We An Arabic And Hebrew Plural Of Respect
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"We" An Arabic And Hebrew Plural Of Respect


One of the foremost differences between Christianity and Islam is the concept of the “Trinity.” Most Christians are taught to believe in a “triune” God composed of three “persons”: God the “Father,” God the “Son,” and God the “Holy Spirit.” Muslims only believe in one God. Muslims believe that He is unique and indivisible. When a Christian first starts to read an English interpretation of the Qur’an, he is surprised to find that Allah always speaks about himself as “we,” “we,” “we.” He begins to think to himself “If Allah is one God, then why all the ‘we’s”? He begins to remember his “Trinity,” he puts one and one together and comes up with “three.” He then quickly locates the nearest Muslim in order to share with him the discovery that: “I have just found proof of the Trinity in your Qur’an!”

  This has become such a common occurrence that it will be dealt with separately as an independent topic. The problem arises from the very nature of the Arabic and English languages themselves. In both Arabic and Hebrew, there are two types of 'we'. One is the plural pronoun used by English speaking countries (such as “we rode in the car together,” “we all come from the same country”...etc.). The second is the plural of RESPECT. 'We' is used in the Qur'an when describing Allah Almighty in the second sense. It is used to magnify and glorify God as well as to display respect and humility to our Creator.

  The reader will also notice that this usage is not restricted to the Qur'an only. To this day, if an English speaking person were to go to any Arabic speaking country and to read any official letter directed to a dignitary or high official (or even a newspaper), or to attend an official speech, they will find that the dignitary is always addressed as “they” and “them” and “you” (plural “you”). So, when addressing an ambassador, King, or leader of a nation for example, this ONE person is always addressed as “THEY have arrived,” not “HE has arrived.” Or “I gave THEM the sealed letter,” not “I gave HIM the sealed letter.” So we must ask, if “we,” implies a “Trinity,” then is this king or this dignitary also a “triune” dignitary? Is he three persons merged into one? The same argument applies when this Arabic-speaking dignitary refers to himself in a public speech. In such a case, he will almost always refer to himself as “We.” For example, he will say: “We, the leader of this great nation...” and so forth. Dr. Jamal Badawi once observed that since the Queen of England refers to herself in the plural form then is she too a “Trinity”?

  Arabs are not blind. They can tell the difference between one and many. This is simply the nature of the Arabic language. This is how an Arab displays respect and humility. Even when speaking of one's wife, a Muslim in many Arab countries usually does not mention her by name. Neither does he say “she” or “her” but rather “they” and “them.” This is also a form of respect for our wives, mothers and sisters. This is why we find that in the over one billion Muslims all over the world, even the simple Muslim shepherd in the desert does not pray to a “Trinity.” Because they know their language.

  This system is not restricted to the Arabs alone. The Arabs are a Semitic tribe, and their Semitic cousins, the Jews, also use the same system to refer to God. In the Old Testament, the Jews refer to God as “Elohiym” {el-o-heem}. “Elohiym” is the plural form of “‘elowahh” {el-o’-ah}, which means “god.” We will notice that the Jews also do not pray to a “Trinity,” even though their book refers to God in the plural form. This is the way the Semitic languages of Arabic and Hebrew work.

   In the Eerdmans Bible Dictionary we read the following explanation of the word “Elohiym”: “As a name or designation of the God of Israel, the term is understood as a plural of majesty or an intensive plural, indicating the fullness of the supreme (or only) God ... the canonical intent is clearly monotheistic, even where the accompanying verbs or adjectives are grammatically plural (e.g. Gen. 20:13, Exod. 22:9 [Mt 8])”

  [Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, edited by Allen C. Myers, William B. Eerdmans Publishers, p. 331]

   The exact same system is also used in the Urdu language of Pakistan and India, as well as to a more limited degree in the French language. For example, a French king might be addressed as follows: “La presence de votre majesty est un honneur pour notre ville, vous avez apporte avec vous le bonheure.”

  Now that we see the true meaning of the Hebrew, Arabic, Urdu, and French use of the word “We” in reference to God Almighty, let us now read a little more of the Qur’an: “Say: He is Allah the One (and only). Allah, the eternally Besought of all! He neither begets nor was he begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him.” [The noble Qur’an, al-Ikhlas(112).]

  “Allah! There is no God but Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. Unto Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedes with Him save by His leave? He knows that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He will. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.”  [The noble Qur’an, Al-Bakarah(2):255]

  “Your God is One God; there is no God save Him, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” [The noble Qur’an, Al-Bakarah(2)163.]

  “Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. He has revealed unto you (Muhammad) the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. Aforetime, for a guidance to mankind; and has revealed the Criterion (one of the names of the Qur’an). Verily! those who disbelieve the revelations of Allah, theirs will be a heavy doom. Allah is Mighty, Able to Requite (the wrong). Verily! nothing in the earth or in the heavens is hidden from Allah. He it is who fashions you in the wombs as pleases Him. There is no God save Him, the Almighty, the Wise..” [The noble Qur’an, A’al-Umran(3):2-6]

  “Allah (Himself) is witness that there is no God save Him. And the angels and the men of learning (too are witness). Maintaining His creation in justice, there is no God save Him, the Almighty, the Wise. Verily! religion with Allah (is) ‘Al-Islam’ (the surrender). Those who (formerly) received the Scripture differed only after knowledge came unto them, through transgression among themselves. Whoso disbelieves the revelations of Allah (will find that) Verily! Allah is swift at reckoning. And if they argue with you, (O Muhammad), say: I have surrendered my purpose to Allah and (so have) those who follow me. And say unto those who have received the Scripture and those who read not: Have you (too) surrendered? If they surrender, then truly they are rightly guided, and if they turn away, then it is your duty only to convey the message (unto them). And Allah is Seer of (His) bondmen.” [The noble Qur’an, A’al-Umran(3):18-20.] 


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