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

Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [ Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [ Allah to grant him] peace.

[Al-Ahzab 56]

As is well-established by the primary sources, Muslims regularly send their blessings on the prophet Muhammad; this is often done by mentioning the salawat after any mention of his name. In Arabic, the construction صلى الله عليه وسلم is the most common, which translates to May God's blessings and peace be upon him.

In English, however, this is often translated as Peace be upon him, which only accounts for half (and arguably the less-important half) of the salat. "Peace be upon him" is more accurately a translation of عليه السلام which, while also a common salat, is rarely (if ever) used among Arabic-speaking Muslims for the prophet Muhammad himself.

In English, the Peace be upon him construction is predominant where an Arabic-speaking Muslim would use صلى الله عليه وسلم, that is to say it is reserved for the prophet Muhammad himself. To a lesser extent, it is also used for other prophets or notable figures as the Arabic عليه السلام would be.

Given that the Arabic text is hardly ambiguous in this regard, and the very term salat is derived from the root ص ل و (meaning prayer, or blessing), it would seem that the most important part to translate would be the صلى الله (God's blessings). To me, it seems an odd sort of mistake for any Islamic scholar worth his salt to make. This suggests that either there's a wisdom behind this translation that I don't understand, or it was translated thus through distinctly non-Islamic channels (at which point, the universality of the phrase among English-speaking Muslims seems peculiar).

So where did this translation come from, and why is it so prevalent among English-speaking Muslims today?

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Good question, I am not really a fan of the translation and also, the abbreviations. –  Abdullah Sep 22 '12 at 19:08
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is not it better to ask this in english.SE site? –  Battle of Karbala Sep 23 '12 at 13:25
    
Interesting question, but I don't see it as being terribly relevant -- it's about Muslims, not so much about Islam. –  ashes999 Sep 24 '12 at 1:19
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i tried to explain this in my answer to is pbuh used for any women islam.stackexchange.com/a/2796/45 –  NesreenA Sep 24 '12 at 15:22
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1 Answer

From the answer to a question in same concern

Why do Muslims add “peace be upon him” after names of important people?

The answer states

The phrase is translation of

عليه السلام

It is usually translated as "peace be upon him" but it does not completely preserve the meaning (as with any translation). The word "سلام" is often translated as "peace" but it is only one of the meanings. It is also one of God's names (verse 59:23).

Note that the Arabic root of "سلام" is "َسَلَم" which is also the root of Islam which can be translated to "submission [to God]" (c.f. verse 2:131).

Besides, if you check for the translations, you'll find many such examples as Translation is just a nearby meaning and it's hard to translate 100% of Arabic meaning into other languages (and that is the case of almost all the language translations).

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