Islamic honorifics

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Islam uses a number of conventionally complimentary phrases praising Allah (e.g. Subḥānahu wa-taʿālā), or wishing good things upon Muhammad or other prophets (e.g. ʿalayhi s-salām). These phrases are encompassed by a number of terms: Prayers upon Muhammad may be referred to simply as Arabic: صَلَوات‎, romanizedṣalawāt "prayers," Persian: درود‎, romanizeddorud "greetings," or Urdu: درود‎, romanizeddurūd.


Applied to God[edit]

After mentioning one of the names of God, such as Allah, an expression of worship is used as opposed to the phrases of supplication used for regular individuals. These include:

Arabic
Transliteration
Meaning Abbreviation
سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ Glorified and Exalted (swt), (s.w.t.)
subḥānahu wa-taʿālā
تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَىٰ Blessed and Exalted
tabāraka wa-taʿālā
عَزَّ وَجَلَّ Prestigious and Majestic (azwj), (a.z.w.j.)
ʿazza wa-jalla

Applied to Muhammad and his family[edit]

Sallā -llāhu ʿalayhī wa-sallam (Blessings of God and Peace Be Upon Him) written in Arabic
Arabic
Transliteration
Meaning
Usage Abbreviation
عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ This expression follows after naming prophets and messengers in Islam, Imams in Shia Islam (as), (a.s.), (pbuh), (p.b.u.h.)
ʿalayhi as-salāmu
Peace be upon him
عَلَيْهِ ٱلصَّلَاةُ وَٱلسَّلَامُ This expression follows after naming prophets and messengers, including Jesus; or Imams in Shia Islam. (asws), (a.s.w.s.), (pbbuh), (p.b.b.u.h.)
ʿalayhi ṣ-ṣalātu wa-s-salāmu
Blessings and peace be upon him
سَلَامُ ٱللَّٰهِ عَلَيْهِ This expression follows after naming Imams in Shia Islam or angels. The feminine version (سَلَامُ ٱللَّٰهِ عَلَيْهَا‎) is commonly used for historical Islamic women (e.g. Fatimah, Khadijah, Maryam, Asiya, Sarah, Eve, etc). (sa), (s.a.)
salāmu -llāhi ʿalayhī
Peace of God be upon him
صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ This expression follows specifically after uttering the name of the Prophet Muhammad, although "peace be upon him" may be used instead. It is more commonly used by Sunni Muslims. (saw), (s.a.w.), (sa), (s.a.), (sm)
ṣallā -llāhu ʿalayhī wa-sallama
Blessings of God be upon him as well as peace
صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ This expression follows specifically after uttering the name of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It is used by all Muslims, but more so by Shia Muslims. (saww), (s.a.w.w.), (saws), (s.a.w.s.), (saw), (s.a.w.), (sa), (s.a.)
ṣallā -llāhu ʿalayhī wa-ʾālihī wa-sallama
Blessings of God be upon him and his progeny and grant him peace
صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ This expression follows specifically after uttering the name of the Prophet Muhammad. It is more commonly used by Shia Muslims. (sawa), (s.a.w.a.), (saww), (s.a.w.w.), (sa), (s.a.)
ṣallā -llāhu ʿalayhī wa-ʾālihī
Blessings of God be upon him and his progeny
رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ This expression is used when mentioning historic and contemporary Muslims. (ra), (r.a.), (rah), (r.a.h.), (raa), (r.a.a.)
raḥimahu -llāhu
God have mercy on him
رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ This expression is used when mentioning the Companions of the Prophet but sometimes used with other godly persons,[1] The feminine version رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهَا‎. (ra), (r.a.)
raḍiya -llāhu ʿanhū
God be please with him

In the above, Arabic: عليه‎, romanizedʿalayhi "upon him" may be replaced by Arabic: عليه وعلى آله‎, romanizedʿalayhi wa-ʿalā 'ālihi "upon him and upon his family."

Usually, "ṣallā" or "Blessings" is used exclusively for Muhammad to distinguish between him and other prophets (and Imams in Shia Islam), but theoretically, it is used for all prophets equally.

Scriptural and Hadith Basis for Prayers upon Muhammad[edit]

Qur'ān[edit]

The honorifics for Muhammad are enjoined by Surat al-Ahzab:

إِنَّ ٱل‍لَّٰهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَىٰ ٱلنَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا۟ صَلُّوا۟ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا۟ تَسْلِيمًا
"Surely Allah (God) and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who believe! Send blessings on him and salute him with a (becoming) salutation."[Quran 33:56 (Translated by Shakir)]

[citation needed]

The scholar ibn Kathir, titled the section in his tafsir regarding this verse, "The Command to say salawat upon the Prophet (Muhammad)".

Ahadith[edit]

Al-Tirmidhi recorded that Abu Hurairah said, "The Messenger of Allah said, 'May he be humiliated, the man in whose presence I am mentioned and he does not send Salaam 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.'" Al-Tirmidhi said that this hadith was ḥasan gharib "Good but only reported once".

In Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawood, Jami` at-Tirmidhi and al-Sunan al-Sughra, four of the Six major Hadith collections, recorded that Abu Hurairah said, "The Messenger of Allah said: 'Whoever sends one Salaam upon me, Allah will send ten upon him.'"

Ahmad ibn Hanbal reported in his Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal that the Companion of Muhammad, Abu Talha ibn Thabit, said:

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 Salaam 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.'"

Al-Bayhaqi reports that Abu Hurairah said that Muhammad said, "Send the Salaam on Allah's messengers and prophets for Allah sent them as He sent me."

This point is further founded in the saying by Muhammad, "The miser is the one in whose presence I am mentioned, then he does not send the Salam upon me." This was recorded in Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

Anas bin Malik said, "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: 'Whoever sends salah upon me once, Allah (SWT) will send salah upon him tenfold, and will erase ten sins from him, and will raise him ten degrees in status.'"

— Collected by Al-Nasa'i, Al-Sunan al-Sughra Book 13, Hadith 119[2]

Salafi Ruling on abbreviating prayers upon Muhammad[edit]

Scholars of the Salafi branch of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia have instructed their followers not to abbreviate the salawat upon Muhammad. For example, Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, said:[citation needed][year needed]

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):

صَلُّوا۟ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا۟ تَسْلِيمًا
Send blessings on him and salute him with a (becoming) salutation."[Quran 33:56 (Translated by Shakir)]

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.

Applied to angels and prophets[edit]

‘Alay-hi ’s-salām

Applies to the archangels (Jibril, Mikhail, etc ) as well as any other Islamic prophets preceding Muhammad (Isa as, Musa as, Ibrahim as etc).

  • Alay-hi ’s-salām (Arabic: عليه السلام)
    • Translation: "Peace be upon Him"
    • Abbreviation: "AS"[3]
  • Alaihissalatu Wassalam
    • Translation: "On Him are the blessings and the peace of Allah"
    • Abbreviation: "ASW"

Applied to companions of Muhammad[edit]

Used after companions ("Aṣ-Ṣaẖābah") of Muḥammad

  • Raḍiya ’llāhu ‘an-hu (Arabic: "رضي الله عنه")
    • Translation: "May Allāh be pleased with him"
    • Abbreviation: "RA"
    • Example: "al-‘Abbās (Raḍiya ’llāhu ‘an-hu) ..."
  • Raḍiya ’llāhu ‘an-hā (Arabic: "رضي الله عنها")
    • Translation: "May Allāh be pleased with her"
    • Example: "Khadījah (Raḍiya ’llāhu ‘an-hā) ..."
  • Raḍiya ’llāhu ‘an-hum (Arabic: "رضي الله عنهم")
    • Translation: "May Allāh be pleased with them"
    • Example: "aṣ-Ṣaḥābah (Raḍiya ’llāhu ‘an-hum) ..."

Applied to enemies of Muhammad[edit]

Used after enemies (Arabic: العَدُوّ, al-‘aduww) of Muḥammad

  • La'anatu ’llahi ‘alay-hi (Arabic: "لعنة الله عليه")
    • Translation: "May Allāh curse him"
    • Example: "Abū Lahab (La'anatu ’llahi ‘alay-hi)..."

Applied to scholars and saints[edit]

Applies to highly revered scholars and people thought to be of high spiritual rank which have passed away.

  • Raḥmatu ’llāhi ‘alay-hi (Arabic: "رَحْمَةُ الله عليه") / Raḥima-hu ’llāh (Arabic: "رَحِمَهُ الله")
    • Translation: "May Allah's mercy/ blessing be upon him"
    • Example: "Abū Hanīfah (Raḥmatu ’llāhi ‘alay-hi) ..."
  • Raḥmatu ’llāhi ‘alay-hi (Arabic: "رَحْمَةُ الله عليها") / Raḥima-hā ’llāh (Arabic: "رَحِمَها الله")
    • Translation: "May Allah's mercy/ blessing be upon her"
    • Example: "Fatima al-Fihri (Raḥmatu ’llāhi ‘alay-hi) ..."
  • Raḥmatu ’llāhi ‘alay-him (Arabic: "رَحْمَةُ الله عليهم")
    • Translation: "May Allah's mercy/ blessing be upon them"

If a revered scholar is still alive, the following is custom.

  • Ḥafiḏahu ’llah (Arabic: "حفظه الله")
    • Translation: "May Allah preserve him"

Unicode[edit]

Unicode
UTF-8 Encoding Symbol Unicode Name Transcription Arabic English
ؑ ؑ Arabic sign ALAYHE ASSALLAM ʿalayhī s-salām عليه السلام peace be upon him
ؒ ؒ Arabic sign RAHMATULLAH ALAYHE raḥmatu Llāhi ʿalayh رحمة الله عليه God have mercy upon him
ؓ ؓ Arabic sign RADI ALLAHOU ANHU raḍī Llāhu ʿanh رضي الله عنه God be pleased with him

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "هل يقال رضي الله عنه لغير الصحابة - إسلام ويب - مركز الفتوى".
  2. ^ https://sunnah.com/nasai:1297
  3. ^ "Islamic Terminology". islamic-dictionary. Retrieved 8 December 2016.