Before you read my notes, check these: http://linguisticmiracle.com/tashahhud.htm
To find qualitiy in our prayer is to start to understand the meaning and the beauty, eloquence and power, and sheer magnificence of these words.
Salah is a very beautiful combination between the 2 elements of our deen, words of Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala and the prophetic remembrance of Allah, so the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam with all of his eloquence and conciseness in beauty and speech is in prayer, by means of which we seek forgiveness and blessing of Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala
One of the parts of salah very powerful and beautiful is tashahud, and tis a very strategic, culminating high point of salah. You start with takbeer, opening supplication, in which you state your commitment, recite Surah fatiha, go into rukoo, stand up and glorify Him, go into sujood and at your lowest point possible, then at your lowest point your saying ‘Allah is the highest, He is the most exalted’ and after all this comes the sitting portion. The words we have been given to recite there are very powerful. This is his favorite part of the meaningful prayer course. Its something we have little or no appreciation of.
There are 5 different narrations comings from the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam, narr’d by 5 different companions, directly from him. So there are 5 different types of tashahud, and each one is named by the companion.
1. tashahud of Ibn mas’ud – Abdullah ibn masood says “the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam taught me the tashahud and my hand was between his two hands.” So lovingly, he sat down with me and took my hand between his two hands and taught me the tashahud, in a very loving manner. And then he goes on to say that he taught this same tashahud to one of his best students ‘Alqamah, in the same way. Ibrahim an-nakhee, the student of ‘Alqamah, and then so on with Hamad ibn As-Salima, and then with Abu Hanifa. “I learned the tashahud and my hand was between the two hands of (enter teacher name here)”
- to begin with the word analysis, because each word needs to be appreciated.
- At-tahiyyaat – plural word of ta7iyyah which means greeting. And the word greeting tells a story of the etimology or origin of this word. The word tahiyya comes from the word haya which means life. Why does the word for greeting come from the word which means life? Because pre-islamically,the Arabs when they would greet one another, they would do it with a supplication “hayaakumullah” – may Allah give you a long and prosperous life. Its a good supplication, but this is what they would say like when someone would walk through the door. And so the word for g”reeting” came from the word for “life,” because in their greeting they would pray for the person’s life. Later on, when Islaam came, then the Quran and the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam taught us a different greeting. So even though the greeting changed, the title for “greeting” remained the same.
- Quran: “: when someone greets you with a greeting then return the greeting back to them or at least equal.”
- Lillahi– for Allah.
- So putting it all together it means “the greetings are for Allah.” There is a little problem here, we don’t greet Allah do we? Allah is As-Salam, we don’t say Assalamualaykum to Allah. So what does it mean to greet Allah. So there’s a little story behind this. A scholar by the name of Abdullah as-salih al-3ijli, he tells his story, says I was interested in finding out what this means, so I went to a scholar by name of Al-Qisaa’ee, and I asked him what does it mean, he said it’s like blessings. He said then what does al barakaat mean? He says “That’s all I know, I cant tell you more.” So I went to another great scholar of my time, Muhammad ibn hasan ash-shaybaani, I asked him what does “at tahiyaat lilla mean?,” so he said “this is a word that we use to worship Allah, and that’s all I can tell you.” I still wasn’t content, so finally I came across Muhammad ibn Idrees Ash-Shaafi’ee rahimahullah, (the unique thing about him is while being a scholar of the Arabic language, he was very skilled and qualified in Arabic poetry, so it gave him a very unique perspective and a very unique skill set and talent), and he said “look, I went to al-qisaai and this is what he told me and I went to so and so and this is what he told me.” So imam ash shaafii said “why did you ask them? They don’t know poetry.” He said “When you enter into the court of the king, how do you enter into the court of the king? You offer royal compliments (in classic Arabic they would say ‘may you life for a 1000 years’ or ‘you removed curse from the land’) so when we say the word at-tahayyaatu lillah we are saying Royal compliments fit for a King are exclusively for Allah.
