(The Truth and the Myth)
Al-Salat ala al-Nabi and Al-Tasleem
This very common phrase (Al-Salat ala al-Nabi and Al-Tasleem) derives from the following verse:
"God and His angels ‘Yu'salloon ala al-Nabi’, O you believers you shall ‘Salloo alayhee’ and ‘Sallemoo tasleema’." 33:56
Since this is a clear command from God, we must surely obey it. However, and before obeying this command we must first understand the meaning of it. We notice that the verse contained two commands, the ‘Salat ala al-Nabi’ and the ‘Tasleem’.
It is essential to inspect the present interpretation of these words among Muslims today, then we must find out whether this interpretation is in line with the one contained in the Quran. To do this, the easiest method is to ask any Muslim as to what is the meaning of the simple and widely spoken words ‘Salli ala al-Nabi’.
Strangely enough, when most Muslims are asked as to what these words mean they are not really sure! The reader is welcomed to try this himself.
The simple question to any Muslim is:
‘When you say ‘Salli ala al-Nabi’ what do you really mean? Are you praising the prophet? Are you imploring him so that he may intercede on your behalf on judgment day, are you praying God to grant the prophet His highest mercy? or what?
Sadly this widely repeated phrase has become a number of things except the one thing that it was really meant to be! For one thing it has become a means to break up arguments! If two Muslims get involved in a heated argument you would find one of them saying to the other:
"Why don’t you ‘te'salli ala al Nabi’?"!!!
Similarly if one Muslim is about to ask a favour of the other he often starts with the same words: "Salli ala al Nabi", after which he would get into what he really means to say!
We must pose here and wonder, is the aim behind Allah’s command (Sura 33, verse 56) is to provide us with an effective tool to break up arguments or to facilitate the obtaining of favors from one another?!! Obviously not! The verse informs us that God and his angels do the same ‘Salla ala al Nabi’, but surely God does not get in heated arguments with anyone nor does God ask favours from anyone!
If the common Muslim has not made up his mind as to the meaning of the words he repeats many times a day, what then is the opinion of the ‘Moffasereen’ (the interpreters)?
First they will say that God has exclusively honoured Muhammad when He said:
"God and His angels Yu'salloon ala al-Nabi (for the prophet)"
Immediately, their claim is exposed by Quranic evidence. In the Quran we read that God and His angels do the same to all believers and not just to the prophet:
"He is the one who ‘Yu'salli alaikum’ (for the believers) and His angels, to deliver you out of darkness into the light" 33:43
we also read:
"These (the believers) have deserved ‘Salawat’ from their Lord and mercy, they are the guided ones." 2:157 …… once again, the same meaning, so to say that God exclusively honoured the prophet with these words is contrary to Quranic evidence.
But the matter does not end there, in Sura 9 we find God commanding the prophet to do the same for the believers:
"Take from their money a charity to purify them and sanctify them, and ‘Salli alaihum’ for your ‘Salawat’ reassures them. God is Hearer, Omniscient." 9:103
Now if this verb ‘Ye'salli’ is done by Allah to the believers, also by the prophet to the believers, how can the interpreters say that it is an exclusive honor bestowed by God on the prophet?!!!
To wiggle out of this tricky situation the interpreters have fabricated a ridiculous excuse. They claim that the word ‘Sallawat’ has no less than five different meanings!!
1- First they will say that when God does the ‘Salat’ to the prophet it means honoring exclusively.
2- When God does the ‘Salat’ to the believers it means granting them His mercy.
3- When the angels do the ‘Salat’ to the prophet it means constantly praising him.
4- When the angels do the ‘Salat’ to the believers, or when the prophet does it for the believers, it is in the sense of imploring God’s mercy for them.
5- When the believers do the ‘Salat’ to the prophet it is a sign of loving him and following him.
What utter nonesense!!! How can the same word (salat) in the Quran have FIVE different meanings? Is God giving us a collection of ambiguous puzzles! To believe that any one word can be used in the Quran with no less than five different meanings is in fact to disbelieve God's description of the Quran that it is unambigious and easy to understand (12:1 and 44:58).
To believe that God may say one simple word and imply five different meanings is to imply that the Quran is vague and crooked! The important fact is that after all that, and as it turns out, none of these five meanings is correct! To verify that let us study the use of the word ‘Sallat’ in the Quran. Immediately we find that the word ‘Salat’ has been mentioned in the Quran in two different context:
a- The ‘Salat’ for Allah, which is an act of worship, as used in the following verse:
"I am God; there is no other God beside Me, Thus you shall worship me and observe the ‘Salat’ to commemorate Me." 20:14
b- The ‘Salat’ of the prophet on the believers or of the believers on the prophet as mentioned in previous verses.
