Monday 18 October 2021 (12th night of Rabiul Auwal 1443)
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider

Alhamdu Lillah, we are in this great month of Rabiul Auwal, and the 12th day of this auspicious month signals the birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and the best of Almighty Allah’s (SWT) creations. 12th Rabiul Auwal is widely recognized by our Sunni brethren as the birthday of Rasulullah (SAWA).

This whole month of Rabiul Auwal is dedicated to the Prophet of Islam (SAWA) and we should try our best to take this opportunity to connect ourselves with his personality, through love and understanding, and through capturing his message, his mission and the purpose of his Prophethood (Nubuwwat).

Indeed, the birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is the most important event of the history of humankind. It is the most important turning point for human civilization and not only in the history or in the past, but in the present and future of humanity as well. Nothing is more crucial and more influential in human society than the personality and message of this man, we know him as Muhammad al-Mustafa (SAWA).


Rasulullah (SAWA) is the greatest of Allah’s (SWT) creation. Nobody is above him from the rest of creation. He has achieved the highest level a person can reach. Everyone else comes after him and are basically reflections and barakah from his Noor.

When we speak about other noble personalities in Islam, it sometimes comes in our minds that what about Rasulullah (SAWA)? But when we think about this a little deeper, we realize that for whoever we speak about, that personality goes back finally to Rasulullah (SAWA).

If we speak about Amir al-Mu’mineen Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s), it is because of that famous Hadith from Rasulullah (SAWA), where he said:

“Ana Madinatul ilme wa Aliyyun babuha.”
I am the city of knowledge and Ali is the gate.

Similarly, if we speak about Sayyid as-Shuhada Imam Husain (a.s), it is because of that famous Hadith from Rasulullah (SAWA), where he gave the most beautiful definition of Imam Husain (a.s):

“Husainu minni wa ana minal Husain.”
Husain is from me and I am from Husain

This means the relationship of Imam Husain (a.s) with Rasulullah (SAWA) is the key criterion. If Husain (a.s) is Husain (a.s), it is because he is from Rasulullah (SAWA), and Rasulullah (SAWA) is from Husain (a.s)!

Moral of the story is that the connection with Rasulullah (SAWA) is the ultimate criterion. Whatever good there is that we attach ourselves to is all a reflection of the Noor bestowed upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).

Therefore, our logo and identity is Salawaat! Nobody repeats Salawaat as much as we Shia Muslims, because Salawaat connects us to Rasulullah (SAWA)!

I wish to delve deeper into this very important discussion, regarding the Salawaat on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), on this most joyous day of celebrating his sacred birth, by exploring the following critical elements to the discussion:

  1. What is the meaning of Salawaat?
  2. Why do we fallible humans send Salawaat on our infallible Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)?
  3. What are the benefits to us human beings of Salawaat?
  4. The Muhammadian reality: Our channel to receive divine blessings from Allah (SWT)
  5. Salawaat is Dhikr: Remembrance of Allah (SWT)
  6. Salawaat is dua (supplication)
  7. Salawaat is our expression of love to Rasulullah (SAWA) and his Ahlul Bait (a.s)
  8. Salawaat connects us to Rasulullah (SAWA) as the greatest of creation
  9. Imam Ali (a.s) teaches us how to make Salawaat

Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 56 of Surah Ahzaab (chapter 33 of the Holy Quran):

إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ ۚ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
Surely Allah and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who believe! call for (Divine) blessings on him and salute him with a (becoming) salutation.

Firstly, Salawaat has various meanings, depending on the context in which it is applied. The above referenced verse states that Almighty Allah (SWT) and His angels perform Salawaat on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). It means that Allah (SWT) descends His mercy and blessings on His Rasul (SAWA).

Our 8th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Ridha (a.s) explains what the reference to the angels performing Salawaat on Rasulullah (SAWA) means, because we may wonder why this would be so, when Rasulullah (SAWA) is much higher than the angels, so then, what is the value of their Salawaat to him?

We can understand from this verse when Almighty Allah (SWT) sends His blessings on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). However, the angels are on a lower existence compared to Rasulullah (SAWA), so it therefore renders the question, how can they be blessing him?

Imam Ridha (a.s) explains that the Salawaat of the angels means that they continuously acknowledge and express that Rasulullah (SAWA) is above all other creation. The angels (Mala’ika) purify our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) with their Salawaat, meaning they glorify him by expressing that he is the best of Allah’s (SWT) creation.

Imam Ridha (a.s) then explains that the Salawaat of us believers is a dua (supplication) for our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).

