This very common phrase (AL-SALAT ALA AL-NABI and AL-TASLEEM) derives from the following verse, 33:56:
[33:56] God and His angels ‘Yossalloon ala al Nabi’, O you believers you shall ‘Salloo alayhee’ and ‘Sallemoo tasleema’.
Since this is a clear command from God, we must surely obey it. However, and before obeying this command we must first understand the meaning of it. We notice that the verse contained two commands, the ‘Salla ala al Nabi’ and the ‘Tasleem’.
First we should inspect the present interpretation of these words among Muslims today, then we must find out whether this interpretation is in line with the one contained in the Quran. To do this, the easiest method is to ask any Muslim as to what is the meaning of the simple and widely spoken words ‘Salli ala al Nabi’.
Strangely enough, when most Muslims are asked as to what these words mean they are not really sure! The reader is welcomed to try this himself.
The simple question asked is:
‘When you say ‘Salli ala al Nabi’ what do you really mean? Are you praising the prophet? Are you imploring him so that he may intercede on your behalf on judgment day, are you praying God to grant the prophet His highest mercy? or what?
If the common Muslim has not made up his mind as to the meaning of the words he repeats many times a day, what then is the opinion of the the interpreters?
First they will say that God has exclusively honored Muhammad when He said:
"God and His angels Yossalloon ala al Nabi (for the prophet)"
Immediately, their claim is exposed by Quranic evidence. In the Quran we read that God and His angels do the same to all believers and not just to the prophet:
[33:43] He is the one who ‘Yessallee alaikom’ (for the believers) and His angels, to deliver you out of darkness into the light.
we also read :
[2:157] These (the believers) have deserved ‘Sallawat’ from their Lord and mercy, they are the guided ones.
Again the same meaning, but the matter does not end there, in Sura 9 we find God commanding the prophet to do the same for the believers:
[9:103] Take from their money a charity to purify them and sanctify them, and ‘Salli alaihom’ for your ‘Sallawat’ reassures them. God is Hearer, Omniscient.
Now if this verb ‘Yessalli’ is done by Allah to the believers, also by the prophet to the believers, how can the interpreters say that it is an exclusive honor bestowed by God on the prophet?!!!
To verify that let us study the use of the word ‘Sallat’ in the Quran. Immediately we find that the word ‘Sallat’ has been mentioned in the Quran in two different context:
The ‘Sallat’ for Allah, which is an act of worship, as used in the following verse:
[20:14] I am God; there is no other God beside Me, Thus you shall worship me and observe the ‘Salat’ to commemorate Me.
The ‘Sallat’ of the prophet on the believers or of the believers on the prophet as mentioned in previous verses.
The difference between the two uses of the same word all depends on the letter or the word that comes immediately after the word ‘Salat’.
The word ‘Salat’ is either followed by the Arabic letter ‘L’ which means (to, for) as in:
"……..observe the ‘Salat’ to commemorate Me." (Sura 20, verse 14)
This first use, means the act of prayer, which is done exclusively for God.
The word ‘Salat’ can also be followed by the Arabic word ‘Ala’ which means (on) as in all the previous verses.
Now, if ‘Salat for’ means the act of worship of God, what is the meaning of the word ‘Salat on’ as the one done for the prophet or the believers?
Going back to (Sura 33, verse 56), and since the two verbs (Yossalloon and Salloo) are used in the same verse, without any insinuation of a change in meaning, then by logic they must have the same meaning.
Consequently, when God informs us that He and the angels (Yossalloon ala al Nabi), then in the same sentence commands us to do the same, we must understand that it is of the same meaning.
Here we reach the heart of the matter. What is the meaning of (Sallat ala al Nabi) that can be done by God and by the believers equally? The same thing that is done by God must be done by the believers, as per the previous example.
The only meaning for the words ‘Sallat ala al Nabi’ that is found in the Quran and that can apply to God, His angels and to the believers alike is to ‘support the prophet’. God and His angels indeed support the prophet and by the same token God commands the believers to support His prophet. This correct meaning is confirmed by Quranic verses:
God supports His prophet :
[48:1] We have bestowed upon you (O Messenger) a great victory.
[48:2] Whereby GOD forgives your past sins, as well as future sins, and perfects His blessings upon you, and guides you in a straight path.
[48:3] Additionally, GOD will support you with an unwavering support.
The angels commanded by God to support the prophet :
[3:124] You told the believers, "Is it not enough that your Lord supports you with three thousand angels, sent down?"
Believers commanded to support the prophet of God :
[59:8] (You shall give) to the needy who immigrated. They were evicted from their homes and deprived of their properties, because they sought GOD's grace and pleasure, and because they supported GOD and His messenger. They are the truthful.
