Many Christians using Qur’an 33:56 try to give the impression as if Allah prays to someone. About the verse;
“Allah and His angels send blessings (yu-salloon) on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute him with all respect.” (Qur’an 33:56)
It means Allah and His angels pray for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They argue that word ‘salah’ means ‘to pray’ so Allah according to this verse prays to someone for the Prophet (PBUH).
Indeed this is childish and a stupid attempt to find some issue with Islamic idea of Monotheism and Qur’an. So let’s expose the childish lie put as an argument here.
1- Explanation by E.W. Lane:
As to the meaning of the word in its different usages I can quote many classical Muslim authorities answering the question in extreme detail but one may say, being Muslims, they had the whole issue and all the implications, like the one suggested here, in mind and their bias may have come into play. So let me clarify the issue using the most extensive Arabic-English lexicon compiled by a non-Muslim, Edward William Lane.
About the use of the word for Allah he writes;
And further explaining its meaning in Qur’an 33:56 where the verb is used for both Allah and the angels he says;
Edward William Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon part 4 p.444
Of particular interest is the fact that although the complete work of Lane is based on classical Muslim authorities at this point what I highlighted above is his own intake. Without citing any work he gives the meaning of ‘magnification’ to the word ‘salah’ and goes onto explain the different implications as it is used for Allah and angels. This proves it’s not the Muslim prejudice but the Arabic language which establishes the meanings current among Muslim scholars.
This is supported by what Ibn Athir, discussing various views and usages of the word, says: “It is also said that the literal origin of the word is 'to praise' and the particular worship is called 'Salah', because it entails the glorification of the Lord.” (See Nihaya fi Ghareeb al-Athar 3/95)
And this goes according to the principle;
تسمية الشئ باسم بعض ما يتضمنه
'Naming a thing for a part of it.' (See Mufradaat fi Gharaib al-Qur’an by Isfahani 1/285) As ritual prayers include ‘praising’ thus it is called Salat.
The nature of the Salat of Allah and angels is different slightly; Allah's sending His blessings on His Prophet means this: Allah is very kind to His Prophet: He praises him, blesses his work, exalts his name, and showers His mercies on him. And when it comes to angels it means: they invoke Allah’s blessings and mercy for him.
2- One verb with same meanings but slightly different implications:
A word in a passage or a sentence does not always have exactly same implication for all the subjects. For instance a person says: 'Mr. A and Mr. B helped me.' It does not necessarily mean that both helped him in exactly the same fashion. It may be that one actually did something for him and the other requested for him.
3- Meaning of ‘Salah’ when used along with ‘Rehmah’ (Qur’an 2:157):
Some try to use Quran 2:157 to prove that Salah cannot mean blessings as ‘Salah’ and ‘Rehmah’ are both used there and two words of same meaning are not used in a single sentence. But this is a twisting of the issue only. We do not say ‘salah’ means ‘mercy’ literally, infact ‘salah’ means ‘blessings’ which is a manifestation of mercy.
The word 'Salawat' (صَلَوَاتٌ) and 'Rehmah' (رَحْمَةٌ) in Quran 2:157 do not mean the same and 'salah' means 'prayer' neither. (صَلَوَاتٌ) 'Salawat,' being the plural of 'Salah', as earlier said means blessings and magnification while 'Rehmah' (رَحْمَةٌ) refers to the attribute of Mercy.
الرحمة رقة تقتضي الاحسان إلى المرحوم
'Rehmah (i.e. Mercy) is the attribute that requires being generous to the one for whom such feelings arise. (See Mufradaat fi Gharaib al-Quran 1/191)
So 'Salah' (Blessing) of Allah is because of His 'Rehmah' (Mercy) and they are not exactly the same. His 'Salah' is a manifestation of His 'Rehmah'. So the assertion that 'salah' in Quran 2:157 means 'prayers' is wrong and misleading.
4- Meaning of ‘Salah’ or ‘Rehmah’ when used along with ‘Barakah’ (Qur’an 11:73):
Yet another attempt to complicate the things made by them is discussing the word ‘Barakah’ along with ‘Salah’ and ‘Rehmah’ especially when it is used with either of them like in Quran 11:73 and the Salutations (durood) recited in ritual prayers.
