Darood e Ibrahimi - The Connection Beyond
Muslims recite the Darood e Ibraheemi in each Salat (Namaz) at least five times a day; this Darood makes the core of reverence in the Muslim society and creates a binding between them, their beloved Prophet and their Creator. These fascinating words, holding a world of meanings wait for our awe and wonder and invite us to a totally converted, larger-than-life connection. The words translate like this:
‘Our Lord, bless (Sal) upon Muhammad and his family, like you blessed upon Abraham and his family. Surely You are the most hymned and the most heightened. Our Lord, beatify (Barrk) upon Muhammad and his family, like you beatified upon Abraham and his family. Surely You are the most hymned and the most heightened.’
Meanings of ‘Sal’ and ‘Barrk’ - Firstly it is important to understand the meanings of the words Sal and Barrk. In understanding the meanings of a word we must know that ‘connotations’ are ideas or feelings that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning. As the usage of a language matures and spreads out, many related meaning get attached to the original meanings of the words but all these connoted meanings hold equal value, as words will always mean what the consensus of its users mean them to be; many a times old unused meanings are rendered obsolete when usage has brought new meanings to a word.
The word Sal (base word: sad-lam-wa) has the connoted meanings of - to pray for; supplicate; petition; praise’. When the Prophet taught the method of the daily obligatory prayer, the Quran called it ‘Salat’, when Allah sends his blessings to someone that is also called ‘Sallawat’ in the Quran, but the literal meanings of the word hold primer importance. The primary meanings of Sal are - to follow back to back; to follow so closely that one is hidden behind the back of the other. This prime meaning merges with all connoted meanings as the Salat is the back to back following of the same method of prayer by all; in congregational prayer men practically stand behind each other. When Allah says that He sends His salutations (same word ‘sal’, has traveled into English via Hebrew) to Muhammad, He means that He stands at his back as support, as approval and as witness and that Allah and His angels follow the Prophet back to back as for him being the deputy of his Master on the earth and as per the permanent effects his every single word and act make on the future of the world to its end.
The word Barrk has the connoted meanings of ‘to beatify (make extremely happy); to bless; to exalt; make abundant; persevering; striving; continuing’, therefore when the Quran uses this word for a person or a place it is definitely blessed, exalted and is continued with abundance and the course of nature is made to persevere in its servitude. However the literal meaning of the word Barrk is ‘lying on the breast; the sitting posture of camels whereof their breasts touch the ground; being firm; steadfast; to remain or be fixed in a place’, one can imagine that when a person is lying on his breast, he is extremely close to, focused at and indulged in the subject of his view. So when Allah tends to a matter with Barrk, that matter would automatically become a focus of abundance and goodness as it has gained the attention of the Wealthiest, most Resourceful of all.
Meaning of ‘Aal’ - Lastly the word ‘Aal’ (base–word: aa-wa-lam), though has the literal meanings of ‘to return; to resort; to reduce to; to precede; be first or foremost’, but the word specifically in context of relations, holds equal meanings to the word ‘Ahal’* i.e. ‘household; kinfolk; or of common descent’. But again in usage the word is also taken for: ‘the people of’, ‘followers of’ and ‘friends of’ (Awlia).
In the case of the ‘Aal e Muhammad’, there are different schools of thought, some are of the view that the Aal e Muhammad comprises of all his family and all of his followers; as the Prophet once answered that his Aal include all pious persons . Another school of thought says that these are all the people of his religion regardless any criteria; taking the reference of the Aal e Firon, as-in they must be meaning the whole nation of Egypt. Whilst there is this school that says that this word is specifically for the Prophet’s family and his wives, taking reference to the hadith wherein he said that the poor-rate is prohibited for his Aal referring to himself and his household.
If one seeks the answer in the Quran, one sees that the Quran has used the word Aal 26 times, out of which it has been used for the people of Pharoah* 14 times, and at the rest of the 12 occasions for the families of Moses, Aaron, Abraham, Imran, Jacob, Lot and David.
