The Excellence of Salam (Edited by Mawlana Badrul Islam)

Two people related by Faith should use the expression of peace and security to address each other. Thus Islam taught Muslims to say Assalamu ‘alaykum (meaning ‘Peace be upon you’) and replaced all other forms of greeting.

In this small greeting is hidden an excellent and comprehensive prayer, kindness and affection for the young, and respect and attention for the elders.

Almighty Allah employs the same greeting in the Glorious Qur’an to address His beloved Prophets as a mark of His favour and esteem on them. ‘Peace be on Nuh among the people’ (37:79); ‘Peace be on Ibrahim’ (37:109) ‘Peace be on Musa and Harun’ (37:120); ‘Peace be on Ilyas’ (37:130); ‘Peace be on those sent (to warn)’ (37:59); and ‘Peace be on His slaves whom He has chosen’ (27:59). Believers will also be welcomed into Paradise with the same expression: ‘Enter here in peace, free of fear’ (15:46) and ‘Peace on you for the patience you observed. So, how excellent is the ultimate abode’ (13:24).

Salam is a distinctive practice of Islam and Muslims have been encouraged to spread this greeting. The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said: “Oh people! Worship Allah, The Beneficent, feed His servants, and spread salam much, and you will reach Heaven in peace [and safety].” (al-Tirmidhi)

Divine reward for the blessed act of practising Salam is explained in a Hadith. Once a person came to the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam and said, “Assalamu alaykum”. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam returned the greeting and when the man had sat down, he said, “Ten rewards have been written for him due to this salam”. Thereafter another person came and said, “Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi” (‘Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah’). The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam returned the greeting and when the man had sat down, he said, “Twenty rewards have been written for him”. Then another man came and said, “Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh” (‘Peace be upon you; and the mercy of Allah; and His blessings’). The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam  returned the greeting and when the man had sat down, he said, “Thirty rewards have been written for him”(al-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud). Such was the value of salam with the early Muslims that it is related Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar radhiyallahu ‘anhuma  would go to the marketplace solely for the purpose of saying salam to whomsoever he met.

Apart from signifying the sentiments of joy, regard and well-wishing salam also has a deep spiritual aspect. The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, “The one who is the first to greet is free from pride” (al-Bayhaqi). Thus, to precede in greeting another is a sign of freedom from vanity. It can also be a cure for the grave [and deadly] sin of pride [and haughtiness].

The importance of salam is further emphasized by the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam who advised that salam be exchanged a second time if after the meeting of two Muslims, even if it be for a brief moment, they are separated by a tree, wall, or rock, and meet again.

Salam should be said when entering or leaving one’s home. A Hadith tells us that this is a source of blessing to the person saying it as well to the family members. Similarly, the person arriving at a gathering should be the first to greet those who are present; the young are instructed to take the lead in greeting the elders; those passing should greet those sitting; and men of a smaller group should greet men of the larger group.

To shake the hands in simultaneity with salam marks the fulfillment of the objective of salam. The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, “Shaking hands denotes the completion of greeting”. (al-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud)

Salam is in essence a really beautiful teaching of Islam. It not only increases love and affection between Muslims but is also a cause of their forgiveness. The Prophet of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, “When two Muslims meet and shake hands, and at the same time glorify Allah, and beg forgiveness for themselves, they shall be forgiven.” (Abu Dawud)

(Adapted from the chapter ‘Rules and Proprieties of Meeting’ in the book ‘Meaning and Message of the Traditions’ (Ma’arif al-Hadith) by Maulana Muhammad Manzur Numani)   

Mawlana [Rashid Ahmad] Gangohi would strongly emphasise abundant invocation of  blessings and peace (salawat) upon the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to his disciples, devotees, friends and sincere seekers. He would describe the invoking of blessings and peace upon the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as being beneficial for both worlds.

He once advised in a letter ‘‘invoke blessings and peace upon the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) regularly, for that is extremely beneficial for the needs of both worlds.’’ (Maktubat Akabir-e-Deoband, (Deoband: Mi‘raj Book Depot), p. 56)

Hakim al-Ummat Mawlana [Ashraf 'Ali] Thanawi would say of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi: ‘‘I saw that Mawlana Gangohi would always be reciting a wird (litany) of salawat and that he talked very little.’’ (Wa‘z al-Nur, p.20)

His disciples had been instructed by him to invoke blessings and peace upon the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) at least three hundred times a day.

