Friday, 13 November 2009

Does Allah Pray to Himself? Part I

“Islam and the prayers of Allah; An examination of the worship and praise which Allah performs, 

by Sam Shamoun”

We are told in the Qur’an that the Islamic deity prays for his followers, especially Muhammad:

They are those on whom re the prayers (salawatun) from their Lord and mercy (rahmatun), and it is they who are the guided-ones. S. 2:157

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. S. 33:43 Palmer

Verily, God and His angels pray (yusalloona) for the prophet. O ye who believe! pray for him (salloo) and salute him with a salutation! S. 33:56 Palmer

The hadith reports also mention Allah praying for people:

Abu Umama reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah AND His angels AND the people of the heavens AND the earth, EVEN the ants in their rocks AND the fish, PRAY for blessings on those who teach people good." [at-Tirmidhi] (Aisha Bewley, Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous), Book of Knowledge, 241. Chapter: the excellence of knowledge)


Abu Umamah al-Bahili narrated: “Two men were mentioned before the Messenger of Allah. One of them a worshipper, and the other a scholar. So the Messenger of Allah said: ‘The superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like my superiority over the least of you.’ Then the Messenger of Allah said: ‘Indeed ALLAH, His Angels, the inhabitants of the heavens and the earths – even the ant in his hole, even the fish – say Salat upon the one who teaches the people to do good. (Hasan) [Abu ‘Eisa said:] This Hadith is Hasan Gharib Sahih… (English Translation of Jami‘ At-Tirmidhi, Compiled by Imam Hafiz ‘Eisa Mohammad Ibn ‘Eisa At-Tirmidhi, From Hadith no. 2606 to 3290, translated by Abu Khaliyl (USA), ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i, final review by Islamic Research Section Darussalam [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: November 2007], Volume 5, Chapter 19. What Has Been Related About the Superiority Of Fiqh Over Worship, p. 80 – listed as number 70 in the ALIM CD-Rom version of at-Tirmidhi’s hadith collection)

There are additional references which acknowledge that Allah prays:

The people of Israel said to Moses: “Does your Lord pray?” His Lord called him [saying]: “O Moses, they asked you if your Lord prays. Say [to them] ‘Yes, I do pray, and my angels [pray] upon my prophets and my messengers,’” and Allah then sent down on his messenger: “Allah and His angels pray…” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 33:56; translated from the Arabic online edition)


Hadith 216:

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. [Ibn ‘Asakir] (Al-Ahadith Al-Qudsiyyah - Divine Narratives translated by Dr. Abdul Khaliq Kazi & Dr. Alan B. Day, Section 2: Al-Ithafat Al-Saniyya Bi‘l-Ahadith Al-Qudsiyyah by Shaikh Zain al-Din Abdul Ra‘uf b. Taj al-‘Arifin b. ‘Ali b. Zayn al-‘Abidin al-Munawi [Dar Al Kitab Arabi - USA, 1995], pp. 305-306)

The following is supposed to be a prayer of Allah taken from Ibn Hisham’s Al-Sirah Al-Halabiyya:

I [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.’”

What makes this rather amazing is that according to the Islamic sources the words salawat and salah refer to worship and glorification:

Ibn Al-Atheer in his highly acknowledged dictionary of the Arabic language, 'Al-Nihaayah fi Ghareeb al-Athar' has explained "Sala'h" as follows:

'Al-Sala'h' and 'Al-Salawaat': used for a particular kind of worship. Its literal origin is supplication (prayer). Sometimes,'Sala'h' is referred to by mentioning any one or more of its parts. It is also said that the literal origin of the word is 'to glorify' and the particular worship is called 'Sala'h', because it entails the glorification of the Lord. (The Meaning of the Word "Sala'h", May 19, 2001)

In fact both of these words are used in the Qur’an to denote the worship or invocations that Allah’s servants are commanded to give to him:

Guard strictly (five obligatory) As-Salawat (the prayers [al-salawati]) especially the middle Salat [al-salati] (i.e. the best prayer 'Asr). And stand before Allah with obedience [and do not speak to others during the Salat (prayers)]. S. 2:238

And some of the Bedouins believe in God and the Last Day, and take what they expend for offerings bringing them near to God, and the prayers of the Messenger (wa-salawati al-rasooli). Surely they are an offering for them, and God will admit them into His mercy; God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. S. 9:99 Arberry

