Quran 33:56 – Myth: Allah Prays To Muhammed (p)

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Kaleef K. Karim

This article is a refutation to the claim made by Christian missionaries that ‘Allah prays to Mohammed’, asserting that God Almighty ‘worships’ the Prophet (p). Missionaries appear to have little productive things to do but undermine Islam by spreading falsehood to people that Islam as a religion is not Monotheistic. They formulate these lies in order to deceive people so as to keep them away from the truth. But their attempts are of no avail, as Allah states,

“They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it.” – Quran 61:8

Let us now turn to the verse under discussion,

إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
“Inna Allaha wamalaikatahu Yusalloona AAala alnnabiyyi ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo salloo AAalayhi wasallimoo tasleeman”,
“Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation.” – Quran 33:56

They claim that the word “blessing” (salla) used for Q. 33:56 is wrong translation. They prefer to use this translation,

“Lo! Allah and His angels pray upon the prophet. Oh yea who believe, pray on him and salute him with peace.”

Those who propagate such lies have no understanding or even have knowledge of the Arabic language. For example, one word could be used for humans and it could mean one thing, and at the same time, the same word is used for God and it has a different meaning.
In Islam whenever the name of Prophet Muhammed (p) is mentioned we say “sallallahu `alayhi was-sallam”, it means, “peace be upon him” (P.B.U.H). This has nothing to do about “worshipping” Muhammed, it is just asking the Almighty Creator to send “blessings” on him just as we are commanded to send “blessings” on Prophet Abraham,

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ نُمَيْرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا رَوْحٌ، وَعَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ نَافِعٍ، ح وَحَدَّثَنَا إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، – وَاللَّفْظُ لَهُ – قَالَ أَخْبَرَنَا رَوْحٌ، عَنْ مَالِكِ بْنِ أَنَسٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ أَبِي بَكْرٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ سُلَيْمٍ، أَخْبَرَنِي أَبُو حُمَيْدٍ السَّاعِدِيُّ، أَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ كَيْفَ نُصَلِّي عَلَيْكَ قَالَ ‏ “‏ قُولُوا اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى أَزْوَاجِهِ وَذُرِّيَّتِهِ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَبَارِكْ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى أَزْوَاجِهِ وَذُرِّيَّتِهِ كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ ‏”‏
They (the Companions of the Holy Prophet) said: Apostle of Allah, how should we bless you? He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Say:” O Allah! bless Muhammad, his wives and his offspring as Thou didst bless Ibrahim, and grant favours to Muhammad, and his wives and his offspring as Thou didst grant favours to the family of Ibrahim; Thou art Praiseworthy and Glorious.” [1]


Al-Adab Al-Mufrad
أَخْبَرَنَا شُعَيْبُ بْنُ أَبِي حَمْزَةَ، قَالَ‏:‏ حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الزِّنَادِ، عَنِ الأَعْرَجِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ‏:‏ اخْتَتَنَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ صلى الله عليه وسلم بَعْدَ ثَمَانِينَ سَنَةً، وَاخْتَتَنَ بِالْقَدُومِ قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِ‏:‏ يَعْنِي مَوْضِعًا‏.‏
Messenger of God, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Ibrahim, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, he was circumcised when he was eighty years old.” [2]

When one reads the above Ahadith, one can see that ‘Salla’ is used for others as well. It is evident that ‘Salla’ does not mean ‘prayer’ (worship) when it is used for humans. There are other instances where the word ‘Salla’ has been used,

Sunan Ibn Dawud
حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عِيسَى، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو عَوَانَةَ، عَنِ الأَسْوَدِ بْنِ قَيْسٍ، عَنْ نُبَيْحٍ الْعَنَزِيِّ، عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، أَنَّ امْرَأَةً، قَالَتْ لِلنَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم صَلِّ عَلَىَّ وَعَلَى زَوْجِي ‏.‏ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْكِ وَعَلَى زَوْجِكِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏
A woman said to the Prophet: Invoke blessing on me as well as on my husband. The Prophet  said: May Allah send blessing on you and your husband. [3]