[…] Mawlana Gangohi would say, ‘‘If you are unable to invoke blessings and peace this many times, you should not go without invoking blessings and peace at least once [a day].’’ He would say, ‘‘we are indebted to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). If you are then miserly in invoking blessings and peace upon him, it is a matter of great disrespect and loss.’’ He preferred the Durud-e-Ibrahimi, which is [usually] recited in salat (prayer). (Bis Barey Musalman, p. 205)

Akabir-e-Deoband Awr ‘Ishq-e-Rasul (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, p.247-248 (Karachi: Maktabah Arsalan, May 2003) By Muhammad Arsalan ibn Akhtar.

After making mention of Hadrat [Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi]’s (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) written works, which number almost a thousand, a person asked him, ‘‘you have authored these many works; you’ve probably studied thousands of books?’’ Mawlana replied, ‘‘Yes, I have read a few books, the names of which are:

  • Haji Imdad Allah (may Allah shower His mercy upon him)
  • Hadrat Mawlana Ya‘qub Nanautwi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him)
  • Hadrat Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him)

These books have made me independent of all other books.’’

Majalis-e-Hakim al-Ummat, pp. 103-104 (Karachi: Darul Isha‘at) compiled by Mawlana Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘ Usmani

Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan Gangohi, may Allah shower His mercy upon him, related:

‘‘A [daily] gathering would take place in the company of Shaykh al-Hind [Mawlana Mahmud Hasan Deobandi] (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) after Fajar prayer in which tea would be served. Attendees would be involved in conversation with one another. However, ‘Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) would remain seated quietly, his head bowed. He would not partake in conversation. Gradually, people would finish drinking tea and leave. Then, Shaykh al-Hind (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) would enquire, ‘‘Shah sahib, do you wish to say something?’’ He would then raise his head and answer, ‘‘Yes, I have a query regarding a particular Hadith.’’ Shaykh al-Hind (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) would answer his query and thereafter, the Shah (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) would leave.’’

Malfuzat-e-Faqih al-Ummat: p. 231, Vol 3 (Karachi: Dar al-Huda, September 2005 ed.) by Mufti Muhammad Faruq Mirathi.

From the writings of Hadrat Shaykh (Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya), may Allah illuminate his grave, the treatises on fada’il were written at the insistence of the people of Allah . Thus, Fada’il-e-Qur’an Majid and Fada’il-e-Durud Sharif were written at the behest of Mawlana Shah Muhammad Yasin Naginawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him [1]. He wrote Fada’il-e-Tabligh, Fada’il-e-Namaz, Fada’il-e-Ramadan, Fada’il-e-Dhikr, Fada’il-e-Sadaqat and Fada’il-e-Tijarat in compliance with the  instruction of Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas (may Allah shower His mercy upon him),  Hikayat-e-Sahabah at the insistence of Mawlana Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir Raipuri (may Allah shower His mercy upon him), and Fada’il-e-Hajj at the insistence of Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf Dehlawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him). […] Thus, he wrote in the introduction to Awjaz al-Masalik that this work was written at the insistence of students. His additional commentary to al-Kawkab al-Durri and Lami‘ al-Darari was written at the insistence of Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Sayyid Husayn Ahmad Madani (may Allah shower His mercy upon him).

Monthly Iqra’ Digest, p. 160 (Qutb al-Aqtab Edition, Part 1), Safar/Rabi‘ al-Awwal 1407 AH/ November 1986 CE.


[1]               He was an authorised deputy of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him).  At the time of his death he instructed his student and loyal servant, Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Du‘aju (may Allah shower His mercy upon him), to request Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) to write a book on the virtues of sending peace and blessings (durud) upon the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). (See Hadrat Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi quddisa sirruhu aur unke Khulafa, p. 140 (Multan: Idara Ta’lifat-e-Ashrafiyah, no date) by Doctor Hafiz Qari Fuyud al-Rahman.