Take of their wealth a freewill offering, to purify them and to cleanse them thereby, and pray (salli) for them; thy prayers (salataka) are a comfort for them; God is All-hearing, All-knowing. S. 9:103 Arberry

And those who strictly guard their (five compulsory congregational) Salawat (prayers [salawatihim]) (at their fixed stated hours). S. 23:9

The Muslim scripture also employs the word salla, and its various forms, in this same sense:

And the angels called to him as he stood praying (yusallee) in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah, lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous.
S. 3:39 Pickthall

When you (O Messenger Muhammad) are among them, and lead them in As-Salat (the prayer [al-salata]), let one party of them stand up [in Salat (prayer)] with you taking their arms with them; when they finish their prostrations, let them take their positions in the rear and let the other party come up which has not yet prayed (yusalloo), and let them pray (yusalloo) with you taking all the precautions and bearing arms. Those who disbelieve wish, if you were negligent of your arms and your baggage, to attack you in a single rush, but there is no sin on you if you put away your arms because of the inconvenience of rain or because you are ill, but take every precaution for yourselves. Verily, Allah has prepared a humiliating torment for the disbelievers. S. 4:102

And never (O Muhammad) pray (tusalli) (funeral prayer) for any of them (hypocrites) who dies, nor stand at his grave. Certainly they disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger, and died while they were Fasiqun (rebellious, - disobedient to Allah and His Messenger). S. 9:84

So he (the disbeliever) neither believed (in this Qur'an, in the Message of Muhammad) nor prayed (salla)! S. 75:31

and mentions the Name of his Lord, and prays (salla). S. 87:15 Arberry

Have you (O Muhammad) seen him (i.e. Abu Jahl) who prevents, a slave (Muhammad) when he prays (salla)? S. 96:9-10

Furthermore, the Qur’an states that all praise belongs to Allah:

Whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth glorifies Allah. His is the dominion, and to Him belong all the praises and thanks, and He is able to do all things. S. 64:1

Some of the creatures that praise Allah include thunder and angels:

And Ar-Ra'd (thunder) glorifies and praises Him, and so do the angels because of His Awe, He sends the thunderbolts, and therewith He strikes whom He wills, yet they (disbelievers) dispute about Allah. And He is Mighty in strength and Severe in punishment. S. 13:13

And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: “Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generations after generations on earth.” They said: “Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, - while we glorify You with praises and thanks (Exalted be You above all that they associate with You as partners) and sanctify You?” He (Allah) said: “I know that which you do not know.” S. 2:30

And those who kept their duty to their Lord will be led to Paradise in groups, till, when they reach it, and its gates will be opened (before their arrival for their reception) and its keepers will say: “Salamun 'Alaikum (peace be upon you)! You have done well, so enter here to abide therein.” And they will say: “All the praises and thanks be to Allah Who has fulfilled His Promise to us and has made us inherit (this) land. We can dwell in Paradise where we will; how excellent a reward for the (pious good) workers!” And you will see the angels surrounding the Throne (of Allah) from all round, glorifying the praises of their Lord (Allah). And they (all the creatures) will be judged with truth, and it will be said. “All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).” S. 39:73-75

Those (angels) who bear the Throne (of Allah) and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) (saying): "Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who repent and follow Your Way, and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire!” S. 40:7

Nearly the heavens might rent asunder from above them (by His Majesty), and the angels glorify the praises of their Lord, and ask for forgiveness for those on the earth, verily, Allah is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. S. 42:5

Muhammad and his followers are expressly commanded to praise their Lord:

And put your trust (O Muhammad) in the Ever Living One Who dies not, and glorify His Praises, and Sufficient is He as the All-Knower of the sins of His slaves; S. 25:58

So glorify the Praises of your Lord, and ask for His Forgiveness. Verily, He is the One Who accepts the repentance and forgives. S. 110:3

Allah even expects his servants to praise him at different times of the day:

And His is all the praises and thanks in the heavens and the earth, and (glorify Him) in the afternoon (i.e. offer 'Asr prayer) and when you come up to the time, when the day begins to decline (i.e. offer Zuhr prayer). (Ibn 'Abbas said: “These are the five compulsory congregational prayers mentioned in the Qur'an”). S. 30:18

