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When I first learnt how to pray salat, I was taught as part of the tashahud to recite the phrase "السلام عليكم أيها النبي."

I am hardly fluent in Arabic, but my translation of the above is basically "Peace be upon you, oh prophet." As a native English speaker this has always felt wrong to me, as using the second-person pronoun "you" suggests that I am speaking (and thus praying) directly to the prophet, rather than to God Almighty; this brings to me concerns of shirk.

My question here isn't about whether reciting the tashahud itself is required, or exactly what form it should take; I am more concerned about the actual Arabic construction of the sentence itself. Does the use of "كم" (or, as I have also seen used, "ك") in this case have the same connotations in Arabic? Or can it be reasonably used to refer to a third-party in a manner not seen in English?

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No it implies YOU as you guessed! But no shirk point in it, we do not send peace to Allah, the Peace. Also we can talk with the holy prophet --peace be upon him-- and he hears us and sees us and is one of the witnesses at the Judging day! –  owari Dec 21 '12 at 20:14

2 Answers 2

The Holy Prophet (saww) hears our salaam when recited at his grave and he is conveyed our salaam when recited from afar. We are not addressing a "third" party when greeting him.

و قال رسول الله (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) من سلم علي عند قبري سمعته و من سلم علي من بعيد بلغته سلام الله عليه و رحمة الله و بركاته .

And the Messenger of Allah (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) said: Whoever recites the salam over me near my grave, I hear him, and whoever recites the salam upon me from afar, it is conveyed [to me]. The peace of Allah and the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon him.
[Awa'il al-Maqalat, p. 73]

Also "کم" is a plural in Arabic (when addressing more than two people). The reason for us using "کم" while greeting each other individually is because of the presence of angels around us. We never use a plural when addressing Divinely appointed representatives of Allah because of their authority over the rest of creation. Hence, the correct form is to use "ک" for the Prophet (saww).

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This is part of Tashahud (Attahiyat),

السلام عليكم أيها النبي = "Peace be upon you O' Prophet!"

"You", is there because your salutation goes to and is heard by the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasalam himself.

The full meaning is

Salutations to God and prayers and good deeds. Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of God and his blessings. Peace be on us and on the righteous servants of God. I bear witness that there is no god but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His messenger.

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