God sends ‘blessings’ on those who stand in the right side of the congregation,

Sunan Ibn Majah
“‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلاَئِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى مَيَامِنِ الصُّفُوفِ ‏”‏
“The Messenger of God said, ‘Allah and His angels send blessings upon the right side of the rows.’” [4]

Prophet Muhammed asks God to send blessings (salla) upon the offspring of Abu Awf,

Sahih Bukhari
حَدَّثَنَا حَفْصُ بْنُ عُمَرَ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، عَنْ عَمْرٍو، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ أَبِي أَوْفَى، قَالَ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا أَتَاهُ قَوْمٌ بِصَدَقَتِهِمْ قَالَ ‏”‏ اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى آلِ فُلاَنٍ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَأَتَاهُ أَبِي بِصَدَقَتِهِ، فَقَالَ ‏”‏ اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى آلِ أَبِي أَوْفَى ‏”‏‏.‏
Whenever a person came to the Prophet with his alms, the Prophet would say, “O Allah! Send your Blessings upon so and so.” My father went to the Prophet with his alms and the Prophet said, “O Allah! Send your blessings upon the offspring of Abu Awf.” [5]

Reading all the above instances where ‘salla’ has been used for others besides Prophet Muhammed (p), it is nonsensical for missionaries to claim that God worships Muhammed. Now, let’s turn to Muslim and non-Muslim scholars commenting on the word i.e., what does Salla Allahu Alayhi wa-sallam mean when used for Muhammed?

Keith E. Swartley

s.a.w. – abbreviation of the tasliya, which is ‘sall Allah al-ayhi wa sallam,’ words of honor and salutation attached to the name of Muhammed ; literally means ‘may Allah bless him and grant him peace’; cf., pbuh. [6]

The New Encyclopedia of Islam – Cyril Glasse

When a believer mentions the Prophet – and he is rarely mentioned by name, but rather by the title Prophet (Nabi), or Messenger of God (Rasulu-Lah) it is customary to add: salla-Llahu alayhi wa sallam (‘May God bless him and give him peace’). The blessings (salah) refer to ‘vertical’ graces descending into the soul, and ‘peace’ (sallam) to  ‘horizontal grace of inward dilation which receives and stabilizes those blessings. [7]

Dr. Ghulam Haider Asi

Salla-Allahu alayhi wa sallam (‘may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon be upon him’; this blessing on the names of honoured Prophets is sometimes abbreviated in print to saaws or Sa). [8]

A modern Arabic-English Dictionary – Dr. Rohi Ballbaki

“صلى الله عليه وسلم means: God’s blessing and peace be upon him” [9]

Hans Wehr – A Dictionary of Modern written Arabic

“salaam abbreviation of eulogy following the name of the of the Prophet Muhammed: صلى الله عليه وسلم (salla, salaam)God bless him” [10]

A Dictionary And Glossary of the Koran – John Penrice

“ala it means to pray for, also to bless, as in the formula صلى الله عليه وسلم, God bless and keep him” [11]

Encyclopaedia of Islam – Juan E. Campo says,

“The four letters p-b-u-h combine to form an acronym for the phrase ‘peace be upon him’, which is the English rendering of the Arabic ‘alayhi as-salam’.

Invoking peace on another is the signature greeting used by Muslims. According to the Quran, Angels use it when greeting the blessed in paradise (for example 16:32) and people use it in greeting God’s servants. The ‘peace be upon him’ is also invoked by the Quran for the prophets including Abraham, Moses, Aaron and Elias”.

