Allah – The One sans partner – is the Creator of all creatures. His Being is Unique and Needless. He is the One before whom every particle of the universe is subservient and indigent. From eternity, He is Generous upon the world of creation. He showers His bounties upon His creatures, morning and evening. He does not withhold the flood of His bounties. His is the creation, His are the bounties. He is the fountainhead of all endowments. He is the One Who adorns the dawn. He is the Provider of light to the day and the shade in the blistering afternoon heat. He owns everything. Then why is He displeased with His servants? Why does He – the Blessed and Merciful One – repeatedly warn His servants about the refutation of His bounties?
There is reason for this. The moot cause is that the Creator bestowed intellect and reasoning upon his creation, the children of Adam (a.s.). Then He sent His apostles, prophets and their successors for the propagation of knowledge and shariah. He thus illuminated the paths of guidance among mankind. Subsequently, He gave them a choice – Be among the thankful ones or be among those who deny the bounties. His anger is directed to the second group, to those who refute His bounties. Hence the tone of the verses reflects Majesty and Dominion. The verse thunders: Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?
However, when He addresses His true worshippers, the manner and style changes. The tone of conversation softens. He speaks to them in a cheerful tone. The listeners are of different disposition, of a different nature. The sublime fragrance embedded in their nature is uplifting. Their visions and hearts are the centres for a mysterious Proof. This is a unique level of submission and acceptance. Here the speaker says to the audience: “We, the angels are with you believers. Verily, Allah the High sends greetings (salawaat) and His angels too send greetings, and you, O believers! Also send greetings on the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and submit to his orders.” This is the final stage of submission and acceptance where windows of cognition and faith open before a believer upon his incessant recitation and repetition of salawaat. He (the believer) is engulfed in the sea of bewilderment and wonder. He then submits in thankfulness because he has been included in the rows of angels who send salawaat upon the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Allah has instructed us to submit to His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and enlightens our intellect so that we strive towards the recognition of His Prophet (s.a.w.a.). We know that His Messengers and successors (a.s.) are not from us. They are different. Their creation is different. They are unique and exclusive. They are such noble and dignified divine ambassadors that Allah – Blessed and High Be He – invites His angels and the believers to send salawaat upon them. The sovereignty of these chaste individuals (a.s.) is such that if a person doubts regarding them, he loses sight of the path to submission and satisfaction. Thus, we have been bestowed with the gift of salawaat. It is an emblem that contains not only the voice of Allah, but also His angels and the believers. So, the caravan which started its journey with Hazrat Adam (a.s.) continues its voyage towards the Lord of the Day of Judgment in the footsteps of Haabil. It will reach its eternal abode with the help of salawaat.
Now, it is incumbent on us that we constantly recite salawaat upon that representative of Allah, who is the soul of the universe, the successor of all Prophets and Messengers, the Imam of the time (a.s.) and thus be enumerated among the believers as mentioned by Allah. There are some methods and illuminations for this salawaat. Some additional shades and hues have been illustrated about it by our scholars. Hence, we will mention some of them over here and throw some light upon their meanings and contexts.
We will also discuss the salawaat of Abu Zarraab-e-Isfahani for Imam Zamana (a.s.) in the forthcoming pages.
The literal meaning of salawaat is “deep concentration”. Allama Tabatabai (r.a.) explains in his exegesis Al-Mizan. (Surah Ahzab: 43) that the complete and comprehensive meaning of salawaat can only be gleaned from its context. Normally, it means the “attentiveness of the heart towards somebody” but the meaning differs with the change of context. Some have opined that salawaat with reference to Allah means Mercy while the salawaat of the angels is an intense prayer for forgiveness and the salawaat of a believer is (just) a prayer. So, we can apply the meaning of salawaat as prayer in context to the angels and believers and the literal meaning also corroborates this.
