Islamic Abbreviation: PBUH

Learn why Muslims write PBUH after the Prophet Muhammad's name

Centre d'Etudes de Carthage, a library in downtown Tunis
Philippe Lissac / Getty Images

When writing the name of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslims often follow it with the abbreviation "PBUH." These letters stand for the English words " peace be upon him." Muslims use these words to show respect to one of God's Prophets when mentioning his name. It is also abbreviated as "SAWS," which stand for the Arabic words of similar meaning ("sallallahu alayhi wa salaam").

Some Muslims don't believe in abbreviating these words or even find it offensive to do so.

The Quran instructs believers to wish blessings upon the Prophet, and be respectful in addressing him, in the following verse: 

"Allah and His angels send blessings upon the Prophet. Oh you who believe! Send blessings upon him, and salute him with all respect" (33:56).

Those in favor of abbreviation feel that it is too cumbersome to write or say the full phrase after every mention of the Prophet's name, and if the blessing is said once at the beginning it is sufficient. They argue that repeating the phrase breaks the flow of conversation or reading and distracts from the meaning of what is being communicated. Others disagree and insist that the Quran instructs very clearly that the full blessings be recited or written at each mention of the Prophet's name.

In practice, when the name of the Prophet Muhammad is spoken aloud, Muslims will usually recite the words of salutation quietly to themselves.

In writing, most people refrain from writing the entire full salutation at every mention of his name. Rather, they will either write the full blessing out once in the beginning and then write a footnote about it without further repetition. Or they will abbreviate using the English (PBUH) or Arabic (SAWS) letters, or a version of these words in Arabic calligraphy script.

Also Known As

Peace be upon him, SAWS

Example

Muslims believe that Muhammad (PBUH) was the last Prophet and Messenger of God.

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Huda. "Islamic Abbreviation: PBUH." ThoughtCo, Jan. 2, 2018, thoughtco.com/islamic-abbreviation-pbuh-2004288. Huda. (2018, January 2). Islamic Abbreviation: PBUH. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/islamic-abbreviation-pbuh-2004288 Huda. "Islamic Abbreviation: PBUH." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/islamic-abbreviation-pbuh-2004288 (accessed January 17, 2018).