- Wa al salawaat – pl for prayer. So our prayers are also for Allah.
- Wa tayyibaat – pl of tayyab, meaning beautiful and appealing things. Also for Allah
- And one thing the scholars say about this, because its being used in this manner, in conjunction with the word salawaat, salawaat is referring to the prayers but it signifies all the ibadaat we do for Allah. And because the word tayyibaat is being used in conjunction with it, it refers to beautiful character, beautiful conduct, and mannerisms and dealing with people, is all done and devoted for the sake of Allah. So now look at the comprehensiveness of just the first 4 words. Even when you conduct yourself appropriately and you do it for the sake of Allah, that is not only sincerity but it ensures that you will continue to treat that person in such a noble manner. Why, because if you treat someone good because of them, their position, something they did for you, what if tmrw that person does something that disappoints you, then you will start treating him badly. Because your treatment of him was based on your view of him. So this supplication teaches us NO, even the way we conduct ourselves socially and publicly is based on our commitment to Allah. We treat people good because it pleases Allah and because Allah told us to.
as-salamualayka ayyuha –al-nabiyyu wa rahatmu llahi wa barakatuhu
- As-salam – peace and safety, very profound and comprehensive word. So many words comes from this as a deritive. Islaam – to submit to Allah, because by submitting to Allah we achieve peace and safety. Arabs had a very interesting manner of naming things. Sulam – stairs or ladder, also from the same root as the word salam – peace and safety. Why? Arent stairs and ladders kind of dangerous? So the Arabs said, they’re dangerous things, so what should they name it, safety? So any time anyone approaches the ladder or stairs, the first thing that approaches their mind is ‘be careful’ climbing the safety.
- Alayka – this is a form of supplication, and the scholars even write that previously when someone would make du’aa for someone they would say ‘o Allah send peace and safety upon such and such person’ . the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam taught us in the salam we say to each other, as salamualaykum, this is more emphatic, it’s the ismiyya form, it’s a more emotional tone.
- As-salamu alayka – may peace and safety be upon you, who’s you? To the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam. Ay yu hannabi
- Nabi – prophet, this can come from either the word naba (news, that is very very important and news that is relevant to you). So if nabi comes from the root of the word naba, that mans that nabi is the one that brings news that is important and relevant. That means nothing the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said is unimportant and nothing the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said or did is irrelevant. The 2nd possible root of the word nabi is from the word nab-wun – elevation or protrusion. When something is all at one level and something is jutting out, that’s called nabwun. Because the nabi is the individual that is at an elevated status compared to the rest of humanity.
- Wa rahmatullah – rahma means mercy – may the mercy of Allah also be on you, o prophet
- Wa barakaatuhu – barakaat – pl of blessing, and it means blessings that are LONG lasting, that’s why the Arabs would call a small collection of water ‘birka’ , or if a camel sits and refuses to get back up again they say ‘barakah ba’3eer’ – the camel is going to sit now, he’s not going to get up. It implies longevity. “and may His long lasting blessings also be upon you, o prophet” . very thorough supplication.
- Are we speaking about the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam or are we speaking TO the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam, when we say asalamualayka? Its TO, it’s the 2nd person. Whats the implication of this? In reality, there is no implication of it. Why, because ibn mas3ood and ibn abbaas, these companions, in their narration they tell us that the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam taught them the tashahud they said ‘the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam would teach us the tashahud just like he would teach us a Surah from the Quran. (1. Emphasized the importance of tashahud, and Necessity to memorize the tashahud (so we need to mem the Quran), 2. Verbatim, word for word. In fatiha, iyyaka na’3budu , only You Do We worship. But what if im praying alone, can I change it to “’3abudu – I worship’ ? no. Quran is Quran you read it as it is. That’s what the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam emphasized about the tashahud, he taught it like this, so this is how you read it.
