How the One Becomes the Many: The Quran’s Affirmation of Plurality within Unity

Muslims will argue that Allah is a singular person, though they may not employ that specific term, on the basis of Quranic texts which state that the Islamic deity is one. They further base this on the fact that the Quran often ascribes singular verbs, adjectives, pronouns, etc. to Allah.

Suffice it to say they are major problems with this approach.

In the first place, the Muslim scripture also employs plural verbs, adjectives, pronouns, etc., to describe the Islamic god:

It is We who give life, and make to die, and it is We who are the inheritors. S. 15:23

Surely We shall inherit the earth and all that are upon it, and unto Us they shall be returned. S. 19:40

No, indeed! We shall assuredly write down all that he says, and We shall prolong for him the chastisement; and We shall inherit from him that he says, and he shall come to Us alone… Hast thou not seen how We sent the Satans against the unbelievers, to prick them? S. 19:79-80, 83

Secondly, the Quran identifies other divine beings besides Allah such as the Spirit, which the Islamic text identifies as a personal entity whom Allah breathes out, that can appear as a man,  is able to create and give life, is omnipresent and omnipotent, who is personally distinguished from all angels, and whose precise nature is mysterious (cf. Q. 2:87, 253; 5:110; 15:28-29; 16:2, 102; 17:85; 19:16-21; 21:91; 38:71-72; 58:22; 66:12; 70:4; 78:38; 97:4).

The Quran even depicts Allah as a subordinate deity who is subject and answers to another as his very own Lord:

We shall turn about their hearts and their eyes, even as they believed not in it the first time; and We shall leave them in their insolence wandering blindly. Though We had sent down the angels to them, and the dead had spoken with them, had We mustered against them every thing, face to face, yet they would not have been the ones to believe, unless God willed; but most of them are ignorant. So We have appointed to every Prophet an enemy — Satans of men and jinn, revealing tawdry speech to each other, all as a delusion; yet, had thy Lord willed, they would never have done it. So leave them to their forging, and that the hearts of those who believe not in the world to come may incline to it, and that they may be well-pleased with it, and that they may gain what they are gaining. What, shall I seek after any judge but God? For it is He who sent down to you the Book well-distinguished; and those whom We have given the Book know it is sent down from thy Lord with the truth; so be not thou of the doubters. S. 6:110-114

Glory be to Him, who carried His servant by night from the Holy Mosque to the Further Mosque the precincts of which We have blessed, that We might show HIM some of Our signs. He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing. S. 17:1

Surely God is my Lord, and your Lord; So serve you Him. This is a straight path. S. 19:36

That is Paradise which We shall give as an inheritance to those of Our servants who are godfearing. We come not down, save at the commandment of thy Lord. To Him belongs all that is before US, and all that is behind US, and all between that. And thy Lord is never forgetful, Lord He of the heavens and earth and all that is between them. So serve Him, and be thou patient in His service; knowest thou any that can be named with His Name? S. 19:63-65

And heaven — We built it with might, and We extend it wide. And the earth — We spread it forth; O excellent Smoothers! And of everything created We two kinds; haply you will remember. Therefore flee unto God! I am a clear warner from Him to you. And set not up with God another god; I am a clear warner from Him to you. S. 51:47-51

Thirdly, the Muslim scripture itself testifies that singular verbs, adjectives, pronouns, etc., do not prove singularity but can and often do point to a plurality and unity. There are examples in the Quran where the singular is employed in reference to plural subjects forming or coming together as a unit. Note the following verses, for instance:

“He it is who has revealed to thee the Book, of which there are some verses (ayatun) that are decisive, they are the mother of the Book (ommu al-kitabi); and others ambiguous; but as for those in whose hearts is perversity, they follow what is ambiguous, and do crave for sedition, craving for (their own) interpretation of it; but none know the interpretation of it except God. But those who are well grounded in knowledge say, ‘We believe in it; it is all from our Lord; but none will remember save those who possess minds.” S. 3:7 Rodwell

Ayatun is a nominative feminine plural indefinite noun whereas ommu is a nominative feminine singular noun.

And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son A SIGN (ayatan) for all peoples. S. 21:91 Y. Ali

And We made the son of Mary and his mother as A SIGN (ayatan): We gave them both shelter on high ground, affording rest and security and furnished with springs. S. 23:50 Y. Ali

Ayatan is an accusative feminine singular indefinite noun.

We thus have cases where plural subjects or entities are governed by singular nouns.

This, thereby, soundly refutes the claim that Allah must be a singular person or consciousness solely because the Quran uses singular nouns, pronouns, verbs, etc. to describe the Islamic deity.

So much for the Muhammadan claim that Allah is a singular consciousness and that Islam proclaims absolute unitarianism.

Further Reading

The Quran’s Many Gods and Lord (https://answeringislam.net/Quran/Incoherence/many_gods.htm)

The Quran, Allah and Plurality Issues (https://answeringislam.net/Shamoun/allah_plurality.htm)

The Uncreatedness of the Quran and the Unity of Allah (https://answeringislam.net/Shamoun/eternal_quran.htm)

  

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