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Singing Ya Nabi Salaam Alaika

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulUloomTT.net

Q. Is it haram to sing Ya Nabi Salam Alaika, to sing Moulood Sharif, to attend Milads and Mouloods? Where did such practices come from? I heard at a function that Ya Nabi Salam Alaika was the first words said at the time of the Rasool’s (SAW) birth by Baraka and also “Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace.” (Chapter 33, Surah Al-Ahzab, Ayah 56 is the justification for doing so. Please advise.

A. The words Ya Nabi Salam Alaika means ‘O Prophet Peace be upon you’. Due to the fact that it is a phrase which addresses the Prophet (SA) directly in giving salaams ( greetings) to him, the Sahabahs (RA) used words with similar meaning whenever they met him, and he was in their presence. This was uttered by the Sahabahs because of the fact that they would greet him whenever they met him. However they did not use such phrases to him (or about him) when he was not in their presence. It is simply a word of greeting which was given, and it is clearly understood and known to everyone that a greeting is normally given when you meet someone, and the person is in your presence, or you are physically having a conversation with a person. Besides these situations, no one will normally greet another person with ‘Salaams’ (greeting of peace) if they are not in the presence of another one, or they are not conversing with a person. It is for this reason, we find that it is not evident from any companion of the Prophet (SA) that he used the phrase ‘Ya Nabi Salam Alaika’ when he was not with the Prophet(SA). In other words, the Sahabahs (RA) did not say ‘Ya Nabi Salam Alaika’(O Prophet peace be unto you ) or any other similar phrase when he was not with them. They greeted him in this manner only when he was with them. If the Prophet (SA) was not with them, and they wished to convey salaams (greetings) to him, then they would not say ‘Pease be unto you O Prophet’, instead, they will supplicate to Allah to convey their Salaams to him. In this regard, it is narrated that when the companion, Khubaib (RA) was about to be martyred, and was tied to the gallows, he supplicated to Allah saying ‘O Allah! There is no one to convey my last Salaam to your Prophet (SA). (So convey my Salaam to him).

Upon this , Allah sent his Salaam to the Prophet (SA) through an angel. Hearing this, the Prophet (SA) answered, ‘Wa Alaikum As Salaam! O Khubaib’, and said to the companions, ‘Khubaib has been martyred by the Quraish’. (Hayatus Sahabah – The lives of the Companions).

This was the behaviour of the Sahabahs during the time when the Prophet (SA) was alive and lived amongst them. When he (SA) passed away, they never used to say ‘Ya Nabi Salam Alaika’ (O Prophet peace be upon you ) or similar greetings to the Prophet (SA) since he was no longer in their presence where they would meet him. Instead, only when they visited his blessed grave, they will face his grave, and convey Salaams directly to him saying, ‘As Salaam Alaika Ayuhan nabiyya wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh’ ‘Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy and blessings of Allah’. (This is also the teaching to all Muslims when they visit the blessed grave of the Prophet (SA) ).

From this explaination, it is evident that the Sahabahs (companion of the Prophet (SA) ) and those after them from the pious generations of Muslims (the Tabieen and Atba’ut Tabe’een ) did not practice and bring about the singing of ‘Ya Nabi Salaam Alaika’.

Today, it is seen that when people sing these words, they believe that the Prophet (SA) hears them and he visits their gatherings. These beliefs are not from the teachings of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah, and are innovated teachings in Islam which are opposing to the teachings of the Prophet (SA). Regarding this, the Prophet(SA) is reported to have said, ‘Whoever ask Allah to send a blessing to me at my grave, then I hear him, and whoever asks Allah to send blessings on me from a distant place, then it reaches to me (via the angels) (Mishkaat)’. In another tradition, the Prophet (SA) said, ‘Certainly, for Allah, there are angels who traverse the paths of the earth. They convey to me the salaams (greetings) of my Ummah (followers). (Mishkaat)

Both these traditions show that when a Muslim sends Salaams to the Prophet (SA) from a distant place, Allah appoints angels to convey the Salaams to the Prophet (SA). This means that the Prophet (SA) does not hear the Salaams directly, and he is not present at any gathering where the Salaams are being sung.

