On One Billion Salawat Day
It has been a horrendous week, so this announcement is going up much later than intended. But better late than never…
Tomorrow (November 4th 2012) there will be a worldwide event commemorating the love of the Prophet through the repetition of the following:
This prayer upon the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), called the salawat, is highly recommended as a means of general remembrance in all situations. Whenever my grandmother saw that I was distressed, she would remind me to repeat it over and over, telling me that it provides ease in all matters. (She’s right. I do it to this day.) My mother recited it to herself continuously and quietly on the wedding dais to ward off the anxiety that comes with taking such a major step in life. As a close family friend told us, this prayer should fill in the empty gaps of our day, such as the few seconds when we are waiting for someone to pick up the phone. Hamza Yusuf calls it a cooling prayer, in contrast to the supplications that call upon God’s intense and powerful qualities. Similarly, I have heard that saints undertaking recitations of God’s most mighty and powerful names padded them a hundred recitations of the salawat to balance the powerful impact of those names.
I love the concept of this event because we need spiritual solutions as much as we need logistical ones. We live in strange times, and while these strange times entail exploring new and creative means of enacting spirituality, they are also times of fitnah, of great trial and hardship. No matter which way you self-identify as a Muslim, I’m pretty sure you agree that we face enormous challenges, serious confrontations to our faith, and at times bewildering anomalies that push our patience and understanding to their limits. A 14-year-old girl gets shot because she openly criticizes those who deny her the right to education. Muslims go mental when someone of no significance makes a film insulting the Prophet (PBUH), but hardly bat an eye when it comes to destroying the historical sites that are the only remaining fragments of his legacy. There are people spending a lot of time and money to ensure that Islamophobic motifs have a presence in people’s daily lives. There are a host of issues related to Muslim women: they are in dire need for more inclusive spaces in the mosque, they are also having a worse time than men in finding spouses, and certain governing entities think that legislating their clothing is perfectly acceptable.
I am not shooting off these pain points because I want to keep you up at night. I’m sharing them to show just how badly we need Allah’s help in working through these situations.
When I told my mother about this initiative, she recommended that those participating in the event begin with asking forgiveness from God with with a hundred recitations of astaghfirullah. I agree with her. Who knows what wrongs we are committing that are distancing us from Allah (SWT) and worsening our situations. It could be doing nothing about the cultural taboos surrounding disability and mental illness. Or it could be working tirelessly to get people to convert to Islam, only to harangue them about getting rid of their dogs. How about bringing our girls up with the idea that their bodies are something to be ashamed of? Or slaughtering animals in the most inhumane ways imaginable, thinking that just saying His name is enough to render it halal? Indeed, may Allah forgive us. May He hear us in our united proclamation of love for His messenger and instill us with the grace and spirit worthy of his legacy.
By turning our gaze heavenward and engaging in this collective worship, our hearts will, Insh’Allah, be given ease. With along hard work, common sense, and a genuine openness for solutions in forms we may not have imagined, this could be a start
I deeply hope and pray that it will. There has not been a time that I recited the salawat and not felt at least a temporary relief, enough ease and calm to be able to see solutions rather than dwell on problems. Perhaps the baraka in this can benefit us all on a grander scale as well.