous Scriptures is like having number 100 that contains all the previous numbers in it.
– You mentioned that the Quran like other books contains some truth!

My simple question is if the whole truth stays only with God and we have no access to it, then who and how are we going to decide which part of the Quran, the Bible or any other book is true or false?! Your assumption seems nothing less than the fallacy of ‘religious pluralism’. The mercy of God necessitates that there must be a ‘scale’ left for mankind by which they can distinguish the truth from falsehood, or else, the followers of any ‘ism’ can claim (as they do) that they are the only one who tells the truth. Then any quotation that suits their doctrine will also be accepted as part of (their) truth, for it is confirming their so-called truth. This dogma is very misleading for a researcher of truth and if God confirms it, it means He is misleading us. Glory to Him.

– Was Gospel a term for part or all of the New Testament?

Obviously this contradicts what Luke quotes, that Jesus was preaching the Gospel, simply because in his time the New Testament was not compiled. Authors of present Gospels, letters of Paul, etc. were written after Jesus. Besides, as mentioned earlier the Quran explicitly mentions that ‘Gospel’ was the name of the Scripture that God had revealed to Jesus. Obviously, no one claims that the present New Testament  is God’s revelation to Jesus.

That’s all I could share with you in this short time and if you are interested to know the Quran’s point of view about Holy Jesus and his virgin Mary, please see my article ‘The True Story of Jesus’ on our website: http://www.ihic.org.au/book.php?id=6&idt=2

May God bless you,

Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Can you please suggest good Tafseer (interpretation) books for beginners?


Can you please suggest good Tafseer books for beginners?


– Tafseer Nemoneh or its concise version. Written by Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi

– Tafseer Noor written by Sh. Qarati

– Tafseer al-Mizan by Allama Tabatabaei is of course very good but quite difficult for a beginner.

Sheikh Mansour Leghaei