When the Quran says that ‘… they lost the ark wherein were sacred belongings (inherited by and) left by the Aal e Mussa and the Aal e Haroon…’ (2:24) it is definitely referring to the immediate families of the two, otherwise on the bases of religious following, Haroon would already be the Aal of Mussa and the whole Bani Israel would be his Aal too. Likewise when the Quran says that, ‘… Allah chose Adam, Noah and the family of Abraham…’ (3:33), Adam, Noah and Abraham would already be of the same Aal considering piety and following. The same iyah includes in it ‘… the Aal e Imran…’ (3:33) and Imran was not a declared prophet so his Aal would not include followers but only his family.
In the iyah ‘… and completed His favour upon you and the Aal of Yaqoob like He completed it upon your fathers before; Abraham and Isaac…’ (12:6) would mean that the favour of prophethood bestowed upon the household of Abraham and Isaac was discontinued from half of the progeny of Isaac, as the favour now lies only with the family of Jacob and not Isaac’s other son Esau mentioned in the genesis. Likewise though the whole of Bani Israel is clan and family of Abraham but the family of Imran was segregated for favors later on, being already a part of Abraham’s family and his follower.
And likewise in ‘…except the family of Lot, We saved them all…’ (15:59), here also it is the household of Lot that is being mentioned, as his household was the only one saved in this case. The same was meant when the Aal of David was being ordained in doing ‘good’ with ‘thankfulness’ (34:13). Therefore it would not be wrong to conclude, on the basis of the usage of this word by the Quran, that the Aal of Muhammad should mean exclusively his household and progeny.
But this only for earthly matters, surely when all good people will be in the Jannah, promised by their Lord and the physical bodies will not be as such, the blood-relation would be nullified and the nearness to Allah and His Prophet will only be gotten by criteria of piety and the blessing of Allah; perhaps that is why the Prophet said that all the pious people are his family i.e. in the broader sense.
Feeling the Darood - Thus when we say the Darood, we are supplicating to our Allah, to send the ‘sal’ upon Muhammad and his household just like He sent the ‘sal’ upon Abraham and his household and likewise regarding ‘barrk’. It is important to ponder at this point upon the ‘sal’ and ‘barrk’ Allah had sent to the household of Abraham, if we want to know what we are actually asking for Muhammad here.
Among all other blessings that must have been bestowed upon Abraham and his household the most dazzling is the fact that Abraham’s progeny got the favor of prophethood in abundance. Apart from the almost three to four hundred years between Joseph and Moses, there was hardly any generation that did not have one or more prophets sent to them, many of whom are highly celebrated in the Quran. The good men of Allah and the prophets of Allah, in the Aal e Ibraheem seem to have a back to back following and strong conservation of the ‘Deen’ vouchsafed to them by Allah. So much so that while the Bani Israel as a whole showed great deviation from the commandments of their Lord and their ever-love for false gods; there was always a group within them that kept true to the Salat, the Zakat, the Rukku and the Sajda (2:125, 38:24, 3:43, 19:31).
Thus the progeny of Abraham was never left in a recess, such as that there was never a time when the direct communication via Allah’s messengers would not come to the aid of the prophets and through them to their people. Even through the period between Joseph and Moses, one can anticipate that piety was beheld in certain families and that Allah may have kept them in console by signs; like Moses’s mother was consoled by a message and that she was a firm believer (28:7, 10). And like this the special favor of Allah was kept throughout Abraham’s descendants, in a single line from him to Jesus; surely Allah bestows His favors upon whomsoever He wants and surely Allah is capable of all things.
Another extra-ordinary way, in which the family of Abraham was blessed with, was the numerous phenomenal miracles that so many of the prophets were decreed with. So much so that with every new prophet the people of Bani Israel would ask for a miracle, for proof and belief and they would get one. Thus it was a routinely event that Angels would visit the descendants of Abraham and that they were aided with the power of miracles.
So how then, can we compare these blessing with the progeny of our prophet Muhammad, when prophethood has been sealed close on him and when Allah had refused to send physical miracles to win the Quraish, quoting the example of the Bani Israel, that they never believed however many miracles were shown to them, and insisted that people should believe using their senses and reasoning.
One should reckon that it is only natural for any believer to wish that his children should be believers too; that while the prophets of Allah and His good men are known to never greed for worldly desires, they are known for bearing the desire for a pious progeny and the following of belief in them. The most pious of all men would only desire that belief should be held with utmost strength in his line to the end of humanity.
