What does Allah’s “Salaah” mean?


This query was brought to my attention by Anthony Rogers (see more information about him here and here), who quoted a comment by Sam Shamoun, the comment is:

You know full well what the actual position is but still, like your prophet did before you, you can’t help but deliberately misrepresent it. The position which you once claimed to have believed is that Jesus is God in essence and distinct from God the Father. Therefore, Jesus is praying to God the FATHER, not himself.

Let’s respond to this really quickly. Sam is saying that Jesus is not praying to himself, but Jesus the God is praying to the Father the God. So God is praying to God. So God who is praying to God, is not praying to God (himself) but to another God. How does one God pray to another God? How is this even Monotheistic? In order to deceive himself and distract Christians, he attempted to misrepresent Islamic beliefs:

However, speaking of a bizarre religion, you don’t get anymore bizarre than your [insult snipped] praying to himself!

They are those on whom are 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:
1387. 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; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)

And here is an article where I discuss this issue more in-depth and refute the lame attempt by your fellow Muhammadan-turned apostate-turned Muhammadan-turned apostate again-turned Muhammadan one more time Ibn Unaware: [link snipped]

So perhaps you can be so kind and answer my questions. To whom does your deity pray when he joins the angels in praying for Muhammad and so-called believers? Since the angels are obviously praying to Allah does this mean that Allah is also praying to himself?

Bizarre indeed!

I didn’t think I needed to mention this, but words have context. Context is defined as, “The part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning.”[1] As a toddler, when one is taught how to read, we learn that words, based on their context, affects their meaning. For our purposes, this phenomena is referred to as relational nouns, one study on its uses mentions:

Relational nouns have some commonalities with verbs  and prepositions, in that their meanings are centered around  extrinsic relations with other concepts. Relational nouns are  also similar to verbs in that they are semantically  unsaturated (i.e., they take arguments). A relational noun  takes an argument (often not obligatory) and assigns a  thematic role.[2]

Now, it’s quite obvious I don’t expect someone of the likes of Sam Shamoun to make sense of these things. For a person to not know that words have variant meanings dependent on context, it’s therefore understandable that he’d be intellectually stunted and as a consequence, misrepresent what the Qur’aan or Ahadeeth say. One example of relational nouns is the word ‘Seerah‘, outside of Islamic delimitations it means ‘story, history‘, but when Islamically used, it refers to the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) biography. Surely even someone with the level of ineptitude of Shamoun can grasp this. To cater for his level of understanding, we can even use English examples:
  1. The space of the car was huge.
  2. The car went into space.
In the above example, there are two similar nouns, ‘car‘ and ‘space‘, but they have two completely different meanings. Whereas the meaning of ‘car‘ is the same, the other noun, ‘space‘, although its the same word, due to its context, it has two completely different meanings. The meaning of the noun space, is therefore, relational. Its meaning is relative. This is an easy example. Given what we’ve just learned, it is therefore simple to understand that the word ‘Salaah’ has a relational meaning, dependent upon the noun it is used upon. While it does mean prayer in the conventional sense when referring to any creation of God, most usually mankind and Jinn, when it is used in relation to God, it has a totally variant meaning. We’ll use one of Sam’s quoted verses, 33:43 to illustrate this relational meaning:

(He is such that He and His angels send blessings to you), It means that when you have become used to dhikrullah in abundance and have become regular in recounting the perfections of Allah morning and evening, Allah would honor you and respect you by bestowing His Blessings and by the angels supplicating for you.

The word ‘Salah’ has been used in this verse for Allah Ta’ala as well as for the angels but the applicable meaning are different. For Allah it means His bestowing blessings and for angels who have no volition on their own, it means their supplication to Allah to bestow His blessings.

Sayydina Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) has stated that Salah from Allah is a blessing, from angels it is prayer for forgiveness and from humans it is supplication. The word Salah carries all the three meanings.

