Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally
Question: Assalam aleykum,
Does Allah ‘pray on the Prophet’ (peace be upon him)?
Answer: Assalamu ‘Alaykum,
I pray that you are well.
The Qur’an reads, Allah and his angels bless the Prophet [Qur’an; 33.56]. If one were to translate the verse literally from the Arabic, it would sound like: Allah and his angels pray on the Prophet. The intention is most certainly not that Allah or the angels are literally praying on the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Likewise, when we ask Allah to “pray on the Prophet,” by saying, Allahumma salli ʿala Muhammad, we are actually asking for Allah to bless, venerate, and reward the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in this world and the next. In Arabic, that meaning is simply conveyed in a manner that sounds incongruous when literally rendered in English.