So then, to summarize:

  • Salawaat of Almighty Allah (SWT) means sending His blessings on Rasulullah (SAWA)
  • Salawaat of Mala’ika (angels) means their acknowledgement of the status of Rasulullah (SAWA)
  • Salawaat of Mu’mineen (true believers) means that we make dua, seeking the blessings of Almighty Allah (SWT) to be sent on Rasulullah (SAWA)

This is an important question which comes to mind, why do we seek the blessings of Almighty Allah (SWT) to be sent on Rasulullah (SAWA)? Surely, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is the best, and has everything, since he has achieved the greatest mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT)?!

So then, who are we as weak human beings seeking the blessings of Almighty Allah (SWT) to be sent upon Rasulullah (SAWA)? Surely, Rasulullah (SAWA) does not need our dua, as he is already on a sublime level?!

Yes, he does not need our dua, BUT he still is dependent on the mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT), without any doubt! However, despite having achieved the best of positions, as the best creation of Almighty Allah (SWT), it does not mean that the journey of perfection and of receiving the mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT) came to an end. Rather, this journey is an infinite journey. It is not as if he reached his final destination and that is the end.

That journey continues, on and on, despite the unmatched level that Rasulullah (SAWA) reached. He therefore continues to be dependent on the mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT).

Now, when WE express Salawaat, asking Almighty Allah (SWT) to send His mercy and blessings on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), it results in Almighty Allah (SWT) showering more of His mercy and blessings on Rasulullah (SAWA), but with this dua (supplication) we also enjoy benefits, because seeking the mercy of the Merciful, for the most beloved of Allah (SWT) is an Ibadah (act of worship) by itself.


From the preceding point, we understand that when we are seeking God’s mercy for our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), it means that we are ourselves being showered by the mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT)!

There are numerous reasons for this, that when we seek mercy for him, we wretched souls become elevated in the process as well!

The first reason is that Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is himself the manifestation of the mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT). Verse 107 of Surah Anbiyaa (chapter 21 of the Holy Quran) makes this abundantly clear:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ
And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds.

Allah’s (SWT) mercy is embodied in the form of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). The Holy Quran is very clear about this, in verse 159 of Surah aal-Imraan (chapter 3 of the Holy Quran), where Almighty Allah (SWT) says that had it not been for the kind, caring nature of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), which He bestowed upon him through His mercy, then people would not have been attracted to him (Rasulullah (SAWA)) ie. had he been hard-hearted.

فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ لِنْتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنْتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانْفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ
Thus, it is due to mercy from Allah that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hard hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you.

It is the mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT) which made Rasulullah (SAWA) merciful. He is therefore the manifestation of Allah’s (SWT) mercy. That Rahman (Most Gracious) and Rahim (Most Merciful), which are attributes of Almighty Allah (SWT), have manifested in the very core existence, personality and noble, moral character of Rasulullah (SAWA).

So, Rasulullah (SAWA) is himself the manifestation of the Mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT). Hence, in Salawaat, when we seek the Mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT) for the one who is merciful (Rasulullah (SAWA)), then you connect yourself with this expansive ocean of mercy, which then naturally descends and envelopes us as well.


It is customary for us to mention the subject of Hakikat-e-Muhammadia (Muhammadian reality) on this auspicious occasion of Miladun Nabi. What we understand from this subject is that the first thing created by Almighty Allah (SWT) was the Noor (Light) of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).

There are numerous Hadith in the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s) explaining this, and then, everything else is created from the Noor of Rasulullah (SAWA). Hence, whatever we are in this world is a reflection of that Noor! Therefore, when we render Salawaat, we connect ourselves to that first light and creation, that manifestation of the Mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT), in the form of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).

Hakikat-e-Muhammadia therefore refers to Rasulullah (SAWA) as being the channel through which we receive the divine blessings of Almighty Allah (SWT). So then, when we read Salawaat, we connect ourselves to this channel, and once we are connected, then we will of course receive the Mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT).


Another reason how we benefit from Salawaat is because Rasulullah (SAWA) is the most beloved of Almighty Allah (SWT). Salawaat is therefore remembrance (dhikr) of Allah (SWT) and Rasulullah (SAWA).

People often ask what the best act of worship (Ibadah) is, to which the answer is remembrance of Almighty God (SWT) ie. Zikrullah. And the best Zikrullah is Salawaat on Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his Ahlul Bait (a.s).

The question that then comes in our minds is that Salawaat is the zikr (remembrance) of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). How can we then refer to Salawaat as Zikrullah?

