Commentary on Surah Al-Ahzab Verse 56
The real purpose of the verse was to obligate Muslims to send Salah (durood) and Salam upon the Holy Prophet (ﷺ). But the command was given in a manner that, first of all, Allah Ta’ala pointed out that He Himself and His angels perform the act of Salah for the Holy Prophet (ﷺ). After that, common Muslims were ordered to follow suit. By doing so, it is indicated that the station of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) is so high that the act asked to be done by common Muslims in his respect is something already done by Allah Ta’ala Himself as well as angels with Him. Now then, common believers who are indebted to so many favors done to them by as their noble Prophet should certainly give high priority to making this act their essential concern. Then there is yet another good outcome of this modality of expression. It proves the great merit accredited to Muslims who send Salah and Salam as Allah Ta’ala makes them share in doing what Allah Ta’ala Himself does and so do His angels.
The Meaning of Salah and Salam
The word: صَلاة (Salah) is used in the Arabic language to convey the sense of: Mercy (rahmah), prayer (du’a,) and praise (madh and thana). The Salah attributed to Allah Ta’ala in the cited verse means His sending of mercy, but Salah from the angels denotes their prayer for him, and the sense of Salah (durood) from common believers is a combination of du’a, (prayer) and thana’ (praise). Most commentators have given these very meanings and Imam Al-Bukhari has reported from Abu-l-‘Aliyah that the Salah of Allah Ta’ala means the honor accorded to him and the praise showered on him before the angels. As for the honor bestowed on him by Allah Ta’ala within this mortal world, it translates as the high rank he was blessed with when, on many an occasion, his mention was joined with the mention of Allah Ta’ala in adhan (the initial call for prayers) and iqamah (the call announcing the immediate start of the prayer) and elsewhere, and that Allah Ta’ala made the religion brought by him spread and prevail throughout the world, and that He enjoined upon all people to keep acting in accordance with the Shari’ah brought by him right through the last day of al-Qiyamah and, along with it, He has undertaken to keep his Shari’ah stand perennially protected. Then, as for the honor bestowed upon him in the Hereafter, it can be said that his station was made to be the most exalted of the entire creation and, at a time when no prophet or angel could dare intercede on behalf of anyone, it was right at that time that he was blessed with the celebrated station of intercession called: مقام محمود (Praised Station).