I often hear the muezzin in mosques or surau offering praise and salutations to the Prophet PBUH before the adhan. Is this a sunnah of the Prophet PBUH?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
According to contemporary scholars from mazhab al-Syafie, they ruled it sunnah to offer praise and salutations before the adhan and iqamah. Among the scholars are al-Imam Zain al-Din al-Malibari Rahimahullah in his book Fath al-Mu’in, where he refers to al-Imam al-Nawawi’s book al-Wasit. Al-Dimyati Rahimahullah also state the same in his book I’anah al-Talibin. 
However, al-Imam al-Syabramallisi Rahimahullah concur this opinion, for contemporary Syafieyyah scholars referred their opinion to al-Imam al-Nawawi. He stated in his Hasyiah, that there is a mistake in the writing (sabqu qalam) of the commentaries of al-Wasit, and the sound and correct opinion is that offering praise and salutations to the Prophet PBUH is done after iqamah and not before it, as mentioned in the hadith that explain about the benefits of it. 
The scholars that ruled it sunnah to offer praise and salutations to the Prophet PBUH before iqamah also referred to a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA:
كَانَ بِلَالٌ إِذَا أَرَادَ أَنْ يُقِيمَ الصَّلَاةَ قَالَ: السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ وَرَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ، الصَّلَاةَ رَحِمَكَ اللَّهُ
“When Bilal stands for prayer, he said: al-Salam ‘alaika ayyuha al-Nabiy wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh, al-Solah rahimaka Allah.”
Sunan al-Tabarani in al-Awsat (8910)
However, al-Imam al-Tabarani Rahimahullah seems to be signalling the weakness of the hadith stating at the end: “There is no narrator found in narrating this hadith from Kamil except Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Mughirah”
When we study about Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Mughirah in the books of classes of narrators (al-Tabaqat) , we found the following opinions of hadith scholars about the hadith narrated by him:
- Abu Hatim said: “Laisa bi Qawiyy” (not strong; weak)
- Ibn Yunus said: “Munkar al-Hadith” (the hadith is munkar)
- Al-Daraqutni said: “Dhoif”(weak)
- Al-‘Uqaili in al-Dhu’afa’ said that the narrator frequently narrates with no authentic source
Therefore, some muhaddith state that the hadith is too weak, and others even said that it is a fake hadith and cannot be made as an evidence or an argument for this issue.
Al-Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haitami Rahimahullah was asked, is it sunnah to offer praise and salutation to the Prophet PBUH before iqamah? al-Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haitami Rahimahullah answered in his book al-Fatawa al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kubra:
لَمْ أَرَ مَنْ قَالَ بِنَدْبِ الصَّلَاةِ وَالسَّلَامِ أَوَّلَ الْإِقَامَةِ، وَإِنَّمَا الَّذِي ذَكَرَهُ أَئِمَّتُنَا أَنَّهُمَا سُنَّتَانِ عَقِبَ الْإِقَامَةِ كَالْأَذَانِ، ثُمَّ بَعْدَهُمَا: اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ هَذِهِ الدَّعْوَةِ التَّامَّةِ. .. إلَخْ
“I do not agree with those who ruled it sunnah to offer praise and salutations for the Prophet PBUH before iqamah, and what have been said by our imam is that it is sunnah to offer praise and salutation to the Prophet PBUH after both (adhan and iqamah), then recite: اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ هَذِهِ الدَّعْوَةِ التَّامَّةِ to the end.”
Praise and Salutations for the Prophet PBUH after Adhan
As for praise and salutations for the Prophet PBUH after adhan, it is agreed by all scholars that it is sunnah. This is in accordance with a hadith of the Prophet PBUH from Abdullah bin ‘Amr al-‘As R.Anhuma:
إِذَا سَمِعْتُمُ الْمُؤَذِّنَ فَقُولُوا مِثْلَ مَا يَقُولُ ثُمَّ صَلُّوا عَلَىَّ فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ صَلَّى عَلَىَّ صَلاَةً صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ بِهَا عَشْرًا ثُمَّ سَلُوا اللَّهَ لِيَ الْوَسِيلَةَ فَإِنَّهَا مَنْزِلَةٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ لاَ تَنْبَغِي إِلاَّ لِعَبْدٍ مِنْ عِبَادِ اللَّهِ وَأَرْجُو أَنْ أَكُونَ أَنَا هُوَ فَمَنْ سَأَلَ لِيَ الْوَسِيلَةَ حَلَّتْ لَهُ الشَّفَاعَةُ
“When you hear the Mu'adhdhin, repeat what he says, then invoke a blessing on me, for everyone who invokes a blessing on me will receive ten blessings from Allah; then beg from Allah al-Wasila for me, which is a rank in Paradise fitting for only one of Allah's servants, and I hope that I may be that one. If anyone who asks that I be given the Wasila, he will be assured of my intercession.”
Sahih Muslim (384)
In al-Mu’tamad it is stated that it is sunnah for every muezzin, the people that hear the adhan and the people that want to perform the prayer to offer praise and salutations for the Prophet PBUH quietly (in a low voice) and ask for syafaat from the Prophet PBUH after adhan, which means a few moments after the adhan to not make it seem as though it is a part of adhan.
According to the above evidences, the sound hadith state that it is sunnah to offer praise and salutations for the Prophet PBUH after the adhan. As for the opinion that referred to al-Imam al-Nawawi, other Islamic scholars have answered it as we have stated in the above discussion. Furthermore, the status of the hadith that is used as the evidence for this issue is too weak.
The fatwa issued by al-Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haitami Rahimahullah also supports the fact that there are no praise and salutations before adhan and iqamah but it is sunnah after adhan and iqamah.
According to the above statements, we are inclined to state that praise and salutations for the Prophet PBUH is sunnah a few moments after the adhan, to differentiate between adhan and praise and salutations. Through qiyas (analogical deduction), the same ruling is applied for iqamah, for in the hadith it is stated:
بَيْنَ كُلِّ أَذَانَيْنِ صَلاَةٌ
“Between the two adhans (adhan and iqamah) there is a prayer,”
Sahih al-Bukhari (627) and Sahih Muslim (838)
Thus, it is sunnah to offer praise and salutations for the Prophet PBUH after adhan according to a sound hadith and it is also sunnah after iqamah through qiyas for usually (taghliban), iqamah is also known as the second adhan according to a sound hadith stated earlier.
Even if the act of offering praise and salutations for the Prophet PBUH is a good deed, it is prioritized to follow a sound hadith (praise and salutations after the adhan) as a precautionary step in worship for there are hadiths that explain this issue.