- As-salamu alayna – may peace and safety be upon us
- Wa alaa ibaadi-llah – and upon the slaves of Allah. 3ibaad means slaves, pl. of word 3bd. And theres 2 plurals of this word in the Quran, 3ibaad and 3abeed. 3ibaad can only be used when you are talking about the slaves of Allah. 3abeed is a general plural, refers to the slaves of Allah, but generally speaking, if you’re talking about slaves, you can use this.
- As-saaliheen – they have this quality of being SalaaH – righteousness, to have your affairs in order. Opp of word fasaad – chaos, corruption. So saliheen – those who embody righteousness. So what we’re saying in this supplication is, may peace and safety be upon us and upon the slaves of Allah who have the quality of being righteous.
- What are some of the implications in what we just said. 1. We make du’aa for ourselves, but we make it in the plural form. That emphasizes unity of the Muslims. We need to be united, don’t just think of yourself, think of the group, the ummah, the collective. And subhanllah when you look at the salah, Surah fatiha, etc the pl is always emphasized, because salah is always a display of unity and the salah is of the ultimate means of cultivating and developing unity. In salah everyone stands next to each other with no considertion of race, ethnicity, financial status, background, education level, spiritualality. A hafidh of the Quran can be standing next to someone who doesn’t know 2 surahs. And then in sujood they all put their face on the ground.
- And a community no matter how many other things they do, if they don’t pray together, their Jamaah is not strong in terms of salah, they will always struggle in their unity. Because the community of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam which was the ultimate community was very committed to praying salah together.
- So we make du’aa for ourselves, an then for others. In our du’aa we should never be selfish, always make du’aa for others too. One time a Bedouin came to the masjid of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam and said “O Allah, have mercy on me and have mercy on on Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam and nobody else.” The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said You took something huge and you squeezed it into something very small. “the mercy of Allah encompasses everything.” So he said no no make du’aa for everyone. But while we should never be selfish, we should also be sensible, practical. We make du’aa for ourselves and everyone else but who do we make du’aa for first? Ourselves, that’s sensibility, not selfishness. You are making du’aa for others but first make du’aa for yourself. Example: you know when you get on the airplane and they make the emergency briefing, and they say if the cabin loses air pressure, the oxygen mask will fall, and if you’re with a child or someone in need of assistance, what should you do first, put your own on and then help someone else. Why, because if you start helping them and you don’t have yours on, then you’re dead and they’re dead and you didn’t help anyone. If someone’s drowning, and you don’t know how to swim and you jump in to save them, now there’s 2 people drowning.
- That’s why in the Quran, and nothing is by accident in the Quran, Allah says: save yourselves, and your families. Surah Tahrim (said yourself first, because if you haven’t saved yourself how could you save your family. If you’are not even worried about saving yourself how could you ever be worried about saving your family?)
- Quran: “: tell your family to pray, but you be very particular and regular about your prayer, (because if you’re not committed about prayer, why would they ever be?)
- So you secure yourself first, and that’s what this supplication teaches us.
- Did we make du’aa for others, 3ibaadillah (slaves of Allah), or a certain type? Certain type, saaliheen, righteous people. Why’re we limiting the du’aa? This is a motivational technique. When I am making the du’aa ‘may the peace and safety of Allah be upon all the slaves of Allah who are righteous’ now think about this, every single Muslim throughout the world, any time they pray, they’re making the same du’aa, so if I encorporate the qualitiy of righteousness in myself, I’m included in the du’aa of every single Muslim praying, not just now but for generations, and generations, I will always be in the du’aa of the believers and the people performing salah. It makes you think, I need to be a Saalih (righteous individual).
- Last part is the core, essence, and climax of tashahud
- Ash-hadu – I bear witness, I give testimony. Comes from root of shaheeda. Shaheed – martyr – scholars explain because he presented himself for the ultimate sacrifice, and when the shaheed falls, angels are present around him.
- An = that, La – No. But this is a special la. **This la means, absolutely, positively no. emphasis. No possibility.
