The significance of Salat-un-Nabi
Id-ul-Adha Khutba, March 2000
From The Light & Islamic Review
March - April 2000
by the Editor, Dr. Zahid Aziz
“And when his Lord tried Abraham with certain commands
he fulfilled them. He said: Surely I will make you a leader of
mankind. Abraham said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not
include the wrongdoers, said He.” — The Holy Quran, 2:124
“And when Abraham said: My Lord, make this city
secure, and save me and my sons from worshipping idols. My Lord,
surely they have led many people astray. So whoever follows me,
he is surely of me; and whoever disobeys me, Thou surely art Forgiving,
Merciful.” — The Holy Quran, 14:36
I will return shortly to an explanation of the verses quoted just
now. Before that, let me read the well-known prayer taught to Muslims
known in Urdu and Persian as the Darood and in Arabic as
“O Allah, exalt Muhammad and the true followers of
Muhammad as Thou didst exalt Abraham and the true followers of Abraham,
Thou art the Praised, the Magnified. O Allah, bless Muhammad
and the true followers of Muhammad as Thou didst bless Abraham and
the true followers of Abraham, Thou art the Praised, the Magnified.”
The words of this prayer in Arabic are recited by Muslims, both
within the set daily prayers and at other times, and are believed
to be a source of blessing. But unfortunately, Muslims generally
are either unaware of what the Arabic words of the prayer mean,
or if they do know the meaning they are unaware of what is the “exaltation”
and “blessing” that they are asking to be bestowed upon the Holy
Prophet Muhammad and his followers, which were also granted to Abraham
and his followers.
The Bible mentions the promises of exaltation and blessing given
from God to Abraham and his progeny as follows. God said to Abraham:
“I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless
you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you … and by you all the families
of the earth shall bless themselves.” — Genesis, 12:2–3.
“You shall be the father of a multitude of nations
… I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from
you.” — Genesis, 17:4, 6.
“I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply
your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which
is on the seashore … and by your descendants shall all the nations
of the earth bless themselves.” — Genesis, 22:17–18.
Unfortunately the followers of the Bible, that is to say the Jews
and the Christians — the first group being the descendants of Abraham
through Isaac and Jacob, and the second group having arisen out
of the Jews — considered this promise to be unconditional.
Their belief was that no matter how they behaved, well or badly,
they would still be great and blessed nations because of being Abraham’s
descendants. But the Holy Quran puts this promise in a different
way, as in the verse quoted at the beginning of this khutba.
When Abraham asked God about his progeny, God said: My promise does
not include and extend to the wrongdoers.
Also according to another verse in the Holy Quran as quoted above,
Abraham prayed to God as follows:
“So whoever follows me, he is surely of me; and whoever
disobeys me, Thou surely art Forgiving, Merciful.” — The Holy Quran,
Two points are made here:
- It is whoever follows the path of Abraham who is “of him” or
his progeny, offspring or issue. The same applies to any other
spiritual leader. It is not by mere physical descent but by following
in their path that you become their real descendants. This is
a great and deep principle revealed by Islam, and if we bear it
in mind it can save us from going wrong many a time.
- As to those who disobey or do not follow Abraham, he prays for
their forgiveness. This teaches us to constantly pray to Allah
to show forgiveness and mercy to the rejecters of truth by bringing
them into the fold of truth.
After Abraham, in the long course of time, two main
religions developed among the followers of the Bible: the Jewish
and the Christian religions. But both deviated from, and in fact,
went contrary to Abraham’s path, while considering themselves to
be the blessed nations springing from him.
The Jewish religion became a religion of rites and rituals only,
so that the priests and the masses stuck to the letter of the religious
teachings but lost the true spirit. They lost the spirit of sacrifice
of one’s desires that Abraham demonstrated, and indeed what he is
famous for. So they became a morally corrupt people while sticking
most rigidly to the letter of the religion.
The Christian religion invented wrong beliefs about God, making
a mortal Jesus into a part of God, going against the Oneness of
God which was so dear to Abraham and which he preached so fervently,
and coining the doctrine that your sins are forgiven if you believe
that Jesus died for your sins. Abraham’s belief was that to have
your sins forgiven the only way is to lead a righteous life with
belief in One God.
So how could these nations be the blessed heirs of Abraham when
they go against his teachings?
That is why God then raised the Holy Prophet Muhammad, from the
descendants of Abraham through Ishmael, in order to revive the beliefs
taught by Abraham. That is, belief in One God, sacrificing your
lower desires in order to reach God, and leading a righteous life.