The difference between the two uses of the same word is connected to the letter or the word that comes immediately after the word ‘Salat’.
The word ‘Salat’ is either followed by the Arabic letter ‘L’ which means (to, for) as in:
"……..observe the ‘Salat’ to commemorate Me." 20:14
This first use, means the act of prayer, which is done exclusively for God.
The word ‘Salat’ can also be followed by the Arabic word ‘Ala’ which means (on) as in all the previous verses.
Now, if ‘Salat for’ means the act of worship of God, what is the meaning of the word ‘Sallat on’ as the one done for the prophet or the believers?
Before we analyze this second meaning, which has been the cause of all the corruption, we must first clarify a vital point. Consider the following example:
A father tells his son:
‘Like I wash my face, you too wash your face.’
The logic of this simple sentence suggests that since the father does one thing and asks the son to do it as well, then it implies that the same action done by the father is done by the son. It is not logical to assume that the father means to say:
‘When I wash my face I mean to wipe my face with water but when you wash your face my son it means you should wash your feet!!’
Going back to (Sura 33, verse 56), and since the two verbs (Yussalloon and Salloo) are used in the same verse, without any insinuation of a change in meaning, then by logic they must have the same meaning.
Consequently, when God informs us that He and the angels (Yussalloon ala al-Nabi), then in the same sentence commands us to do the same, we must understand that it is of the same meaning.
Here we reach the heart of the matter. What is the meaning of (Salat ala al-Nabi) that can be done by God and by the believers equally? The same thing that is done by God must be done by the believers, as per the previous example.
The only meaning for the words ‘Salat ala al-Nabi’ that is found in the Quran and that can apply to God, His angels and to the believers alike is to ‘support the prophet’. God and His angels indeed support the prophet and by the same token God commands the believers to support His prophet. This correct meaning is confirmed by Quranic verses:
1- God supports His prophet:
"We have bestowed upon you (O Muhammad) a great victory, whereby God forgives your past sins, as well as future sins, and perfects His blessings on you, and guides you in a straight path. Additionally, God will support you with an unwavering support." 48:1-3
2- The angels commanded by God to support the prophet:
"Your Lord supports you with three thousand angels, sent down (to support you)." 3:124
3- Believers commanded to support the prophet of God:
"(You shall give) to the needy who immigrated. They were evicted from their homes and deprived of their properties, because they sought God’s grace and pleasure, and because they supported God and His messenger. They are the sincere ones." 59:8
"If you fail to support him (the prophet), God has already supported him. Thus when the disbelievers chased, him and he was one of two in the cave, he said to his friend, ‘Do not worry, God is with us’, God then sent contentment and security upon him, and supported him with invisible soldiers." 9:40
"Those who believe in him (the prophet), respect him, support him and follow the light (the Quran) that was sent down with him are the truly successful ones." 7:157
It is clear from these verses that God commands believers to do three things regarding His prophet:
1- To believe in him.
2- To support him.
3- To obey and follow his message (the Quran).
Thus the correct meaning of the words ‘Salat ala al-Nabi’ is to support the prophet. Since the prophet is now dead and no longer with us then it is not possible to support him personally. The support now is directed to his message which is the Quran.
With this correct meaning of the word, it is right to think that when God ‘Yu'salli ala al-Momeneen’ it means He supports them and guides them out of the darkness. This meaning is indeed confirmed in the verse:
"He is the one who ‘Yu'salli alaikom’ (supports you), together with His angels, to lead you out of the darkness into the light." 33:43
Similarly when God and His angels ‘Yu'salloo ala al-Nabi’ it is in the sense that He supports the prophet together with His angels. God does not go around repeating the words ‘Sallee ala al-Nabi’, ‘Sallee ala al-Nabi’ !!!
Similarly when the prophet ‘Yu'salli ala al-Momeneen’ (believers), as God commanded him in (Sura 9, verse 103), it is in the sense, that is he is to support them. Obviously God’s command to His prophet in this verse does not mean that the prophet should go around saying ‘Salli ala Zeid’, ‘Salli ala Ali’, ‘Salli ala Belal’ !!
