In my college classes, I am studying the Quran and I've noticed that the "We" pronoun used by Allah is typically seen as the "Royal We," but I cannot seem to find that sense of the word prior to the 11th century and further, I cannot find نحن (nahnu) to ever be used in the singular sense by contemporaries of Muhammed; especially in his cultural context. Even the Semitic relative Hebrew term נַחְנוּ (also pronounced nahnu), is always utilized in the plural. I was just hoping someone could help provide me with insight and resources in studying this (preferably works of antiquity written within a century of Muhammed.)

With my utmost respect, I thank you all for your time.

1 Answer 1


Questions about language are off-topic.

However the use of a plural noun or pronoun to refer to a single entity is fairly normal. For example:

قلنا يا ذا القرنين إما أن تعذب وإما أن تتخذ فيهم حسنا

We said, "O Dhul-Qarnayn, either you punish [them] or else adopt among them [a way of] goodness."

قال أما من ظلم فسوف نعذبه ثم يرد إلى ربه فيعذبه عذابا نكرا

He said, "As for one who wrongs, we (meaning I) will punish him. Then he will be returned to his Lord, and He will punish him with a terrible punishment.

Quran 18:86-87

إنا اتخذنا خاتما، ونقشنا فيه نقشا، فلا ينقش عليه أحد

We (meaning I) have got a ring made and engraved a certain engraving on it so none of you should get such an engraving on his ring.

Bukhari 5874

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