- Ilah – one worthy of worship or veneration. So absolutely no one worthy of worthy of worship
- Ila Allah = except Allah. Ila used to make an exception
- wa ashahadu –and I bear witness
- anna – that most definitely
- Muhammadan – Muhammad is
- Abdahu – His slave
- Wa rasuluhu – Allah’s messenger
- In the first part, you here ashahadu-AN, in 2nd part you hear about the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam ANNA, which one sounds stronger? 2nd . In meaning, it is stronger. But the 2nd question is why emphasis here but no emphasis in the first statement? You look closely, the laa that comes after an in the first part is a special NO, so its already emphasis. But in the 2nd part of the statement there is no emphasis coming from anywhere else, so the ANNA gives it emphasis, see the balance?
- In the tashahud of another narration it says, ashahadu an laa ilaha illallah wa anna, the 2nd ash-hadu is missing. If you look, isn’t there a repetition of the word ashahadu (the first one) ? its there for a reason, to give it equal importance. Why? Because if someone came and said “Im ready to become Muslim, and says Im willing to accept the Oneness of Allah, but not the Prophethood,” Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala emphasizes this point.
- 3abdahu – calling the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam the slave of Allah is a very powerful statement, because we just talked about the nabi being at a higher station, but een he is the slave of Allah. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam exemplified this quality. The greatest day in the life of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam was fath e Makkah, returning to a city after 20 rys, people who had kicked him out of his town, killed his followers and supporters, if you look throughout history, anyone else who has been in a similr position of victory over his longstanding enemy, look how he entered into that area, at the head o fhf the army stting on big white horse, trumpts, head held high. But the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam was at the back of the army,and his head was down so low and literally his beard was touching the back of the animal he was riding, and he was praising Allah. La ilaha illallah wahda, sadaqa waHda, wa nasara 3bda…that Allah fulfilled His promise, He helped His slave (He s.a.w. didn’t say prophet or messenger, he said slave. It’s a proud station. There is nobility, honor and distinction in being the slave of Allah). So saying the messenger is a slave of Allah is very powerful and a lesson for all of us: we need to pride ourselves on being the slaves of Allah.
- wa rasooluh – And His messenger – the word rasool comes from the root of the word which means to send a message from a higher authority. The rasool is one who carries this message. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam has been described in the tashahud with 2 distinct terms is nabi and rasool, what is the difference? (this is a mainly ‘aqeedah discussion so not going to get into it here). From a linguistic perspective, whenever the word nabi is used in the Quran it emphasizes the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam dealing and interaction with the people. Like Surah tahrim ayah 1. Quran: “: …tell your daughters and believing women.” When in the Quran, the point that is being emphasized is that he is speaking on behalf of a higher authority that he has been sent by Allah, what he says is not from himself but that he’s bringing it from himself. Quran: “: tell them O people, I am the messenger fo Allah who has been sent to all of you.” And when Allah tells him to deliver the message, the word Rasool is used, to emphasize that relationship.
- Muhammad – comes from the root of the word Hamd, to praise. Muhammad means one who is very frequently praised. TaHmeed, Taf3eel, mufaa’3al. the given name of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam occurs in the Quran 4 times. In Surah 3, 33, Surah Muhammad, Surah 48. One other name of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam appears in the Quran once and that is Ahmed, – meaning someone who is praised a lot more than others, and in a very beautiful and elaborate manner. Wherever Allah mentions the name of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam, He’s not speaking to him, He’s speaking about him. And in 3/4 places, the word rasool, occurs in the same ayah. Whenver Allah addresses the other prophets, He calls them by name, Ya Adam, Ya Eesa, Ya Musa, but when Allah addresses the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam He never refers to him by his name. Ya ayu-har-rasool, ya ayu han nabi, He calls him with titles. So Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala teaches us the adab of speaking about the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam, in the Quran. When we talk about the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam we shouldn’t just say ‘muhammad said’. The family members of the prophets, even they felt compelled to call him messenger of Allah when they spoke to him, because they knew how Allah spoke to him. Even though he was a very casual and loving family person.