The author of Majma’ul Bayaan has mentioned the meaning of salawaat as Zikr (remembrance). While Al-Mufradaat of Raaghib states that most dictionaries have called it as prayer, commendation or praise. He has quoted the narration of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) under Sura Baqarah – ‘when someone calls for food then accept it. And if you are fasting, then pray () for him’. The salawaat has been used in Qur’an in the meaning of prayer. It is mentioned in Sura Tauba, verse 103:
Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray () for them. Surely your prayer (salawaat) is a relief for them. And Allah is Hearing, Knowing
The meaning of salawaat in Sura Ahzaab, verse 43 is in the meaning of “attention” and “importance”:
He it is Who has His attention () on you, and (so do) His angels, that He may bring you forth out of utter darkness into the light And He is Merciful to the believers
This verse clarifies the fact that attention of Allah is His mercy.
Allah says in Sura Ahzaab, verse 55:
Surely Allah and His angels send salawaat on the Prophet. O you who believe! Call for (Divine) blessings upon him and salute him with a (becoming) salutation.
What is evident from this verse is that it is incumbent on a believer to send salutations upon the Prophet (s.a.w.a) along with Allah and His angels. Both Shias and Sunnis consider it an important worship and send salutations upon the Prophet and his progeny (s.a.w.a.).
Historical background of salawaat
The verses on Meesaaq (covenant) in the Holy Qur’an make it clear that Allah had ordered all his messengers to introduce Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.a) and his progeny (s.a.w.a.) among their respective nations. On the other hand, H. Adam (a.s.) was told to make use of the intercession of the progeny of Mohammad (s.a.w.a.) for the acceptance of his request and the mode of worship is best known to the messengers (a.s.). Looking at the general and collective meanings of salawaat, it would be apt to say that when H. Adam (a.s.) would have seen the majesty and grandeur of Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and his progeny (a.s.), then he would not have sought Allah’s forgiveness without extolling and commending them. According to a tradition (hadees) in Behaarul Anwaar, the Bani Israel were ordered to send salawaat on the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his progeny (a.s.). This happened when H. Musa (a.s.) mentioned the difficulties facing the Bani Israel to his Lord. Allah instructed him, ‘O Musa! When the Bani Israel face difficulties, instruct them to pray for their needs after sending salawaat on the Ahle Bait (a.s.). Surely they will find salvation’. Allama Majlisi (r.a.) has penned interesting anecdotes in this regard. For further reference, one may refer to Behaarul Anwaar, vol.39, pg.61.
Kinds of Salawaat
In the light of traditions, salawaat can be divided into two parts – short and elaborate. The most common and smallest salawaat is ‘Allahumma Salle Alaa Muhammad wa Aale Muhammad’ introduced by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Both Shias and Sunnis are unanimous about this point. As for a detailed salawaat, those who consider salawaat as the foundation of worship know that there are different and elaborate salawaat for each of the fourteen Infallibles (a.s.) and these have come in the traditions. We have been ordered to recite these salawaat. Special salawaat related to the infallible personas (a.s.) can be perused in the last part of Mafaatihul Jinaan.
There is one more type of salawaat which has two facets- Transmitted and non-transmitted. Transmitted salawaat are those which have come from the words of the Infallible guides (a.s.) and the non-transmitted are the salawaat of the scholars presented before Muhammad and his progeny (s.a.w.a.) as a token of their beliefs and faith. However, the scholars have been careful to use only those terms and sentences that have been expressed in the various salawaat of the Infallibles (a.s.). Readers will be surprised to know that even prejudiced Sunni scholars – despite their enmity with the Shias – have written books detailing the incredible effects of reciting salawaat upon Prophet Muhammad and his progeny (s.a.w.a.). The book “Wasilatul Khadim ilal makhdoom” by Fazl Ibn Roozbahaan Kanji can be cited as an example. He has mentioned the salawaat for Imam Zamana (a.s.) on page 359 in these words:
O Allah! Send your blessings, mercy and peace upon the twelfth Imam. The upright, the awaited, the scholar, the powerful, the successor of the choicest of the chosen, the inheritor of the might of Murtuza (a.s.); the successor of the impeccable morals of Hasan (a.s.); the inheritor of the determination of Husain (a.s.), the worship of Ali Ibn Husain (a.s.), the sciences of the of Baqir (a.s.)….. The one who gains precedence upon mankind through nobility and excellence. The loved Imam, the promised manifestation. … and the Proof, the Upright, the awaited one for the time of reappearance.”
