Short Answer: First, and foremost. because Allah has told us to. In the directive, there is nothing about “while he is alive”, we are simply told to do it. Also, the greatest reward is with the one who initiates the salams/blessings. Therefore, it is also for our benefit to do so. Also, it is a way of reminding us that even though the Prophet (pbuh) is no longer among us, he is in our hearts and, as such, we will remember him and, in sha Allah, try to make a conscious effort to follow his example. What would happen if we didn’t remember him a’udho billahi?
Many thanks for your question brother, it shows you have a keen interest in practicing Islam.
“And We granted not to any human being immortality before you (O Muhammad); then if you die, would they live forever?” [Quran 21:34]
“Verily, you (O Muhammad) will die, and verily, they (too) will die” [Quran 39:30]
You can see from these two quotations the Prophet (peace be upon him) died. We also know that Prophets and Martyrs are “alive” in the next world, in this case al-Barzakh. Yet we do not know what “alive” in this context actually means. We do not know very much about al-Barzakh other than it is a waiting place between this world and the next.
“There is no one who sends salams upon me but Allah will restore to me my soul so that I may return his salams.” This does not mean that he hears the words of the one who sends salams. Rather it is possible that he comes to know of those salams when the angels convey them to him.
Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “There is no one who sends salams upon me, but Allah will restore to me my soul so that I may return his salams.” (Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, 1795)
Why Do We Send Salams upon The Prophet?
So now comes the question why do we do it?
First, and foremost. because Allah has told us to. In the directive there is nothing about “while he is alive”, we are simply told to do it.
Also, the Prophet (pbuh), himself, has said, “Should a slave not show his gratitude?” in response to a query about him (pbuh) asking for forgiveness.
Also, the greatest reward is with the one who initiates the salams / blessings. Therefore, it is also for our benefit to do so. Also, it is a way of reminding us that even though the Prophet (pbuh) is no longer among us, he is in our hearts and, as such, we will remember him and, in sha Allah, try to make a conscious effort to follow his example. What would happen if we didn’t remember him a’udho billahi?
Life in Al-Barzakh
The life of al-Barzakh is something special. The Prophets and the shuhada’ (martyrs) are alive in al-Barzakh as the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“The Prophets are alive and they pray in their graves.” (Narrated by al-Mundhiri and al-Bayhaqi who classed it as saheeh because of corroborating reports in al-Saheehayn.)
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And say not of those who are killed in the way of Allah, ‘They are dead.’ No, they are living, but you perceive (it) not” [Quran 2:154]
The nature of life in al-Barzakh is known only to Allah. It is not like the life of this world in which the soul remains with the body.
The dead cannot hear the words of the living because Allah says:
“but you cannot make those hear who are in (the) graves” [Quran 35:22]
As for praying for blessings for the Prophet (pbuh), this is also prescribed in Islam. One report that proves it is prescribed is the saheeh report from Abu Mas’ood al_Ansari who said: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) came to us when we were sitting with Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah, and Basheer ibn Sa’d said to him: ‘Allah has commanded us to send blessings upon you, O Messenger of Allah. How should we send blessings upon you?’ The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) remained silent until we wished that he had not asked him (pbuh). Then the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Say: Allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala aali Muhammad kamaa salayta ‘ala aali Ibraheem. Wa barik ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala aali Muhammad kama barakta ‘ala aali Ibraheem fi’l-‘alameen innaka hameedun majeed (O Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, as You sent blessings upon the family of Ibraheem, and bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as You blessed the family of Ibraheem among the nations. Verily You are Most Praiseworthy, Full of Glory). And the salam is as you know.” (Narrated by Muslim, 405)
Witnessing to the Truth of his Message
With respect, I think you have hinted at an answer when you say, “I would think he (pbuh), being the pinnacle of creation and who has reached the place of ultimate peace and blessings, would not need us to ask intercession for him”. So, one answer could be, it is for our benefit. It is a personal thing for each one who does it. We know he receives what we send even though we are not in his presence.
May I also remind myself and you, that in his address during the Farewell Pilgrimage he asked the assembly to witness that he had faithfully communicated the message (of Islam); and, in sending salams / blessings to our beloved Prophet saws we are still witnessing to the truth of his message.
And Allah knows best. May Allah send peace and blessings upon His Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions and may we follow that example, Amin.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links: