Veneration of Muhammad
Throughout his historic twenty-three years of prophetic activity Muhammad never set himself forward as a divine sage or a saintly mystic or anything else to suggest that he was in any way superior to his companions. Yet, after his death he was projected in folk-lore as a great miracle worker, a sinless prophet, a model for mankind and as a living person who could appear in dreams and bless pious Muslims. The Muslim who honours Muhammad honours Allah.
Festivals are held in Muhammad’s honour, invocations are offered to Allah on his behalf, poetry exalts his characteristics and music has been composed to his praise. It became fashionable to define Muhammad with ninety-nine names as well as Allah; after reciting each name the pious Muslim must recite the tasliya “may the peace and blessings of God be upon him.” In many modern printed Qurans the ninety-nine names of Allah are reproduced at the start of the book and the ninety-nine names of Muhammad appear in a similar format at its end.
Muhammad the beautiful pattern and example
For centuries Muslims have sought to emulate Muhammad’s personality as he is regarded as the perfect archetype of human conduct an behaviour:
“Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the final day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah.” (Al-Ahzab 33:21)
It came to be believed that the key to all happiness was to follow his example and to imitate him in every aspect of his being, even down to fine points like using an olive twig (miswaak) to clean teeth just as he had done. Research was made to rediscover his movements and manner of eating and sleeping (which side he slept), his speech and walk and his manners and courtesies. That is why today we find many followers imitating their prophet in wearing a beard (at the appropriate length) and sandals.As far as Muhammad’s spiritual qualities are concerned the two characteristics most frequently mentioned are his kindness and humility. He is considered to have a heart for the weak and is not recorded as ever striking his servants of his wives. Despite his religious intensity he was considered a most pragmatic man.Yet, to millions of Muslims there is something far more important than emulating his behaviour, as a means of gaining Allah’s favour there is the hope of the Prophet’s intercession on the Day of Judgement. For this reason to honour Muhammad is to gain his favour on the Last Day and to send blessings upon him daily is encouraged in order to improve one’s spiritual merit and reward (sawab).
Gaining Allah’s favour
To gain Allah’s favour and obtain innumerable blessings in Popular Islam Muslims are encouraged to send their salutations on Muhammad on the basis of the following verse from the Quran:
“Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute him with all respect” (Al-Ahzab 33:56)
This verse informs the reader that Allah sends his blessings on Muhammad; his angels ask Allah to bless and forgive him; and therefore Muslims should greet him with Asalaam Aleikum. It is emphasised that Allah would not have commanded this if it was not of paramount importance, therefore it is advised to practice what Allah and his angels are already doing. The popular method of doing this is through a special kind of prayer (dua’) called darud sharif which is said to be supported by various hadiths and recommended by the Muslim jurist Imam Shafi’. Because Muhammad is said to be dear to Allah those who follow the prophet are dear to Allah also.
Muhammad the supreme creation
Popular legend declares that Muhammad is the reason for the very existence of the world, for as Allah has no needs (Ibrahim 14:8) he did not create the world for himself, but rather the world and al-Jannah were created for Muhammad. Muslims obtain al-Jannah because of Muhammad and therefore they should read durood sharif in abundance and pronounce blessings upon him. The following is related concerning Adam.
“Who is Muhammad?” asked Allah. Adam replied When you created me I saw the words : La Illallah Muhammad -ur-Rasullah written on the throne of Allah Almighty and since then I realised the Holy prophet Muhammad is the supreme creation of yours because I saw his name alongside yours.” Then the reply came back “He is to be the last of all the prophets, and will be your descendent. If he were not to be created, you would not have been created.”
It is asserted that the high status of Muhammad, which is mentioned in the book of Barnabas was removed from the Bible three hundred years before his birth. This book of Barnabas affirms the Muslim belief that the world was created for Muhammad in the following way: “…. God said: Wait Muhammad, for thy sake I will create Paradise, the world and a great multitude of creatures, whereof I make thee a present, in so much that who shall bless thee shall be blessed, and who shall curse thee shall be cursed……….”
On the basis of suspect hadiths and a spurious gospel those who follow Popular Islam believe everything they have, has been given by the Almighty because of Muhammad. This legend of Muhammad has transformed Muhammad from being an ordinary man to the greatest of all God’s creation, whose essence was the first thing God ever generated and from which all angels, prophets, saints and mortals were formed.
Honouring Muhammad from the Bible
Muslims believe that the best way of honouring Muhammad is to obey his teachings as in the words of the Quran:
“Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures), in the law and the Gospel; for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good and prohibits them from what is bad; He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him, it is they who will prosper.” (Al-‘Araf 7:157)
It is not only a matter of theological importance for Muslims to maintain that the Bible has been changed but also a matter of piety as respect for Muhammad is a fundamental token of their love for Allah. The addition of darood sharif in Popular Islam ensures a great reward:
“Although classified as a great sinner an Israelite was given a proper burial. Musa complained to Allah that this man was unworthy of forgiveness. Allah agreed, but added that one day that man had opened the Torah and kissed the name of Muhammad and recited durood sharif. “ (Al-Qawl-ul-Badi p 118-Imam al-Sakhawi).
