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This should be an easy one...

I am not Muslim, but I am fascinated by religion and try to read etc on the major religions. I am unclear, however, about the correct use of ṣalawāt ("PBUH" etc) when referring to prophets by name: is this requirement intended for the speaker/author, or for the listener/reader, or both? More specifically, as a non-Muslim, would it be actively inappropriate to include such? Obviously it would not serve me to offend a listener/reader by either including it inappropriately, or omitting it where the Muslim reader/listener would expect it.

Even when used (or not) incorrectly, I expect most people would probably give me the benefit of the doubt and simply write it off (correctly) as ignorance, but: it would be good to have clear guidance in the correct usage by a non-Muslim (I am reminded of the potential issues arising from the salam)

  • is this requirement intended for the speaker/author, or for the listener/reader, or both? for a muslim or not muslim? More specifically, as a non-Muslim, would it be actively inappropriate to include such?, did you mean exclude? – muslim1 Aug 5 '12 at 3:53
  • @Thecrocodilehunter no, include is correct. Some phrases can be considered inappropriate when used by the outsider – Marc Gravell Aug 5 '12 at 5:41
  • @saying salawat by a non muslim is absolutely not bad at all. In fact this is a very welcoming for Muslims. – muslim1 Aug 5 '12 at 7:14
5

I have not fully understood your question but I will answer it to closest I can.

Salawat is the plural form of the word Salat which simply means ‘to call' as in prayer.

Salawat is mentioned in the holy Quran in surat al-ahzaab 33 verse 55 :

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. Quran 33:56

This is mandatory on all Muslims and will be deemed utterly disrespectful (to unimaginable extent) that a Muslim will skip this salutation on the prophet.

Speaker

It is mandatory on the person who calls the prophet's name either alone or in speech, he must say the salutation. Usually the salutation is "Peace be upon him" in English or "allahumma salli 'ala muhammadin wa ali muhammadin" in Arabic. The Arabic version is more correct and has the meaning of "Oh Almighty, send peace to Muhammad and all his family". So, for the question, if the speaker repeats the prophet's name 50 times, he has to perform salutation 50 times. A short version might be acceptable but not recommended.

Listener

Anyone who listen the prophet's name (even if he does not utter it) must also perform this salutation. Although in this case their is leniency. If the speaker repeats the prophet name too often, it is acceptable for the listen to just say it one time (the first time he hear it), but can repeat it with every mention of the prophet's name.

Writer

When you write and the prophet's name comes in, it is natural to perform this salutation. There is no skipping because the salutation is not for show off, it is out of utmost respect, which every Muslim has for his beloved prophet. Also it is more convenient to say it when writing because writing cannot be that fast.

For a non-Muslim

I do not think it is compulsory for a non-Muslim to perform salawat. There is no compulsion in Islam. Islam never dictated anything on non-Muslim. Because non-Muslim would be allowed to drink in a Muslim country even though it is haraam for all Muslims.

Also there is reward for performing salawat for Muslims. Every time they say it, Almighty God gets happy with them and gives them reward.

Just a little note

While it is compulsory to perform salawat for the prophets, many scholars especially in west believe, the same should be done for God himself and they believe that is even more important because God is the supreme being. The proper way to salute God (Allah) is Subhana wa t'ala (Glorified and Exalted is He).

  • 3
    "will be deemerly utterly disrespectful (to unimaginalbe value)" .... This is totally false; when we recite the quran we do not send salutations to any prophet when we use their names. When the muazzin calls for paryer(adhan), he too doesn't during the adhan, but rather after the adhan send salutations. Also, if one forgets Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful. – islam101 Aug 5 '12 at 4:44
  • @islam101 yes but if you look from that strict context even salutation itself contains the prophet name so if a Muslim will perform solution on that, it will trigger a chain reaction which a person can never come out of. I meant in a balanced and sensible sense and also in practical sense as well. – muslim1 Aug 5 '12 at 4:47
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    @Thecrocodilehunter Salutations are not mandatory for Muslims except in prayers (during tashahod). It's not mandatory for a speaker to say salutations after every mention of the prophet; he can skip some (but not all) if it would better serve his purpose. Salutations can also be said secretly if one wishes. – Hosam Aly Nov 10 '12 at 5:19
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    The same applies for God's salutations; they are not mandatory. To say that religious action is mandatory requires an evidence, which does not exist in this particular case. – Hosam Aly Nov 10 '12 at 5:21
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What does salawat upon prophets mean?

