There is a Quranic verse which states that Allah and His Angels send their blessings (i.e recite darood) to bless the Holy Prophet. I am very much confused about the interpretation of this verse. Why does Allah send blessing to the Holy Prophet? Is it in line with the other verses of the Holy Quran which portray Allah as Al-mighty and Omniscient?
Secondly, what is the meaning of "Aal-e-Muhammad" in the Darood that we recite so often? Many of my Shia and Sunni "Syed" friends claim that it refers to the descendants and family of the Holy Prophet, and not to the Ummah of the Holy Prophet in general.
What follows the verse you refer to and a simple transition:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. Believers! Send blessings on him as much as you can. (33:56)
We seek Allah's blessings for the Prophet (nusallī). We ask for God's mercy on him. On the contrary God blesses the Prophet (yusallī). He blesses the Prophet and showers His mercy on him. In Arabic many words are used in opposite meaning in different contexts, for example we say 'taaba al rajulu' meaning "the man repented" and "taaba Allah" meaning "God accepted the repentance."
As for the word Aal it takes both the family and the followers. In the Holy Qur'an the Almighty variously says that the Almighty punished Aal-e-Firhawn. It is evident that the punishment was not meted out only to the family and progeny of Pharaoh. He did not have any offspring and the punishment struck his followers as well. In certain connotations the word excludes the member of the family. When we say that the Almighty blessed the family of Abraham we exclude the transgressors among them since the Almighty made it clear that his favors would not be bestowed upon the transgressors among his family.
Thus we can say that the word encompasses the family and the followers both. It cannot be confined to the family in all cases. It can even exclude the family members from its application in some other instances.
We believe that the word in the Durood should be explained in the light of the Holy Qur'an. How was the family of Abraham blessed? According to the Holy Qur'an the progeny of Abraham was blessed as they were raised over other nations and were made guides for mankind. They were given special status of Shahdah al annas (being witness of the truth against other nations of the world). The same status was transferred to the Bani Ismael (Ismalites) who replaced the Israelites. Therefore the prayer is not confined to the progeny of the Holy Prophet (sws). Rather it takes the family to whom the Prophet belonged and his followers as well.