Book Review: Virtues of Salaat Alan Nabi

Virtues of Salaat Alan Nabi

Title: Virtues of Salaat Alan Nabi (often referred to as ‘Fadhaa’il Durood’)
Author: Shaykh ul Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi
Translator: Unknown
Publisher: Impress (appears to be a company located in Durban, South Africa, its possible that they were merely the printers.)

(No other information was provided in the book)

Preamble:

It is a fact that Islamic literature in the English language has experienced exponential growth in the last 50 years. I believe this is due to the increased number of Muslims living in English speaking lands and the birth of their first-generation that didn’t retain the fluency of their mother tongue. For example, Urdu has a plethora of Islamic books stemming from a long history of Islamic thought and culture in the Indian subcontinent, the same could also be said about Farsi. Not to mention, the lingua franca of the Islamic world, the primordial language of Arabic Fus-ha. From my personal experience, I have met very few first-generation individuals who are born in English speaking countries who are able to access those great works of Islamic thought in their mother tongue. The generation before us embarked on the task of translating these Islamic works – from Arabic, Urdu and Farsi and other languages, into English. While their effort was admirable considering the vast treasures of wisdom they were attempting to introduce to the English speaking world, they were often not native speakers of the English language. That reality was often apparent to generations who came after and considered themselves to be native English speakers. Presently, we are privileged to have native English speakers (including first-generations born in English speaking lands, and ones who have embraced the faith), who have studied the religion in the heartlands of the Islamic world, and returned to carry on the task of conveying our great Prophetic tradition to the English speaking world. As result of their upbringing, schooling and environment, they became better equipped to deliver the message into the English language than their previous fore-bearers. Due to the magnitude of this multi-generational project, many books are still only available in English as translations from the previous generation. Those books are still full of wisdom and depth, despite the fact that their English translations could use a little more editing. In this understanding, I’ve decided to include this book on this blog, recognizing that benefit can still be derived from works that were translated in decades past.

I came across this book at my local mosque and as I am in awe of the original author, I decided to read the book. The English translation was serviceable and the breadth of knowledge and the deep reverence for the Prophet (peace be upon him) of the original author radiated past the words and pages. The original work was completed in 1964, and the translation may have occurred the 70s. The cover of the book looks worn out, but the pages are in pristine condition, despite the lignin in the paper turning the pages into a glowing yellowy hue. The transliteration and translation scheme has not been developed to the degree we find today, so I have kept the scheme consist with the book itself, understanding that it may look strange to the reader more familiar with modern translations. I’ve added translations where I thought were required in [square parentheses]. Of course there are other books on this subject, most notably Sending Prayers upon the Prophet by published by Sunni Publications, that are a more modern translation.

Book Review:

This is a book on the virtues of sending blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) (Salat alan Nabi – as is written in the title and throughout the book). It consists of 5 chapters, the first two include the virtues, Quranic verses and various hadiths which command us to send blessings upon the Prophet (peace be upon him). Chapter 3 contains reproach from hadiths of those individuals who fail to send blessings upon him. Chapters four and five include other benefits and stories from gnostics who have sent abundant blessings upon the Prophet (peace be upon him) and have tasted the fruits of their efforts.

Shaykh ul Hadith writes in the foreword:

The first of the booklets in this series, ‘Virtues of the Holy Qur’aan’ was written in 1348 Hijri at the command of Hadhrat [Hadhrat is a common Urdu honorific] Shah Muhammad Yaaseen Naginwy, (may Allah have mercy on him), the Khalifa [A spiritual disciple who becomes a representative of a spiritual guide] of Hadhrat Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi (may Allah have mercy on him) as is stated in the introduction to that work. Shah Saheb [Saheb is a common Urdu honorific] (may Allah have mercy on him) passed away on Thursday night, 30th of Shaw’waal 1360 Hijri. May Allah illumine his resting place and raise him in rank. Before his demise he sent me a message through his most senior khalifa – Maulana Haji Abdul Aziz Duaajo (may Allah have mercy on him) – that it was his desire that I should write a booklet on the virtues of salat alan Nabi, similar in style and manner to that of ‘Fadhaa’il Qur’aan’ [Virtues of the Qur’an]. After his death, Maulana Abdul Aziz (may Allah have mercy on him) repeatedly reminded me of this last request and insisted that I proceed with it. In spite of my own weakness I also had the great desire to do so. Apart from Shah Saheb (may Allah have mercy on him), many other brothers also encouraged me, but at that time I was so much over-awed by the greatness and majesty of Rasulullah (peace be upon him), fearing that in my own weakness some such words may be written by me which would be against the high position of Rasulullah (peace be upon him).