To sum up this discussion, I wish to state that the true teachings of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah, as established from the Prophet (SA) and taught to us by the Sahabahs, Tabieen and At ba’ut Tabieen and the generations of pious scholars from among the Imams of Fiqh, Hadith and Tafseer in this regard is that:-

1) The customary singing of ‘Ya Nabi Salaam Alaika’ is not established as the manner of sending Salaams upon the Prophet (SA). This manner of singing as people do, was never done at the time of the Prophet (SA) and the early generations of Muslims. It is a latter day invention and innovation. In this regard, the great Mufti and Jurist expert of Pakistan, Maulana Mufti Rasheed Ahmad wrote that this manner of sending Salaams by standing and singing words like ‘Ya Nabi Salaam Alaika’ etc. is not evident from the Sahabahs (RA) and has not been taught by the Prophet (SA). If this was the manner of sending Salaah and Salaam, then the Prophet (SA) would have certainly taught it to the Sahabahs (and his Ummah). However, he did not teach this way. From this, it is clear that this manner (which is practiced by some people) has been fabricated, and that which is a fabrication has no part in Islam, and is an evil innovation. This is not evident from the Sahabahs Tabi’een, At ba’ut Tabieen and all the pious predecessors of Islam.(Ahsanul Fatawa vol.1 pg. 362-363).

The late grand Mufti of India, Maulana Mufti Azeezur Rahman has also written against this practice in his compendium of Islamic Verdicts, known as Azeezul Fatawa vol.1 pg.87, 98, 99. Similarly, the late great Mufti and Jurist expert Maulana MuftiSyed Ahmad of India wrote against this practice in his compendium of Fatawa, known as Fatawa Raheemiya vol.2 pg.280.

2) Whenever a person is not standing in front of the grave of the Prophet (SA) when he is conveying the Salaam, then the Prophet (SA) does not hear his greetings directly. Instead, it is conveyed to him via angels (as evident from the traditions quoted above). Therefore, the belief that the Prophet (SA) hears the Salaams directly of those who sing ‘Ya nabi Salaam Alaika’, is in total opposition to the meaning, message and teaching of the Prophet (SA) himself. Having this belief is totally wrong.

3) The belief that the Prophet (SA) visits the gathering when ‘Ya nabi Salaam Alaika’ is being sung, is totally against the teachings of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah, and according to the sound and reliable scholars of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah, this is an act of shirk. In this regard, the great Jurist, Qazi Shihabuddeen has written ‘Those who say that the soul of the Prophet (SA) comes (to their gatherings) and is present, then their statement is absurd and false. In fact, this belief is shirk (associating partners to Allah). The four Imams of Fiqh have strictly prohibited such statements’. (Tuhfatul Qazaah).

Mouloods and Milads etc. never existed at the time of the Prophet (SA). The Sahabahs never did these, and all the early generations of Muslims did not do these practices. Until today, the overwhelming majority of Muslims throught the world do not do these practices. These were latter-day customs that were invented and innovated by some Muslims, which continue until today to be practiced by the minority factions who subscribe to the teachings/practices of those who invented and propagated these customs. These are therefore innovated practices which must not be done.

In this regard, the late grand Mufti of India Maulana Mufti Azeezur Rahman (AR) died 1345 AH (1924), when asked about the customary Milad and standing for Tazeem wrote, ‘The customary Milad and standing (for Tazeem that are inclusive of prohibited things are not permissible, and are innovated practices’. (Azeezul Fatawa vol.1 pg.98, 99)

Similarly when asked about the shariah ruling of the customary Moulood, the late great expert Jurist and Mufti of India, Maulana Qaari Mufti Syed Abdur Raheem (AR) wrote, ‘The customary gatherings of Milaad/Moulood where it is understood to be necessary by some Muslims is opposing to the Sunnah and a reprehensible Bid’ah (innovation). This is not evident from the Sahabahs, Tabieen, At ba’ut Tabieen and the great Imams of Fiqh’. (Fatawa Raheemiyah vol.2 pg.282).

