There is some confusion that I am having about sending blessings to the Prophet (pbuh). The first issue is whether the blessings have to be invoked each and every time one mentions the name of the Prophet. When reading the Seerah written by Husain Haykal he mentions that this was not the tradition of Muslims in the past. The second issue is; if one is to invoke blessings on the Prophet, why is it that people only invoke blessings when you say Muhammad, but not when you say the Prophet? If you could clarify I would appreciate it.
Sending blessings upon the Prophet (pbuh), as you have termed it, is actually the show of our respect and deepest regard for the Prophet (pbuh). The words that we use for this purpose, as taught by the Prophet (pbuh) himself, are actually a supplication in favor of the Prophet (pbuh). As should be obvious from this clarification, such supplications do not fall in the category of fardh (religious obligation) or naf’l (supererogatory). Because these supplications are basically a show of respect and homage for our biggest benefactor, they should not be placed in the category of fardh or naf’l. A person may say or write these words, every time he mentions the Prophet (pbuh) or he may do this some of the times that the Prophet (pbuh) is mentioned. It depends on his internal feelings at the time he mentioned the Prophet (pbuh).
The issue may be understood from a simple example. When we mention or remember someone from amongst our loved ones, who has passed away, we normally pray for his salvation with the mention of his name or the reminder of his person. Now, obviously, this prayer for the salvation of our loved one is not an obligation but actually originates from the love that is embedded in our heart for that person.
The same is the case for our supplication for the Prophet (pbuh).
As far as the attitude of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) is concerned, it seems that what Husain Haykal has mentioned is quite accurate. We do not have any reliable source on the basis of which it may be stated that the companions invoked supplications each and every time they mentioned the Prophet (pbuh)’s name.
Finally, as far as differentiating between the mention of Prophet (pbuh)’s name (Muhammad) and his status (The Prophet) is concerned, I do not think that there is any reason to do so. In my opinion, whenever a Muslim is reminded of the Prophet (pbuh), whether with or without the mention of his name, he should be filled with gratitude toward the Prophet (pbuh), and as a show of that gratitude, he should pray for the exaltation of the Prophet (pbuh)’s position in the hereafter.
27th June 1999