Muslims Send Blessings Upon Prophet Muhammad: Why Nothing After Allah’s Name?

09 December, 2019
Q I was once asked by a non-Muslim a question that baffled me. I have ever since kept thinking about it and thought I better ask the learned to set my mind at rest. She told me you Muslims always have to send blessings upon Muhammad upon hearing his name, but you don't need to follow God's name by anything. Do you hold more awe and respect to Muhammad?

Answer

Short Answer: Muslims worship only Allah, the one true God. We do not worship Prophet Muhammad; just revere, respect, and love him above all other human beings. And we send blessings upon the Prophet as an act of worship, which has been commanded by and pleases, Allah. These blessings enable Allah’s mercy to descend upon the Prophet’s soul. It also benefits the Muslim who sends these blessings. In that they are rewarded, their sins are forgiven, and they receive Allah’s mercy. Allah is the one Divine, unique, all-Powerful, all-Great God, Who is absolutely self-sufficient. His greatness deems Him free of all needs, and worthy of all praise. He needs no prayers. He does not even need our worship. When we obey Him and worship Him, we benefit our own selves. So He taught us how to worship Him.

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Asalaamu alaykum, and thank you for sending in your question to our website.

Muslims Send Blessings Upon Prophet Muhammad: Why Nothing After Allah’s Name?

Your question is a valid one, which can cross the mind of anyone. In fact, when I was young, I used to wonder about this same question. The answer is related to our belief in Allah’s attributes viz. His Divinity.
In ascribing greatness, awe, and respect precisely, as and where they are due. In differentiating clearly between God’s divinity vs. the Prophet’s status among human beings.
Islam’s basic creed of monotheism teaches a Muslim how to differentiate clearly between godly and human attributes.
At the surface, it might seem as if Muslims ascribe Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) more importance. Just because they are obligated to send blessings upon him whenever his name is mentioned.
Nevertheless, that is not the case. You did well, to seek the answer to this question. This is so that you can appropriately respond to non-Muslims’ queries about it in the future.

Allah’s command in the Quran

The foremost reason why Muslims send blessings upon the Prophet is very clear. They do so in submission to the command of Allah Himself. Allah has said in the Quran:

 “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.” [33:56]

The Prophet also taught Muslims, during his life, how to submit to this command of Allah:
Narrated Abu Humaid As-Sa`idi: “The people asked, “O Allah’s Messengerﷺ! How shall we (ask Allah to) send blessings on you?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “Say: O Allah! Send Your Mercy on Muhammad and on his wives and on his off spring, as You sent Your Mercy on Abraham’s family; and send Your Blessings on Muhammad and on his offspring, as You sent Your Blessings on Abraham’s family, for You are the Most Praiseworthy, the Most Glorious.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
As is obvious, this matter is all about submission to Allah, over human logic. Muslims send blessings upon Prophet Muhammad whenever his name is mentioned, in order to submit to Allah’s Quranic command.

In fact, we pray for the Prophet

The salawat or blessings that Muslims send upon the Prophet, are actually beautiful prayers. Very special, unique prayers, which no one else in the world receives. Allah wants every Muslim to send these prayers to the Prophet, whenever his name is mentioned. This is because of the lofty status of Prophet Muhammad over all humankind, as Allah’s final messenger.

Allah is the one Divine, unique, all-Powerful, all-Great God, Who is absolutely self-sufficient. His greatness deems Him free of all needs, and worthy of all praise. He needs no prayers. He does not even need our worship. When we obey Him and worship Him, we benefit our own selves. So He taught us how to worship Him.

That is why, He has ordained many acts of worship for us. It pleases Him when these are sincerely performed. Some of these acts of worship are obligatory. Meaning, it incurs major sin if they are not performed. Others are supererogatory and optional. Meaning, they garner rewards when performed, but incur no sin if not.
Mentioning special phrases of praise after Allah’s name, such as subhanahu wa ta’ala,  or jalla jalalahu, is not obligatory upon Muslims. Mentioning these phrases does garner rewards. However, not mentioning them is not a sin. This is because Allah has not obligated it upon us to say them whenever His name is mentioned.
Why this is so, is due to reasons only He knows best.

Clarify the difference between Who is worshiped, and how

There is one thing that any Muslim must do, whenever non-Muslims question them about Islam. And that is to clarify the difference between Who we worship, and how. This is very important because, in most other religions, divinity is ascribed to multiple gods, including some human beings.

Sending salawat is one such clear case, of Who we worship and how. We Muslims worship only Allah, the one true God. We do not worship Prophet Muhammad; just revere, respect, and love him above all other human beings. And we send blessings upon the Prophet as an act of worship, which has been commanded by, and pleases, Allah.
This is an act of worship. These blessings enable Allah’s mercy to descend upon the Prophet’s soul. It also benefits the Muslim who sends these blessings. In that they are rewarded, their sins are forgiven, and they receive Allah’s mercy.

The Prophet’s right upon us

In the end, I would like to clarify another important point. In Islam, Allah has ordained certain unique rights of some human beings upon others. These rights, sometimes, obligate certain behaviors.
For example, parents have the right to utmost kind treatment and respect. Neighbors have great rights to be safe from our harm. Certain blood relatives have the right to receive affixed portions from our inheritance after we die.
It is Allah Who has obligated all of these rights of others upon us, based upon His wisdom.
In lieu of this, the Prophet has a unique and great right upon all Muslims. That they send blessings upon him whenever his name is mentioned. This distinct right of his has been, like others’ rights in Islam, ordained by Allah.
So we submit to and obey Allah, in this regard.
And Allah knows best.