Benedictions after names as used by Muslims

September 13, 2006 at 1:18 am (Arabic, Islam, Religion)

Almost all Muslims use benedictions (invocations of blessing) after the names of certain people. There are a number of benedictions, and certain benedictions are used for certain people. Here I will detail some of the more popular benedictions, how they are used, when they are used, and what they mean.

1. The most popular benediction is the one that follows mentioning the name or key title of Muhammad (محمّد, muHammad), the prophet-founder of Islam. Key titles include “the Messenger of God” (sometimes “the Apostle of God”) (رسول الله, rasūlullāh) or “the Prophet” (ألنّبي, an-nabī). The following is the benediction used after his name:

صّلى الله عليه وسلّم
Sallallāhu calayhi wa sallam
“May God bestow blessings and peace upon him”

Shiites and some Sunnis will add one word:

صلّى الله عليه وآله وسّلم
Sallallāhu calayhi wa ālihi wa sallam
“May God bestow blessings and peace upon him and his House”

As in the Durood Sharif, “House” here refers to Muhammad’s descendants, and among Shiites “House” refers specifically to those descendants who are venerated. These are:
– Muhammad’s daughter Fatima (فاطمة, fāTimah, also known as فاطمة الزّهراء, fāTimah az-zahrā’ or fāTimatu-z-zahrā’)
– Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, husband of Fatimah, first Shiite Imam, Ali bin Abi Talib (علي بن أبي طالب, calī bin abī Tālib)
– the rest of the Imams

Oftentimes, this benediction will be translated as “peace be upon him” (abbreviated to “PBUH”). This is not correct; this is, more properly, the translation of the second benediction detailed here. Using the Arabic pronunciation’s transliteration, this is sometimes indicated by the abbreviation “S” or “SA” or some permutation thereof.

2. The second benediction is used after the names of prophets (other than Muhammad) and angels. This is:

عليه السّلام
calayhi as-salām
“Upon him be peace”

Shiites will use this benediction after the names of the venerated descendants of Muhammad. Sunnis will not.

3. The third benediction is used more than the above two. This is used for all prominent and respect-worthy early Muslims, that is, for the Sahaba. There are two variations, both of which have the same value and purpose. Using one or the other does not indicate any partisan loyalty. Unlike the previous two, this benediction is used for men and women.

For a man:

رضي الله (تعالى) عنهُ
raDī allāh (tacālā) canhu
“May (Almighty) God be pleased with him”

For a woman:

رضي الله (تعالى) عنهَ
raDī allāh (tacālā) canha
“May (Almighty) God be pleased with her”

For more than two people (all men or men and women):

رضي الله (تعالى) عنهم
raDī allāh (tacālā) canhum
“May (Almighty) God be pleased with them”

For more than two women:

رضي الله (تعالى) عنهن
raDī allāh (tacālā) canhun
“May (Almighty) God be pleased with them”

4. This final benediction is used most widely: it can be used for any deceased Muslim worthy of respect. This, like the benediction above, has four forms.

For a man:

رحمة الله عليه
raHmatullāh calayhi
“May God’s mercy be upon him”

For a woman:

رحمة الله عليها
raHmatullāh calayhā
“May God’s mercy be upon her”

For more than two people (all men or men and women):

رحمة الله عليهم
raHmatullāh calayhim
“May God’s mercy be upon them”

For more than two women (no men in the group):

رحمة الله عليهن
raHmatullāh calayhinna
“May God’s mercy be upon them”

Benedictions 3 and 4 are abbreviated as “R” or “RA.”

In the same line of thought, Muslims will append an honorific title before the actual name of any of the above. This honorific is “Hazrat” (حضرت, HaDrat in Arabic, hazrat in Persian and Urdu). This honorific and benedictions are used for a wide variety of people: the founders of the schools of religious jurisprudence, eminent Muslims, eminent Muslim leaders (whether thinkers or political figures or military commanders), saints, prominent disciples, and so on.



  1. sadia said,

    assalamualaikum, i want to know that can we say ya rasool allah. because in saudi arabia the schokers says that this is worng to call rasool as ya . ya use fore live person and rasool is no more live. please comment on this thanks

  2. goll said,

    nice post, thanks for sharing this 😉

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