Salawat from Muslims upon the prophets is like a prayer (i.e, asking to Allah) to lay peace and blessing upon them. It means that the one who offers it does believe that the prophet is really a prophet, he (the Muslim) believes in his (the prophet) prophecy that Allah gave him. It's a form of respect, as well.

Whom does it apply to?

The abbreviation "PBUH" is for (Peace be upon him), in fact it corresponds to three phrases in Arabic (I don't know why!):

  • عليه السلام 'alaihi assalam (peace be upon him): which is used for prophets (but not preferred for them) and Ahl al-bait (the Muslim family of Muhammad).
  • عليه الصلاة والسلام 'alahi assalatu wa assalam (peace and blessing be upon him): used (and preferred over the previous) for all prophets.
  • صّلى الله عليه وسلّم salla Allah 'alaihi wa sallam (may Allah lay much blessing and peace upon him): which is used only for the prophet Muhammad, and is preferred over the previous ones, also there are many better forms (Arabic link, sorry!) to offer prayer upon Muhammad.

Should writer/speaker or listener/reader write/say salawat upon the Prophet (PBUH) every time he is mentioned?

  • First of all, Allah ordered Muslims to say salawat upon the prophet:

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

    Sahih International

    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.

    [Surat Al-'Aĥzāb:56]

    This aya (verse) of Quran explicitly orders Muslims to offer salawat upon the Prophet (PBUH). But it doesn't order non muslims to do so, nor any verse or hadith or any Islamic Ruling source does. It obviously doesn't make sense to order people who don't believe in you, you shouldn't expect them to obey, too. Islam doesn't order non-muslims to do anything (except too little social things if they live in a Muslim county). However, It's not prohibited for non muslims to offer it (it doesn't make sense to prohibit things to someone who doesn't believe in you), in truth it shows respect as salawat contains respect, and it's welcome, but if salawat indicates belief (as mentioned above) why should they offer it if they don't believe in the Prophet Muhammad? Muslims don't (and shouldn't) expect non msulims to believe in Muhammad or offer salawat upon him, but they do expect non muslims to respect him (as a religious symbol), because muslims respect others' religious symbols and it's prohibited for muslims to insult non muslims or their religious symbols.

  • Of course, for Muslims, saying salawat upon the prophet is very good and Allah rewards for it very much, it's too much rewarded and is considered respectful, there are many Hadiths (again, sorry for the arabic link) about this.

  • Scholars differ in the obligation level of salawat, some say that it's a must only once in life, some say a must every time he is mentioned, others say it's Fardh Kifaia (if he is mentioned between people, then it's enough if some of them offer it, but prohibited that none do it), BUT it's considered disrespectful not to offer salawat upon him, and it indicates that one isn't a good man, like this hadith says:

    'Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

    The Messenger of Allah () said, "The miser is the one in whose presence I am mentioned but he does not supplicate for me."

    [At- Tirmidhi].

    وعن علي رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ ‏ "‏ البخيل من ذكرت عنده، فلم يصلِ علي

    ‏رواه الترمذي وقال‏:‏ حديث حسن صحيح‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

    [Riyad as-Salihin]

    However, it's also tiring to remember to say it every time he is mentioned, especially if the speaker mentions him too much, it's preferred to say it as much as possible, and Allah doesn't require us more that we can.

Hope that answers your question, as I didn't get it completely (but who would miss answering Marc Gravell's question! :D).

  • I explained that part of non-muslims after the boldened "But it doesn't order non muslims", please reread it. I had to explain that meaning in order to make that part clear enough. – Tamer Shlash Aug 9 '12 at 9:57
  • @DavidWallace: No need to apologize my friend, you're most welcome to criticize, and BTW I felt that the answer is long, but couldn't shorten it, sorry for that on my part :) – Tamer Shlash Aug 9 '12 at 10:28
  • This is a very good answer, except for the mention of "Ahl al-bait (the Muslim family of Muhammad)", which only applies to Shiites. It's strictly forbidden for Sunnis. – Hosam Aly Nov 10 '12 at 5:11
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As others have mentioned, when Prophet name is mentioned, salutation/call for prayer is needed. Regardless of the need for Salawat or not, speaker can avoid such situation by doing it himself/herself once, and then refer to the prophet, without mentioning his name. Messenger of Allah, Prophet, Ar-Rasool Al-Akram, etc.

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