Apart from reviving Abraham’s beliefs, in the physical and material
sense too Islam arose in a place, Makka, whose foundations were
laid by Abraham, and Islam made as its religious centre the Ka‘ba
which had been rebuilt by Abraham from a state of ruin. Further,
Islam instituted a remembrance of the incident of Abraham’s act
of sacrifice to be done at the Hajj, and by all Muslims throughout
This shows that it is the Muslim nation which is the heir to Abraham,
and it is through this nation that the promise of God given to Abraham
is fulfilled that “I will make a great nation out of you and will
bless those who bless you, and by your descendants shall all the
nations of the earth bless themselves”.
The significance of the Darood prayer, or Salat-un-nabi,
is that we pray that the promise of the blessings of God coming
to Abraham and his followers be fulfilled through the Holy Prophet
Muhammad and his followers.
But we must beware that merely by copying Abraham’s example of
sacrifice in a symbolic way, or by just going to the Hajj to the
place that Abraham is associated with and performing the outward
rites, we do not become his heirs and heirs to the promised blessings.
This is just like the fact that the Jewish and Christian religions,
while arising among Abraham’s descendants, are not his spiritual
heirs because they have gone against his teachings.
To be Abraham’s real heirs, so as to be worthy of inheriting the
promised blessings, we have to make sacrifices of our own desires,
just as Abraham did, which needs to be done in order to attain a
This is why our Darood is couched in the form of a prayer:
“O Allah, exalt … O Allah, bless …”, so that we realize
that it is a goal for which we have to work and pray.
Muslims are not taught to refer to these blessings as something
which is guaranteed to them by God, regardless of their behaviour,
even though it is true that the followers of the Prophet Muhammad
have been destined to inherit those blessings.
Abraham was promised, in the words of the Holy Quran, that he would
be made “a leader of mankind”. What does that mean? The word for
“leader” is imam, which means one who sets an example. He
was selected by God as an example because of his willingness to
sacrifice what he loved most in the path of God. Similarly, if his
heirs are to become leaders of all mankind, they have to set the
same example of self-sacrifice. A leader, according to Islam, is
not someone who just has power and gives orders. A leader is one
who sets the greatest example himself of what he wants and requires
others to do, and then people follow his example. That is the kind
of leader that the Holy Prophet Muhammad was, one who has left behind
his own actions and life as an example. That is the kind of leadership
of the nations that Islam wants Muslims to have.
Also, the promise contains mention of making a “great” nation from
Abraham. What is a great nation? According to the Quran, it is not
one which rules over the most lands, has the biggest empire, possesses
the most wealth and resources, or is the most powerful in weapons
and armaments, but the greatest nation is the one which upholds
truth, goodness and justice more than anyone else.
Note: The khutba ends above, but in this written
version I deal with a question related to the Darood which
was once asked by a friend. He asked: Since the Holy Prophet Muhammad
is the greatest of all prophets in rank and status, why do we Muslims
pray that Allah may bestow those blessings on him, and on his followers,
which had already been bestowed upon Abraham and his followers?
Are we saying that Abraham held a higher rank than the Holy Prophet
Muhammad and we are praying for the Holy Prophet to reach that same
rank and status?
The answer is that the words of the Darood, “as Thou didst
exalt Abraham and the true followers of Abraham” and “as Thou didst
bless Abraham and the true followers of Abraham”, do not refer
to any exaltation or blessings that had actually been attained in
full measure by Abraham and his followers prior to the time of
the Holy Prophet, so that we could be said to be praying for
the same now to be given to the Holy Prophet and his followers.
Rather, this was a promise made by God to Abraham relating to the
future. That promise had been fulfilled only very partially through
the Israelite prophets and kings of the Bible who came after Abraham,
and by the time the Holy Prophet Muhammad arose the followers of
the Bible had lost all those blessings as a result of deviating
completely from Abraham’s teachings. Therefore the promise to Abraham
and to his followers was destined to come true through the Holy
Prophet Muhammad and his followers: that there would be great nations
in the whole of the world following Abraham’s message, blessing
him, and through whom his name would be made great. So the Darood
is the prayer to say that may the promises of God made with Abraham
come to fulfilment in the fullest and most complete manner through
the Holy Prophet Muhammad and his followers.
Darood and the propagation work of our Movement
On a second point, since we pray in the Darood for the Holy
Prophet Muhammad to be exalted and blessed, it means that we must
also work towards this goal. For the Holy Prophet to be exalted
in the world it is absolutely essential to strive hard to present
a true picture of his noble life and character, particularly to
counteract the false image found in hostile Western writings as
well as in certain Muslim books written by foolish friends. Only
then will the image of the Holy Prophet, and along with him that
of his followers, be raised high or exalted in the world. Only then
will people realize what a great blessing for the world he was,
and they will send their blessings on him.
Just repeating the Darood in words, without any action
to bring about the exaltation and blessing which is being prayed
for, cannot achieve anything.