While in this period of indecision I visited Hijaz for the third time at the insistence of my beloved nephew, Maulana Yousuf (may Allah have mercy on him) and was fortunate enough to perform a fourth Haj. I visited Medina Munawwarah after Haj and there I repeatedly asked myself this question, “What has prevented me from compiling a booklet on ‘Fadhail Durood [Virtues of Sending Blessing]’? ” Many were the excuses I put forward and many were the times that in my heart I firmly resolved to commence, and finally I returned home with a firm resolution that I shall Insha Allah commence and complete such a booklet. However after my return, the work was delayed and another few months passed, and now finally today on the 25th [of] Ramadhaan, the last Friday of the month, after Jumu’a in the name of Allah I have eventually made a start. May Allah through His grace, cause it to be completed, and may He pardon me through His grace for any errors herein, and in any of the other booklets (in Urdu and Arabic) that I have compiled.

This booklet shall consist of a few chapters and a conclusion. In the first chapter we shall deal with the excellence of salat alan Nabi. In the second chapter with the virtues of certain forms of salaat alan Nabi and their special merits. In the third chapter the warnings for not reciting salaat alan Nabi, in the fourth chapter the various benefits of salat alan Nabi and concluding in the fifth chapter with certain stories. May Allah guide us all towards reciting more and more salat alan Nabi. Anyone reading this booklet shall naturally perceive what a great treasure salaat alan Nabi is, and what a great gift we are depriving ourselves of by being negligent in this respect.

Shaykh ul Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya begins chapter one with a lengthy commentary on Verse 56 in Surah Ahzaab: Indeed Allah and His angles send blessings on the Prophet. O you who believe! [Ask Allah to] send His blessings upon him and [Ask Allah] to grant him peace.:

The Holy Qur’aan contains many commands about salaat, fasting, haj, etc. and mentions the lives of many Prophets. It also greatly honours them, for example, in the case of Aadam (peace be upon him) mention is made in the Holy Qur’aan about his creation and how the angles were commanded to perform sajdah [prostrate] to him. However, in no other command and in the honouring of no other person did Allah state that He Himself performs a certain act wherein the believers are now commanded to follow suit as in this verse. This honour is reserved for the most virtuous of Allah’s creation, the pride of the children of Aadam (peace be upon him), Muhammad (peace be upon him). We notice that Allah firstly mentions salaat alan Nabi coming from Himself, and then from the angels and lastly He says to the believers that they too should recite salaat alan Nabi. What greater honour can there be for Rasulullah (peace be upon him) than that the believers join with Allah and the angles in this blessed act. Students of the Arabic language will notice that the verse starts with the word ‘inna’ which is a word expressing strong emphasis. Then the verb in the sentence is in the present tense which indicates an action that is continuous and takes place at all times. In other words it means that it is a certainty that Allah and His angels continuously recite [sends blessings would be more appropriate for Allah] salat on the Nabi (peace be upon him) at all times, forever. This is a point stressed by Allamah Sakhaawi (may Allah have mercy on him).