Myriads of angels bless Muhammad
Muslims are encouraged to discover the benefits of reciting darood Sharif by reading Ab-e-Kathar by Mufti Muhammad Amin, (a Barelvi scholar). There is an hadith reported by Hazrat Ka’ab that 70,000 angels descended upon Muhammad’s mosque daily surrounded it and touched it with their wings; they continue reciting their blessings upon Muhammad until they leave in the evening. They are replaced by 70,000 more who stay until dawn and then 70,000 more who replace them in the morning. Each angel cannot return after its initial visit. We are told that this process continues until the Day of Judgement. Up to the present time it is estimated that approximately 70 billion angels have been sent by Allah to send their blessings in the form of darood sharif upon Muhammad.
Sending honours on Muhammad cancels sins and tips the balances in the believers favour
In Popular Islam powerful duroods are said to be a basis for the cancellation of sins and are said to tip the judgement scales in the believers favour. Abu Bakr Siddiq is said to have narrated that the recitation of durood sharif upon the Holy Prophet erases sins in the same manner that water extinguishes a fire.” (Al-Qawl-ul-Badi p12 -Imam al-Sakhawi)
Abdul Rahman Ibn Auf narrated that one day when the Holy prophet left his house, I followed close behind. He went to an orchard where he offered prayers and prostrated so long that I started weeping thinking that he had expired. He raised his head from sijda and called me and asked what had happened to him. I told him that he had been in sijda for a very long time. The prophet said that he had prostrated himself before Allah Almighty so long as a token of thanksgiving because He had granted him a reward, which was that if anyone from his ummah will recite durud sharif once Almighty Allah will record ten virtues in his favour and erase ten of his/her sins.” (Al Targhib wat Tarhib p 495 ‘Encouragement and warning’ – Imam al-Munziri)
“On the Day of Judgement Adam will be dressed in a green robe, sitting near the Empyrean and observing the fate of his descendents. He will see one of the followers of the Holy Prophet being taken to Hell. Muhammad rushes after the angel to stop them but the angels respond by saying that they cannot disobey Allah. So Muhammad debases himself before Allah and reminds him of his promise not to disgrace him about his ummah. Allah then orders the angels to obey Muhammad and takes the man back to be weighed in the scales this time Muhammad gives him a white paper of holy light from his pocket and it is placed alongside the other virtues the man achieved. The scales then turn in the right direction and he is taken to Paradise. The white paper was the man’s darood sharif and it was this that preserved him. (Al-Qawl-ul-Badi p 123-Imam al-Sakhawi).
A woman whose daughter had died came to Khwaja Hasan Basri and said that she wished to see her daughter in her dream. He told her the method to achieve this, then the woman saw her daughter in Hell. Later the Khwaja saw her in Paradise and the reason for the change was that a stranger read darood sharif in the graveyard and so Allah mercifuly transferred her and 70,000 others to Paradise” (Al-Qawl-ul-Badi p 131-Imam al-Sakhawi).
It is proposed that anyone who reads the darood sharif one thousand times on the day of Jumma will see one’s abode in Al-Jannah before or at the moment of death.” (Al-Qawl-ul-Badi p 103-Imam al-Sakhawi). As a rough calculation this means that over a period of twenty years one million durood sharifs are recited so through this additional thirty minutes each Friday it is claimed that superior blessings flow from Allah.
Sending honours on Muhammad result in unimaginable benefits and rewards
There are daroods that will ensure the fires of hell will be haram (darood Mahi); daroods for relief from calamity, turmoil and distress (darood Tunjina); seventy necessities in this life and thirty in the after life will be satisfied if one hundred darood sharifs are read on Thursday evening and Friday (Sa‘adat-ud-Darain p 89.
It is believed that when Muslims send their salams upon Muhammad and when Muhammad sends his salams on his ummah (Al-Ghazalli ihya al-Uluum Vol 1section 3) then Allah will give peace of mind from problems as the Almighty honours his prophet’s words. It is hoped that this will result in the eternal salam in Al-Jannah (Ibrahim 14:23; Al-Waqia 56:24-26).
It is proposed that anyone who reads the darood sharif one thousand times on the day of Jumma will see one’s abode in Al-Jannah before or at the moment of death.” (Al-Qawl-ul-Badi p 103-Imam al-Sakhawi). This means, as a rough calculation, that over a period of twenty years one million durood sharifs are recited and through this additional thirty minutes each Friday superior blessings flow from Allah.
Sending honours on Muhammad result in experiencing the closeness of Allah
Allah said to Moses: “Do you desire closeness to me, just as your conversation is with your tongue …….. Moses replied in the affirmative and was told: “if you want this then you should read darood sharif constantly on my beloved Holy Prophet” (Al-Qawl-ul-Badi p 132-Imam al-Sakhawi).
Allama Fazl has narrated that “Allah has made darood sharif the means by which Muslims can achieve Allah’s proximity and approval” (Mutalia ul-Masrat p3).
Khwaja Ziaullah Naqshbandi Mujaddadi has said: “Frequent recitation of darood sharif … serves as a passport to Allah Almighty’s proximity and all evils are turned into virtues.” (Maqasid-us-Salikeen p53).
Muhammad usurps the need of Christ
No Muslim prays to Muhammad, but every Muslim prays for him in endless repetition daily. Allah favoured Muhammad above all creatures; he dwells in the highest heaven and is several degrees above Jesus in honour and station. Muhammad holds the keys to heaven and hell as he has become a mediator, without an incarnation, without an atonement and without a change of character.
References: “Power of Durood Sharif “ by Muhammad Javad B.A Macc
“Muhammad the Prophet of Islam” by John Gilchrist
“The Muslim Christ” Samuel M Zwemer