Dalail al-Khayrat (Arabic: دلائل الخیرات) is a celebrated manual of salutations upon the Prophet ﷺ, authored by the Moroccan saint Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli in the 15th century. The complete title of this works is Dalail ul-Khairat wa Shawariq ul-Anwar fi Dhikri s-Salat ala an-Nabiyyi l-Mukhtar (English: the Waymarks of Benefits and the Shining of Lights in the Remembrance of Blessings upon the Chosen Prophet). In daily use, it is referred to as Dalail al-Khayrat, or simply Dalail or Dalil. The great imam gathered the Salawat that appear in the book from the Sunnah as well as direct inspiration to his heart. He wrote it for all people, regardless of their rank and spiritual path.
It is by far the most popular and universally-acclaimed collection of prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ and has been observed as a litany throughout the Muslim world for over five hundred years. Millions of Muslims in the East and the West throughout the generations have eagerly recited it either in solitude in their homes or communally in mosques and Sufi lodges. For over 300 years in the Haramain of Makkah and Madinah, Dalail al-Khayrat was recited in daily gatherings after the Asr prayer. It is one of those rare books that has become so popular that the number of printed copies remains unknown.
The people of spiritual insight have recognised that it is an exclusive and exalted book, overflowing with the secrets of refinement and spirituality.
About the Author of Dalail al-Khayrat
Background and Early Life
Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli, the perfected Axial Saint of the 15th century (9th century Hijri) was a man of spiritual states and divine inspiration. His full name was Abu Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli al-Simlali al-Hasani. He was renowned for his prophetic character and his tremendous proximity to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. He was descendant of the Prophet ﷺ through his noble grandson Imam Hasan I.
Imam al-Jazuli was born around the year 807/1404. He was from the Berber tribe of Jazula in the Sus region in the south of Morocco. He spent a great part of his life in rural Morocco. For his studies, he travelled to Fes due to the political environment and lack of resources in his hometown. He lived in Madrasat al-Halfawiyyin (present-day Madrasat as-Saffarin). Many people, to this day, visit his student lodging in Madrasat as-Saffarin in Fes. According to some sources, it was in this room where he composed Dalail ul Khairat, although others have stated that it was compiled from books in the Qarawiyyin library. More reliable sources state that he wrote it a while after defending Tangier against the Portuguese in 840/1437.
One of the most significant moments in his life was his meeting with the great scholar and Sufi from Fes, Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq (d. 1493). Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq was a master of fiqh and had great knowledge of Sufism. Imam al-Jazuli benefitted immensely as his student, studying Maliki fiqh texts and receiving knowledge of Muhammadan subtleties and realities.
After finishing his studies, Imam al-Jazuli headed to the Doukkala region where was initiated into the Amghari Shadhiliyya Sufi order through the great saint Abu Abdallah Muhammad Amghar (d. 850/1446). The Shaykh was fighting against the Portuguese at the time. Under his mentorship, Imam al-Jazuli received much knowledge about the spiritual path until he reached the level of perfection and became a master in his own right. It said he entered into spiritual retreat (khalwa) where he remained for fourteen years during this time.
According to some sources, after the demise of his Shaykh, Imam al-Jazuli set out to perform the pilgrimage in Makkah and visit the Prophet ﷺ in Madinah. He remained at the Prophet’s mosque ﷺ for several years where he would recite Dalail al-Khayrat twice every day in addition to reciting the Basmala 100,000 times and the entire Qur’an.
After returning to Morocco around 857/1453, Imam Jazuli returned to Fes before settling in Asafi in western Morocco. With the extent of his esoteric and exoteric knowledge of the Islamic sciences, Imam al-Jazuli established Tariqa Jazuliyya, guiding thousands of students. He established a zawiya and a set of teachings for his students. He and his followers lived in tents around the ruins of the tomb of Abu Salih Muhammad al- Maghari.
He emphasised personal discipline and refinement of the ego. As a spiritual master, he required his students to adopt the patched cloak and staff. They were required to fast, practice solitary devotion and adhere to his methods of discipline. His aim was to transform his students into perfected saints.
The Imam taught them that the sanctity of the Shaykh with his disciples was like the sanctity of the Prophet ﷺ with his companions. He also believed in adhering to spiritual masters, and taught that through them one receives illumination, mercy and secrets. He had many illustrious students who transmitted many narrations from him and his teachings on Sufism. Imam al-Jazuli would often tell his students to write down his words, as they were divinely inspired. He said, ‘My Lord said to me, “My slave, I have preferred you over my entire creation by the abundance of your prayers upon My Prophet ﷺ.”
