A somewhat controversial Muslim writer (Ahmed Deedat) claims in an audio clip (the video is filler material) that Shias chant 3 times upon hearing the name of Khomeini, but only once for the Prophet Muhammad.

Deedat then says that this practice shows less respect for the Prophet than for the Ayatollah. Interpretation aside, is what he claims about Shia practices true?

1 Answer 1


According to a 06 August 2009 article by Muhammad Sahimi:

In another speech, when he [ Bazargan ] mentioned the Ayatollah's name, the crowd chanted a Quarnic verse that praises the Prophet, his family and descendants. This is a tradition in Iran to chant this when the Prophet is mentioned. But, not only did the crowd chant the verse for the Ayatollah, but they did so three times, whereas it is chanted only once for the Prophet. Bazargan got angry and said, "Come on! This is done only once for the Prophet, but you do it three times for the Imam? What is going on?"

According to Bi Parchamaan, The Flagless Ones (2011):

The crowd begins to show its respect to Khomeini by saying in chorus, 'peace be upon Mohammad and his family'.

Praising the prophet Mohammad and his family whenever the prophet's name is mentioned is a religious tradition, people nearly always wing a word of praise heavenward on hearing his name. Beginning with the revolution, we were supposed to show the same respect to Khomeini. Whenever somebody said 'Imam Khomeini', we were coached to praise the leader in chorus. This is what we were doing every time we heard the imam's name, but this threatening son of our local leader shouts, “I don't understand. You praised the prophet Mohammad once and praised our very own imam only once as well?” For a while, we don't say anything and then suddenly break out praising Khomeini continuously for three repetitions. I have no idea why we choose three rather than two or four or some other number.

From this night on, we praise Khomeini three times whenever somebody calls him by his name during daily speeches.

Also, Women's Islam: Religious Practice Among Women in Today's Iran (2013) says:

... the idea of offering salutation three times as a tribute to Imām Khomeini, and only once to the Prophet Muhammad, is not only uncommon, but is openly objected to by those with oppositional political views. The latter argued that it was an act of blasphemy (kofr/shirk) to decrease the salutation of the Prophet to one and instead offer it three times to servants of God like Imām Khomeini.

So this is the practice that started in 1979 in Iran, but it is not accepted by all Shia.

  • This means that they did chant three times for him. I do not think that this means they do this in general.
    – lr0
    Jan 31 at 18:23
  • 3
    @lr0 I added another reference to clarify that this didn't happen just once, but it is not a universal Shia practice.
    – DavePhD
    Jan 31 at 18:58
  • As an Iranian, I had not heard of this practice until today. Perhaps some trend started by his overenthusiastic supporters back then that died out a bit after? Praising the Prophet every time his name is mentioned is very commonplace though.
    – M.A.R.
    Feb 2 at 19:34
  • @M.A.R. Maybe, but a recent reference says "mention of the name of Ayatollah Khomeini was instantly followed by reciting Salawāt three times. An almost rare occurrence was that in Qom, where high-ranking mujtahids and ayatollahs reside and teach, mentioning the name of other ayatollahs was followed by reciting Salawāt only once. This political use of Salawāt is still current in the circles where partisans of the present supreme leader get together, all in addition to certain governmental meetings." google.com/books/edition/…
    – DavePhD
    Feb 2 at 20:49

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