Salawat and Atonement in Islam
The salawat is invoking God’s blessings upon the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). The salawat are a means to gaining God’s pleasure and blessings in one’s life in this world as well as the next.
Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.
Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! In any Mosque that one goes to, that is, Mosques (Masjids) that follow the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), one will always hear praises and blessings of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). These blessings are called salawat in Islam.
In this lesson, we’re going to look at the definition, practice and importance of the salawat in Islam. The second part of the lesson will look at the concept of atonement and how it may be problematic according to Islam. The final, but brief part will also look into the practice of conferring God’s blessings and peace upon others, such as our neighbors, friends or even one’s enemies.
BODY OF TEXT
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. Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger - Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment. (Chapter 33, verses 56-57 of the Holy Qur’an)
The word salawat is plural which means to send blessings. In Islamic practice, the salawat is conferring blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). The salawat can be said in almost any context. In all five daily obligatory prayers, one has to confer blessings upon the Prophet and His Family. The formula is as follows:
Allahumma Sallī ʿAlā Muhammad wa Āli Muhammad
“Oh Allah, send your blessings upon Muhammad and upon the progeny of Muhammad”
According to all major schools of Islam, if the salawat is not said during prayer, the Islamic prayer will be considered null and void.
There are, however, more benefits to saying the salawat in addition to having it as a necessary condition for the acceptance of prayer.
According to one hadith from Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as), it is said that:
One who sends 10 Salawat on the Prophet and his family, Allah and the Angels send 100 Salawats upon him, and one who sends 100 Salawats upon the Prophet and his family, then Allah and the Angels send 1000 Salawat upon him. Have you not heard the words of Allah, Glorious and Magnified be Him, (here the Imam’s own words ends, and he recites the following verse[Symbol]) “It is He who confers blessing upon you, and His angels [ask Him to do so] that He may bring you out from darknesses into the light. And ever is He, to the believers, Merciful.” (Chapter 33, verse 43)
This hadith is quite telling as it outlines the function of the salawat. The salawat activates or establishes a celestial response whereby God and His angels send their blessings upon the one reciting it. The act of God sending His blessings upon a person is grace. As such, reciting the salawat is a means through which one acquires the grace of God. Grace refers to God's unmerited favor that He confers upon us.
But why does sending blessings upon the Prophet and his family come with such a great response? Well, one way of looking at it is the example of a garden. Imagine there is a person who loves his garden very much and a man comes along and shows love to his garden by giving the plants some water. The owner of that garden will naturally be pleased and happy with the person who showed care to his garden.
Sending the salawat upon the Prophet and his family does the same thing. Allah loves the Messenger of Allah and his Ahl al-Bayt. When He sees a person sending blessings upon those whom He loves so much, He will send His own blessings upon that person and warrant him with His grace.
This point is quite important as it shows the unique position and unmatched greatness of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). It is proof that the companions or sahaba of the Prophet Muhammad (s) were on a completely different league than the Ahl al-Bayt (as). One can lead a proper religious life and do practices without mentioning anything about the companions, yet none of a Muslim’s prayers will be accepted if the salawat on the Ahl al-Bayt (as) is not mentioned.
However, it is crucial to note that the salawat is not a form of atonement in Islam. There are various understandings of what atonement is, but the kind Islam has an issue with is the idea that somehow just believing in Islam is enough to save a person or the Muslim community in the Hereafter.
Just saying salawat will not get one saved. The effect of salawat becomes truly real when it is combined with various factors, including sincerity in belief and love for God, being kind and generous to others, being compassionate, humble of heart and obeying the commands of Allah.
Yes, people sin and have shortcomings and through asking God’s forgiveness and reciting the salawat, one may acquire God’s saving grace. However, the salawat must be accompanied with good action and good intentions.
So some problematic concepts of atonement are dangerous for they create a certain kind of heedlessness, carelessness, apathy and a false sense of belief that one is on the right path just because one believes in something. This is something that Islam completely rejects.
The act of sending blessings is also something that regular humans should do among themselves. The greeting of peace between Muslims, that is, assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh (may the peace of God be upon you, as well as His mercy and blessings) is also a way of conveying one’s blessings unto other persons.
Islam emphasizes on this so much that one is highly recommended to say it to others. In Islam, we are obligated to return the salams when someone says it to us. In this sense, there is no discrimination. If a sinning Muslim, or a Muslim who has done us wrong gives us their salams, we are obligated to say back to them. The salams therefore functions as a glue for the Muslim community.
Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh
conveying blessings upon the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt (as)
companions of the Prophet
Allahumma Sallī ʿAlā Muhammad wa Āli Muhammad
“O Allah, send your blessings upon Muhammad and upon the progeny of Muhammad”
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
may the peace of God be upon you as well as His mercy and blessings
What is salawat?
It is conveying blessings upon the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as)
How does one say the salawat?
One says: Allahumma Sallī ʿAlā Muhammad wa Āli Muhammad
What are the effects of saying the salawat?
Allah and the angels respond by conveying their blessings upon the person who said the salawat.
Is saying the salawat enough for salvation?
No, salawat must be combined with obeying God in all matters and doing good deeds.
Is the salawat obligatory?
The salawat are obligatory during prayers, but they are recommended in all else.
salvation in Islam
Atonement in Islam
Supplication in the Eyes of the Ahl al-Bayt by Muhammad Mahdi al-Asifi