Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: Assalam aleykum
I have noticed the practice of sending 40 salutations on the prophet (may peace be upon him) is quite famous and was wondering if there was any basis for this. Is more reward attached to this number?
Answer: assalamu alaykum
The number forty can be viewed from two angles:
(a) It is done because it is thought that this is something specifically established in the sunna. This is not complete baseless as their are traditions that mention the merits of sending forty blessings on specific days, such as the narration, “Whoever sends blessings on me forty times every Friday, God will erase forty years worth of his sins.” [al-Sakhawi, al-Qawl al-Badi’ (379) with a weak chain]. Narrations like these indicate that the number forty has some importance in the tradition.
(b) It is done based on the personal experience of a scholar who witnesses specific benefits arising from particular wordings and quantities of dhikr. I have discussed this in more detail here: Are Formulas Recommended by Scholars to Achieve Some Goals Permissible to Use?
Based on the above, there is nothing inherently wrong or blameworthy with the practice you mention. Rather, it is merely one way of fulfilling the general command of sending blessings on the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him).
Finally, reward has no direct or necessary correlation with quantity. Someone who sends one blessing on the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) with true love and presence is certainly earning more reward than one who sends a thousand with a lack of such love and presence. In other words, reward is not commensurate with outward forms and quantity alone but inward intention and purity.
[Ustadh] Salman Younas
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.