I have only quoted a few lines for the sake of brevity. This is how they had penned salawaat for the Infallible Imams (a.s.).
Salawaat of Abu Zarraab Isfahani
Sayyed Ibn Tawoos says that salawaat of Zurrab Isfahani is that salawaat upon Muhammad and his progeny (s.a.w.a.) which has been narrated from Imam Zamana (a.s.). This is an invaluable salawaat which should not be abandoned on Friday even if due to some reason the other prayers cannot be recited on that day, since it is a divine secret of which Allah Himself has made us aware.
Sayyed ibn Tawoos says that ‘My forefather Abu Ja’far Toosi (r.a.) narrating from reliable sources quotes
“Ya’qub Ibn Yusuf Zarraab Isfahani related to me while he was returning from Isfahan.
‘I (Yaqub) left for Hajj with some Sunnis of our city in 281 A.H. When we reached Makkah, one of us rented a house in the middle of the Lail market. It was the House of J. Khadijah (s.a) but was more popular as the House of Imam Reza (a.s.). An old wheatish complexioned lady resided therein. When I came to know that this house is famous as the “house of Imam Reza (a.s.)” I became curious. I inquired from the lady “Since when are you residing in this house? How are you related to the people of this house? Why was it named the house of Imam Reza (a.s.)?” She replied, “I am from the followers of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) and this is the house of Imam Ali Ibn Musa Reza (a.s.). Hasan Askari (a.s.) has asked me to reside here. I was among his (a.s.) servants.” Hearing this I felt a sense of attachment with her. However, I kept this (secret) from my Sunni friends. When I would complete my circumambulation at night, I would sleep with them in the courtyard of the house. We would lock the hallway door and place a large boulder behind the door dragging it t here. In many nights, we saw that the door would open by itself and a radiant person would enter the house. He was of wheatish-complexion, average height, handsome visage, and a mark of prostration (on his forehead). He would be wearing two garments, a fine cloak and sandals. He would go directly to that room of the house where the old woman lived. While she would always tell us that only her daughter entered her room. That radiant light would climb the stairs. I saw the light on the first floor passage moving towards the room. I would then witness the same light in the room while I could not see any lamp being lit. My companions saw this and surmised that this was a man who had married the old lady’s daughter and had come to meet her. They then said, “These are Alawis (implying Shias), and this is Mut’ah.” For them mu’tah was forbidden. We would see him regularly entering and leaving the house while the boulder would always be in its place. We would lock the door from inside for fear of our possessions being stolen and only we would shift the rock to open the door. We saw that the person entered and left the house without moving the stone aside while we had to struggle to move it all the time. There was a pounding in my heart when I saw such strange sights. I became courteous and friendly with the old lady as I was keen to know the identity of that man. I told her, ‘O So-and-so! I would like to ask you a few questions while I’m alone. When you find me alone in the house, come down so I can talk to you.’ She immediately replied’ ‘I too would like to confide in you but have been unable to do so due to your companions.’ I asked, ‘What is it you want to say?’ She replied, ‘It has been said to me – she did not say by whom – that you should not be bad-mannered with your friends and companions. Don’t argue with them and do not fight with them because they are your enemies. Always be kind and affectionate with them. I asked her, ’Who told you this?’ She replied, ‘I am saying it.’ Since I was in awe of her I couldn’t gather the courage to question her again. I queried, ‘About which friends are you warning me?’ I thought she would point to the friends who had accompanied me to Haj. But she said, ‘Those friends who are your partners and live with you in your house.’ There had been an altercation between me and they on matters of religion and they had complained about me. Hence I had run away from my city and had spent a few days in hiding. I asked that lady, ‘How did you come to love Imam Reza (a.s.)