“Jo sar pe rakhne ko mil jaaye Naalayn Paak-e-Huzoor
To phir kahenge ke haan taajdar hum bhi hein.”
~ If I was granted that the Naalayn Paak be placed on my head,
Indeed, I would proclaim that I had been crowned!
~ Imam Hasan Raza Khan Barelwi
The sandals of the Beloved Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, hold a unique place of honour and reverence in the heart of Muslims throughout the globe. They are often referred to as Naalayn Paak, or Naalayn Sharif. A pair of the sacred sandals is kept in the famous Topkapi Palace Museum in Turkey, along with many other rare and holy relics collected throughout Islamic history.
The Concept of Tabarrukaat (Relics)
For centuries, the Ummah has sought the blessings of Allah through Prophetic relics, which stems from the practise of the Companions who would even seek cure and fragrance from his blessed drops of sweat. Another famous report is that of Sayyidina Khalid ibn al Waleed, the great Companion and warrior of Islam, Sayfullah al Masluul (the unsheathed Sword of Allah) – that, during the battle of Yarmouk, he stopped mid-fight to search frantically for his fallen headgear. When he finally retrieved it, his men asked him about the wisdom behind this strange act. He responded: “The Messenger of Allah performed ‘Umrah (in Makkah) and then shaved his blessed head, so I rushed with the people to obtain some of his hair. I got some of the blessed hair from the front part of his head, which I placed in this headgear. Every time I have entered into battle with this headgear, Allah gave me victory.” [Bayhaqi]
Imam al Nawawi states in his commentary of Sahih Muslim, “It is recommended to seek blessings through the relics of the righteous and their clothes (istihbab al-tabarruk bi aathaar al-salihin wa thiyabihim).” [Sharh Sahih Muslim, Book 37, Chapter 2, No. 10]
Reverence for the Blessed Sandals
In regards to the blessed sandals, depictions of its shape and distinct outline are treasured in the home or often worn as a badge. This is a gesture of one’s devotion and humility towards the Messenger of Allah, and a sign of one’s loyalty to his noble Way. This is based on the belief that attachment and respect towards the belongings of the Messenger of Allah, and the pious Servants of Allah, contain immense blessing and benefit. They serve as a means to attain Allah’s Mercy, without a doubt.
It is a fact of beauty that such significance is placed on the Prophet’s sacred sandals, an indication of the utmost humility, love and submission which the Ummah has towards its Beloved, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – and indeed, how the hearts yearn to cherish even the dust beneath his sacred feet. He is indeed the most noble of all creation, praised and exalted by Allah, and the Gyide of all humanity who delivered us from darkness into light. We as Muslims are eternally indebted to him, and reverence of his blessed sandals are in honour of this reality.
“And indeed, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character.” [Qur’an 68:5]
Indeed Allah addresses His Beloved Prophet saying, “(Wara fa’na laka dhikrak.) And We exalted for you your remembrance.” [Qur’an 94:4]
Reverence of the Companions & Righteous towards the Blessed Sandals
Imam Qastalani and Imam Salihi, a student of Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti, both mention that Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with them all, served as a khaadim of the Messenger of Allah, and would carry the blessed sandals. When the Prophet stood up, Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud would put the blessed sandals on his sacred feet, and when the Prophet sat down, Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud would carry the blessed sandals in his arms until he rose again. [Imam Qastalani’s Mawahib al-Laduniyya; Imam Salihi’s Subul al-Huda wal Rashad]
Also reported by Imam Qastalani: Sayyidina Abu Ishaq al-Zuhri was one of the tabi’een who reports that Sayyidina Qasim ibn Muhammad (ibn Abu Bakr Siddiq) said, “Of the proven blessing of the likeness of the Prophet’s sandal is that, whoever has it in his possession for tabarruk will be safeguarded by it from the sedition of rebels and the mastery of enemies, and it will be a barrier against every devil and the evil eye of the envious. If a pregnant woman holds it in her right hand during labour, her delivery will be easier by Allah’s Power.”
Mullah Ali Qari mentions in his commentary on Shama’il Tirmidhi, that the great Shaykh, Imam Muhyuddin ibn Arabi states the sandals are part of the attire of Prophets. He also mentioned that one of the names of the Beloved Prophet in the ancient books is Sahib al-Naalayn or “The Wearer of the Sandals.”
Imam ibn Asakir wrote an entire volume on the image of the blessed sandals entitled Timthalu Naal al-Nabiyy or A Sketch of the Sandal of the Prophet.
Imam Jazuli, the author of the famous Dala’il al-Khayrat, includes the image of the blessed sandal in his Dala’il al-Khayrat as a means of seeking Allah’s blessings.
Imam al-Zarqani states, “If possible, kiss the dust that has been touched by the sandals, otherwise, kiss an image of the sandals.” [Sharh al-Zarqani ‘ala’l Mawahib, 5:48]
Imam Qastalani narrates a beautiful verse honouring the blessed sandals, written by Imam Qurtubi: “I concentrated on the waves of light that emanated from the blessed sandals and as long as we bow down before them*, we will be honoured. Hence, keep it above the head as it is in reality a crown, though apparently a sandal.” [al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya, 2:470]
* This ‘bowing’ does not refer to the act of sajda/sujood. It is simply the lowering of one’s head in a state of humility.
The great mujaddid, Imam Ala Hadhrat Ahmad Raza Khan, wrote the following couplet:
“Jisey teri Saf-e-Niyal se miley do niwaley nawal se, wo bana ke uske ugaal se bhari saltanat ka udhaar hai.”
Meaning: “The one who received two morsels from where you (O Prophet) leave your sandals,
Becomes so great, that an entire Kingdom would survive on his mere saliva!”
And the incredible beacon of truth of his era, Imam Yusuf al Nabhani states:
“Verily I serve the image of the Sandal of Mustafa
So that I may live in both worlds under its protection.”
Finally, food for thought: Islam teaches us that Jannah lies under the feet of our mothers, so what then of the blessed sandals of the Beloved Messenger of Allah? The same Beloved who instructed us, “None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind.” [Bukhari]
May Allah’s eternal peace and blessings be upon our Beloved Master, the Prophet of Mercy. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon the Family & the Companions of the Beloved Messenger, and upon the Righteous Ones who follow after them. May Allah the Almighty enable us to emulate their teachings and may He include us amongst His righteous Servants on the Day of Resurrection. Ameen.