See also; 9:40 and 7:157
It is clear from these verses that God commands believers to do three things regarding His prophet :
- To believe in him.
- To support him.
- To obey and follow his message (the Quran).
Thus the correct meaning of the words ‘Sallat ala al Nabi’ is to support the prophet. Since the prophet is now dead and no longer with us then it is not possible to support him personally. The support now is directed to his message which is the Quran.
With that correct meaning of the word, it is right to think that when God ‘Yessallee ala al Momeneen’ it means He supports them and guides them out of the darkness. This meaning is indeed confirmed in the verse :
[33:43] He is the one who ‘Yessallee alaikom’ (supports you), together with His angels, to lead you out of the darkness into the light.
Similarly when God and His angels ‘Yessalloo ala al Nabi’ it is in the sense that He supports the prophet together with His angels. God does not go around repeating the words ‘Sallee ala al Nabi’, ‘Sallee ala al Nabi’ !!!
Similarly when the prophet ‘Yessalle ala al Momeneen’ (believers), as God commanded him in (Sura 9, verse 103), it is in the sense, that is he is to support them. Obviously God’s command to His prophet in this verse does not mean that the prophet should go around saying ‘Sallee ala Zeid’, ‘Sallee ala Ali’, ‘Sallee ala Belal’ !!
If this is the correct meaning of the words ‘Sallat ala al Nabi’, then what is the meaning of the word ‘Tasslleem’ as in ‘Wa sallemoo tasleema’ (Sura 33, verse 56)?
Sadly, the corrupted interpreters have found another corrupted meaning to these words as well. They claim that these words are a command from God to salute the prophet and send him our greetings! This is based on their false interpretation of the word ‘Tasleema’ to mean greetings!
This is contrary to the meaning of the word in the Quran where " Tasleem" means recognition and acceptance.
As in the subject of this search (33:56)
The word ‘Taslleem’ is found in only three verses in the Quran, and in all three verses it means to recognize and endorse:
[4:65] Never indeed, by your Lord; they are not believers unless they come to you to judge in their disputes, then find no hesitation in their hearts whatsoever in accepting your judgment. They must submit a total submission.‘Yessallemoo Taslleema’
[33:22] When the true believers saw the parties (ready to attack), they said, "This is what GOD and His messenger have promised us, and GOD and His messenger are truthful." This (dangerous situation) only strengthened their faith and augmented their submission. (Iman and Tasleem)
[33:56] "God and His angels ‘Yessalloo ala al Nabi’ (support him). O you who believe you shall ‘Salloo alayhee’ (support him) and Sallemoo Taslleema , ( fully recognize him and accept him as the messenger of God)."
A very simple and effective way of proving that the word ‘Tasslleem’ means recognition and not greetings as the corrupters would have us believe, is to substitute each of these two words, first (recognition), then (greetings) in place of the word ‘Tasslleem’ in each of the previous verses and see which one of the two words make more sense.
The correct meaning of verse 56 of Sura 33 is thus:
[33:56] GOD and His angels help and support the prophet. O you who believe, you shall help and support him, and regard him as he should be regarded.
Indeed it makes perfect sense that God should command the believers to support His prophet and totally accept him rather than to be primarily concerned in people going around saying (Sallee ala al Nabi) without understanding what it really means and sending our greeting to the prophet who is dead and can no longer hear us, (see Sura 35, verse 14).
This accurate and precise meaning is asserted and authenticated in 7:157
[7:157] ...... Those who believe in him (prophet) , respect him, support him, and follow the light that came with him are the successful ones.
This verse includes all that God commanded us to do for the prophet :
- To believe in him, which corresponds to (Sallemoo Tasleema) in 33:56
- To support him which correspond to (Salloo Alayhee) in the same verse.
- To obey him (to follow the message that was revealed to him, which is the Quran).
This is what God commands any people to do for their prophet, whether they are the people of Moses, Jesus or Muhammad.
The importance of this last verse is profound since it exposes the corrupted interpretation of three prime concepts :
- ‘Sallemmo Tasllemma’ is a command from God to the believers to recognize and believe in His prophet, it is not a command from God for them to send him greetings!!!
- ‘Salloo Alayhee’ is a command from God to the believers to support His prophet, it is not a command to the believers to go around like parrots repeating ‘Salli ala al Nabi’ without even knowing what it means!
- To obey the prophet is a command from God to the believers to follow the light (Quran) that He has revealed to His prophet (7:157), it is not a command to follow that which is falsely attributed to the prophet, and called his Sunna, and which was never mentioned in the Quran, not even once! The only Sunna authorized in the Quran is the Sunna of God.