I hope you and family are well.
There is a hadith:
The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu `alaihi wa sallam) said: “Allah has angels traveling about the earth to convey to me the salaams of my ummah.” [An-Nasaai]
Can you please explain this hadith to me in relation to a Salafi scholar’s statement that:
“….this hadith informs us that the Prophet (sal Allahu `alaihi wa sallam) himself does not travel the earth to attend the gatherings where he is mentioned. Such un-Islamic beliefs have unfortunately found their way into the Bida`t (innovations) that have been introduced into the religion…..”…..
Wa Alaykum As-Salam Sidi,
This authentic Hadith is not for the Deniers but actually against them. Some of the things we learn from this Hadith are:
1 – The Angels attend gatherings of Salawat! This is a bisharah (glad-tidings) for those who regularly hold gatherings of Salawat and Salam! The Deniers do not have such gatherings at all. So the lovers names are presented to him (s) daily, carried by the Angels!
2 – The Prophet (s) is ALIVE and AWARE of the actions of his Ummah. Otherwise, what is the purpose of Angel’s presenting Salawat and Salams of the Ummah to a “dead man who doesn’t even know us” as the Deniers ignorantly claim??!
3 – The Prophet (s) possesses the most powerful SOUL/SPIRIT/RUH in the whole world. Otherwise, how does he (s) have the power to RECEIVE and HEAR the endless Salawat and Salams of his Ummah that goes on 24 hours???!!! This in addition to many other matters his noble Ruh is busy with!!!
4 – That the Angels are his servants. So he obviously has more authority and power in the spiritual world than them.
I ask: If his servants, the Angels, can travel freely around the Universe, how can the Spirit of the Master (s) not have the power to do that???
I already highlighted the power of the Soul of the Prophet (s) above!!!
The great 9th century Egyptian scholar Imam al-Suyuti mentions in his book on the Affairs of the Dead (Shar’h al-Sudur) that the souls of all Pious People are free to move around in this world. He quotes this from the Sahabah, so how can it be a bid`ah or Shirk? He also mentions that the Soul can travel through the Heavens and Earth in a second!
The Salafi ideologue Ibn al-Qayyim also seems to agree with this in his book Kitab al-Ruh.
In fact, Imam al-Suyuti, the mujaddid of the 9th Century, states unequivocally in his work Tanwir al-Halak bi-Imkan Ru’yat al-Nabi wa ‘l-Malak:
فحصل من مجموع هذا النقول والأحاديث أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم حي بجسده وروحه
وأنه يتصرف ويسير حيث شاء في أقطار الأرض وفي الملكوت وهو بهيئته التي كان عليها قبل وفاته لم يتبدل منه شيء وأنه مغيب عن الأبصار كما غيبت الملائكة مع كونهم أحياء بأجسادهم فإذا أراد الله رفع الحجاب عمن أراد إكرامه برؤيته رآه على هيئته التي هو عليها لا مانع من ذلك ولا داعي إلى التخصيص برؤية المثال…سئل بعضهم كيف يراه الراؤن المتعددون
في أقطار متباعدة فأنشد :
كالشمس في كبد السماء وضوؤها
يغشى البلاد مشارقاً ومغارباً
So it is learnt from all these narrations and ahadith that the Prophet (s) is alive, with body and soul, and that he (s) acts with authority and travels wherever he wishes to in Earth and Heavens, and he (s) is in the manner he was before he died, nothing has changed of him. He has just been hidden from the (physical) eyes just as Angels are hidden, though they are physically in existence. So if Allah wishes to honor someone by seeing him (s), He just removes the veil between them and him and that person sees him (s) the way he (s) is. There is nothing that makes this inconceivable, and there is no need to claim that the seer sees his (s) image only.
And some of them (i.e. the scholars/saints) was asked: ‘How can multiple people see him (s) in far-off lands (i.e. at the same time)?’
So he replied in poetry:
‘Like the Sun, situated in the centre of the Sky’
but its light covers the lands, east and west!’
Read this statement again carefully. It is the words of the author of Tafsir al-Jalalayn and other great books that are even taught in the Islamic (read Wahhabi) University of Medina!
The work I referred to now can be read online here.
Also read this amazing poem on the Afterlife of the Prophet (s) by great Shafi`i Imam and Mujaddid Ibn-Hajar al-Haytami of Makkah.
