*Note: whenever I write/speak/think of the name of the Prophet, I automatically think (in English for those who want to know) 'peace be upon him'. I am still debating on the necessity of writing the entire arabic blessing out and therefore I dont' write anything. I invite those readers who understand the salawat to say it themselves when reading and understand that the intention of the blessing is there. Now, as I was saying...*
Since reading that excellent post got me started...
When I accepted Islam, the knowledge that informed my spiritual practice was very bare-bones. So to this day and insha'Allah until the end of my life, I find myself playing catch up and confronting the differences and dissonance this causes in my thoughts, opinions, and actions.
All that to say that salawat on the Prophet Muhammad every-single-time-I-hear-speak-say-think-his-name is hard hard hard for me.
In part because it wasn't part of the adab of the Muslims I learned my islamic 'action' from. Or, more clearly, at first it wasn't part of the example. So I had to un-learn the habit of not saying it.
But also, I struggle with the attitude behind compulsive and habitual "Muhammad slawhulayhislaam" slurred rapidfire salawat cast on the Prophet.
One, I realize now that salawat on the Prophet Muhammad is placed upon us in the Qur'an. What I don't like is that it is habitual, slurred, and becomes an afterthought in the attitude of the speaker/writer. That's the top-of-my-head explanation.
Two isn't so simple. You see, I grew up a dyed-in-the-wool, faithful, Black (yes that's relevant) Christian.
And one fo the things that pushed me away from the church and Christianity was the focus on Jesus and the lesser amount of attention paid to God as a result. The first surah I ever read (I kid you not and I still think this was God's Clear Call to me) was the one about Tawhid that is repeated in the Qur'an. Qul, huwa Allahu ahad, Allahu as-samad. lam yulid wa lam yulad, wa lam yakun'llahu kutwan ahad.
Roughly: Say, He is God, The One, The Only. He begets not nor is He begotten. Nor any other beside/like Him.
So it's distressing to feel refreshingly,finally, joyfully free to concentrate my worship on God alone only to be told to (almost) worship the Prophet too. Like it or not, the 'feeling' of the status of our beloved and revered Prophet Muhammad feels like what Christians promote for Prophet Jesus. And we know this, especially converts and those of us who do historical research- that's why Muslims end up being called Muhammedans (astaghfirullah Al Aziz...), because of that emphasis, that depth of feeling, applied so to the Prophet and not so visibly to God.
That, my readers, is frustrating. And I think the source of any resistance I still have to salawat in general. It's a matter of me overcoming my nafs, I know, and watching my own intention. It also, I have found, means that I actually do resist the depth of feeling pushed on me from outside for the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. That outer, visible deference, praise, humility of spirit, should always always always be first and foremost to God, Al Ahad, Al Aziz, Al Rahman, AlFattah, AlAlim, Al Malik. Al Haqq, the very Truth. PERIOD. To not have that clearly conveyed in my actions and thoughts is a crime and something I don't want to do even by mistake. It would be shirk. So I think in my head I'd rather keep my blessings on the Prophet lowly and meek than feel as if I'm committing shirk (God save me and keep me from this) by my outward, great praise of an awesome, great man.
Even if you don't like that, I hope you can understand and respect that. You see, I'm actually quite envious of those who can have the above point straight in their heads and still be so inyaface wit th' salawat. I'm open and willing to learn what need to get there, and I'm already struggling with the self to accept it and act on it.
I am immensely grateful to the Prophet Muhammad, were it not for him I wouldn't have the light of faith and reason that is brightens my life of dark and hard choices. So yeah, it is maddening to me that salawat should be such a hard point. I'm afraid that he nor God would want sooo much of the (over)emphasis put upon him. I wish blessings and peace upon him for that and for the stories about him, even if I fight with hadith all the time; it doesn't have to do with him so much as with the distortion humans push toward him and his image and his example and his words since he actually walked this earth.
Ooh. Let me say that again.
My problem doesn't have to do with the Prophet Muhammad, peace upon hin, so much as the distortions around and toward him since the time he actually walked this earth.
My fave nasheed is Zain Bhika's Muhammad... and I actually go around singing the chorus: Muhammad, Peace be upon his soul. The greatest of Prophets, Islam was his only goal. Muhammad, Salallahu Alaihi wa Salaam. As a matter of fact, I think that was where I actually understood deep down the salawat word for word and the meaning behind it.
I actually applaud UmmZaid's post, especially this point: put the blessings in your mouth all the time, deliberately. Take them out of the mundane by spelling them out and concentrating on what they mean. AbsoLUTEly. So thanks for that (tip of the shayla to ya, UmmZ, once again). She's right and that's something I'll focus on now. (yup, I said it, what?!)
Meanwhile I'll still be searching for something to allay my legitimate problems with the praise for our awesome Prophet.