So be patient (O Muhammad). Verily, the Promise of Allah is true, and ask forgiveness for your fault and glorify the praises of your Lord in the Ashi (i.e. the time period after the midnoon till sunset) and in the Ibkar (i.e. the time period from early morning or sunrise till before midnoon) [it is said that, that means the five compulsory congregational Salat (prayers) or the 'Asr and Fajr prayers]. S. 40:55

So bear with patience (O Muhammad) all that they say, and glorify the Praises of your Lord, before the rising of the sun and before (its) setting (i.e. the Fajr, Zuhr, and 'Asr prayers) .S. 50:39

Moreover, Allah’s praise is directly connected with his worship, such as bowing or prostrating to him:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. ll the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamin(mankind, jinns and all that exists). The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection). You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything). Guide us to the Straight Way, The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians). S. 1:1-7
(The believers whose lives Allah has purchased are) those who repent to Allah (from polytheism and hypocrisy, etc.), who worship Him, who praise Him, who fast (or go out in Allah's Cause), who bow down (in prayer), who prostrate themselves (in prayer), who enjoin (people) for Al-Ma'ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all what Islam has ordained) and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism of all kinds and all that Islam has forbidden), and who observe the limits set by Allah (do all that Allah has ordained and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden). And give glad tidings to the believers. S. 9:112

So glorify the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him). And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death). S. 15:98-99

Only those believe in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), who, when they are reminded of them fall down prostrate, and glorify the Praises of their Lord, and they are not proud. S. 32:51

This means that Allah worships, praises and glorifies like his creatures do since he prays like them! In fact, Allah even recites chapters from the Qur’an like Muslims do in their prayers!

Narrated AbuHurayrah: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "A thousand years before creating the heavens and the Earth, Allah RECITED Ta-Ha and Ya-Sin, and when the angels HEARD the recitation they said, 'Happy are the people to whom this comes down, happy are the minds which carry this, and happy are the tongues which utter this.” Darimi transmitted it (At-Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 660 – from ALIM CD-ROM Version)

And since the Qur’an depicts Allah praying by using the very same words which denote praise, worship and glorification Allah must therefore be praising, glorifying, worshiping etc. himself and/or someone else.

Lo and behold this is precisely what Allah does according to the following Islamic authority!

The Meaning of Salah

Allah's Salah means that HE PRAISES HIS SERVANT BEFORE THE ANGELS, as Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Al-`Aliyah. This was recorded by Abu Ja`far Ar-Razi from Ar-Rabi` bin Anas from Anas. Others said: “Allah's Salah means mercy.”' It may be said that there is no contradiction between these two views. And Allah knows best. Salah from the angels means their supplication and seeking forgiveness for people, as Allah says…
 (Those who bear the Throne and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (saying): "Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who repent and follow Your way, and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire! Our Lord! And make them enter the `Adn Garden which you have promised them -- and to the righteous among their fathers, their wives, and their offspring! Verily, You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. And save them from the sins.'') (40:7-9) …(that He may bring you out from darkness into light.) means, by means of His mercy towards you, HIS PRAISE OF YOU and the supplication of His angels for you, He brings you forth from the darkness of ignorance and misguidance into the light of guidance and certain faith.
(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 33:43)


The Command to say Salah upon the Prophet

Al-Bukhari said: “Abu Al-`Aliyah said: ‘Allah's Salah is HIS PRAISING HIM BEFORE THE ANGELS, and the Salah of the angels is their supplication.’” Ibn `Abbas said: “They send blessings.” Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi said: “This was narrated from Sufyan Ath-Thawri and other scholars, who said: ‘The Salah of the Lord is mercy, and the Salah of the angels is their seeking forgiveness.’” There are Mutawatir Hadiths narrated from the Messenger of Allah commanding us to send blessings on him and how we should say Salah upon him. We will mention as many of them as we can, if Allah wills, and Allah is the One Whose help we seek… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 33:56)

Allah’s prayers consist of praising his slaves such as Muhammad before the angels in heaven!

Thus, just as Muslims are praising and glorifying someone when they pray, Allah is also praising and glorifying certain persons when he prays! In the case of Muslims they are glorifying and praising Allah, whereas in Allah’s case he is actually glorifying and praising Muhammad and the believers!


Continues on Part II


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