It is important here to inspect some of the ‘hadith’ that are related to the ‘Salat ala al-Nabi’ and verify their agreement with the Quran.
One of the very famous ‘hadith’ goes that the prophet said that whoever does not ‘Yu'salli ala al-Nabi’ will not attain the prophet’s ‘Shafa’a’ (intercession) on judgment day. Various other ‘hadith’ indicate that the prophet emphasised his wish that the believers should say these words for him. Here we must wonder, did the prophet really ask this of the believers? As stressed earlier in this book, the verification of any concept, saying or ritual must be based on whether this concept is in agreement with the Quran or not.
To verify these ‘hadith’ let us first read the following verses:
"Do not ask them for a return, you simply deliver this reminder for all the people." 12:104
" .... I have not asked you for any return. My return comes only from God. I have been commanded to be a submitter." 10:72
"Say I do not ask you for any return" 38:86
These verses assert the fact that the prophet never asked the believers for anything in return for delivering God’s message to them. It is indeed far more respectful to think of the prophet as he who’s mission was much more noble than to go around saying do this for me or do that (e.g. if you do not visit my grave I will not intercede for you, and if you do not ‘Tessallo alaya’ I will not do that for you ......etc.)
Another of the cherished ‘hadith’ implies that the prophet instructed Muslims to say a specific prayer for him. The words of this prayer are as follows:
‘Aaty (grant) Sayedna (our Master/Lord) Muhammad the way, the virtue and the highest degree and deliver him to the praise worthy status that You promised him, You do not break Your promises.’
This simple everyday prayer contains various violations of the teachings of the Quran:
1- To believe that the prophet has asked the believers to do something for him is in violation of the previous Quranic verses that command the prophet to ask for no return whatsoever from the believers. The only return he will receive will be from God.
2- It is indeed wrong in the sight of God to call anyone our Lord except He.
"Or have they set up other Lords besides Him, God is the only Lord and Master" 42:9
3- The one who uses such a prayer is the one who either never read the Quran or has read it but does not really believe it! This is because Sura 48 confirms that God has informed the prophet that He has forgiven him all his sins, past and future:
"We have bestowed upon you (O Muhammad) a great victory, whereby God forgives your past, as well as future sins." 48:1-2
What this great sign of mercy from God to his prophet means is that Muhammad is secured the highest reward in the hereafter (since he is forgiven all his sins). As a result, any prayer we say for him is utterly useless. No prayer could elevate his position any higher (since there is none better than he who has been forgiven all sins in advance!).
4- The words ‘you do not break your promises’, are to say the least insulting to God. The utterance of these words can only mean that whoever says them is not really sure if God will keep His promise and that a small reminder will come handy!
Instead, when a true believer reads in the Quran that God has forgiven the prophet all his sins, he will consider the matter a closed one. He will not need to remind God of His promises.
If this is the correct meaning of the words ‘Salat ala al-Nabi’, then what is the meaning of the word ‘Tasleem’ as in ‘Wa sallemoo tasleema’ (Sura 33, verse 56)?
Sadly, the corrupt interpreters have found another corrupted meaning to these words as well. They claim that these words are a command from God to salute the prophet and send him our greetings! This is based on their false interpretation of the word ‘Tasleema’ to mean greetings!
This is contrary to the meaning of the word in the Quran as will be demonstrated. In order to do so we must consider all similar words to ‘Tasleem’ that are used in the Quran.
1- Islam: Which means submission to the will of God as in:
"The only religion approved by God is Islam (submission to God)" 3:19
"Anyone who adopts other than Islam as his religion, it will not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be with the losers." 3:85
2- Salam: Which means greetings as in:
"Do not say to the one who offers you Salam (greetings), ‘You are not a believer....." 4:94
3- Salm: Which means peace (opposite of war) as in:
"If they are inclined towards Salm (peace), then so shall you and put your trust in God. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient." 8:61
4- Saleem: Which means without defects as in:
"That is the day when neither money nor children will be of any use, only the ones who come to God with a heart that is Saleem (without defects, pure) (will be saved)." 26:88-89
5- Istislam: Which means surrender as in:
"Stop them and ask them, ‘How come you do not help one another?’ On that day they will be Mustaslemoon (in total surrender)." 37:25-26
6- Sullamann : Which means a ladder as in:
"And if their rejection gets to be too much for you, you should know that even if you dug a tunnel through the earth, or climbed a Sullamann (ladder) into the sky, and produced a miracle for them (they still would not believe)...." 6:35
7- Tasleem: Which means recognition and acceptance.