The late grand Mufti of Pakistan, Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafee (AR) has also written against it. When asked about Milad etc., the late grand Mufti wrote, ‘Certainly, speaking about the blessed life of the Prophet (SA) and listening to such lectures are all praiseworthy acts. However, the customary Milad functions that have come about are inclusive of many innovated practices and impermissible things. hence, the overwhelming majority of the scholars have considered it to be not permissible. In a similar manner, to stand at the time when the Prophet’s name is mentioned (i.e. for Tazeem while singing Ya Nabi Salaam Alaika) is a manifest fabrication which has absolutely no source in Islam. This is not evident from the Sahabahs.’(Imdadul Muftiyeen pg.172-173).

With respect to the statement that ‘Ya Nabi Salaam Alaika’ (O Prophet peace be upon you) were the first words said at the time of the Rasool’s (SA) birth,this statement is nothing but a fabrication. This is not evident in any of the reliable books written on the life of the Messenger of Allah (SA). It is also known among all Muslims that the Prophet (SA) was not conferred with Prophethood from birth. In fact, this was granted to him when he was at the age of 40 years. Therefore, how can one say ‘Peace be upon you O Prophet’, when he was not a Prophet at that time.

As for the verse which you have referred to , which is , ‘Allah and his angels send salaah, on the Prophet. O you who believe! Send Salaah, upon him and greet him (send salaams) with salutation’. (Sura Al Ahzaab (33) verse 56). The law which is established here, is that a Muslim is being ordered by Allah to send Salaah (blessings) and Salaam(peace/greetings) to the Prophet(SA).

Those who sing ‘Ya Nabi Salaam Alaika’ continue to be under the impression that by singing ‘Ya Nabi Salaam Alaika’, they are indeed fulfilling the requirement of the verse. This however, contradicts the way that has been taught by the Prophet (SA) when he explained the meaning of the verse. The perfect understanding of the above mentioned verse (which you have quoted) has been given by the Prophet (SA) which every Muslim must adopt. Seeing that the message of Islam is complete, no one has the authority to invent a new manner of sending Salaat and Salaam to the Prophet (SA).

The commentators (Mufasireen) of the Holy Quran, while explaining the above mentioned verse in which Salaah and Salaam are mentioned have stated that when the word ‘Salaat’ is connected to Allah, it has the meaning of praise, mercy and blessings. As such, the words, ‘Allah sends Salaat upon the Prophet’ means that Allah sends his mercy and blessing upon him. In this regard, Imam Bukhari has quoted the statement of Abul A’aliyah (A.R.) who states ‘Allah’s Salaat upon the Prophet’ is that he praises him in front the angels’. The great companion, Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A.) has stated ‘Allah’s sending Salaat’ means that Allah blesses him. Imam Tirmizi has quoted from Sufyan Thawri from many scholars that ‘Allah’s Salaat upon the Prophet’ is that He sends his mercies upon him (Tafseer Ibn Katheer Vol.3 Pg.506)

The commentators have further stated that the ‘angel’s Salaah upon the Prophet (S.A.S.)’ is their making supplication for him and asking Allah to forgive him. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer from the statement of Abul A’aliyah and Sufyaan Thawri Vol.3 Pg.509)

In this manner, the commentators of the Holy Quran have also stated that the command to the believers that they must send salaah upon the Prophet ( S.A.S.) means that they should invoke Allah’s blessings upon him and they must continue to ask Allah to bless him. (Ma’ariful Quran Vol.7 Pg.221).

As can be seen, the Arabic words used in the above verse is that of salaah and salaam.

Hence, the act of asking Allah to bless the Prophet (S.A.S.) and sending greetings to him is normally referred to as Salaah and Salaam.

Here another misunderstanding has come about with respect to this term. Some Muslims have taken the words ‘Salaat and Salaam’ to refer to the act of (Qiyam) standing for the Prophet (S.A.S.). This misunderstanding on the part of some, leads them to falsely accuse other Muslims who do not stand in functions, saying that they do not send Salaah and Salaam upon the Prophet (S.A.S.). This is also a grave error which must be corrected since it is against the teachings of Islam.