? ‘I was a servant of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.)’, she replied. I was now convinced about her genuineness so I thought of asking her about the hidden Imam (a.s.). I said, ‘By Allah! Have you seen him?’ She answered, ‘Brother, I have not seen him. I had come to the city along with my pregnant sister and Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) gave glad tidings to me that I will soon see him in my last days and he instructed me, “Serve him as you serve me.” I was in Egypt till sometime back. I have travelled here due to a man from Khurasan, not proficient in Arabic, who bore my expenses of thirty dinars and ordered me to perform Hajj in this year. So, I left with the hope of seeing him (a.s.). The narrator (Yaqub) says, ‘For a moment I thought in my heart ‘Is the person that I see coming and going ‘Mahdi’?”. I took out ten Razavi dirhams which I had intended to be placed at Maqame Ibrahim (as) and gave it to her. I thought to myself, “Giving it to people in the progeny of Fatima (s.a) is better than placing it at Maqame Ibrahim (a.s.) and has a greater reward.” I told her, “Give these dirhams to the worthy among the progeny of Fatima (s.a). I thought that the old lady would give it to the person I had seen and he would accept it. She went to her room taking the money along with her and came back after a little while. She said, ‘He says, “We do not have right upon the money. Spend it as you had intended earlier. But take the equivalent of the razavi coins from us and donate it as you had intended. I did as I was told and thought to myself, “This has been ordered by the same man (Imam (a.s.)).
‘I had a copy of the tauqee’ issued to Qasim Ibn al-Alaa in Azerbaijan. I requested her to show this to someone who was familiar with the tauqee’ of Imam (a.s.). She said, “Give it to me. Surely, I can recognize it.” She saw the tauqee’ and I suspected that she may be the right person to identify the tauqee’. However she said, “I am unable to read it at this place.” So she took it to her room. Then she came down and said “This tauqee’ is authentic and correct.” It was written in the tauqee’, “I give you a glad tiding which I have not given anybody else before” Then she inquired, “He (a.s.) has asked you that when you send salawaat upon the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) what do you recite?” I replied:
“O Allah! Send Your Blessings upon Muhammad & his progeny and shower Your Munificence upon Muhammad & his progeny like You bestowed Your Blessings, Munificence & Mercy upon Ibrahim and his progeny. Certainly You are Most commendable & praiseworthy.
On hearing this she said, “Do not send salawaat like this. Rather, when you send salawaat on them then take the name of each one of them individually”. I replied: “Okay”.
The next day, she brought a small book with her and said, “He (a.s.) has instructed you, that when you send salawaat upon the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) then send salawaat upon him and his successors according to this copy. I took it from her and acted upon it. I observed on a number of nights that he (a.s.) descended from the room and light of the lamp was still constant. I used to open the door and follow the light but would never find anyone but would see the light bowing down in prostration. I saw groups of men from other cities come to the house of this old lady and give some letters. The old lady too would give them similar letters. They would converse with her but I could not understand their discussions. I saw a group from them when I met them on my way back to Baghdad (after Hajj). The diary that I received from Hazrat (a.t.f.s) contained the following salawaat:
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficient & the Most Merciful
O Allah! Bless Muhammad (s.a.w.a), the chief of the messengers, the seal of the prophets (a.s.), the proof of the Lord of the worlds, the chosen one in the covenant (meesaq) ……. the strong rope and the straight path. And bestow Your Blessings on Your friend, the guardians of Your covenant and the Imams (a.s.) from his descendants; prolong their lives and increase their age; make them reach their highest expectations – in the religion, this world and the Hereafter. Surely You possess power over all things
This salawaat has been narrated in authentic books through varied chains of authority and its recitation has been greatly emphasized.
