Imam al-Bayhaqi on the Meaning of Salawat

When we read Salawāt on the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in compliance with the injunctions of the Qur’ān and Sunnah, what does it mean? What intention should we have when sending Salawāt on him (peace be upon him)?

Imām al-Bayhaqī in his unique work on the branches of faith, Shu‘ab al-Īmān, addresses this question quoting from his predecessor, Abū ‘Abdillāh al-Halīmī:

As for ‘Salāh’ linguistically it is ‘magnification’ (ta‘zīm)…When we say: ‘O Allāh, send salawāt on Muhammad (salli ‘alā Muhammad)’, we only intend thereby: ‘O Allāh, magnify Muhammad in this world by elevating his mention, manifesting his call and preserving his Sharī‘ah, and in the afterlife by accepting his intercession for his ummah, increasing his recompense and reward, revealing his excellence to the earlier and later peoples by means of the Praiseworthy Station (al-maqām al-mahmūd), and putting him ahead of all those brought near [to You] in the well-attended day.’

Although Allāh (Exalted is He) has made these things necessary for the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), each one of them have levels and degrees. Hence, it is possible when someone from his ummah sends salawāt on him, and his supplication is answered therein, that the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) increases by means of that supplication in each of those things we mentioned, in terms of degree and rank. This is why by sending Salawāt on him is from that by means of which fulfilment of his due [over us] is intended, and by abundance of which nearness is gained to Allāh (Exalted is He).

 

Shu‘ab Īmān[1]

Note: It may be of interest to note that amongst Imām al-Bayhaqī’s primary sources in his masterpieces, Kitāb al-Asmā’ wa l-Sifāt and al-Jāmi‘ li Shu‘ab al-Īman, were the writings of the great Shāfi‘ī Ash‘arī imām, Abū ‘Abdillāh al-Halīmī (338 – 403 H), who is quoted above. Al-Halīmī was a prime student of Abū Bakr al-Qaffāl al-Shāshī (291 – 365 H), amongst the greatest of the Shāfi‘ī jurists in his time. Both al-Halīmī and al-Qaffāl were from the “Ashāb al-Wujūh of the Shāfi‘ī madhhab, early mujtahids of the school whose verdicts hold immense weight in the madhhab. Al-Qaffāl was, in turn, a direct disciple of Imām Abu l-Hasan al-Ash‘arī (260 – 324 H)[2], the founder of the Ash‘arī school of Sunnī ‘aqīdah. Abu l-Hasan al-Ash‘arī learned fiqh, hadīth and the ‘aqīdah of the Salaf from Imām Zakariyyā ibn Yahyā al-Sājī (215 – 307 H)[3] who was a student of Imāms Ismā‘īl ibn Yahyā al-Muzanī (175 – 264 H) and al-Rabī‘ ibn Sulaymān al-Murādī (174 – 270 H) from the foremost companions of Imām al-Shāfi‘ī. This may support the view that Abu l-Hasan al-Ash‘arī was a follower of the Shāfi‘ī madhhab, as argued by the Shāfi‘ī Ash‘arī hadīth-master and historian par excellence, Hāfiz Ibn ‘Asākir (499 – 570 H), in his Tabyīn Kadhib al-Muftarī.[4] May Allāh have mercy on them all.

 


[1]

قال الحليمي رحمه الله: أما الصلاة باللسان فهي التعظيم…فإذا قلنا اللهم صل على محمد فإنما نريد به اللهم عظم محمدا فى الدنيا بإعلاء ذكره، وإظهار دعوته، وإبقاء شريعته، وفى الآخرة بتشفيعه في أمته وإجزال أجره ومثوبته، وإبداء فضله للأولين والآخرين بالمقام المحمود، وتقديمه على كافة المقربين فى اليوم المشهود. وهذه الأمور وإن كان الله تعالى قد أوجبها للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فإن كل شيء منها ذو درجات ومراتب، فقد يجوز إذا صلى عليه واحد من أمته فاستجيب دعاؤه فيه أن يزداد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بذلك الدعاء في كل شيء مما سمينا رتبة ودرجة. ولهذا كانت الصلاة عليه مما يقصد بها قضاء حقه، ويتقرب بإكثارها إلى الله تعالى (الجامع لشعب الإيمان، مكتبة الرشد، ج.٣ ص.١٤٣-٤)

[2]

قال الحافظ ابن عساكر: باب ذكر جماعة من أعيان مشاهير أصحابه…ومنهم القفال الشاشي الفقيه رحمه الله…كان إماما وله مصنفات كثيرة ليس لأحد مثلها وهو أول من صنف الجدل الحسن من الفقهاء (تبيين كذب المفتري، المكتبة الأزهرية للتراث، ص.١٤٠-٤٤)

[3]

قال الحافظ العسقلاني: وحدث عنه (الساجي) أيضا أبو الحسن الأشعري وأخذ عنه مذاهب أهل الحديث (لسان الميزان، مكتب المطبوعات الإسلامية، ج.٣ ص.٥٢١) وقال الذهبي: وكان (الساجي) من أئمة الحديث أخذ عنه أبو الحسن الأشعري مقالة السلف فى الصفات (سير أعلام النبلاء، مؤسسة الرسالة، ج.١٤ ص.١٩٨)

[4]

قال الإمام الحافظ (ابن عساكر) رضي الله عنه: وفي هذه الحكاية دلالة للذكي الألمعي أن أبا الحسن كان يذهب مذهب الشافعي وكذلك ذكر أبو بكر بن فورك الأصبهاني في كتاب طبقات المتكلمين وذكره غيره من أئمتنا وشيوخنا الماضين (تبيين كذب المفتري، المكتبة الأزهرية للتراث، ص.١٠٢)

Mawlana Zameelur Rahman

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