Indeed, Salawaat is the remembrance of Rasulullah (SAWA), and Rasulullah (SAWA) is none other than the most beloved of Almighty Allah (SWT). Therefore, if you are remembering the most beloved of Almighty Allah (SWT), then surely, we are remembering the lover as well ie. Almighty Allah (SWT)!

Almighty Allah (SWT) will surely love this Salawaat more than anything, because Salawaat is upon His most beloved! Dhikr of Salawaat is therefore the Dhikr of the most beloved of Almighty Allah (SWT).


The third angle to explore is that Salawaat is a dua (supplication) which can never be refused, because it is for the most beloved of Almighty Allah (SWT). Afterall, Salawaat is us seeking from Almighty Allah (SWT) to deploy His Mercy on Rasulullah (SAWA) and his purified household.

Is it possible for Almighty Allah (SWT) to reject this request? It is clearly irrational to think that Almighty Allah (SWT) can reject this dua.

If you are seeking dua for the Mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT) to be showered on Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his family, then it is inconceivable for Him to reject it. As a result, our 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), says that if we want to ensure that our dua is accepted by Almighty Allah (SWT), then we should read a Salawaat at the start of our dua and another Salawaat at the end of our dua!

This way, you are folding your dua in the envelope of Salawaat!

Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) explains that if your dua is enveloped with another dua at the start and end (Salawaat), which we mentioned a moment ago is never rejected, then it stands to reason that the dua you are making has to be accepted by Almighty Allah (SWT) as well! It is illogical that Almighty Allah (SWT) would accept your Salawaat, but not your dua which is wrapped within the Salawaat! Indeed, He WILL accept the whole parcel!

It is most inconsistent with the infinite kindness and generosity of Almighty Allah (SWT) to accept part of your dua (Salawaat) but reject the contents enveloped in between (your request).

Now we understand why Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) emphasized that we should wrap our request to Almighty Allah (SWT) between Salawaat at the start and at the end. Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) affirms that acceptance of our request is guaranteed by Almighty Allah (SWT)!


Another important angle to Salawaat on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his purified household is the great reward it carries. There is so much emphasis in Hadith pertaining to Salawaat, to support the importance placed on Salawaat in the Holy Quran. Indeed, Salawaat carries infinite blessings and goodness.

When we render Salawaat on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), we recognize his services, his role and character. We are rescued today because of Rasulullah (SAWA), otherwise we would have been lost in ignorance and misguidance.

Hence, whenever we read Salawaat, we ought to realize the great favour of Rasulullah (SAWA) on us, despite him never asking us for any favours! We note this from the Holy Quran, that Rasulullah (SAWA) does not expect any reward from us for everything he taught us and this world, across the vast array of subjects in his revolutionary program to transform society from the state of moral bankruptcy to one of righteousness.

Now, when we read Salawaat, we recognize the favours and kindness of Rasulullah (SAWA), which we cannot recompense. However, we also remember what he very clearly said, as noted in verse 23 of Surah Shura (chapter 42 of the Holy Quran), that no reward do I ask for this Prophethood, except for the love of my family:

قُلْ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَىٰ
Say: “No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin.”

This love of his family, the Ahlul Bait (a.s), is not for his benefit. Rather, it is for OUR BENEFIT! WE will be rescued and successful in this dunya and akhirah if we love his family. This means the benefit comes back to us!

Hence, when we perform Salawaat, we recognize our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Unfortunately, mainstream Muslims only recognize Rasulullah (SAWA), while they forget that the Holy Quran commanded him to “say no reward do I ask for this Prophethood, except for the love of my family”, as noted in the above verse!

That is why they only say “Allahumma sallli ala Muhammad” and end there! They do not remember “aale Muhammad”, despite our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and the Holy Quran clearly stating that we should not forget “aale Muhammad”. As Rasulullah (SAWA) very clearly noted, that Salawaat on him without his family is a deficient, incomplete Salawaat!


Salawaat is also a means for us to capture and comprehend who our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was. Of course, as we noted earlier, Hakikat-e-Muhammadia (Muhammadian reality) refers to Rasulullah (SAWA) as the most beloved of Almighty Allah (SWT), the channel of His divine mercy to us, and the one who saved us.

In a nutshell, Salawaat introduces us to the magnanimous status of Rasulullah (SAWA), which we cannot comprehend. On this point, we note from Hadith resources that Rasulullah (SAWA) said to Imam Ali (a.s): “Nobody can comprehend my reality except you, and nobody can understand you, except me (SAWA) or except Almighty Allah (SWT).”

