Using “We” and “I” to refer “Allah”
Assalamualykum dear Imam Mohsen.
In Qur’an translation, sometimes the “We” is used to refer “Allah” and sometimes the “I” is used to refer “Allah”.
Can you explain why (and when) we use both “We” and “I” to refer “Allah”?
Wa alaikum assalam,
Praise be to Allah.
The Holy Qur’an was revealed to our Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the language of the Arabs, and in Arabic it is as correct to use the plural when speaking of one person as it is to use the singular. But the plural is used for respect and glorification, and no one is more deserving of respect and glorification than Allaah. So the singular is used to affirm the fact that He is One and has no partner or associate, and the plural is used to affirm His glory and majesty, may He be exalted.
So when He says in the Qur’an innaa (“Verily We”) and nahnu (“We”), it is for respect and glorification, not to indicate plurality of numbers.
Imam Ibn Taymiyah (May Allah have mercy with him) said:
“Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, sometimes refers to Himself in the singular, by name or by use of a pronoun, and sometimes by use of the plural, as in the phrase: ‘Verily, We have given you a manifest victory” [al-Fath 48:1], and other similar phrases. But Allah never refers to Himself by use of the dual, because the plural refers to the respect that He deserves, and may refer to His names and attributes, whereas the dual refers to a specific number (and nothing else), and He is far above that.” (Al-‘Aqeedah al-Tadmuriyyah p. 75).
And Allah knows best.
Mohsen Shaker Bayoumy
Imam of Osaka Ibaraki Mosque