As in the subject of this search (33:56)
It is noteworthy to mention that the word ‘Taslleem’ is found in only three verses in the Quran, and in all three verses it means to recognize and endorse:
"Never indeed, by your Lord; they are not believers until they come to you to judge in their disputes, then have no objection to your judgment and ‘Yu'sallemu Taslleemann’ (totally accepting and endorsing it)." 4:65
"When the believers saw the parties ( ready to attack ), they said, ‘This is what God and His messenger had promised us, indeed God and His messenger have been truthful. All this strengthened their Iman and Tasleem (faith and recognition)." 33:22
"God and His angels ‘Yu'sallu ala al Nabi’ (support him). O you who believe you shall ‘Sallu alayhee’ (support him) and Sallemu Taslleemann, (fully recognize him and accept him as the messenger of God)." 33:56
A very simple and effective way of proving that the word ‘Tasleem’ means recognition and not greetings as the corrupters would have us believe, is to substitute each of these two words, first (recognition), then (greetings) in place of the word ‘Tasleem’ in each of the previous verses and see which one of the two words make more sense.
Let us start with the word greetings:
- ".........they are not believers until they come to you to judge in their disputes, then have no objection to your judgment and greetings" !!
- ".....indeed God and His messenger have been truthful. All this strengthened their Iman and greetings" !!!!!
It is obvious that the substitution of the word greetings in these verses makes no sense whatsoever. However if we insert the word recognition in place of ‘Tasleem’ all three verses will make perfect sense.
The correct meaning of verse 56 of Sura 33 is thus:
"God and His angels support the prophet, O you who believe you too shall support him and fully recognize and accept him (as the prophet of God)"
Indeed it makes perfect sense that God should command the believers to support His prophet and totally accept him rather than to be primarily concerned in people going around saying (Salli ala al-Nabi) without understanding what it really means and sending our greeting to the prophet who is dead and can no longer hear us, (see Sura 35, verse 14).
However, the corrupters have come up with the most absurd scenario to justify the need to constantly greet the prophet. They claim that the prophet is alive in his grave, that he can see us when we visit his grave, that he hears us when we greet him and actually replies to our greetings!!
This absurd fabrication is once again in contradiction to various Quranic verses.
FIRST : Indeed the prophet is alive, however he is definitely not in his grave but up somewhere in the kingdom of God. This is confirmed by various verses that indicate that the righteous are not dead but are alive and prosperous in God’s Kingdom.
SECOND : The prophet does not return the greetings simply because the Quran affirms that those who died cannot hear us, and thus cannot respond to us:
"Those you call on other than Him (your Lord) do not possess as much as a seed’s shell. If you call on them they cannot hear you. Even if they heard you they cannot respond to you...." 35:13-14
The Quran states that a barrier separates the dead from the living :
"A barrier will separate them from this world till the day they are resurrected." 23:100
For all that, the correct meaning of (Sura 33, verse 56) is:
"God and His angels support the prophet, O you who believe, you too shall support him and fully recognize and accept him (as the prophet of God)." 33:56
This accurate and precise meaning is asserted and authenticated in the following verse:
"Those who believe in him (the prophet), and respect him, and support him, and follow the light (the Quran) that was brought down with him, those are the truly successful ones." 7:157
This verse includes all that God commanded us to do for the prophet:
1- To believe in him, which corresponds to (Sallemu Tasleemann) in 33:56
2- To support him which correspond to (Sallu Alayhee) in the same verse.
3- To obey him (to follow the message that was revealed to him, which is the Quran).
This is what God commands any people to do for their prophet, whether they are the people of Moses, Jesus or Muhammad.
The importance of this last verse is profound since it exposes the corrupted interpretation of three prime concepts:
1- ‘Sallemu Tasleemann’ is a command from God to the believers to recognize and believe in His prophet, it is not a command from God for them to send him greetings!
2- ‘Sallu Alayhee’ is a command from God to the believers to support His prophet, it is not a command to the believers to go around like parrots repeating ‘Salli ala al-Nabi’ without even knowing what it means!
3- To obey the prophet is a command from God to the believers to follow the light (Quran) that He has revealed to His prophet (7:157), it is not a command to follow that which is falsely attributed to the prophet, and called his Sunna, and which was never mentioned in the Quran, not even once!
The only Sunna authorized in the Quran is the Sunna of God.