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Does 'Wahdahu' in 17:46 mean God alone or Quran alone?
« on: June 30, 2012, 04:00:30 PM »
Salam brother Joseph

I have noted some Quran-only Muslims translate 'qurani wahdahu' in 17:46 as ‘Quran alone’ to provide evidence that only the Quran alone can be followed. However, traditional translations refer to Allah alone. Why do they do this? What is the correct Arabic translation?

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Does 'Wahdahu' in 17:46 mean God alone or Quran alone?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2012, 04:22:57 PM »
Salamun Alaikum,

When studying the Quran, we need to be careful not to mistranslate or derive incorrect interpretations to support our theological position. We should allow the Quran to speak for itself.

I am not sure why some people translate 'wahdahu' to infer 'Quran alone' in verse 17:46 given the clear grammar and construct of the sentence. With respect, I can only put it down to:

  • a sincere lack of understanding of Arabic or
  • a translation orchestrated to support a theological bias.

The Arabic phrase "wahdaHU" is made of a noun and a singular masculine pronoun. The pronoun 'HU' in wahdaHU clearly refers to the noun 'Rab' (as Him) and not the 'Quran'.

So a closer translation in fluid expression would be "Him alone". Note that the Arabic does not say 'wahdatan' which would mean only, alone.

"and when you mention your Lord alone in the Quran"

It does not matter that the word 'wahdahu' appears after the word Quran. The Quran is in Arabic and when translating it, the grammar and construct of the language needs to be appreciated and one should not translate it as if they were reading and translating English.

Furthermore, it would make no sense for wahdaHU' to mean 'Quran alone' as there were no other Quran's in which God's name was being mentioned. So the rendition ‘Quran alone’ would be superfluous. The idolaters of Arabia were only being presented a call to Islam via the Quran. It was their only source to becoming a ‘Mu’min’ (believer).
The main draw of the Prophetic mission was to convince the idolaters to believe in 'One God who is alone in His majesty’ which remains a central theme of the Quran.

Please also note how the word 'WahdaHU' appears in other parts of the Quran such as 7:70, 39:45, 40:12, 40:84 and 60:4. The 'Hu' clearly refers to God in all these examples.

007:070 - lina'buda-l'laha wahdaHU (That we (should) worship God Alone)
039:045 - wa-idha dhukira-la'lahu wahdaHU (And when God is mentioned alone)
040:012 - idha du'iya -l'lahu wahdaHU (when God alone was invoked)
040:084 - bil'lahi wahdaHU (God alone)
060:004 - bil'lahi wahdaHU (God alone)
There are plenty of other narratives in the Quran which make it absolutely clear that the Quran alone stands in authority. In my humble opinion, one would be better advised to focus on these.


I hope that helps, God willing.
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell