The purpose of this chapter is to answer the baseless arguments that are raised with regard to the practice of respectfully standing whilst reciting Salawat and Salaam.
Had the objectioners been Nasara, Yahood or Mushrikeen it would have been understandable that their objections of the veneration of Huzoor-i-Aqdas (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is due to ignorance and a lack of Imaan. Alas, we have a situation of pseudo-scholars who are so spineless as to misinterpret the Hadith of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in order to try to snatch away the honour and esteem which Allah has bestowed upon him.
The following discussion on the subject of standing out of respect is taken from Imam Nawawi’s (rahmat allahi ‘alaih) al-Tarkhis, as well as his Sharh Sahih Muslim (Commentary of Sahih Muslim), and Sharh Shamaa’il Tirmidhi (Commentary of Tirmidhi Shareef) by Moulvi Zakariyya Khandhalawi.
  • Anas (radi allahu ‘anhu) said that none was dearer to them than Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), and they would not stand up when they saw him due to their knowledge that he disliked it. Tirmidhi said it is hasan sahih (fair and sound).
This Hadith is indicative of the high degree of humbleness of Rasoolullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Rasoolullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) did not like (the people to stand for him), although he is the possessor of high glory and is the master of both the worlds. Therefore, the Sahaba sometimes did not stand due to love, because Rasoolullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) disliked it, as is required in this narration (of Hadhrat Anas) and sometimes they would stand due to the demand of love.
It is stated in “Abu Dawood” that, “Rasoolullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) used to talk to us in the masjid. When Rasoolullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) stood, we would stand up and we would remain standing till Rasoolullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam entered the home”. (Sharh Shamaa’il-i-Tirmidhi, page 342, Maktaba Rahmania, Lahore)
[Moulvi Zakariyya explains the reason for not standing],
“Qadi ‘Iyad (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) says that, ‘Qiyaam is prohibited whereby somebody well known is sitting and the rest of the people are standing. Therefore, in the Hadith of prohibition (of Qiyaam), it is also said, ‘Do not stand as the Ajamees (non-arabs/foreigners) stand for their chiefs'”.
[Moulvi Zakariyya writes further] : “Imam Nawawi says that it is Mustahab to stand for ‘Ulama, respectful and noble people”. (Sharh Shamaa’il-i-Tirmidhi, Page 342)
  • Abu Mijlaz (radi allahu ‘anhu) said: Mu’awiya went out to meet Ibn al-Zubayr and Ibn `Amir. The latter stood up while the former remained seated. Mu’awiya said to Ibn `Amir: “Sit, for I heard the Prophet say: “Whoever likes for men to stand up for him let him take his place in the fire.” Tirmidhi’s version mentions Ibn al-Zubayr and Safwan, and both get up. Abu Dawud narrated it (Adab 4:385), also Tirmidhi (Adab 5:90 #44) who said: hasan (fair) and Ahmad (4:94, 100).
Most people in disfavour of standing are fond of quoting this Hadith. It is answered in many ways,
  1. The soundest and best — nay, the one answer which makes all others superfluous is that there is no proof against standing up in this Hadith. Its plain, outward meaning is the explicit condemnation and HARSH THREAT AGAINST ANY MAN WHO LIKES PEOPLE TO GET UP FOR HIM. There is neither prohibition nor other than prohibition concerning standing itself, and there is agreement about this… The gravity of the condemnation is in what takes place inside the mind of the person who likes people to stand for him. If there is no such thing in his mind there is no blame on him — all this whether they get up or not… The prohibition revolves around the love of adulation not the act of standing. Therefore there is no proof in this Hadith against the permissibility of standing.
  2. Another answer is that the Hadith is mudtarib (disordered — many incompatible narrations) according to the two Imams of Hadith, Abu Bakr ibn Abi `Asim and Abu Musa al-Asbahani (may Allah be pleased with them), and this is a necessary cause for the weakness of the Hadith. However, this answer is open to question since both Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud have graded the Hadith fair (hasan) and have spoken concerning it. Moreover, the disparity does not result in a disorder of the kind that makes it necessarily weak, and Allah knows best. [NB: Observe the honesty of Imam Nawawi (rahmat allahi ‘alaih) in defending what weakens his position.]
