Jesus prayed to his Father in his incarnation. Muslims seem too think this is a problem for Christians.
It isn’t. We believe God is a trinity. There is a distinction between the eternal Father and the eternal Son. What does prayer mean? Prayer is simply conversing with the Father, as Jesus taught us to do. So Jesus talked to the Father in prayer. This is neither a denial of his divinity nor a refutation of the trinity.
The purpose of this article is to find out from Islamic sources if Allah prays. And if he does pray, who does he pray to? Since Allah is a unitarian being, this could open a can of worms for Islam..
Let’s find out. We will look at both the sahih hadiths and the Quran.
According to hadiths:
[Muhammad] said, “O Gabriel, does your Lord pray?” He said, “YES.” I said, “What does he say?” “This is what he says. He says: ‘Glory, holy, Lord of the angels and the Spirit. My mercy overcomes my wrath.’”
Jami` at-Tirmidhi Volume 1, Book 3, Hadith 486
The following is supposed to be a prayer of Allah taken from Ibn Hisham’s Al-Sirah Al-Halabiyya: قلت يا جبريل أيصلى ربك قال نعم قلت وما يقول قال يقول سبوح قدوس رب الملائكة والروح سبقت رحمتى غضبى I
Umar bin Al-Khattab narrated:”Indeed the supplication stops between the heavens and the earth. Nothing of it is raised up until you send Salat upon your Prophet.”
Let’s now turn to the Quran.
Qur’an (Surah) 33:56 – Verily, GOD and His angels PRAY (yusalloona) for the prophet. O ye who believe! pray for him (salloo) and salute him with a salutation!
Ibn Abbas, a renowned Muslim scholar, who was also the first cousin of Muhammad confirmed:
“The people of Israel said to Moses, “Does your Lord pray?” His Lord called him, “O Moses, they asked thee if your Lord prays. Say [to them] “Yes, I do pray, and my angels [pray] upon my prophets and my messengers”, and Allah then send down on his messenger (prayer and peace be upon him): Állah and his angels pray…'”
[quoted by Ibn Kathir on 33:56]
Qur’an (Surah) 33:43 – HE it is who PRAYS (yusallee) for you and His angels too, to bring you forth out of the darkness into the light, for He is merciful to the believers.
The word “salla” comes from the arabic root salat, meaning “prayer”. (Ask any arabic speaking person and you’ll find out that this is true.) Muslims say, “sallahu alayhi wa salam”. It means “may the PRAYERS and peace OF ALLAH be upon him”.
Some Muslim argue that “salla” means blessing and that the verse means that Allah sends his “blessings”. However, the word for blessing is BARAKA and this is not the word we find in these verses.
Here is a comment from a Muslim scholar about Sura 33:56 that explains very clearly that there is a difference between the word pray and blessing.
Allah makes the merit of His prophet clear by first praying blessings on Himself, and then by the prayer of the angels, and then by commanding his slaves to pray blessing and peace on him as well. Abu Bakr ibn Furak related that one of the ulama interpreted the words of the prophet, “The coolness of my eye is in the prayer,” as meaning Allah’s prayer, that of the angels and that of his community in response to Allah’s command until the Day of Rising. The prayer of angels and men is a supplication for him and that of Allah is mercy.Muhammad Messenger Of Allah (Ash Shifa of Qadi Íyad), Qadi ‘Iyad Musa al-Yahsubi, translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, UK. 1991; 3rd reprint paperback p.25.
It is said that “they pray” means they invoke blessing (baraka). However, when the prophet taught the people the prayer on himself, he made a distinction between the word salat (prayer) and baraka (blessing). We will return to the meaning of the prayer on him later.”
So, WHO was Allah praying to? And WHY?
Qur’an (Surah) 2:157 – They are those on whom are the prayers (salawatun) from their Lord and mercy (rahmatun), and it is they who are the guided-ones.