Juan E. Campo goes further and writes,

“The Peace blessing (salama) for Muhammed as the prophet of Islam is an abbreviated rendering of an Arabic formula known as Tasliya. It consists of the invocation Salla Allahu alayhi wa-sallam (God bless him and grant him peace), which is in reverence to Muhammed… Invoking blessing and peace upon Muhammed is considered to be an expression of devotion that is endorsed by the Quran, which states ‘God and the Angels bless the prophet. O you believers! Bless him and greet him’ (Quran 33:56). [11]

In The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, John L. Esposito defines “صلى الله عليه وسلم” as the following,

“salla Allah alayhi wa-salaam: peace and blessings be upon him (abbreviation). Epithet used by pious Muslims in speech and writing as a sign of respect and honour after the name of a Prophet or holy person, especially Muhammed.” [12]

In a commentary on 33:56, by a very well-known Christian Missionary, E. M. Wherry writes in his footnote the following,

“Salute him and hence the Muhammadans seldom mention his name without adding, “on whom be the blessing of God and peace! Or the like the words.” [13]

An Arabic English Vocabularly – D. A. Cameron

صلى الله عليه وسلم
Salla Allah a’leih wa sallam, May God bles him (Mahomet) and grant him peace. [14]

Reading the above academic sources, one sees clearly that the Arabic word ‘Salla’ does not mean ‘prayer’, in the sense that God worships the Prophet. Since missionaries insist that one word cannot have more than one meaning, let us look at instances in the Bible where a word has been used for a people and has been used for God as well. The Hebrew word I am going to discuss is ‘Shachah’,

May nations serve you and peoples bow down (shachah) to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down (shachah) to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.” – Genesis 27:29

The same word is used in the following verse,

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship (shachah) at a distance,” – Exodus 24:1

Reading Genesis 27.29, we see that YHWH demands people to worship Jacob. Shachah means ‘worship’, and it might be assumed that God demands people Shachah (worship) Jacob, and in conclusion Jacob shares God’s nature. [15]  [16]

You see how trivial an argument this would be if one insisted this was true. This is exactly what missionaries do when they deceptively twist Quran 33:56. Of course, I do not believe Jacob to be God. Nor does God demand people to worship Jacob. I believe context is important when we use other people’s scripture.

In conclusion, the claim by Christian missionaries that ‘Allah worships Prophet Mohammed’ (p) is an outright lie, as shown. One word can be applied to God and the same word can be used for a human being, yet they can have two different meanings depending on context. The evidences shown is quite clear that Allah sends ‘blessings’ on Prophet Mohammed (p).


[1] Sahih Muslim Book 4, Hadith 807
[2] Al-Adab Al-Mufrad Book 53, Hadith 1244
[3] Sunan Abi Dawud Book 8, Hadith 1528
[4] Sunan Ibn Majah Volume 1, Book 5, Hadith 1005
[5] Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 2, Book 24, Hadith 574
[6] Encountering the World of Islam [Copyright 2005] by Keith E. Swartley page 526
[7] The New Encyclopedia of Islam revised Edition of the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam By Cyril Glassé page 364
[8] Sourcebook of the World’s Religions: An Interfaith Guide to Religion and Spirituality –  Dr Ghulam Haider Asi page 66
[9] Dr Rohi Ballbaki. A mdern Arabic-English Dictionary page 698
[10] Hans Wehr. A Dictionary of Modern written Arabic page 523
[11] Juan E. Campo, Encyclopaedia of Islam page 547 – 548
[12] John L. Esposito, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. page 274
[13] E M Wherry. A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran Volume 3 (Sales Translation With Notes and Emendations) 1885 page 326)
[14] An Arabic-English Vocabulary by D. A. Cameron page 155
[15] There are two translations which show that YHWH demands literal worship of Abraham in Genesis 27:29, Wycliffe Bible (WYC)
“29 and (may) peoples serve thee, and lineages WORSHIP thee; be thou lord of thy brethren, and the sons of thy mother be bowed (low) before thee; be he cursed that curseth thee, and he that blesseth thee, be he [full-]filled with blessings (be they cursed who curse thee, but let those who bless thee, be filled full with blessings).” – Genesis 27:29
Wycliffe Bible (WYC) 2001 by Terence P. Noble
[16] Genesis 27:29 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
“29 And let peoples serve thee, and tribes WORSHIP thee: be thou lord of thy brethren, and let thy mother’s children bow down before thee. Cursed be he that curseth thee: and let him that blesseth thee be filled with blessings.” – Genesis 27:29


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