Hafiz Muhammad Akbar Shah Bukhari writes: 

‘‘Mawlana [Zafar Ahmad] ‘Uthmani rendered highly valuable services in writing, preaching and issuing fatwas for approximately twenty five years in the company of Hakim al-Ummat [Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali] Thanawi. During this time, magnificent works on Qur’anic exegesis and fiqh like Ahkam al-Qur’an and Imdad al-Ahkam came to the fore from his pen, which is clear evidence of his academic and juridical insight. Due to this, Hakim al-Ummat was so impressed by and content with his academic capabilities that he would consult only him in his personal affairs. He once said, ‘‘Mawlana Zafar Ahmad is the Imam Muhammad[1] (may Allah shower His mercy upon him) of our times and a fountainhead of religious sciences.’’ He had also instructed before his death that Mawlana Zafar Ahmad should lead his funeral prayer. Thus, it was he who was also blessed with this good fortune. His shaykh and guide, the gnostic and hadith expert of his era, Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri would say, ‘‘Mawlana Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani is the model of his uncle, Hakim al-Ummat Thanawi.’’ (Anwar al-Nazr fi Athar al-Zafar) 

Mawlana ‘Uthmani’s (may Allah sanctify his secret) academic and spiritual standing can also be gauged by the fact that his students and successors include such exemplary  scholars at whose very mention heads are bowed in reverence.  Elders such as Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Idris Kandhlawi, Mawlana Badr-e-‘Alam Miruthi Muhajir Madani, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Kamilpuri, Mawlana As‘ad Allah Saharanpuri, Mawlana Shams al-Haq Faridpuri, Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi, Mawlana Ihtisham al-Haq Thanawi and Mawlana Sayyid ‘Abd al-Shakur Tirmidhi were his students and successors.”

Maqalat-e-‘Uthmani (Karachi: Bait al-‘Ulum, date unknown) Volume 1, p. 47


[1]           Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, the renowned student and companion of Imam Abu Hanifah (may Allah shower His mercy upon them)

By Zameelur Rahman

This link is to the fourth edition of Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwama’s brilliant book Athar al-Hadith al-Sharif fi Khtilaf al-A’immat al-Fuqaha which describes how the science of hadith impacts on the disagreements between the Fuqaha. Muhammad ‘Awwama (b. 1940), a resident of Medina of a Halabi background, is a contemporary hadith scholar and one of the major students of two important Halabi scholars of the last century, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda and Shaykh ‘Abd Allah Siraj al-Din. In this book, he has some interesting discussions, particularly on the statement of the Imams “When a hadith is sahih that is my madhhab” and how it should be understood; that some hadiths despite being sahih is not fit for practice; how often weak hadiths can inform certain rulings if not actually establish them; how variations in wordings of hadith can influence differences in rulings; the superiority of understanding over narration of hadiths and Abu Hanifa’s excellence in this; the dangers of taking shadh (isolated) opinions; the important differences between the Imams in reconciling between conflicting reports (there is a useful summary of the book on pages 193-8).

In the substance of the book, he refers to several Deobandi authors and their works, in particular Habib Kiranawi’s al-Qawa‘id fi ‘Ulum al-Fiqh, Yusuf Binnori’s Ma‘arif al-Sunan (a commentary on Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi), Zafar Ahmad al-Uthmani’s I‘la al-Sunan, al-Qawa‘id fi ‘Ulum al-Hadith and Abu Hanifa wa Ashabuhu l-Muhaddithun (which Awwama says “includes transmissions not found together anywhere else”), Anwar Shah Kashmiri’s footnotes to Nasb al-Rayah and he refers to Habib al-Rahman al-A‘zami’s help in offering some examples for one of the principles he cites which he included in this later edition of his work. He regards all of these authors and the works he mentions in high regard, designating them with superlative titles (like “Imam al-‘Asr” – the Imam of the time – for Anwar Shah Kashmiri and “Shaykhu Shuyukhina” – teacher of our teachers – for Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani) and describing their books as “nafisa” (valuable) or “mawsu‘i” (encyclopaedic). In fact it might be said, from modern scholars, these Deobandi authors are his major sources in this book, with the exceptions of Allama al-Kawthari whom he cites frequently, and al-Ghumari and Muhammad Bakhit al-Muti‘i.

