Why does Allah say “We” or “He” to refer to Himself?
Question: A well-known atheist say, “The Qur’ân bristles with contradictions. If it were the Word of Allah, it would not say “I” in one place, “We” in another place, and “He” in other places. For example, it uses the third person singular pronoun in the Sûrat-ul-Fâtiha when saying, ‘the Rabb of the worlds.’” What should we say in response to such people?
The statements of this atheist testify to his ignorance rather than his hatred for the religion. The Fâtiha is a prayer. How the Believers should supplicate has been revealed in it. The meaning of it is as follows:
Praise be to Allah, who is the Rabb of the worlds, the only owner of the Day of Judgement, the Compassionate and the Merciful. O our Rabb! We worship only You, and only from You do we ask for help. Guide us to the right way of those to whom You have granted blessings. Keep us away from the path of those who have incurred wrath and who have deviated.
Hadrat Ismâ’îl Haqqi of Bursa states the following as to why such pronouns as “I”, “We”, and “He” appear in the Qur’ân:
Sultans (the title of certain Muslim rulers) have four styles of speech:
1. They may say, “I did it.”
2. They may say, “We did it.”
3. They may say, “These have been commanded,” without even referring to themselves.
4. They may say by only using their titles, “Your Sultân commands you this and prohibits you from those.” They may also declare it in the third person pronoun “He.”
Allahu ta’âlâ’s sometimes saying “I” and sometimes “We” is a sultanesque form of address, with which the people are well acquainted. He is the Sultan of sultans. He has addressed in four styles like the ones above. Let us give three examples for each from the Qur’ân al-karîm:
1. Examples for the first person singular pronoun:
Fear Me alone. (Sûrat-ul-Baqara, 409)
I accept the repentance of whoever repents. (Sûrat-ul-Baqara, 160)
If My slave asks you about Me, let them know that I am close to them. I accept the prayers of those who call on Me, who pray to Me. (Sûrat-ul-Baqara, 186)
2. Examples for the first person plural pronoun:
We will reward the grateful. (Sûrat-u Âl-i ‘Imrân, 145)
We have prepared a destructive torment for disbelievers. (Sûrat-un-Nisâ’, 37)
We have made Hell a dungeon for disbelievers. (Sûrat-ul-Isrâ’, 8)
3. Examples for the commands that He has given without referring to Himself:
Fasting has been made fard for you. (Sûrat-ul-Baqara, 183)
It has also been made harâm for you to marry married women.(Sûrat-un-Nisâ’, 24)
Namâz has been made fard for Believers at specific times. (Sûrat-un-Nisâ’, 103)
4. Examples for the third person pronoun:
Allah is He who created you. (Sûrat-ur-Rûm, 40)
He is the Rabb who has made the earth your ground and the sky your ceiling. (Sûrat-ul-Baqara, 22)
He created all that is on earth for you. (Sûrat-ul-Baqara, 29)
Allahu ta’âlâ’s saying “I” is according to His Exalted Dhât [Person, Essence], and His saying “We” is according to His Names and Attributes. The numerousness of His Names and Attributes does not contrast with the Oneness of His Dhât because all His Names and Attributes belong to His Dhât.
(Rûh-ul-bayân, vol. 1, p. 37)
There is no creator other than Allah
Question: In the 11th âyat of Sûrat-ul-A’râf, Allah states, “We created.” Is there more than one ilâh?
The meaning of this âyat is as follows:
(We created you and then gave you shape. Then We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam.” They all fell prostrate except Iblis. He was not of those who prostrated.) [Sûrat-ul-A’râf, 11]
For such statements as “We created” or “We gave shape” that appear in the above-mentioned verses or in other verses, it is wrong to assume that there are other creators as well. He uses “We” instead of “I” in order to make known His greatness and His absolute sovereignty over everything. For example, He, addressing Rasûlullah, declared:“We have granted you the Kawthar.” The thing that is given gains value and glory, depending on the greatness of the giver. In order to communicate the greatness of the value of the Giver and the thing given, He states, “We have given you the Great Qur’ân” (Sûrat-ul-Hijr, 87).
Even in English, a person may use “We” for himself or herself (like the royal we or the editorial we), such as “We do it that way,” which implies no plurality.
The Rabb of rabbs
Question: In the Maktûbât-i Rabbâni, it is written, “We hold out our hands to Glorious Allah, who is the Rabb of rabbs.” Is it appropriate to use “rabbs” in the plural?
Some words have more than one meaning. So is the case with the word Rabb. It means the one who nourishes, who enables something to grow, and who trains. Then the statement above means, “We hold out our hands to Glorious Allah, who is the Trainer of trainers.”