Imam Sha’rani writes: “Another example is the statement of Abu Hanifa and Malik that the Salawat upon the Prophet (alayhi salat wa salam) in the final Tashahud is a Sunnah (stressed recommendation), while al-Shafi’i and Ahmad (in one of his positions narrated from him) state that it is an obligation (Fard); so the first espouse the easy way while the second espouse the demanding way, going back to the basic principle of the two sides of the Scale.
The justification of the former position is that the Salat in its essence is prescribed for the sake of the remembrance of Allah Ta’ala alone and the intimate communication with Him thru His Speech. However, because the Messenger of Allah (alayhi salat wa salam) is the greatest intermediary between us and the Real One Most High concerning all of the legal judgments that Allah prescribed upon us and had us worship Him with, *** it therefore is part of correct ettiquette that we not neglect him when we ask Allah, that He also bless him each time we enter His Presence Most High, for he never departs the Divine Presence ever!***
Therefore, the Salawat upon the Prophet (alayhi salat wa salam) being a Sunna applies to the immature (or you can say less developed or less experienced), while the ruling of it being an obligation applies to the mature. To expound upon this point further: the immature (in their lesser capacity) when Allah reveals Himself to their hearts, their minds stop functioning amidst His Beauty and Majesty and they become oblivious of other than He. Therefore, if they were obligated to offer Salawat upon the Messenger of Allah (alayhi salat wa salam) that would become unbearable to them, in contrast to the (spiritually) mature who are strengthened by Allah to withstand His manifestations upon their hearts, and who are thereby able to carry the witnessing of the creation along with the witnessing of the Creator Most High. Therefore, it is mandatory for them to offer salawat upon the Prophet (alayhi salat wa salam) to fulfill the rights of every one that deserves a fulfillment of rights.
The spiritual state of the immature (or you can say less developed or less experienced) ones is like that of A’isha – may Allah be pleased with her – when the verses exonerating her were revealed from the heavens, and her father Abu Bakr told her “Go to the Messenger of Allah and show gratitude for his favors” she replied, “By Allah I will not do so nor will I praise any except Allah Most High”. In that state she was oblivious to the creation when the Divine manifested upon her His great favor…”
Translated by Sidi Ibrahim Hakim
Picture by Sh. Abdul Aziz Suraqah