Friday, 17 June 2011

Why does Allah use the word "We" to refer to Himself?

Why does Allah use the word "We"
to refer to Himself?

by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi

Question. We already know Allah our lord is One.
As in Surah al-Ikhlas 112:1-4. But why does Allah the Lord use the
word “We” to refer to Himself in many verse or ayat
in the Qur’an? For example He says in Surah al-Anbiya’
21:107 “And We did not send you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy
to the world.” The word “we” is plural, more than
one. Why does Allah use “We” instead of “I”
to refer to Himself? (Izani Mahayudin bin Abd Aziz, Malaysia)

Answer. The Qur’an says very clearly that
there is only One God, Allah. “There is no god but Allah”
is the basic principle of Islam. There is no ambiguity about this
fact in the Qur’an and there are hundreds of ayat or verses
of the Qur’an that make this point very clear. Belief in more
than one God is Shirk (polytheism) and a major sin according to
the Qur’an.

Whenever in the Qur’an Allah is mentioned in the third person
there are always singular pronouns used, such as He, him (Huwa or
Hu). Whenever Allah is spoken to in the second person there are
also singular pronouns, such as Thou, Thine and Thee (Anta, Ka).
However only in the first person some times the pronouns I, My or
Mine (Ana, Iyaya, ya) are used and sometimes We, Us and Our (Nahnu,
Na) are used.

This is a style of speech. Sometime the speaker says I and sometime
says we. We also use that in our conversations. In the Qur’an
you will see that often the first person singular such as I or My
is used, when Allah speaks about His love, care and closeness and
forgiveness for His servants. In a similar way the first person
plural is often used when Allah speaks about His power, majesty,
glory, great deeds or when He speaks about His anger and wrath for
the sinners and criminals. (This is, of course, the general use.
Sometime the reverse is also the case, depending on the context
of the Surah.)

See for example the verses where the first person singular is used:
“When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close
(to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth
on Me: let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe
in Me: that they may walk in the right way.” (al-Baqarah 2:186)
Or “Verily, I am Allah: there is no god but I: so serve thou
Me (only), and establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise.”
(Taha 20:14) or “But, without doubt, I am (also) He that forgives
again and again, to those who repent, believe, and do right, who,
in fine, are ready to receive true guidance.” (Taha 20:82)
or see another example where both pronouns are used side by side,
“Before them the People of Noah rejected (their Messenger):
they rejected Our servant, and said, “Here is one possessed!”
and he was driven out. Then he called on His Lord: “I am one
overcome: do Thou then help (me)!” So We opened the gates
of heaven, with water pouring forth. And We caused the earth to
gush forth with springs. So the waters met (and rose) to the extent
decreed. But We bore him on an (Ark) made of broad planks and caulked
with palm-fiber: She floats under Our eyes (and care): a recompense
to one who had been rejected (with scorn)! And We have left this
as a Sign (for all time): then is there any that will receive admonition?
But how (terrible) was My Penalty and My Warning? (al-Qamar 54:9-16)

See also some verses where the first person plural is used: “We
have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly
guard it (from corruption).” (al-Hijr 15:9) or “We created
not the heavens, the earth, and all between them, but for just ends.
And the Hour is surely coming” (al-Hijr 15:85) or “And
among His Signs is this: thou seest the earth barren and desolate;
but when We send down rain to it, it is stirred to life and yields
increase. Truly, He Who gives life to the (dead) earth can surely
give life to (men) who are dead. For He has power over all things.”
(Fussilat 41:39). Or “Already has Our Word been passed before
(this) to Our Servants sent (by Us). That they would certainly be
assisted. And that Our forces, they surely must conquer. So turn
thou away from them for a little while. And watch them (how they
fare), and they soon shall see. Do they wish (indeed) to hurry on
our Punishment? But when it descends into the open space before
them, evil will be the morning for those who were warned (and heeded
not) (al-Saffat 37:171-177). There are many other examples.

Christian writers in their desperate desire to prove their doctrine
of Trinity have sometime interpreted some Biblical passages where
first person plural is used to suggest that this means the “Divine
Trinity”. For example in the Bible it is mentioned, “Then
God said, “Let us make man in our image¦” (Genesis
1:26). Christian writers contend that this means that there is plurality
in God (We seek Allah’s forgiveness for mentioning this blasphemy.)
Sometime Christian missionaries also go to simple Muslims and try
to confuse them by taking some verses from the Qur’an and
tell them that the Qur’an also supports such doctrines. I
tried to explain this point in some detail, because I have often
heard this type of questions from some Christians.


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