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Question: I know that it is something that we should do, out of appreciation for the role he has played in bringing Islam to us, but I don't really understand in-depth, why we must do this; I have heard and read some things, which I hope you could clarify, which make it seem like its OBLIGATORY to send durood (salawaat or blessings) on him, and his family. The quote that does bother me a bit is that it is said a person's dua will not be accepted until the person sends peace upon the Prophet (s.a.w.), and his family. I find this a bit forceful as if we're being told we HAVE to do it, or else our dua will not be accepted. I am of the understanding that such things are personal choices - just like the voluntary prayers; it is highly recommended, but it is not COMPULSORY; you are not be penalized or suffer any loss if you choose not to do them. I also know that a lot of our misconceptions and misunderstandings are because we hear hadiths and quotes out of context; I dont know if thats the case here. Please explain this issue for me.
Answer:

The Prophet, peace be upon him, is the human agency through whom we received the Qur’an, the Final Revelation--Allah’s choicest gift to humanity; he is indeed the Chosen Servant of Allah, whose status in the sight of Allah is exalted and enormous; and as such it is the order of Allah that we should honor him, praise him and assign unto him the high status and place that Allah has granted him: Allah says, “There has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves; grievous unto him is your suffering, keen for your welfare, and to the believers gentle and compassionate.”( Qur’an: 9: 128-129)
“We have sent you (O Muhammad) but as a mercy to the worlds.” (Qur’an: 21: 107).
“O Prophet, we have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good news and s warner; and as a summoner to Allah by His permission, and as a shining lamp.” (Qur’an: 33: 45-46); “O Prophet, We have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of good news and as a warner. So that you, (O mankind), may believe in Allah and His Messenger, may help him and honor him, and glorify Allah morning and evening. (O Prophet), those who swear allegiance to you, swear allegiance only to Allah. The Hand of Allah is above their hands.” (Qur’an: 48: 8-10).
“Say: If you love Allah, then follow me; for then Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Compassionate.” (Qur’an: 3: 31).

Allah thus orders the mankind to believe in Him, follow the guidance He has sent through His messenger, emulate his beautiful examples, love him and express our love for him by saying blessings on him:
“Allah and His angels bless the Prophet. O you who believe, Bless him and salute him with a worthy salutation.” (Qur’an: 33: 56).

The Prophet, may Allah grant him blessings and peace, further said:
“Whoever says blessings on me once Allah will bless him ten times”;
“He/she is miserly, who does not bless me when my name is mentioned in his presence”;
“Say blessings on me wherever you are, for your blessings will be conveyed to me.”

Based on the above as well as numerous other verses and traditions, the scholars and jurists of Islam are unanimous on the fact that saying blessings on the Prophet, peace be upon him, is a prescribed aspect of religion in Islam(shara’).They are, however, divided on the precise legal status of this important prescription: While the majority of scholars/jurists are of the opinion that we must do so once in each of our daily obligatory prayers, others add that one must also do so every time the Prophet’s name is mentioned, and still a minority holding that it is absolutely mandatory only once in a person’s life-time.

Having said this, I must also state most emphatically that none of the scholars/jurists has said that saying blessings on the Prophet, peace be upon him, is one of the absolute pre-requisites for the validity of supplications in such a way that they are not heard by Allah without it; this is because of the fact that there is no compelling evidence for saying so. The report you have cited is either weak or at best spurious; therefore, it cannot be cited as an evidence. However, there is no denying of the fact that saying blessings on the Prophet, peace be upon, is undoubtedly one of the best etiquettes for offering supplications: The following authentic tradition certainly indicates that much:
“Once the Prophet, peace be upon him, saw a man offering du’as during the course of his salah, without having praised Allah and saying blessings on the Prophet, peace be upon him, whence he said, “He rushed it through!”, then he called him and told him personally, “When one of you prays let him first praise Allah and say blessings upon the Prophet, peace be upon him, and then offer whatever supplications he/she wishes to make.” This report has been authenticated by Imam Ibn Hajar.

Leaving aside the issue of du’as, and coming back to the general issue of saying blessings on the Prophet, peace be upon him, the differences of opinion among scholars concerning its legal status notwithstanding, all of them are unanimous on the fact that saying blessings on the Prophet, peace be upon him, is indeed one of the most excellent and meritorious acts in Islam, bringing tremendous spiritual/moral benefits to those who practice it.

Our consistency and constancy in saying blessings on the Prophet, peace be upon him, is indeed a sure sign of our love for the Final Messenger of Allah, who is the Beloved of Allah and His Chosen Servant. So we must never have any hesitation in expressing our love for the Prophet, peace be upon him, in every possible, legitimate manner. In this regard the following historical incident narrated in the Seerah is worthy of deep and prolonged reflection: It is reported in an authentic narration that once one of the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, came to him and submitted, “I beg you to confer upon me the honor of your companionship in jannah (heaven)!”, the Prophet, peace be upon him, then asked him, “What have you prepared for it?”, the man replied, “I haven’t prepared for it by offering much optional prayers, fasts and charities, but certainly I cherish deep love for Allah and His Messenger!” whence the Prophet, peace be upon him, replied, “A person joins the company of those he loves!” Upon narrating this incident, Anas, who had served the Prophet, peace be upon him, as a personal assistant for ten years and who cherished deep love for him, said: “I never saw the companions happier than the day when they heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, making the above statement, for it was a great consolation for them, since undoubtedly all of them had deep love for him.. As for me I can also say that although I can never catch up with Rasulullah, Abu Bakr or Umar in good works, but certainly I cherish deep love for them, and I am hopeful that by virtue of my love for them, I will also be united with them in jannah!”

In conclusion: Never mind the fiqhi -hair-splitting among scholars concerning the legal status of saying blessings on the Prophet, upon whom be Allah’s choicest blessings and peace, you should never be slack in establishing consistency and constancy in the practice of saying blessings (salawaat), for only the most spiritually depraved will be complacent about it.

May Allah, the most Exalted and Glorious, inflame our hearts with genuine love for His Chosen Servant, and Messenger; may He make our tongues supple with dhikr Allah and salawaat on Allah’s Messenger, upon whom be Allah’s choicest blessings and peace, so that we can look forward towards being united in their august company on the Day of Resurrection-aameen.

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