  3. The sayings of the Imams and Luminaries concerning whose eminence there is unanimity among the people of intellect and discernment: Abu Nasr Bishr ibn al-Harith al-Hafi al-Zahid, Abu Sulayman Hamd ibn Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Khattabi, Abu Muhammad al-Husayn ibn Mas`ud al-Baghawi, and Abu Musa Muhammad ibn `Umar al-Asbahani the Hafiz, may Allah be well pleased with all of them: [after quoting the isnad] Ahmad ibn al-Mughlis said: Abu Nasr ibn al-Harith said, after I mentioned this Hadith in front of him: “He only disliked the standing from the perspective of arrogance, but from the perspective of sincere love, he did not, since he himself stood up for `Ikrima ibn Abu Jahl… and he said: “Stand for your chief,” and he said: “He who likes people to stand for him…” indicating that whoever likes people to stand for him, you must not stand for him.” As for Baghawi and Khattabi (may Allah be pleased with them) as we mentioned with our isnad they spoke to the effect that the Hadith concerns only those who order others from the perspective of pride and arrogance. Abu Musa (rahmat allahi ‘alaih) said: “The meaning of the Hadith is those who make men stand around them like courtiers stand around kings.”
  4. From Abu Amama (radi allahu ‘anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) came out leaning on a stick and we rose up for him. He said: “Do not get up in the manner of the foreigners who aggrandize (flatter) each other.” Abu Dawud narrated it (Adab – 4:358). Ibn Majah’s version (Du`a #34, 2:1261): “Do not do as the Persians do with their great ones.”
The answer is in two beautiful ways:
  1. The two Imams, Abu Bakr ibn Abi `Asim and Abu Musa al-Asbahani (may Allah be pleased with them), said that this is a weak Hadith which cannot be used as a proof. Abu Bakr (rahmat allahi ‘alaih) said: “This Hadith cannot be established and its sub-narrators are unknown.” I say: to this is added the fact that it is “mudtarib” (disordered — see above), and it would suffice that only one of these two factors were present to grade it as weak, let alone two.
  2. The Hadith in itself is crystal-clear as to its intent as opposed to that of the rest: namely, it PURPORTS TO CONDEMN THOSE WHO STAND FOR THE PURPOSE OF AGGRANDIZEMENT. That is why he said: “Do not get up in the manner of the foreigners who aggrandize each others.” There is no doubt as to what is being condemned. And Allah knows best.
Our comments: The emphasis of this Hadith is in the words, “in the manner of the foreigners who aggrandize (flatter) each other”. If the directive of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was to forbid standing (Qiyaam), the words “Do not get up !” would have sufficed. There would have been no reason to qualify the statement with the words, “… in the manner of the foreigners who aggrandize (flatter) each other”. The disbelieving foreigners (especially the Persians) would stand up for their undeserving kings and leaders in order to flatter their ego. It is this that the above Hadith condemns.
  • From (Nafi`) Abu Bakra (radi allahu ‘anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Let no man stand from his seat for another.” Abu Musa al-Isbahani narrated it with his chain. Al-Hafiz Abu al-Qasim Ibn `Asakir said in his book al-Atraf that Abu Dawud narrated in the book of Adab (4:258). The chain has Abu `Abd Allah Mawla Al Abi Burda, who is unknown. See al-Taqrib #8215.
The answer to this is the same two answers as the preceding section… There is possibly a third way to answer it reasonably. The meaning would be: “Do not get up from the place of prayer, of listening to a sermon and to remembrance and knowledge etc., for it is disliked that one should give up one’s seat in such cases, or leave it and take another farther away from the Imam.
The same is true of all gestures that are similar to these, and we consider this to muster the general agreement of scholars, as opposed to giving up one’s food and drink other things related to one’s personal lot: to give those up is a most desirable thing, one of the marks of the righteous and among the manners of saints and gnostics, concerning which this verse was revealed: “They prefer others above themselves though poverty become their lot” (59:9).
The difference between the two types of sacrifice is that the right, in the person’s nearness, belongs to Allah the Exalted, and to transfer it is not permissible, as opposed to food and the like where the right belongs to the person, although in some cases it belongs to Allah even then…
Our Comments : This Hadith has nothing to do with standing out of respect (Qiyaam). Below is the Hadith in question that is often quoted : Sa’id bin Abi al-Hasan said : When Abu Bakrah came to us to give some evidence, a man got up from his place, but he refused to sit in it saying: The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) forbade this, … (Sunan Abu Dawood, Pg 1349, Volume 3, # 4809). As it is seen this Hadith has nothing to do with the subject matter. It is concerned with giving your seat to another person.