Thus when we pray the Darood e Ibraheemi, we are praying to our Allah to bestow in Muhammad’s progeny, in every generation, abundance of all blessings, but foremost, the strength of belief to its utmost degree; that in his children and the children of their children would remain a back to back following of the purest version of belief and that they must never sway into deviation. That the ‘barraka’ and the generous attention of Allah should remain copious and continuous upon them, wherever they be; That they should be aided with signs and be consoled by successive promises; That they should never err, lest our Prophet would be heavy hearted for that; That, like the sons of Abraham kept the beacon of truth in their hand, so must the sons of Muhammad be the torch-bearers of truth and divine wisdom till the dawn of the final events of history. That although none of his descendant will receive prophethood, but to each of his generation be granted the miracle of the true and progressive interpretation of the knowledge hidden in the Quran; by virtue of which they would stand steadfast and gain nearness of the loving attention of Allah. And when the final events come to proceed; we and our children and their children would be on the side of the progeny of Muhammad, with true following.
We pray in this Darood that may Allah bless Muhammad with true following, back to back, outside his progeny too, that he may be bestowed, with believers on his words, to numbers never known to any prophet before him. We reiterate in this Darood that our forefather and we and our children, have always and will always love him and the God who has sent him, more then we love each other; that we do not pray for ourselves as much as we pray for him and his children.
Although several physical miracles were shown through the Prophet but the Quran warns the believer many a times not to ask for such miracle and use their reasoning to discover truth. Thus we pray in this Darood that the miracle of Knowledge and wisdom that was granted to our Prophet as the weapon to be relied on, be vouchsafed in his progeny too, and in all true believers who follow his league back to back.
In doing so we become part of a larger-than-life connection, we become friend and well-wisher to a truly blessed company, a company for whom the dwellers of the skies pray with us. As we put behind our blood-ties and present friendships, to commune with the centers of piety and blessedness, we secretly assert upon our Allah to let us and all our relations be one with this pious family in any way He would allow.
In doing so we create and join in a world-wide flux towards goodness; as so many of the believers offer this Darood all the time all over the world; in fact the flux is universal and even extra-universal because Allah and His angels send this kind of prayer to the Prophet too. Just imagine how big and strong this circle is that we have joined as we pray within the depths of our hearts, not for material wealth, not for worldly success but just for love-binding with goodness and association with those hearts that have been filled with the utmost love and angst for all humanity and specifically for the believers.
‘Our Allah! Let us be one with all the good people and let all the good people be one with Your prophets and Your favoured ones and let our children be true to belief and the Darood in every generation to come, till finally when the Mahdi is revealed and then let our children be one with him.’ Ameen.
*Lane Lexicon; see meaning of Aawal (aa-wa-la)
* Then what of the family of Pharoah, was the family of Pharoah the only that was drowned from among all the people of Egypt; is that is possible?
History tell us that the Pharaohs of the upper Nile, because of their riches accumulated due to the copious yield they obtained across both sides of the Nile, had become very strong and had been able to maintained dynastic rule for app. 3000 years before the coming of Jesus. These dynastic Pharaohs had slowly occupied the surrounding lands of the Put people (Lybia) to their west and the Land of the Kush and the Punt people of present Sudan and Ethiopia and had definitely kept all these people under their oppressive rule; many times having wars to control them, so one can assume that those in power were a close-knit family of the elite class and that the Pharaohs had placed their kin and clan in all positions of power, spread around the kingdom to hold strongly to the control. Perhaps that is the fact referred to when the Quran says at the event of the exodus and when the Aal of Pharaoh was to be drowned;
‘Then Pharaoh sent into the cities summoners. These (Israelites) are but a band small-numbered. And lo! they have angered us. And we are an alert army. Thus We (Allah) took them out of gardens and water-springs. And from treasures and fair estates. (26:53-58).
These iyahs show that those whom Pharaoh summoned and gathered were not the common people of Egypt but the richest, most powerful ones, comprising the fighters and controllers and that it is most probable that all of these were the clan of Pharaoh.