He revealed that he was the ‘Renewer of his era’ (Mujaddid) and he opposed the methods of the scholars, who themselves were corrupt and averse to spiritual refinement, causing the people to go astray.
He later moved to a place called Afughal, south of Essaouira. Fearing the imam’s growing influence and following his criticism of the local authorities for taking money from the Portuguese, the governor of Asafi asked him to leave the city. Imam al-Jazuli prayed against the people of Asafi, and after two years, the Portuguese conquered the city and expelled the local population. Seeing the error of their ways, the people of Asafi approached the imam, hoping for his pardon. He told them they would be forgiven after 40 years. In the year 984/1576, 40 years later, the Muslims retook Asafi.
Imam al-Jazuli became known throughout the entire country. Many people repented and turned to Allah under his spiritual guidance. Before his death he left many of his students qualified to guide others. One of his foremost followers was Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd al-Haqq, who is said to have encompassed the secrets of ultimate reality. Some sources say he had a total of over 12,000 students with others putting that figure over 20,000.
In the book Mumti’ ul-Asma’ Imam al-Jazuli is recorded to have said:
Know that one who carries any of the following three traits in his heart, he should repent to Allah. They are: pride of knowledge, bad character, and beholding a bad opinion of people.
The awliya think well of the people, while the general scholars have a low opinion of people.
The fully accomplished shaykh is one who can acquire knowledge from Allah without any means.
The severed one is he who travels the path of discipline but does not attain the path of witnessing, when he goes to the people and calls them to Allah, then his propagation only remains at the level of discipline. This is because he has not arrived at the level of witnessing. The one who is fully accomplished is he who has arrived at the level of witnessing and he is intoxicated in the lights of perfection, and nothing distracts him from the True King. When he goes to the people, he goes to them with lights, knowledge and wisdom. One who adheres to him learns and becomes illuminated, and his level of comprehension is unlike those who follow the severed ones.
It is not incumbent to follow every caller to Allah; the true caller to Allah is he who propagates with spiritual insight.
Death and Burial
Imam al-Jazuli passed away in his Fajr prayer, in the second prostration of the first rak’ah, may Allah be pleased with him. Sources differ about the year of his death, with several dates between 1465 and 1470 being given. One source puts it at 16th Rabi al-Awwal 870/1465. It has been related that he had been poisoned which led to his demise. Sayyidi Mahdi al-Fasi said, “Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli was upon the greatest rank of the Truthful Ones (Siddiqiyyat ul- Uzma) and he was also a martyr due to the poisoning”. He was buried on the same day in the mosque that he built, at the time of Zuhr.
After his death, one his misguided followers – Umar ibn Sulayman al-Shayzami, known as al-Sayyaf (‘the executioner’), who claimed prophethood, took possession of Imam al-Jazuli’s body and placed it in a bier taking it with him on numerous expeditions of pillage and plunder in the Sus region, over a period of twenty years. It is said that he never lost a battle while he was accompanied by the body of Imam al-Jazuli.
After al-Sayyaf was killed in 890/1485-86, Imam al-Jazuli was buried in Afughal, south of Essaouira. In 940/1533-4, roughly 70 years after his demise, his body was moved to Marrakesh at the order of Sultan Abu al-Abbas al-A‘raj in order to prevent tribesmen from exhuming his body. When his body was removed from the original site, the people found that it was as fresh as the day they buried him and there were no signs of decomposition. Some people even pressed their fingers against the flesh of his face, and they found his blood rose to the surface of his skin as though he was alive. Marks from shaving on the day of his death were even said to have been visible on his face. He was finally laid to rest in Riyad al-Urus in Marrakesh where a mausoleum was built and where people continue to visit and congregate to recite the Dalailul Khayrat to this day. There is immense majesty, and spiritual lights at his resting place. A fragrance of musk emanates from his resting place to the extent that it circulates around the mosque.
Apart from Dalail al-Khayrat, Imam al-Jazuli authored two other prayer works. One is called Hizb al-Falah, a short text which sometimes appears alongside Dalail al-Khayrat in certain copies, although it has not attained the fame achieved by Dalail al-Khayrat. The other is entitled Hiizb al-Jazuli, also known as Hizb subhana l-da’im la yazul, and is written in the Berber language of the Sus region.
The Story of Dalail al-Khayrat
It has been related that Imam al-Jazuli was inspired to compose Dalail al-Khayrat when he encountered a young girl who attained her spiritual rank by invoking salutations upon the Prophet ﷺ.