5 – Note that on the night of the M`iraj, the Souls of all Prophets were present in the Masjid al-Aqsa site in Jerusalem (Palestine). They all prayed there behind our Prophet (s) and socialized with him (s). This despite the fact that about all of them had already died centuries ago and were buried all over the world. The Prophet (s) then met them again in the Heavens as is known!
These two facts prove that the Souls of Prophets can travel ANYWHERE in Earth or in Heaven! So how can we deny that power for their Imam Sayyidna Muhammad (s)?!!!
6 – Note that the hadith you quoted simply states a “procedure and duty” of the Angels. It does not deny the power of the Soul of the Prophet (s) to travel anywhere.
For example, there are many ahadith that state that there are Angels who present our Deeds to Almighty Allah (swt) daily as well!!!
Does that mean that Allah (swt) does not have the power to witness our deeds?
What about the Day of Qiyamah when Angels will present all our deeds to Allah (swt) and He will question people about them? Is it because He (swt) doesn’t know???
Of course not! It is simply a procedural matter!
The best example of that would be of a president who has a driver driving him or butler serving him. It does not mean that he himself cannot drive. It is simply a matter of honor that a driver drives him or a butler serves him.
So the Blessed Spirit of the Nabi (s) can indeed attend any gathering it wishes to in Heavens and Earth, and is aware of all Salawat recited. The presenting by the Angels is simply a matter of procedure and respect.
It is ironic that the Deniers believe that the Devil can travel all over the earth and attend all gatherings he wishes to, but not the blessed Prophet (s)!
We ask: Who is more stronger in the Unseen World, the Spirit of Allah’s Beloved (s), or the spirit of His enemy (l`anatullahi `alayh)??!!!
Note also, that not only Salawat and Salam, but all actions of this Ummah are presented to the Nabi (s) as narrated in the authentic hadith:
حياتي خير لكم، تحدثون ويحدث لكم،و وفاتي خيرا لكم، تعرض علي أعمالكم، فإن رأيت خيرا حمدت الله، وإن رأيت شرا استغفرت لكم
“My life is a great good for you: you will relate about me and it will be related to you, and my death is a great good for you, as your actions will be exhibited to me, and if I see goodness I will praise Allah, and if I see evil I will ask forgiveness of Him for you.”
This Hadith was narrated by Imam al-Qadi and considered reliable by noneless then great Hadith Imams such as Ibn-Hajar, al-Iraqi, al-Suyuti and even Wahhabi/Salafi ideologues such Ibn-Abd-al-Hadi and al-Albani!
More importantly, Allah (swt) states in the Holy Qur’an:
وَقُلِ اعْمَلُواْ فَسَيَرَى اللّهُ عَمَلَكُمْ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ
And say: Work! For Allah will witness your actions and His Prophet and the believers
It is narrated that once a Wahhabi `alim entered a Mosque and saw the above Ayah written on the wall, so he complained and said: “This is Shirk! You cannot say “Allah and His Prophet” together. Remove this Kufr statement from the Mosque!”
Then he was told that it was actually a Qur’anic Verse, so he shut up!
In summary: Indeed, as in the hadith mentioned above, it is the honorary duty of the Angels to carry the Salawat and Salams of all Muslims to the Presence of the Prophet (s), who then pays attention to them and answers them.
This is the normal general rule.
However, if the Prophet (s) wishes to honor a certain gathering of his sincere lovers, then he may personally attend that gathering spiritually.
Indeed, Allah (swt) has granted his Soul the power to do that. Allah can do anything He wishes. The Qur’an confirms that Jesus (as) used to make the dead people Alive! Whats more unbelievable?
We do not say that the Prophet (s) attends every single gathering of Salawat. Of course not! What we say is that he (s) may attend any gathering he wishes to bless.
Indeed, countless great Awliya and Men of God have felt his presence in their gatherings and many have even seen him (s) in the gatherings of Dhikr and Purity.
To call them all liars is itself a most horrible lie.
Our Shaykh of Shaykhs, Shaykh-al-Islam Ibrahim Niasse of Senegal used to say:
“If someone denies the possibilty of seeing the Prophet (s) in wakefulness, then we know that he is not from those who deserve to see him (s).”
May Allah make us from the believers and not the deniers ويل للمكذبين
May Allah make us from those whose gatherings are attended by Rasul-Allah (s), and those who have vision of him (s), in Dunya and Akhirah. Amen.
© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America