Now as to the word ‘Barakah’, its meaning is:
البركة ثبوت الخير الالهى في الشئ
"Barakah in a thing shows the facilitation/ease/goodness endowed by Allah."
(See Mufradaat fi Ghraib Al-Quran by Isfahani 1/44)
This also shows that Barakah is the manifestation of Allah's Rehmah (Mercy). So in Quran 11:73 it means Allah bestows his Mercy and specially Barakah, a manifestation of the same which suits the context that Allah will make their having a son at an old age easy by His Mercy which otherwise seems improbable. And in the salutations (durood) where it is used along with ‘salah’ there we pray to Allah to bestow both the manifestations of his ‘Rehmah’ on the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
5- A weak narration brought forward also supports our contention:
Then these people try to use a tradition from Ibn Kathir which they translate as:
The Israelites said to Musa: Does your Lord pray? Musa said: Fear Allah, O Sons of Israel!
Allah said: O Musa! What did your people say? Musa said: O my Lord, You already know? They said: Does your Lord pray? Allah said: Tell them My prayer for My servants is that My Mercy should precede My Anger. If it were not so, I would have destroyed them.
Firstly this tradition is not authentic according to the rules of reporting as mentioned by Albani in Silsala Ahadith Daeefa 3/387 Hadith 1388 thus it is not an evidence for us.
Secondly the last part of the narration above also belies the notion of taking ‘salah’ in the sense of supplication once used for Allah.
6- Exposing the liar, Zakariya Brutos:
Similarly some like Zakariya Brutos use a tradition from Kitab Al-Sunnah of Abdullah bin Ahmad, on his page it is written:
‘… a very telling hadith recorded in Kitab Al Sunna by Abdullah bin Ahmad, vol.1, p.272: Apparently, when Muhammad reached the 7th heaven during the Isra and Mi'raj, he encountered Gabriel, who immediately said “Shh! Wait, for Allah is praying (Sala).” Muhammad asked: “Does Allah pray?” to which Gabriel said, “Yes, he prays.” Muhammad then asked, “What does he pray?” and Gabriel said “Praise! Praise the Lord!”’
Here Zakariya Brutos is showing his real face by corrupting the text.
Firstly he is changed the last part of the tradition which actually goes as:
قال : وما صلاته ؟ قال : يقول » سبوح قدوس رب الملائكة والروح سبقت رحمتي غضبي
"He (the Prophet PBUH) asked: 'What is His Salah?'. He (Gabriel) said, He says: 'Perfect, Most High is the Lord of the angels and the Spirit, My Mercy (Rehmah) overwhelms my wrath.'"
(Kitab Al-Sunnah by Abdullah bin Ahmad 1/468 Hadith 437)
These last words show that 'Salah' of Allah is because of His 'Overwhelming Rehmah' just as we argued above.
Do these last words give any notion of the 'prayer/supplication'? How corrupt these people are, they use a part of a tradition that suits them and change the other.
Now we venture to ask these people who are revered by Christians as ‘Fathers’ (I don’t know what that means), why the whole of the tradition was not translated as it is? Can they show us what words in the actual Arabic text of the narration have been translated as “Shh! Wait …”?
For putting the record straight let me say this narration is not authentic according to Science of Narration. For details see Silsala Ahadith Daeefa by Albani 3/386 Hadith 1387.
a- Edward William Lane, himself a non-Muslim confirms the Muslim understanding of the word ‘salah’ when used for different subjects and that of the verse 33:56.
b- 'Rehmah', 'Salah' and 'Barakah' are related things but not exactly similar. These are subtleties of the Arabic language which may at times not be clearly differentiated in running translations for it anyway gives the general meaning correctly. Allah has used the words according to their actual meanings considering all their subtleties, as I explained 2:157 and 11:73. Translations do not clearly differentiate between their subtle differences as no language can cater for the subtleties of the other.
c- The narration from Ibn Kathir and Abdullah bin Ahmad they quote, though of dubious authority, belies their own argument.
d- And most importantly it exposes the liars whom certain Christians recognize as their religious leader. We can only sympathize for those whose supposed-to-be spiritual guides are liars. May Allah have mercy on them!
INDEED ALLAH KNOWS THE BEST!