One day, Imam al-Jazuli went to a nearby well to perform his ablution. He could not find any means to draw the water from the well. While he was in this state of perplexity, a young girl was watching him from above. She yelled, “You’re the one whom people praise so much, yet you are unable to figure out how to draw water from the well!” Then she came down and spat into the water, until it rose up and overflowed onto the ground. Imam al-Jazuli performed his ablution then asked her, “How did you attain this rank?” She replied, “By conveying blessings upon the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.”
This incident, in addition to his state of profound love for the Prophet ﷺ, led the Imam to compose the Dalail ul-Khayrat. After the incident, he took an oath that he would author a work about sending prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ.
Dalail al-Khayrat Benefits
Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi describes the benefits and virtues of Dalail ul-Khayrat. The video and transcript are below:
On every shelf, in every home, there was a great book, which we sometimes forget. It is Dalailul Khairat. Dalailul Khairat is a great work on prayers upon the Prophet, salla Llahu alayhi wa ala alihi wa sallam. It contains forms of prayers on the Prophet, salla Llahu alayhi wa ala alihi wa sallam, with his various names, with his various descriptions in varying methods, styles, usually recited every week. That is to say, one part is recited every day and you finish it and you do khatam at the end of the week. It was on every shelf and if we asked, “What is the most circulating book any human being ever wrote on the face of the earth? What is the best seller in the Islamic world?” If we asked this question a hundred years ago, the answer wouldn’t be Sahih al-Bukhari because Sahih al-Bukhari is for the Ulema. The answer would be Dalailul Khairat. Dalailul Khairat – a prayer book on the Prophet ﷺ.
Now tell me, if you pray on the Prophet ﷺ, half an hour every day, holding your subah, say “Allahumma salli ʿala Sayyidina Muhammadin wa ʿala alihi wa sahbihi wa sallim. Allahumma salli ʿala Sayyidina Muhammadin fi l-awwalin. Allahumma salli ʿala Sayyidina Muhammadin fi l- akhirin. Allahumma salli ʿala Sayyidina Muhammadin ʿala qadri hubbika fih” and on and on like this. If you do this for half an hour, I guarantee to you that you’re going to take on his character ﷺ. You’re going to have rahmah. You’re going to have hilm. You’re going to have sabr. You’re going to have karam. You’re going to have some of his qualities ﷺ poured in your heart directly from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala because you turned to Rasulallah ﷺ. You’re mentioning his name.
In Arabic, if we say “nar, nar, nar”, which is the Arabic word for “fire, fire, fire”, you’re going to feel some burning sensation at your tongue. This is the power of the Arabic language. The Arabic language is a sacred language. If you say “fire, fire, fire” in Arabic “nar, nar, nar”, you’re going to feel some burning sensation at your tongue and probably in the whole of your body. The same if you say “Muhammad, Muhammad, Muhammad ﷺ. As-salatu wa salamu ʿalayka ya Sayyidina ya Muhammad. Allahumma salli ʿala Sayyidina Muhammadin wa ʿala alihi wa sahbihi wa sallim”, you’re going to feel tranquillity. You’re going to feel mercy. You’re going to feel generosity. You’re going to feel humility. You’re going to feel openness. You’re going to feel so beautifully because you’re mentioning the name of the most beloved to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Shaykh Nuh Keller in his book Sea without Shore, writes the following about Dalail Khairat:
Dalail al-Khayrat or ‘The Waymarks of Benefits’ is the most celebrated manual of Blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the history of the Umma. Millions of Muslims have recited it, copied it out, and found its baraka, goodness, and light since its composition in the ninth/fifteenth century by Imam Muhammad al-Jazuli, a sheikh of our tariqa with only six masters between him and Abul Hasan al-Shadhili. Whoever recites it experiences its baraka. One of the most palpable karamat or miraculous graces of the wali who composed it is the tremendous love for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) which Allah imbues in the hearts of those who recite it devotedly. It is divided into eight hizbs, and many people finish it in a week, though anything one may read of it, even a few pages a day, is a blessing. Ladies in the tariqa during the days of their month when not reciting the Koran should read something of the Dala’il al-Khayrat to nourish and refresh their lives and hearts.
The Muhaddith of India and Sufi Master, Shah Waliullah Dehlawi praised Dalail al-Khayrat with the following words:
The Dalail Khairat at this time is recited by many people in the Arab world. If a person wishes to attain divine blessings for a particular need by means of it, then it should be with the condition that his self in general has one resolve. When this opening occurs this person persists in this meaning linked to this action; and makes it a means of attaining his needs.