In the foreword to his book, while discussing endorsements, he writes:

“These short pages have received acceptance and approval from the leaders of the people of knowledge and virtue. From the most prominent of these and one whose acceptance and approval I treasure is our teacher, the great scholar, an authority of the people of knowledge, virtue, opinion and nobility in the Indian subcontinent, in particular, and among all who know him, in general, the master of hadith, Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandehlewi (d. 1402), Allah Almighty have mercy on him. For he was so kind as to listen to its contents page from one of his students while I was sitting in his presence [in Medina] and he became delighted thereby and said to his student “it requires reading in its entirety”. He was then so kind as to hear it completely while on his sickbed (Allah substitute the Garden for him). He then graciously provided me a dictated statement, which the reader will find shortly.” (Athar al-Hadith al-Sharif fi Khtilaf al-A’immat al-Fuqaha, 4th Edition, Muhammad Awwama, pp. 6-7)

Shaykh al-Kandehlewi’s statement is as follows:

“In Allah’s Name, Most Merciful, the Beneficent

All praise to Allah who showered us with His blessings and connected us with His favours. And prayers and peace on the chief of His creation, Muhammad, whose beauty and splendour is perfect, and whose effort and struggles is enough to admonish creation, and (prayers and peace) on his family, his companions who derived light from his speech and obtained its rays, and on those who follow them in goodness to the Day of Recompense.

To proceed:

Indeed Allah Almighty has placed in this Umma memorisers of the Clear Book and of the traditions of the chief of the first and the last, and He elected by His special grace from them the people of Hadith and fiqh who distinguished between the strong and weak (narrations), deduced (evidence) from the hasan and sahih (hadiths) and extracted rulings on that which they did not find a clear text by selecting what is weightier (in evidence) according to them. (This they did) after following the reports, busying the minds and spending lifetimes in understanding the nasikh (canceller) and the mansukh (cancelled) reports, and delved into the depths of language and the understanding of meanings so they were adept (in formulating) chapters and subchapters and deriving peripheral (matters) from the principle (ones). May Allah Almighty rain upon them the showers of mercy and approval and let them live a life of ease in the Gardens (of Paradise).

They had an immense rank in the application of what (apparently) contradicted, assessing what (actually) conflicted, clarifying what was unclear and expanding on what was summarised, but despite their unity in purpose and conciliation of hearts, they differed in many of the issues and rulings due to the difference in the approaches to assessing (the conflicting reports) and the methods of deducing (evidence). This difference was a natural and necessary result devoid of any reprehensibility or repulsiveness; rather it is a mercy for the Umma, as was agreed by the notable ‘ulama’. And since men are enemies of what they don’t know, those who had no feel for knowledge and understanding began to criticise the juristic Imams and spoke against them with a sharp tongue. For this reason the early and late (scholars) of (this Umma) penned books and epistles on the (underlying) causes of (these) disagreements, like Raf‘ al-Malam ‘an A’immat al-A‘lam by the great Hafiz, the insightful and critical scholar Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Halim ibn Taymiyya al-Harrani, and like Bidayat al-Mujtahid by Abu Walid ibn Rushd al-Qurtubi, Allah Almighty have mercy on them. I have an epistle on this subject in Urdu which I authored at the prime of my youth and I called it Ikhtilaf al-A’imma[1] and people have attained great benefit from it, and praise is due to Allah for that.

The merit in this age (however) goes to our honourable brother the scholar Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah, for he delivered a valuable lecture on this subject three years ago at the Rawda University in Halab, then he made it into an independent epistle after editing (it) and concluding (it) and he called it Athar al-Hadith al-Sharif fi Khtilaf al-A’immat al-Fuqaha. And since I was unable to read it myself due to the weakness in my vision – and diseases betake humanity in old age – I heard it from one of my beloveds and found it to be very beneficial, and it, despite its brevity, contains lofty benefits and (coherently) arranges precious gems. I sought benefit in it (being read to me) and my soul was uplifted and my heart was delighted by it. It is worthy of being read by every teacher and student, for it is devoid of deviance and embellishment, and delivers (the Imams) from what (has been said) disparagingly about the rank of the Imams from the people of enmity and of deprivation.

I ask Allah Almighty to enable us and all Muslims to (do) all that He loves and pleases, and keep us alive on the religion of the one who came with light and guidance, and cause us to die on his religion which illuminates the darkness. And Allah Almighty bless the best of His creation Muhammad, his family and all his companions.

I am the needy servant,

Muhammad Zakariyya ibn Muhammad Yahya al-Kandehlewi

Medina, 1401 H”

(Athar al-Hadith al-Sharif fi Khtilaf al-A’immat al-Fuqaha, pp. 12-14)


[1]               The English rendering of this work, Differences of The Imams, has been published by White Thread Press. (blog administrator)

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Related entry:  Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah on Contemporary Scholars Of the Indian Subcontinent

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