Dear readers, we have related the entire incident to gauge the importance of this salawaat and get proximity to Holy Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.a.) and his progeny (a.s.) in general and Imam Zamana (a.s.) in particular. Aameen. We cannot estimate the spiritual impact of the sentences of this salawaat. It would have been befitting to present a brief exegesis and explanation of the same, but fearing prolongation, we will discuss it in the future.
The Excellence of Salawaat:
Salawaat is a sunnah in which Allah and His angels are associated. The angels are continually sending salawaat on Mohammad and his progeny (s.a.w.a.). Salawaat is a plea which is never rejected. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) says in a tradition, “The one who does not send salawaat upon me, religion is not for him.”
(Sharh wa Fazaile Salalwaat; al-Kafi p. 52, reproduced from Jala’e Ifhaam)
Several books have been penned on the merits of salawaat. Interested readers may refer to Sharh wa Fazaile Salawaat for further details.
The Benefits of Salawaat
It has come in traditions that when the person sends salawaat once upon the Holy prophet (s.a.w.a.), Allah orders an angel to deliver the salawaat to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) faster than the blinking of an eye. This angel goes to the shrine of the Holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and says, “So-and-so has send this salawaat upon you.” The Holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) replies, “Deliver my benediction upon him.”
(Sharh wa Fazaile Salalwaat; marhum Sayyed Ahmad Hussaini irdekan, p. 89)
Keeping in view the meaning of salawaat, it is worth noting the position of the person whose salawaat has been accepted by the Holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) and for whom he (s.a.w.a) too has recited salawaat. This cannot be estimated by anyone except Allah.
The Holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) relates in a tradition,
“The one who sends salawaat upon me every morning and evening in my love and affection, it is necessary for Allah to forgive him that day.”
(Beharul Anwaar, vol. 92, p. 70)
Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) informs:
“No prayer (dua) is answered without salawaat upon Mohammad and his progeny (s.a.w.a.)”
(Beharul Anwaar, vol. 9, p. 58)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) wills to Imam Ali (a.s.):
O Ali! Whosoever sends salawaat on me during the day, my intercession is obligatory for him even if he is performing the great sins.
(Jaame’ul Akhbaar, ch. 28, p. 67, H. 5)
The benefits of salawaat have been mentioned in this lengthy tradition.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
One day the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said to Ali (a.s.), “O Ali (a.s.)! Would you like me to inform you of some good news?” Imam (a.s.) replied, “Yes, May my parents be sacrificed upon you. You always inform us about goodness.” The Holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) said, “Jibraeel (a.s.) came to me and informed me of an amazing thing.” “And what is it?” asked H. Ali (a.s.). The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) replied, “The person who sends salawaat on Mohammad and his progeny (s.a.w.a.), doors of heaven will be opened for him and the angels will recite seventy salawaat on behalf of that person. If the man is a sinner, his sins will detach from him like leaves falling from a tree. And it will be announced from Allah’s side, “O My servant, I am present. And for you is success.” Then it shall be said to the angels, “O My angels! Recite seventy salawaat on his behalf and I will recite seven hundred salawaat.” And the person who sends salawaat on me and not on my progeny, there exist seventy veils between his salawaat and the heavens and Allah addresses him, “For you there is neither any goodness nor any reward. I do not accept you” Then He addresses His angels: “O My angels! Do not ascend this salawaat till he includes the progeny of Mohammad (s.a.w.a.) in it.”
(Beharul Anwaar, vol. 92, p. 56, H. 30)
Some traditions have added ‘Ajjil farajahum’ to ‘Allahumma salle alaa Muhammad wa Aale Muhammad’. And reciting as such is ordered in the time of occultation. There are innumerable other benefits of salawaat which we are unable to recount due to brevity.
I pray before the Almighty that He may bestow the tawfeeq of reciting salawaat upon us and hasten the reappearance of our master Imam Zamana (a.s.). Aameen!