Monday, July 29, 2013

Why do we say salawat to Prophet Muhammad?

ṣalawāt=Allāhumma ṣalli 'alā sayyidinā Muḥammad, wa 'alā āli Muhammad (asm), kama ṣallayta 'alā Ibrāhīm, wa 'alā āli Ibrāhīm
O God bestow your blessings upon our mister Muhammad and upon the House of Muhammad, as you send blessings upon Abraham and upon the House of Abraham.
shahādah=ashhadu an lā ilāha illAllāh, Muhammad rasulullāh
=I testify (witness) that there is no deity but TheOneGod, Muhammad is God's messenger.
ṣalāh=formal prayer (5 times a day, Friday and Eid congregational prayers, etc)
pbuh=peace be upon him=asm=ṣalawāt

Why do we say Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)'s name in ṣalawāt and shahādah and ṣalāh, although the Qur'an declares all prophets to be equals?

Qur'an, 3:84 (Asad) Say: "We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed by their Sustainer unto Moses and Jesus and all the [other] prophets: we make no distinction between any of them. And unto Him do we surrender ourselves."
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is known to be the Seal of Prophets (pbut). The significance of this is that the message brought by him is the culmination, compilation and purification of all previously distorted (on purpose or through translation) revelation.

The message of the Quran teaches us that the Creator of our questions about the existence of the universe and ourselves, is also the Bestower of the answers taught in revelation and the Creator of our mind, conscience and heart with which we can understand and confirm these answers. Thus the Creator of the universe is also the Creator who reveals to us the purpose of our existence. ("wa ma khalaqnakum illa li ya'buduuni =We didn't create you except that you may worship Me" as quoted from the Quran, 51:56.) Our Creator not only does this through revelation (the Quran and all others previously revealed) but also through our observation of the signs of God all over the universe and equally importantly also through Prophets (pbut) who exemplify the revelation. Thus the message of the Quran teaches us the questions we should be asking ourselves--if we're not already asking them--and the necessity of Prophets (pbut) in finding answers to these questions or in following the sirat mustaqim (righteous path).
As a result bringing salawat on Prophet Muhammad asm, signifies that:
---> we're grateful to the message taught and exemplified by him (Muhammad pbuh), where we inshaAllah (by the will of God) learn how to worship Our Creator and make our existence worthwhile.
---> we agree and confirm with full mental and emotional satisfaction the truthfulness of Allah's message through him
---> we therefore confirm the necessity and significance of all Prophets for our individual selves and the humanity (past and present) (notice the very first human Adam pbuh is also a prophet)
---> we learn lessons of exemplary worship in God from the narrations of other Prophets in the Quran and through the hadith (Prophetic narrations).
---> we express our gratefulness for all the Prophets who have contributed to our understanding of how to excel in our humanity and worship.
---> Towards the end of each ṣalāh the salawat is repeated, where blessings are sent upon the "House of Abraham." The "House of Abraham" addresses any ḥanīf, jewish, christian, muslim, anyone who sincerely believes in the Oneness of God and does amal ṣāliḥ (good deeds). Considering that the Christian and Muslim communities together make up more than half of the global population, by simply including the phrase "and upon the House of Abraham" we pray every day at least 5 times for God's blessings upon -potentially- half the global population.
On a side note: I say potentially, because the global statistics probably include many people who are simply Christian or Muslim by ethnic and familial affiliation without necessarily believing in and/or following its basic tenants. I haven't mentioned the jewish community in the global population, because their percentage in the world population is too small to add significantly to the number of followers of Abraham. I'm suspecting the stark difference in the numbers of adherents has to do with the difficulty of conversion into Judaism, whereas, da'wah (spreading the message of God) and simplicity of conversion/reversion/introduction is typically encouraged among Christians and Muslims. For instance, starting the path of becoming a muslim (one who is in peace with all creation and the Creator and submits to God and God's prophets), is as simple as taking the shahadah (witnessing/testifying to the unity of God), which in turn is as simple as reciting three times the one sentence of shahadah, with conviction with certainty as though "witnessing":
لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله (lā ʾilāha ʾillā l-Lāh, Muḥammadun rasūlu l-Lāh) There is no deity but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.

Therefore salawat to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and/or to Prophet Abraham (pbuh) (the literal and figurative father of tawheed=unity of God) is inherently expressing our respect, love and gratefulness to all Prophets of God who taught the same core message=there is only one God worthy of worship.
On a side note: I find stories of Ashab Kahf (7sleepers), Musa (Moses), Yusuf (Joseph), Lut (Lot) and Suleiman (Solomon) (pbut) especially pertinent to our times-the end times of humanity where disbelief/shirk (association of other deities with God) and decadence is glorified. Many people think we don't worship statues of deities and therefore this "shirk" narration is irrelevant to our time, but think of how often we place our hopes in doctors, science and medication to cure our illnesses and solve our problems instead of God, the Healer (Shafi), or how many times we place our trust in money to protect us or feed us or provide for us and not God, the Protector (Hafiz), the Razzaq the Provider, the Sustainer, or how we expect "fun" and "happiness" from the "false paradise of the Dajjal(Anti-Christ)" (this expression is from the hadith) (think mindless TV, parties, clubs...) instead of from what our souls truly seek: finding peace within the connection of the soul with its Infinite Creator. 

InshaAllah ya Hadi (Guide), I pray our Creator guides us to sirat mustaqim (the straight way) as we pray when reciting the chapter Fatiha (the opening chapter recited in every unit of salahs) of Quran. I pray we can understand the Quran correctly, but also practice and live it accordingly inshaAllah (by the will of God).

Next Question:
If we should only seek help from God, our Creator, does that mean we should sit at home and pray when we're sick and not go to the doctor or take any medication, waiting for, perhaps, death?

Summary of the Answer:
When saying:  "think of how often we place our hopes in doctors, science and medication to cure our illnesses and solve our problems, instead of God, the Healer (Shafi)"; the point was NOT to avoid doctors or science or medication etc. Instead it was to realize that it is not the doctor who heals me, but that God the Healer Shaafi sends me healing through the doctor. The medication is ignorant of my body and my sickness, there is no knowledge or power or healing within the medication (the herb or pill) itself, but we observe shifaa (healing) coming after we take the medication: this shows us that the shifaa (the effect) cannot be from the medication (the apparent cause) itself, but if anything, the medication is a vessel for us to observe the creating hand (figuratively, of course) of the Creator of both the medication and of the shifaa from the medication. Thus the Causer of all causes is the Creator of the Universe. 

Full Answer: please click on this link:

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