The word "we" that occurs quite frequently in the Quran is often ascribed to Allah under the premise that "we" is used to show respect or glorification (ref).

But what does it refer to in the verse 41:12?

And He completed them as seven heavens ... And We adorned the nearest heaven with lamps and as protection.

Obviously, it doesn't refer to Allah.

Is it Gabriel, the narrator of Quran?

  • WHY is "Obviously, this we doesnot refer to Allah" ?
    – itsols
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 13:15
  • because both "he" and "we" are in the same sentence....
    – user2724
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 13:56
  • I google this and seek article in arabic and other languages here : islamquest.net/ar/archive/question/fa543 Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 19:43

7 Answers 7


The word "We" here refers to Allah, and Allah Alone.

How this can be so will make more sense for someone who comes from an Asian background. For instance, in Urdu/Hindi (Indian languages) too, "We" can be used for first person singular; however if it is used by anyone other than a king or a ruler, it may sound a bit vainglorious (and even funny).

"We" is (often) used within the Qur'an by Allah to refer to Himself, and it actually makes sense, since He shows His Glory by doing so.

  • read the verse i stated. "he" and "we" occurs together. how can both be Allah?
    – user2724
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 6:41

Assalaam brother, remember Allah has 99 names of which we see "Al-Jalil" , and "Al - Mutakabbir" which imply Allah's majesty. The use of "We" is a majestic way of expressing oneself .

For example, if you have the Queen of England giving a speech, She would use "We" to express rather than "I", simply because of "we" having a more majestic implication on the Speaker.

And some people say its to denote trinity which is absolutely false. The Oneness of Allah is expressed by many Surahs, and also when Allah is expressed in 3rd person ,the word "huwa" (meaning "He") is used, rather than "hum"( meaning "they") . Which is enough to indicate that Allah created everything himself.

Hope the question is answered... if you need some references, you could ask them in comments... Baarakallahu feekum...

Links in answer as requested:

  • i have no doubt Allah is one. i simply meant to ask does the word we **really refer to Allah**, or **the angels including Gabriel who is the narrator of the quran**?
    – user2724
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 13:34
  • We means Allah and no one else . In 3rd person , using "they" would actually mean plural i.e. many entities. Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 16:37

If you know Arabic language you can know that easily.

In Arabic language if you want to show your respect to somebody you talk to him in plural form not singular.


كيف حالك؟ How are you? This is used to ask a normal one how he is.

كيف حالكم How are you? If you used this to ask for only one person this means you are showing him a respect.

And as you know Originally Quran is in Arabic which means use Arabic language so we is used for showing respect, glorification and enthronement.

  • i am comp[letely ok with that. but in that particular verse, he and we occurs simultaneously. does that 'He' and 'we' refer to different beings?
    – user2724
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 13:22
  • No at all in Arabic yo can use we to represent the one and same as he. So the use of "I" or "We" In Quraan subject to the state that ALLAH is talking about.
    – Maythux
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 13:25

According to the hadith of Ziyarat Jamea Kabeera (زيارت جامعه كبيره) the we means God and Ahl al Bayt.

But for understanding this we should first know what “Ziyarat Jamea Kabeera” is and then understand it well and deep. This Ziyarat does not have a human source. It is narated by By Imam Ali an Naqi (A.S.) one of the 12 infallible Imams. It has a divine source and is from divine knowledge of Messenger of Allah Muhammad SAWW. This Ziyarat is best source for knowing the real rank of Ahl al Bayt. Each sentence of this Ziyarat is a knowledge about Ahl al Bayt. Many scholars have written commentary books about this Ziyarat. Each sentence of this Ziyarat is similar to one verse of Quran and is interpretation of one verse of Quran. Understanding this Ziyarat is not easy. It is like understanding Quran.

For example one verse of Quran says:

ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا حِسَابَهُم

Then indeed, upon Us is their account. http://tanzil.net/#88:26

Now the question is who are "us" in this verse? So we look at this Ziarat to find the equivalent sentence:

وَحِسَابُهُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ

And accounting of people is upon you

So it is known from this verse and this sentence that the Judgement at Judgement day is transferred by God to Ahl ul Bayt and they are judges of Judgement day. But based on laws of God and under supervision of God. Like a president transferring his duties to his ministers.

Transferring an authority to another is called Izn. God transfers his authorities to some of his trusted friends (Awlia). The top of them are infallibles Imams or Ahl al Bayt.

This is one case of Izn in Quran. In this verse God says that he has given the Izn of bringing dead people to life. So who has this Izn can simply bring a dead to life. Only by a simple will in mind.

In Quran it is said God gives Izn to some of special infallible persons.

For example this verse is about Izn:

[The Day] when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, remember My favor upon you and upon your mother when I supported you with the Pure Spirit and you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and [remember] when I taught you writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when you designed from clay [what was] like the form of a bird with My permission, then you breathed into it, and it became a bird with My permission; and you healed the blind and the leper with My permission; and when you brought forth the dead with My Izn (permission); and when I restrained the Children of Israel from [killing] you when you came to them with clear proofs and those who disbelieved among them said, "This is not but obvious magic." http://tanzil.net/#5:110

Full Text of Ziyarat-e-Jamia Kabeer with english translation and information about it

  • 1
    Can you please elaborate the answer to show the connection between "we being Allah and Ahl al Bayt" and "God giving Izn to some of special infallible persons" ? also, applying this definition of we, verse 41:12 becomes: 'Allah and Ahl al bayt adorned the nearest heaven with lamps' . is this correct?
    – user2724
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 15:12
  • How does that answer the question? Please elaborate. Commented Mar 22, 2014 at 16:34
  • 1
    @MAKZ answer improved Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 9:57

The We in the Qur'an always refers to Allah, as Najeeb states. In your excerpt you neglected to show that the change in the use of pronouns occurs across sentences.

And He completed them as seven heavens within two days and inspired in each heaven its command. And We adorned the nearest heaven with lamps and as protection. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.

In the first sentence Allah talks about construction, something that any worker could do (construction in general, not thus specific task) however, as ever in a way which befits His majesty.

In the second sentence Allah performs a more 'skilled' task of decoration of the heavens and protecting them. Obviously nothing is beyond Allah's ability, however if a smaller task were undertaken by humans, the decoration and protection would be considered more 'skilled' tasks, and in the way Allah performs them perhaps befitting a change in pronoun.


السلام عليكم

If you take into consideration the previous verses, Allah asks Muhammad (PBUH), to say "Do you indeed disbelieve in He who created the earth in two days and attribute to Him equals? That is the Lord of the worlds." (41:9).
This extends to that part of 41:12, then when the pronoun changes, I think it is more like a comment, to better explain to the prophet what he has to say. Allah is indeed all-knowing, so may he forgive me if I am wrong.


Scholars have mentioned two points of interest about this.

The first is that this is, what we call in English, "the royal we, which you already mentioned; this is a way of referring to a single person for the purposes of respect, glorification, etc.

The second opinion is from a scholar (I believe Ibn Tamiyyah) who researched this, and states that "whenever Allah refers to himself as "we" in the Qur'an, it refers to actions which may be done by Himself and the angels together."

This second opinion fits into the ayah that you specifically quoted, although it is a general principle.

  • 1
    nice one. reference please?
    – user2724
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 14:16
  • @MAKZ I don't have a reference, unfortunately. I was told this verbally in a class I attended. Most of the shaykh's writings are still in Arabic. I would try "Zaad Al-Maad," which has a short version translated into English.
    – ashes999
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 14:18

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