- There is a claim: The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam was the first one to have been given the name Muhammad. Ibn kathir said this was popularized by the story-tellers, but in reality, this is not true, and ibn kathir finds the record of at least 7 individuals in Arabic before him with the name Muhammad. He said though, this much is true, it was a very rare name at that time.
2. Tashahud of ibn abbaas radhiallahu anhu
- ibn abbas said the messenger of Allah would teach us the tashahud just like he would teach us a Surah from the Quran. His was:
- there is a new word, al mubarakaat – blessed things. Blessed things are also attributed to Allah. Meaning we thank Allah for them and we give the credit to Him.
- In the previous one, there was ‘wa’ wasalaawatu, etc. here there is no waw, whats the difference from a rhetorical perspective? Toaster and oven, they’re 2 distinct items. But when I say toaster oven, that’s one item, that serves both functions. It still does both things but they are both done in the same entity.
- So its as if saying all of these components comprise that one individual. It still has all the individual components but its like one cohesive entity, that has all of these facets.
- Lillaa position has been changed. Used to be in the beg and now in its in the end. “Khalid is my friend, and zayd and amr.” You’re giving more importance to the first. In this tashahud, all things are given eq importance because the lilaa is said at the end.
- As-salaamun – this is proper, THE peace and blessings, which means the ultimate peace and blessings. Of all types, variations, from all angels and all situations. When you make something common in classical Arabic, it creats variety. So salamun of every type, may it be upon you o messenger.
- 2nd ash-hadu is missing. This is equally as powerful. When we remove the ashhadu in the middle, do we bring Allah and Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam closer together. The first was emphasizing the eq importance of believing in Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam as the messenger of Allah, this emphasizes the fact that beliving in Allah and believing in Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam as the messenger, go hand in hand, that’s imaan. Its kind of like making the same point, but you see how the same point is made in 2 different ways? This is the beauty of the Arabic language.
- Wa anna muhammadan rasoolullah – missing 3abdahu. The benefit here is the first one said abdaHU was rasooluHU. This one says rasoolULLAH. The first one uses a pronoun, this one says the name of Allah, Allah’s messenger. Saying the name of the person. It’s always more respectable and most powerful to speak with someone’s name. so you think since it doesn’t mention 3bd that it’s a lesser tashahud, but no, it says Allah and that is very powerful.
#1 by riaz on July 20, 2011 - 3:46 pm
Now, does this contradict the Quran where God says do not distinguish between the messengers and prophets?
From God’s point of view there can be various levels of human/prophets/messengers. But not from ours. We are commanded to not make distinction between them.
#2 by almuqarraboon on January 4, 2013 - 11:57 am
asalamualaykum wrwb brother,
My apologies, I am just seeing your message after a long time. I am not sure if you will get to see this but –
If you are referring to the fact that the prophet saws is mentioned in the tashhahud and not the other prophets and messengers, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all then – no, this is not in contradiction of the ayah that states “we make no distinction between them.”
The understanding of the scholars in regard Allah’s prohibition of distinguishing between the messengers was that we believe in them all, and we do not differentiate between them with regards to the religion they came with (i.e. affirm that they were all Muslim) or we don’t prefer a messenger over another while disrespecting the other in the process.
To claim that all of the messengers and prophets are on the same level is not correct, and this can be seen by the fact that out of all of them, there are the ulul al-azm, the 5 of strong will and determination, and out of them, there is Ibrahim a.s. whom Allah swt took as a Khalil, and then there is the Final Messenger saws who was the best of mankind and of the highest status even amongst the messengers (refer to the hadith about al israa wal mi’raj and the hadith about shafaa’a, etc.).
I hope this helps inshaAllah,
#3 by LinguisticMiracle on November 11, 2011 - 6:26 am
Asalaamu alaykum waRahmatullah waBarakaatuh
Jazaak Allah khayr. You might like to compare your notes to these too;