The author of ‘Ruhyl Bayaan’ writes, “According to some ulama [scholars] the meaning of Allah’s mercy on the Nabi (peace be upon him) is that Allah causes him to reach the Maqam al-Mahmood – the rank of intercession on behalf of his ummat [community], and that salat alan Nabi by the angels means their du’aa [supplications] in favour of the Nabi (peace be upon him) for a higher rank, and Rasulullah’s salaat for the ummat is his plea for their forgiveness. Salaat alan Nabi by the believers means following in his footsteps and expressing love for him. It is also mentioned that the great honour granted to Rasulullah in this verse is so much more than the honour that was granted to Aadam (peace be upon him) because in the case of Aadam, only the angels were commanded to make sajdah [prostrate] to him, where in the case of Rasulullah, Allah himself also recites [sends blessings would be more appropriate for Allah] salat alan Nabi.

Later the Shaykh elaborates:

The ulema [scholars] have at this place mentioned various interpretations of the word ‘salat’, so that the meaning which is most suitable in reference to Allah, the angles and the believers have been chosen…

..[In regards to Allah] In other words He [Allah] honors Rasulullah with loving kindness and affection…

Imam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) quotes a hadith reported by Abul Aaliya (may Allah be pleased with him) “The meaning of salaat alan Nabi by Allah is praise for Rasulullah (peace be upon him) in the presence of the angels, and salat alan Nabi by the angels means their du’aa for him”…

…Shaykh Abdul Qaadir (may Allah have mercy on him) writes, “It is a most rewarding act to beg of Allah to bestow mercy and favours upon the Rasul (peace be upon him) and his family. For every time we do so, ten such mercies descend upon the solicitor. So one may profit as much as one desires”

The following hadiths are mentioned in Chapter One:

Hadith No. 4

Ibn Masood (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that Rasulullah (peace be upon him) said, “Verily Allah has certain angels wandering all over the earth in order to convey to me the salaat of my ummat” (Nasa’ee, Ibn Hibbaan, Ahmad and Haakim)

The same hadith is reported by many other Sahabah and among them is one by Sayyidina Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) who reports that Rasulullah (peace be upon him) said, “There are some of Allah’s angels wandering about the earth whose duty is to convey the salaat of my ummat to me.”

Imaam Hasan (may Allah be pleased with him) reports this hadith wherein Rasulullah (peace be upon him) has said, “Recite salaat on me wherever you may be for verily your salaat reaches me.”

Hadith No. 8

Abdu Darda (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that Rasulullah (peace be upon him) said, “Whosoever recites salaat on me ten times in the morning and ten times in the evening shall receive my intercession on the day of Qiyaamah.” (Tabrani)

Allamah Sakhaawi (may Allah have mercy on him) mentions not only this hadith but many others too, wherein Rasulullah (peace be upon him) said that those who recite salaat will have the good fortune of his intercession.

Shaykh ul-Hadith also has a nice discussion on witnessing the Prophet (peace be upon him) in a dream:

For anyone to see Rasulullah (peace be upon him) in a dream is indeed very fortunate. The experience itself is of endless worth. However there are two points to bear in mind with regard to any vision of Rasulullah (peace be upon him). The first of these is the point mentioned by Maulana Thaanwi (may Allah have mercy on him) in his famous book ‘Nashrutteeb’. The respected Maulana writes, “Let it be known that whoever does not see Rasulullah (peace be upon him) while he is awake but instead sees him in his sleep has indeed been granted with a very great blessing and favour. This fortune position cannot be attained by deeds. It is only granted (By Allah).”

Multitudes have even spent entire lives to attain this gift but to no avail in most cases. It is however possible that this gift may be granted by Allah as reward for numerous recitation of salaat alan Nabi and of perfectly following the sunnah, and also having overwhelming love for him. But there is no fixed law or guarantee that for such righteousness and such obedience such a vision will surely be granted. No Righteous person [should] need to feel disappointed or frustrated beyond bounds when they do not see Rasulullah (peace be upon him) as they desire. For many it is in fact a mercy from Allah that they do not see him. For them that is best in Allah’s sight. The aim of the lover is to attain the pleasure and satisfaction of the beloved whether he meets him or not.

Says the poet:

Indeed do I love to be joined with my beloved one
While his is the desire that from him I remain parted
Hence for the sake of his pleasure I sacrifice and forsake the pleasure desired by my heart

and Aarif Shiraazi writes:

Why wail thee about meeting the beloved or separation from him?
For the greatest pleasure in gaining his pleasure does lie
And to seek anything else save his pleasure is unjust indeed,
hence search ye then to please him.