(Their greeting, the Day they will meet Him, will be, “Salam” – 33:44). This is the explanation of the Salah that is sent to believers from Allah.[3]

This therefore clarifies the misconception that God ‘prays’ like humans. The source of this misconception is due to Sam Shamoun’s lack of grammatical study, he is uneducated in terms of the English language and the Arabic language, thus technical constructs based on language study escapes his realm of education. Although common to us, for those of us who took language courses at the High School and University Level, Sam did not have these opportunities, so we should not be surprised at his ignorance.
He’s also committed a classical exegetical fallacy and a logical fallacy. The exegetical fallacy would be the, “Reading Between the Lines Fallacy”, Professor William D. Barrick explains:

This fallacy falls into the category of logical fallacies that Carson discusses in Exegetical  Fallacies. The unwarranted associative fallacy “occurs when a word or phrase triggers off an associated idea, concept, or experience that bears no close relation to the text at hand, yet is used to interpret the text.[4]

Recall that Sam is a Trinitarian Christian, in his mind, there is no difference between relational nouns in terms of God and man, since his God is a man. Whereas for us who believe in monotheism, God is not a man and therefore the terms that apply to God will have distinct meanings from those that apply to mankind. The other fallacy is the Tu Quoque fallacy, essentially the kindergarten argument of ‘you too’. Since he believes God is a man who prays to God, he’s trying to force his belief upon the Islamic faith, however in doing so, he abandons all sense of reasoning, education and dignity.

We pray that Shamoun realises his lack of education and seeks to attend classes so as not to humiliate himself once more.

and Allaah knows best.

[1] – “Context“, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
[2] – “Context Sensitivity of Relational Nouns“, Asmuth, J. & Gentner, D. (2005).
[3] – “Qur’aan 33:43“, Tafsir Maari’ful Qur’aan, Mufti Muhammad Shafi, page 182.
[4] – “Exegetical Fallacies“, Prof. William D. Barrick.

7 comments

  • Apparently Jesus is the Same God that he Prays too? If not, then it’s polytheism, if so, also absurdity!

  • Ijaz, but are not ‘Allah’ and the ‘Angels’ governed by the same verb in the Arabic?

    How then, can you claim two utterly seperate meanings for the two given the Arabic syntax?

    Explanation please…

  • Same word, different meaning. That’s what’s called relational nouns. Prayer’s meaning changes, dependent on whom it refers to. That’s basic language semantics.

    How can I claim? Because it’s a language construct, I take it you did English in High School? I already explained it.

    The office of the President.
    The office of the manager.

    Same word, different meanings. Also, the noun governs the meaning of the verb, you said the nouns are governed by the verb – you’re wrong.

  • Not absurdity Br. Semsav, it’s called Christianity.

  • Wow, just when I thought Christianity couldn’t get any more bizarre. If:
    1) Jesus is not the father.
    2) This “father” is greater than Jesus.
    3) Jesus can do nothing of his own will,except through the father’s.
    4) Jesus calls this “father” , My God.
    5) Jesus is not omniscient, only the father is( knowledge of the hour).
    6) Jesus refers to this “father” as the ONLY TRUE GOD. John 17:3
    7) Jesus grew in wisdom and whatever he teaches, he heard it from this “father”
    8)Jesus says his foremost believers were given to him by this “father”. This means faith originated from the father, not Jesus.
    I realise these are age old argument but how can Christianity be considered a monotheism after reading the above points and Roger’s arguments.

  • “So perhaps you can be so kind and answer my questions. To whom does your deity pray when he joins the angels in praying for Muhammad and so-called believers? Since the angels are obviously praying to Allah does this mean that Allah is also praying to himself?”

    “Sahih International: The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.”

    i dont understand these polythiests. if one BELIEVES in Allah than He IS worshipping Him. you worship God because you BELIEVE He exists. the word from this route can mean to “feel secure” “to put trust ” “security” “safety” . b ut according to dumb polythiests like shamoun BELIEF IN ALLAH would mean that the angels and His books SHOULD be worshipped because their is BELIEF in them.

  • this is an excellent post by brother Ijaz. . may God increase him more in knowledge and we can learn from the brother.

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