Variations of Dalail al-Khayrat
Many variations of Dalail al-Khayrat exist between manuscripts and printed versions of Dalail al-Khayrat, especially as far the introductory and concluding prayers are concerned. Some have adhered to the original format while others have included additional supplications. It should also be noted that there are differences in the wording of some of the opening supplications from one copy to another. Most versions contain the following elements:
- the introductory prayer
- the section on the virtue of invoking blessings over the Prophet ﷺ
- the list of the Prophet’s names and titles ﷺ
- the description of the Prophet’s grave in Medina ﷺ
- the main body of the text containing the prayers on the Prophet ﷺ, which are nowadays divided into eight Ahzab, portions which are linked to eight successive days (Monday-Monday)
- a concluding prayer.
In many manuscripts and printed copies, division of the text in quarters, thirds and a half can also be seen.
Shaykh Yusuf al-Nabahani explains the reason for these variations:
The needy one Yusuf al-Nabhani, Allah forgive him, his parents and all those who pray for their forgiveness says: It is evident to me that Imam al-Jazuli (Allah be pleased with him) after his authoring the Dala’il al-Khayrat continued to review it. Each time it became clear to him that a word should be changed to another word he would do so, and this would be narrated from him by his students despite the earlier editions having spread with the earlier wording, and so on and so forth up to the time of his death (Allah be pleased with him).
Due to this much difference has occurred in the editions of the Dalail…However the matter is straightforward, as the first editions which the author transmitted are in of themselves accurate, even though other than them were preferred by him later. Thus it is from likes of something being ‘good’ or ‘better’…
Reliance has formed upon the al-Sahliyyah edition more than others due to it being the edition of one of the most preeminent students of the author, Sayyidi Muhammad al-Sahli al-Sughayyar. Upon it is found the handwriting of the author himself, and it was written a short period before the passing away of the author.
If you have understood this then know that I, even though I prefer like others the al-Sahliyyah edition against which I corrected my copy, I do not say: All other than it, from the editions upon which the commentator al-Fasi and others relied upon as being accurate, are not to be given attention if they differ with the al-Sahliyyah in some wording…Rather I say: It is possible for there to be a number of accurate editions, all of them being written by the author. Their differences being in terms of addition or subtraction…or his preferring a wording over another. They are all, if they are in agreement with the Arabic language, relied upon. Also if the wording in the Salat is transmitted from the Prophet ﷺ or some of the elders, then it is possible that this wording has a number of transmissions which the author used at times, then another transmission was preferred by him. All of them are correct and the reciter will be rewarded in any case.
Yes it is possible that some wordings present in other than the al-Sahliyyah edition might be preferred to it due to their common usage or due to another reason.
From the printed copies available today, the Dalail al-Khayrat publication by Shaykh Nuh Keller follows the al-Sahliyyah edition.
Historical Importance of Dalail al-Khayrat
Shaykh Muhammad Ba-Dhib and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani discuss the historical significance of Dalail ul-Khayrat. The video and transcript are below:
The blessings of sending blessings on the Prophet ﷺ and its lights are evident and clear to anyone. So what felicity for one who fills their time with sending blessings upon our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him?
The great righteous and the great scholars and the Imams of hadith and across the Islamic Sciences were extremely creative and variegated in the many ways in which they strived to their utmost to express the meanings of sending blessings upon the our noble and exalted Messenger ﷺ.
When we cannot compare these great works that the scholars engage in and weigh which one is better than the other. So the scholars of hadith served this Ummah by gathering the words that had emanated from the noble mouth of the Prophet ﷺ and they gathered them and collected them and spread them in the Ummah.
And after the initial age that came of the science of hadith, there came the scholars who detailed out the principles for verifying hadith that had been placed by the earlier scholars. And they clarified the principles by which one may determine the authentically established narrations of the Prophet ﷺ from those that are not authentically established.
Then there came the scholars of fiqh and the scholars of Arabic grammar and the many other sciences each contributing to that prophetic legacy and inheritance such that our Ummah has this great civilisation connected back to Prophet ﷺ.
And after this age of compiling the core Islamic sciences, one of the areas that the scholars directed their attention to was to compile collections of works, of books that gathered those acts of remembrance and supplication. Adkhar and dua. That it befits any righteous believer to fill their time in devotion to Allah Most High.