It often does happen that someone is blessed with a vision of Rasulullah (peace be upon him) while his life never to date showed him as having gained the Nabi’s (peace be upon him) pleasure through obedience to him. In such a case the vision is not the end of the story. It should be borne in mind that even during the lifetime of Rasulullah (peace be upon him) there were many who had laid eyes on his blessed countenance while inwardly they were filled with disbelief and hypocrisy. Then on the other hand there were ones like Sayyidina Uwais Qarni (may Allah have mercy on him) who in spite of being a contemporary of Rasulullah (peace be upon him) in time, as well as in faith and a true believer, never saw the Nabi (peace be upon him). He is noted to be the most famous Taabi’ee (one who did not see Rasulullah (peace be upon him) but saw his companions). He had already accepted Islam during the lifetime of Rasulullah (peace be upon him), but because of the fact that he was in the service of his ailing mother he could not meet the Rasool (peace be upon him) in person.

In spite of him never having met the Nabi (peace be upon him), Rasulullah (peace be upon him) once told the Sahabaah, “Whosoever among you should happen to meet him, beg of him to pray for your forgiveness.”

The following are a few stories from Chapter 5, these stories are those who experienced first hand the effects of their sending blessings on the Prophet (peace be upon him):

Story No. 3:

In ‘Rowdhatul Ahbaab’, Imaam Ismail ibn Ibrahim Muzni (may Allah have mercy on him) (one of Imaam Shafi’s famous students) reports, “I once saw Imaam Shafi in a dream after his death and asked him, ‘How did Allah treat you?’ The Imaam replied, ‘Allah pad pardoned me and commanded that I be escorted in jannah (paradise) with honour and respect. All this I have gained through the blessings of one salaat alan Nabi I used to recite. I inquired, ‘Which salaat alan Nabi is that?’ Imaam Shaafi replied: O Allah, bestow mercy upon Muhammad as numerous as the number of times as those who remember him, and bestow mercy upon Muhammad as numerous as the number of times as those who neglect to remember him.

Story 6:

The ‘Dalaailul Khairaat’ is a famous book. So also is the story that led to it being compiled. It is said that the writer of it once went on a journey. When in great need of water for wudhu, he came upon a well but could not reach the water because of not having a bucket and rope. He became very worried. A maiden saw this and came to his assistance. She spat into the well whereupon the water rose to the top on its own accord. Seeing this miracle he asked, “And how is that possible?” The girl replied, “I was able to do that through the blessing of salat alan Nabi”. Having thus seen the blessings of salaat alan Nabi, the author of Dalaailul Khairaat’ decided to write the book.

Shaykh ul Hadith writes in his conclusion:

As I have mentioned in the introductory chapter already, this book was started on the 25th [of] Ramadhan (1384 Hijri). Due to being occupied during the blessed month, I could not do much. I merely commenced the work and wrote a few pages. Thereafter due to the many guests, and the commitments of the new madrasah term, I found very little time; but slowly the work carried on.

Last Friday, when the Ameer of Jamaat-at-Tableegh, Al-Haaj Maulana Yusuf Kandhalwi (may Allah have mercy on him) passed away, it occurred to me, that if I too may suddenly be taken away from this earth, then these few pages which have been written will be lost. Therefore I now conclude with whatever I have been able to do and on the morning of Friday the 6th Zil Hijjah, I am ending this book.

May Allah in His graciousness and kindness, and due to the His unblemished Rasool (peace be upon him) overlook any errors that I may have committed herein.

Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalawi
Madrasah Mazaahir Uloom
Saharanpur, India

May Allah give us the ability to continue to benefit from scholars’ works, both past and present, and may he increase in rank all those involved in writing, editing, preserving, translating, publishing, reading, reviewing, sharing, selling, distributing both books and manuscripts of our great religion. Ameen.

There are a few more excerpts of this book on this blog post: http://almiskeenah.com/archives/558

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