So, if you want to know who the final divine Prophet of Almighty Allah (SWT) really is, and the best of His creation, then the best person to ask is none other than Amir al-Mu’mineen Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s)!


Imam Ali (a.s) has taught us, in Sermon 72 of Nahul Balagha, how to make Salawaat on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Imam Ali (a.s) starts this sermon with the attributes of Almighty Allah (SWT).

اللَّهُمَّ دَاحَيَ الْمَدْحُوَّاتِ، وَدَاعِمَ الْمَسْمُوكَاتِ، وَجَابِلَ الْقُلُوبِ عَلَى فِطْرَتِهَا: شَقِيِّهَا وَسَعِيدِهَا
My God, the Spreader of the surfaces (of earth) and Keeper (intact) of all skies, Creator of hearts on good and evil nature

اجْعَلْ شَرَائِفَ صَلَوَاتِكَ، وَنَوَامِيَ بَرَكَاتِكَ، عَلَى مُحَمَّد
send Thy choicest blessings and growing favours on Muhammad

Now, amazingly, in the following extract from this sermon, there are 25 qualities of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) noted by Imam Ali (a.s)! From this list of many qualities, it is no surprise that Imam Ali (a.s) lists “abd” (servant) as the first quality attributable to Rasulullah (SAWA).

عَبْدِكَ وَرَسُولِكَ، الْخَاتمِ لِمَا سَبَقَ، وَالْفَاتِحِ لِمَا انْغَلَقَ، وَالْمُعْلِنِ الْحَقَّ بِالْحَقِّ، وَالدَّافِعِ جَيْشَاتِ الاْباطِيلِ، وَالدَّامِغِ صَوْلاَتِ الاْضَالِيلِ، كَمَا حُمِّلَ فَاضْطَلَعَ، قَائِماً بِأَمْرِكَ، مُسْتَوْفِزاً فِي مَرْضَاتِكَ، غَيْرَ نَاكِل عَنْ قُدُم، وَلاَ وَاه فِي عَزْمِ، وَاعِياً لِوَحْيِكَ، حَافِظاً لِعَهْدَكَ، مَاضِياً عَلَى نَفَاذِ أَمْرِكَ; حَتَّى أَوْرَى قَبَسَ الْقَابِسِ، وَأَضَاءَ الطَّرِيقَ لِلْخَابِطِ
Thy servant and Thy Prophet who is the last of those who preceded (him) and an opener for what is closed, proclaimer of truth with truth, repulser of the forces of wrong and crusher of the onslaughts of misguidance.
As he was burdened (with responsibility of prophethood) so he bore it standing by Thy commands, advancing towards Thy will, without shrinking of steps of weakness of determination, listening to Thy revelation, preserving Thy testament, proceeding forward in the spreading of Thy commands till he lit fire for its seeker and lighted the path for the groper in the dark.

This is so deeply spiritual to note, as Imam Ali (a.s) is saying that the highest status of Rasulullah (SAWA) is that he is “Abdullah” – choicest servant of Almighty Allah (SWT). This is the highest status one can reach. All other qualities follow thereafter ie. after reaching this status of being a true servant of Allah (SWT).

After being referred to as “abd”, most importantly, Imam Ali (a.s) continues the Salawaat by referring to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) as the Rasul ie. the Messenger of Almighty Allah (SWT), who brought His divine message to humanity.

Imam Ali (a.s) then goes further stating the Rasulullah (SAWA) is the one who concluded what was revealed before him. This means that all the earlier divine missions from the earlier divine Prophets (a.s) are embodied in Rasulullah (SAWA).

Imam Ali (a.s) goes further in the above extract, describing Rasulullah (SAWA) as the one who opened the gates of knowledge which were previously closed, and demystified confusion and misguidance, the traps which take us far away from the truth.

Then comes the deeply beautiful description above, where Imam Ali (a.s) says that Rasulullah (SAWA) was the one who proclaimed truth by truth! This means that the strategy employed by Rasulullah (SAWA) was the path of truth in order to promote truth! Very important lesson we learn from this, deeply applicable for today, is that Rasulullah (SAWA) never used falsehood to promote truth ie. aim can never justify the means!

As you can see from the above extract from Sermon 72, the description of Salawaat on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) continues.

Let me conclude by stating that Salawaat connects our minds, hearts and souls with this most noble personality, the centre of the universe and most beloved of Almighty Allah (SWT), the final divine Prophet, Muhammad Rasulullah (SAWA).

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