The author of Dalail al-Khayrat, Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli who was born in the year 807 after the Hijra and he died in the year 870 after the Hijra. So he lived in the 9th century Hijri and he gathered this work Dalail al-Khayrat.
Imam al-Jazuli found that the scholars have served the prophetic inheritance in so many different ways, so he sought to gather a comprehensive collection of different modes of sending blessings upon the Prophet ﷺ.
From the time Imam al-Jazuli wrote it, for the better part of five, six centuries now, this work has been recited on a weekly basis throughout the Ummah. And countless people complete this compendium of sending blessings upon the Prophet ﷺ on a weekly basis, beginning it on a Friday and finishing it on the eve of Friday; on Thursday evening. And there are others who actually complete it just in one day. There are many gatherings where it is completed in one majlis reciting the whole of Dalail al-Khayrat in sending blessings upon the Prophet ﷺ .
And historically there appeared gatherings of remembrance, that would be established, that became known as Majalis al-Dalail – Gatherings of the Dalail.
Historically in both the Haramain, in the Haram al-Makki and the Haram al-Madini, after Asr on a daily basis, both in Mecca and Madina with particular attention in the city of the beloved Messenger ﷺ, in Madina al-Munawwara, after Asr daily there would be a gathering of Dalail al-Khayrat. And these gatherings lasted for hundreds of years. For over 300 years. And there would be a Shaykh appointed for this gathering would be known as the Shaykh al-Dalail and this continued generation after generation.
Shaykh Ba-Dhib mentions as an example of this inherited concern of the great scholars, the ijaza of one of the important critical editions in our times of the Dalail al-Khayrat that was gathered from many manuscripts, many written from the lifetime of the author Imam al-Jazuli, by the distinguished scholar Shaykh Nuh Keller. Shaykh Nuh Keller relates this from Sayyida Fatima of the Sanusi family, who was a distinguished hadith narrator herself, and she narrates from her chain of great Sanusi scholars going back to the distinguished Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ali as-Sanusi, who took from Shaykh Ahmed ibn Idris and from Shaykh Omar al-Attar. So this chain starts in Libya and then goes to the great scholars in Mecca who came from different lands, and it goes through great North African scholars and scholars from central and western Africa. And generation after generation this great concern has existed for this Dalail. Shaykh Ba-Dhib mentions specifically about the great scholarly and righteous families of Mecca and Shaykh Ba-Dhib worked for over a dozen years as one of the editorial researchers for the encyclopedia of Mecca… He mentions many families who generation after generation, they transmitted the ijaza of the Dalail and who inherited the mashikah of Dalail al-Khayrat. They would be leading the gatherings of Dalail al-Khayrat, such was the concern of the Ummah throughout the ages in transmitting this work of sending blessings upon the Prophet ﷺ.
So these chains of transmission, as we see, and if you open the Dalail, it’s there in the back of the book. These chains of transmission in the books of Islam give us many points of benefit and many important historical insights.
Shaykh Ba-Dhib says what’s the benefit of these chains of transmission that we find for the Quran? We also find these chains of transmission of course for the works of hadith. We also find them for both the works of Islamic knowledge and for these devotional compilations, such as in this case Dalail al-Khayrat. Generation after generation. These tell us about the continuity and acceptance of those works of knowledge or these works of devotion that throughout the ages in the heartland of Islam, in the great cities of Islam, in the case of the Dalail, in both the Haramain and across the world, generation after generation, the scholars paid attention to such works. They transmitted these works and they give us a reassurance of the importance of these works. Now someone who considers the nature of how religion has come to us would then pay attention to what were the things that those scholars prioritised intellectually or devotionally. And sometimes in Islamic history, for hundreds of years, works like Dalail al-Khayrat and other works were publicly recited, collectively recited, in both the Harams in Mecca and in Medina. Times have come, such as now, where these practices are not open anymore, but this norm that we have now is not the norm of history. And that’s one of the benefits of knowing these chains of transmission. But those chains of transmission continue because the scholars who’ve transmitted these works historically, they’ve continued to transmit these works even to our times. The gatherings of Dalail al-Khayrat, they continue in Mecca, they continue in Medina, they continue across the world. Openly where that is facilitated and privately where it isn’t. So it doesn’t befit a person to listen to the tashweesh, to the naysayers, and the people spreading confusion about such works that are blessed. That are beneficial. That have been accepted throughout the blessed history of our Ummah. Works whose reward and benefit reaches both the one reciting them, and in these blessed chains back to these blessed authors such as Imam al-Jazuli.
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