In his book, Hayat-e-Qudsi, Hazrat Maulana Ghulam Rasul Sahib Rajekira states:
Durood Sharif is an extraordinary means of attaining nearness to God
Since the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has declared salat as mi‘raj [a means to reach the highest spiritual level] for a momin [believer] and Durood Sharif is also a part of salat, therefore Durood Sharif, in terms of a mi‘raj, is an extraordinary means of attaining the closeness and nearness of God. Therefore, it is found in some narrations that on the night of Mi‘raj [the Holy Prophet’s spiritual ascension to Heaven], the Holy Prophetsa reached a level that was very close to God, regarding which he said:
لِىْ مَعَ اللّٰهِ وَقْتٌ لَّا يَسَعُنِىْ فِيْهِ نَبِىٌّ مُرْسَلٌ وَ لَا مَلَكٌ مُقَرَّبٌ
[“For me, there was a time with Allah that neither any sent prophet, nor any angel close to Allah has ever reached.”]
That is, with respect to God’s nearness and the state of being close to Him, “I [the Holy Prophetsa] get a time that I am at the highest and closest level of nearness to God, where no prophet can reach and no angel close to Allah has any access.”
According to some other narrations, when the Holy Prophetsa arrived before Allah the Almighty, he said:
التَّحِيَّاتُ لِلّٰهِ وَالصَّلَوٰتُ وَالطَّيِبَاتُ
[“All verbal and physical acts of worship and sacrifices and pure things are due to Allah.”] [A slightly different sequence of the wording is recorded in Sahih Muslim]
That is, every kind of verbal, physical and financial sacrifice is for God. In response to this, Allah the Almighty said:
اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ اَيُّهَاالنَّبِيُّ وَرَحْمَةُ اللّٰهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهْ
[“Peace be on you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.”]
In this way, God Almighty vouchsafed all the three bounties – salaam [peace], rahmat [mercy] and barakaat [blessings] to the Holy Prophetsa.
Now, the occasion of reciting the said words in salat is qa‘dah [sitting posture during salat] and tashahud [avowing belief in the existence of God]. The tashahud also refers to the station of shuhood [witnessing God], i.e. every believer is bound to attain the status of nearness and closeness to God in the final stage of tashahud with the help of salat which is mi‘raj for believers. Thus, the believer’s presentation of the words “Attahiyyatu lillahi wassalawatu wattayyibatu” to God is to follow the example of the Holy Prophetsa and attain the status of his mazhariyat [reflection] and fana fir-rasul [the act of following in the footsteps of the Messengersa to the point of annihilating one’s own self] because the said station, in reality and truly, belongs only to the Holy Prophetsa and whoever is granted that status will only be given that as a reflection and an embodiment.
Thereafter, at the time when the believer presents the words “Assalamu alaika ayyuhannabiyyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh” to the Holy Prophetsa, he sends blessings on the Holy Prophetsa in the state of fana fillah [following God Almighty so perfectly so as to annihilate one’s own self] clothed in the veil of zilliyat [reflection] of Allah.
Thus, Durood Sharif, in this way, is the best explanation of the reality of salat with respect to the meaning of mi‘raj because Durood Sharif helps [a believer] to attain the status of fana fir-rasul and fana fillah and become a reflection of Allah and the Holy Prophetsa. Our desire [is to attain the said status]. May God fulfil our wish.
In the same way, all the believers who enjoy the blessings of mi‘raj through salat are all included in the Aal-e-Muhammad [spiritual progeny of the Holy Prophetsa]. Consequently, the Holy Prophetsa did not limit the salaam presented to him by God Almighty in the words “Assalamu alaika ayyuhannabiyyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh” to his own person, but also included his aal [progeny] in this salaam by saying:
اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلٰي عِبَادِ اللّٰهِ الصّٰلِحِيْنَ
[“Peace be on us and on the righteous servants of Allah”], as his spiritual progeny includes ibadillah al-salihin [righteous servants of Allah].
Likewise, in the statement ofيُصَلُّوۡنَ عَلَي النَّبِيِّ [“(Allah and His angels) send blessings on the Prophet”], [the Holy Prophetsa] included the words Muhammad and Aal-e-Muhammad [in Durood Sharif] under the explanation of the word al-nabi. Similarly, in the phrase, “Assalamu alaika ayyuhannabiyyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,” the Holy Prophetsa included the words “Assalamu alaina wa ala ibadillah al-salihin” under the explanation of the word nabi, and by using the first-person plural pronoun “عَلَيْنا” (which is in the state of majrur [genitive]), the Holy Prophetsa clarified the inclusion of ibadillah al-salihin. This means that al-Nabi [the Prophet] requires the presence of the righteous servants of God for the continuation of his prophethood, so that after the end of the personal life of the Prophet, the Aal-e-Muhammad and ibadillah al-salihin may become the heir to his teachings and be entrusted with his prophethood.
Thus, just as the Holy Prophetsa after the sentence “Assalamu alaika ayyuhannabiyyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh” included ibadillah al-salihin by saying “Assalamu alaina wa ala ibadillah al-salihin,” in the same way he presented the inclusion of the words “Wa alaa aal-e-Muhammad” after “Allahumma salli alaa Muhammadin”and“Allahumma baarik alaa Muhammadin”. In the words of salaam, those who were called by the attribute of ibadillah al-salihin [the righteous servants of Allah], were referred to as Aal-e-Muhammad in the statement of salat [Durood Sharif].
With this explanation and inclusion, the promising good news given by the Holy Prophetsa revealed that all the excellences of closeness and nearness to God present in the Holy Prophetsa can be inherited by his spiritual progeny. It is for this reason that the Holy Prophetsa said: الصَّلٰوةُ مِعْرَاجُ المُؤْمِن [“Salat is a means whereby a believer can reach the highest spiritual level”] and did not say: الصَّلٰوةُ مِعْرَاجُ النَّبِي [“Salat is a means whereby a prophet can reach the highest spiritual status”]. That is, every believer being a follower of His prophet has a fair share in this mi‘raj [spiritual ascension] as a reflection.
A unique point in the title of al-Nabi
It is a fact that the Holy Prophetsa has passed away and is not present, but then what is the reason for sitting in qa‘dah and addressing the Holy Prophetsa with the words “اَيُّهَاالنَّبِيُّ” [O Prophet]?
As far as the said address is concerned, it is not on a personal level. This is the reason why it is not said: اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا مُحَمَّدٍ, and where the word Muhammad is mentioned in Durood Sharif, there, the words اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍare addressed to God Almighty and Muhammad and Aal-e-Muhammad are presented as third-person pronouns. The reason for using the words اَيُّهَاالنَّبِيُّ is that the believer may attain the highest level of spirituality in the last part of salat and in its final stage, for the attainment of which the salat is declared as mi‘raj, and consequently, not only witness the personage of Muhammad but in fact observe the glory of the prophethood of Muhammad on the level of its reflection. Moreover, while witnessing the blessings of prophethood, [the believer] may not just covertly say al-Nabi, but as a witness of the manifestation of the truth and of the prophethood, say the following words clearly:
اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ اَيُّهَاالنَّبِيُّ
[“Peace be on you, O Prophet.”]
Hence, the said title and the address is not just for the sake of utterance but to consciously experience it with all one’s heart and soul. May God grant this status to every believer.
(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu published in Hayat-e-Qudsi, pp. 612-615)