I have often attended events in masjids and have noticed many people, including the speakers and members of the audience, wearing an interestingly shaped badge. A few months ago I saw my local imam wearing a hat which had the same design and something inside me clicked and inspired to me find out what this shape actually is. I discovered this is the shape of the blessed sandals of the Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم and I will now share with you their story. In classical Arabic, the word used for a sandal is na’l. The Na’layn are, therefore, the two blessed sandals of the Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم, which were used by him during his life.
Over the years, scholars have mentioned the benefits to be gained by keeping and honouring ourselves with a representation of the sacred Na’layn – not the actual or original blessed shoe/slipper of our Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم, but a cut-out copy or something similar. This serves as a symbol for the Messenger’s صلي الله عليه و سلم sandal, which holds such value and is revered, due to it being worn on the blessed feet of the Greatest of all Creation. An original pair of the Messenger’s صلي الله عليه و سلم na'layn have been kept and safeguarded in the famous Topkapi Palace Museum in Turkey.
The Blessings of the Na’layn
There are numerous blessings to be obtained by keeping the Na’layn, and for this reason it is popularly kept in a purse/wallet or in a frame on the wall. It is not only the
Na’layn which are a blessing, but rather anything which is associated with the Prophet’s صلي الله عليه و سلم body, or reminds one of him. For instance, Fatimah Zahra once went to the resting place of her Beloved Father صلي الله عليه و سلم and took a handful of dust which she put to her eyes, saying:
“One who smells the dust of the grave of the Most Beloved Messenger of Allah صلي الله عليه و سلم would not need to smell any other perfume in his life. Such calamities have befallen me, that if they had descended upon days they would have fallen into nights.” It is mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari that Ali was cured of his eye ailment when the Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم applied his mubarak (blessed) saliva to his eye. It is also narrated that Hadrat Bilal used to rub his face on the grave of the Beloved Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم. The practice of honouring relics (tabarruk) was common among the Companions of the Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم.
The noble Companions gave the utmost respect to his relics, and used to seek blessings from the reminders they had of the Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم during his lifetime. They made the relics a means for cure in this world and acquisition of Divine Mercy after death.
Love for the Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم
There is not a civilisation that has loved and celebrated its leader the way that Islamic civilization loves and celebrates its Prophet, the mercy to mankind, Muhammad al-Mustafa (the chosen one) صلي الله عليه و سلم. Love is the strongest of all human emotions, and is the greatest thing that distinguishes the relationship of Muslims with their Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم, who said, “None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his very self, wealth, and all people.”
Motivated by this love, as well as by an understanding of the immense importance of the personal example of Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم, the Muslim community has recorded and preserved his entire life in the most exacting detail. The Islamic scholars do not limit their attention to the moral and legal example of the Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم alone. Rather, they also focus on his daily life, like his habits of eating, drinking and sleeping, as well as other matters that do not have immediate legal implications. From that time until this present day, Muslims have sought to imitate the example of their Beloved صلي الله عليه و سلم in all its detail, unless they were of particular matters that Allah I chose only for the Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم
The Prophet’s صلي الله عليه و سلم external, physical appearance was also among the matters that Muslims pay great attention to, as were his habits of dress. The Prophet’s صلي الله عليه و سلم noble sandals receive particular attention, perhaps because of what his followers feel: utmost love and humility for their Beloved Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم, such that they see themselves not even worthy of the dust under his blessed feet.
The Companions and the Na’layn
The attention given to the Na’layn is not a modern phenomenon or innovation. Rather, the first generation, the Companions of the Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم, are known to have given them attention and importance, such that some of them were recorded as having distinguished themselves with serving the Noble Sandals.
It has been reported by Ibn Sa’d that Anas ibn Malik was the keeper of the sandals of the Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم and Imam al-Salihi reported in his work, Subul al-Huda wa’l Rashad that Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud used to get up as soon as the Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم sat down, and would take off the Beloved Messenger’s صلي الله عليه و سلم sandals, and place them under his arms. Then, when the Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم would get up, he would put them on his blessed feet. Many other narrations have been transmitted from the Companions giving exact descriptions of the noble sandals of the Messenger صلي الله عليه و سلم.
The Depiction of the Na’layn
The depiction of the Na’layn has had a special place in the hearts of Muslims since it reminds them of their tremendous Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم, and since it inspires in them the utmost humility towards his high rank. Because of this, they took care to record this depiction, to draw it, and they sometimes even placed it under their turbans in a display of their love for the Mercy Sent to All the Worlds صلي الله عليه و سلم. They also hung this depiction in their houses, seeking blessings from it. Writers and poets wrote eloquently in praise of the Noble Sandals, and in describing the feelings of ecstatic love for that king who wore them. Imam Abu al-Abbas gathered a significant amount of these writings in his works, as well as in his treatise Azhar al-Riyad.
“May the best of blessings and peace be upon the owner of these blessed sandals. Verily I serve the image of the Sandal of al-Mustafa صلي الله عليه و سلم, So that I may live in both worlds under its protection.”
I will leave you with one final thought. We are taught in Islam that heaven lies under the feet of our mothers, so what of the secrets that lie beneath the feet of Allah’s Beloved صلي الله عليه و سلم?
This article was also published in The Invitation Magazine.
The start of nalayn.com
The desire to share my newly found treasure was the foundation of nalayn.com. Through this site, we hope to:
- Raise awareness of the knowledge of the blessed sandals.
- Become the portal for all things related to the blessed sandals.
- Provide resources on the Prophet Muhammad.
- Provide resources on the peaceful nature of Islam صلي الله عليه و سلم.
InshaAllah. Our Lord knows best.