Question: What does 'pbuh' mean and why do Muslims write it after mentioning Prophet Mohammad?


As you read through books, articles, and web sites about Islam you may come across some unfamiliar words and abbreviations. One of the most frequently asked about abbreviations is the letters 'pbuh' which often appears after the name of Prophet Mohammad. So what does 'pbuh' stand for?

The letters 'pbuh' are an abbreviation of the phrase 'peace be upon him'. As a sign of respect and admiration towards Prophet Mohammad, Muslims feel uneasy about just referring to him by his name only, and will therefore add this phrase after his name. It is a short prayer asking God to send his mercy, peace, and blessings upon Prophet Mohammad.

When speaking orally, Muslims will always say the full phrase 'peace be upon him'. But in written formats, to avoid repeating the text frequently every time Prophet Mohammad is mentioned, people will often use the abbreviation 'pbuh' placed in brackets after each mention of Prophet Mohammad. Muslims know when reading this abbreviation that they should actually be reading the full phrase 'peace be upon him'. However, those who are new to reading texts about Islam often find this abbreviation confusing, until they learn the meaning and reasoning behind using it.

Beyond saying 'peace be upon him', you will also notice that Muslims will often refer to him as 'Prophet Mohammad', or as the 'Messenger of Allah', the 'Messenger of God', or simply as the 'Messenger'. This is again an expression of respect and admiration, to remind ourselves of the fact that Mohammad (pbuh) was a Prophet and Messenger from God.

So what is the difference between a Prophet and a Messenger? Messengers are those individuals to whom God sent new revelations constituting a new message for humanity. For example, Moses was a Messenger whose message was the Torah. Jesus was a Messenger whose message was the Bible. Mohammad was a Messenger whose message was the Quran. On the other hand, Prophets were assigned the task of calling people to an existing message. For example, Prophets David and Solomon did not come with a new message, but were calling their people to abide by the existing message of their people. Therefore, every Messenger from God is a Prophet, but not every Prophet was a Messenger.