The correct understanding of ‘Salaah’ as mentioned in the verse is that the believers must ask Allah to bless the Prophet (S.A.S.), and ‘Salaam’ means that they must send the greetings of salaams to him. As such, the words which are normally uttered ‘Allahumma Salli ala Muhammad’ are words of ‘Salaat’, which have been taught to the Ummah by the Prophet ( S.A.S.) himself.

In this regard, the authentic tradition has been recorded by Imam Bukhari which states that Kaab bin Ujrah (R.A.) reports that the Prophet of Allah ( S.A.S.) was asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, as for Salaam upon you, we know how to do it. But how is Salaat upon you’? the Prophet (S.A.S.) said, ‘Say, Allahumma Salli ala Muhammad Wa ala aale Muhammad Kamaa Sallaita ala aale Ibraheema Innaka Hammedum Majeed.

Allahumma Barik ala Muhammad Wa ala aale Muhammad Kama barakta ala aale Ibraheema Innaka Hameedum Majeed. (Bukhari, Tafseer Ibn Katheer Vol.3 Pg.507).

The above hadith quoted by Imam Bukhari shows that when the verse of Sura Ahzaab was revealed commanding the believers to send Salaat and Salaam to the Prophet (S.A.S.), the companions of the Prophet (S.A.S.) wanted to know the manner in which they should send salaat upon him. As such, they him asked to explain the method of doing it.

As for Salaams, (greetings) they already knew about it since they were taught to send Salaams (greetings) in their Tashahud. Hence, every time a Muslim performs Salaat (Namaz), he sends salaams (greetings) upon the Prophet (SA) when he saus in his Tashahud (At Tahiyaat), ‘As Salaamu Alaika Ayuhan Nabiyu wa Rahanatullahi wa Barakatuh’. (Peace be upon you, O Prohet, and Allah’smercy and blessings be uon you). This manner of sending Salaams to the prophet (SA) which has been taught to the Muslims, and was practiced by the Sahabahs and all the generations of early Muslims.

This understanding of the hadith has been clearly highlighted in another tradition recorded by Imam Tirmizi. The hadith states that Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila narrates from Kaab bin Ujrah (R.A.) who states, ‘When the verse, ‘Certainly Allah and His angels send blessings (salaat) upon the Prophet. O you who believe send blessings (salaat) upon, him and greet him with salaams (greetings),’ we (the companions) said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, we know how to send greetings/ salutations (salaams) upon you, but how should we send (blessings) salaat upon you’? The Prophet (S.A.S) said, ‘Say, Allahumma salli ala Muhammad wa ala aale Muhammad kama salaita ala Ibraheema wa ala aale Ibraheema innaka hameedum Majeed.

Wa baarik ala Muhammad wa ala aale Muhammad kama barakta ala Ibraheema wa ala aale Ibraheema innaka hameedum Majeed’. Having quoted this, Hafiz Ibn Katheer, states, ‘The meaning of the statement, ‘we know how to send greetings to you’ means that they knew how to salute him since they were taught the tashahud’. (Tafseer ibn Katheer vol.3 pg.507).

Similar traditions have been narrated by different compilers of hadith with almost the same meaning. Imam Bukhari has narrated another narration from Abu Saeed Al Khudri with similar words of asking Allah to send blessings upon the Prophet (S.A.S.).

Imam Ahmad has narrated a similar tradition from Abu Humaid As Sa’idi (R.A.), Imam Muslim has narrated a similar hadith from Abu Mas’ud Al Ansari (R.A.). Abu Dawood, Imam Tirmizi, Nasai, Ibn Jareer, Ibn Khuzaima, Ibn Habban, Hakim have all narrated such traditions.

All the above traditions clearly show that the Prophet (S.A.S.) taught the Sahabahs (companions), and by extension the entire Ummah the manner of sending ‘Salaat and Salaam’ upon him. It is therefore not permissible for any Muslim to invent a new method in this regard, and then classify it as the way of sending ‘Salaat and Salaam’ to the Prophet (S.A.S.).

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan

This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.

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