In Defense of Swalawat al-Fatih

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

There are those who have said that the Tijaniyyah should not recite the Swalawat al-Fatih because it is a bid’ah, and that it was not done in the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.) nor mentioned in the Qur’an.  They have said because the Tijaniyyah believe that it was revealed in its current form and method to Shaykh Ahmad ibn Muhammad at-Tijani (q.s.), it is an example of the Tijaniyyah transgressing the limits of venerating their shaykh.

Firstly, it is irrelevant that Swalawat al-Fatih is not mentioned in the Qur’an or hadits.  There is no ruling that states that we must only use swalawat mentioned in the hadits, for example.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says in the Qur’an:

Allah, and His angels, Send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe!  Send ye blessings on him and salute him, with all respect. (Surah al-Ahzab:56)

Allah’s (s.w.t.) Divine Order for us to send Salutations upon the Prophet (s.a.w.) is unrestricted.  No one has the right to restrict what Allah (s.w.t.) did not.  And certainly, there are thousands upon thousands of swalawat known to the ummah, each and every one of them with merits; the vast majority of them are not mentioned in Qur’an and hadits but accepted and recited by the ‘ulama, the awliya’ and the mu’minin.

What our Prophet (s.a.w.) did give his ummah was the basic formulae of swalawat: “Allahumma swalli ‘ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa ‘ala ali Sayyidina Muhammad”, “O Allah, Send Salutations upon the Honourable Muhammad and his family.”  Therefore, there are minimum requirements for a swalawat but no limits as to its length.  The proof of this is that the Prophet (s.a.w.) himself and the swahabah used to add variation to the basic framework of swalawat above and this is found in many ahadits.  The practise of such has been carried on by the pious predecessors until the present.  Therefore, it cannot be bid’ah.  A forbidden bid’ah refers only to an innovated matter that contradicts the shari’ah.  Swalawat al-Fatih and any swalawat do not contradict the shari’ah in any way.  On the contrary, it is obedience to a Divine Order.

As a matter of fact, most of the Swalawat-al-Fatih is narrated from ‘Ali bin Abi Thalib (k.w.), as narrated by Hafizh ibn Katsir (r.a.), in his famous exegesis of the Qur’an, when discussing the ayat of swalawat given above.  The narration of ‘Ali (k.w.) is also confirmed by Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.), Imam ibn Abi Shaybah (r.a.) and Imam Sa’id ibn Manswur (r.a.); noted scholars of ahadits.  This confirms what Shaykh Ahmad at-Tijani (q.s.) mentioned, in the Jawahir al-Ma’ani, that the Prophet (s.a.w.) was aware of the Swalawat al-Fatih during his physical lifetime, but did not reveal it publicly as it was not yet its time.  It is the same with many ud’iyyah, swalawat and instructions given by the Prophet (s.a.w.) in dreams and visions to the blessed ones in the ummah.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) himself confirmed this as recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari.

Secondly, with regards the awliya’, a Muslim must believe that there are awliya’ since they are Mentioned in so many places in the Qur’an and the hadits.   He may choose to follow them and benefit from them or he may choose not to and leave them.  There is no blame either way.

Behold!  Verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve; (Surah Yunus:62)

The Tijaniyyah have chosen to believe in the vision of Shaykh Ahmad at-Tijani (q.s.), the Seal of All Saints, and believe that he did indeed receive the Swalawat al-Fatih from the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) directly.  We have witnessed its veracity and power.

As for the veneration of the shuyukh, it is an integral part of the shari’ah to honour the elders and those closer to Allah (s.w.t.).  The swahabah used to kiss the hand and feet of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and honour his relics after his passing.  The tabi’in would do it with the swahabah and so forth.  A Muslim is free to honour any ‘alim or shaykh within limits.  His honouring must never contradict the shari'ah or affect his ‘aqidah.


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