Peace be upon him (Islam)
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Peace be upon him (Arabic: عليه السلام, ʿalayhi as-salām), abbreviated PBUH or pbuh, and peace be upon them (abbreviated PBUT), are phrases that Muslims say after uttering or hearing names of any of the Islamic prophets.
In Arabic, these salutations are called ṣalawāt. In English texts they are often abbreviated with the use of SAW (in accordance with the Arabic words (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) or PBUH (which stands for peace be upon him in English). However, this practice is considered to be controversial among a few of the senior Islamic scholars who disagree with this use on the basis that it demonstrates a lack of respect and laziness.
The same phrase is used in Judaism for the dead in general; it is not usually abbreviated PBUH.
Variants of the phrase in Arabic
- "Peace be upon him": (Arabic: عليه السلام ʿalayhi al-salām - A.S.) - this expression follows after naming any prophets, or one of the archangels (e.g. Jibreel (AS), Mikaeel (AS), etc.).
- "May Allāh honor him and grant him peace.": (Arabic: صلى الله عليه وسلم ṣalla Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam - S.A.W., SAAW, or SAAS) - this expression follows specifically after uttering the name of the last prophet Muhammad, although "peace be upon him" may also be used instead
- "May Allah grant peace and honor on him and his family.": (Arabic: صلى الله عليه وآله ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa-’ālih - S.A.W.W.) - this expression follows specifically after saying the name of Muhammad
- "Peace be upon her": (Arabic: سلام الله علیها salaam-o Allah alayha - S.A.A) - this expression follows specifically after the name of historical righteous Islamic females, e.g. Muhammad's daughter Fatimah
Evidence from Quran
Allah and His angels send prayers on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye prayers on him, and salute him with all respect.—Al-Ahzab
This point is further founded in the saying by Muhammad that,
The miser is the one in whose presence I am mentioned, then he does not send the Salah upon me.—Muhammad
Evidence from Hadith
The Messenger of Allah said, "May he be humiliated, the man in whose presence I am mentioned and he does not send Salah upon me; may he be humiliated, the man who sees the month of Ramadan come and go, and he is not forgiven; may he be humiliated, the man whose parents live to old age and they do not cause him to be granted admittance to Paradise."—Abu Hurairah
Al-Tirmidhi said that this hadith was, "Hasan gharib" (Good but only reported once).
The Messenger of Allah said: "Whoever sends one Salah upon me, Allah will send ten upon him."—Abu Hurayrah
One morning the Messenger of Allah was in a cheerful mood and looked happy. They said, "O Messenger of Allah, this morning you are in a cheerful mood and look happy." He said, "Of course, just now someone [an angel] came to me from my Lord [Allah] and said, 'Whoever among your Ummah sends Salah upon you, Allah will record for him ten good deeds and will erase for him ten evil deeds, and will raise his status by ten degrees, and will return his greeting with something similar to it.'"—Abu Talha ibn Thabit
The isnad (chain of narrators) of this hadith is good.
It was reported by Razin ibn Mu'awiyah in his book Jami al-Usool that Muhammad said:
A supplication remains suspended between heaven and earth and does not ascend any further until a person sends Salah on me. Do not treat me like a spare water container, send Salahupon me at the beginning of your supplication, at the end, and in the middle.—Muhammad
Ruling on abbreviating the phrase
As it is prescribed to send prayers upon the Prophet (peace and prayers of Allah be upon him) in prayer when saying the tashahhud, and it is prescribed when giving khutbahs, saying Du’a and praying for forgiveness, and after the Adhan, and when entering and exiting the mosque, and when mentioning him in other circumstances, so it is more important to do so when writing his name in a book, letter, article and so on. So it is prescribed to write the prayers in full so as to fulfil the command that Allah has given to Muslims, and so that the reader will remember to say the prayers when he reads it. So one should not write the prayers on the Prophet (peace and prayers of Allah be upon him) in short form such as writing (S) or (SAWS) etc, or other forms that some writers use, because that is going against the command of Allah in His Book, where He says (interpretation of the meaning):
- "Send your Salaah on (ask Allah to bless) him (Muhammad), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting (salutation, i.e. As‑Salaamu ‘Alaykum)"
And that (writing it in abbreviated form) does not serve that purpose and is devoid of the virtue of writing "salla Allaahu ‘alayhi wa salaam (May Allah send prayers and peace upon him)" in full. Moreover the reader may not take notice of it and may not understand what is meant by it. It should also be noted that the symbol used for it is regarded as disapproved by the scholars, who warned against it.
Terms used for those other than Muhammad
Ahmad Bayhaqi reports that Abu Hurairah said that Muhammad said:
Send the Salat on Allah's messengers and prophets for Allah sent them as He sent me.—Muhammad
When mentioning the Sahabah (the companions of Muhammad), radhi Allahu anhu (for males) and radhi Allahu anha (for females) are used by Sunnis; they mean may God be pleased with him or her respectively. The phrase is sometimes also used after mentioning other names including that of Jesus and Moses, but the term عليه سلام aleyhi salaam, "On him be peace" is more common. See for example the letter from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, to George W. Bush: "Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (pbuh), the great Messenger of God, / Feel obliged to respect human rights,[...]" 
- From Al-Fayrooza-abaadee's book As-Salaatu wal-Bushr, as quoted in Mu'jam Al-Manaahee Al-Laf-thiyyah (p.351)
- the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad (#5088, 9/105)
- from a handwritten answer provided by the shaykh Wasee Allaah 'Abbaas, file no. AAWA004, dated 1423/6/24
- "Arabic Presentation Forms-A" (PDF). The Unicode Standard, Version 5.2. Mountain View, Ca.: Unicode, Inc. 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
- Quran 33:56 (Translated by Shakir)
- President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad; Unknown (2006). "Scan of typewritten text, marked 'unofficial translation'". Associated Press. p. 18. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad; Unknown (2006). "Full Text : The President of Iran's Letter To President Bush". Information Clearing House. p. 8. Retrieved 28 April 2013.