Ahad(un) and the Missionary's Folly

Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi

Recently we were introduced to a new, amusing polemic by the missionaries, namely with regard to the word “ahad(un)”. To quote the missionaries, the use of the word ahad:

    …shows that the Quran is far from being a masterpiece, or the pinnacle of Arabic eloquence. The wrong use of a word in a very crucial text which relates to the nature of Allah is a clear proof that God is not the author of the Quran.

To achieve this end, the missionaries cite an online text from a Christian Arab polemicist who claims that the word does not mean “one”, but “one of”. Is it true what they claim? We seek to answer this allegation in the following, insha’allah.

Does “Ahad” really mean “One of”?

According to the missionaries:

    Amazingly, the actual Arabic of verse 1 does not say that Allah is One, but literally says Allah is One of. This is due to the word used for one in the sentence, namely ahad.

What is actually “amazing” in this statement is their extreme idiocy and ignorance with regard to the meaning of the word “ahad”, which is actually an adjective, as opposed to “one of” which is a pronoun. The missionaries in their haste to twist the meaning of “ahad” has failed to distinguish between these two obvious opposites!

First, let us refer to the established meaning of “ahad” as established by the lexical authorities. Hans Wehr in his definition says that:

cowan_ahad Ahad(un) and the Missionary's Folly1

Note that the meaning of “ahad” varies from “one” to “someone“, but certainly they all agree on the same meaning, which is the adjective “one”, and not the pronoun “one of”! Elias & Elias also concurs with Wehr in their following entry:

ahadunpocket Ahad(un) and the Missionary's Folly2

Hence we have established that “ahad(un)” does indeed mean “one” and the debate should just stop there. However, the missionary has compiled a list of verses, which he claims mean “one of“, occuring in the Qur’anic text. Hence, to add a further blow to the missionary propaganda, we produce the following entry from a Qur’anic concordance which distinguishes between the word “ahad” and “ihda“, accompanied by the Qur’anic verse numbers in where they occur.

ahadu_ihda Ahad(un) and the Missionary's Folly3

It is indeed clear from the above that the missionary have no case to follow. “Ahad” does indeed mean “one” and it occurs frequently throughout the Qur’anic text. Whereas the word “ihda” (which means “one of”) occurs only twice in the Qur’an.

What About “Wahid”?

The missionaries have charged the following regarding the usage of the word “ahad“:

    In every single case, ahad is used to refer to one of something, to one member of a specific group. None of the examples used this word to mean one, alone, single etc.

Ironically, this allegation of the missionary is only true for the very word which the missionary is trying hard to promote, i.e. “wahid“! The following entry from Wehr shows the definition of “wahid“:

cowan_wahid Ahad(un) and the Missionary's Folly4

Has the missionary confused himself? The above entry clearly states that wahid can mean “…each one of them” or “every one of them” which certainly shows that it can refer a member of a specific group. What is the missionary trying to say and what exactly does he want to achieve by this pointless polemic?

With regard to the missionary allegation that “wahid” is a better substitute for “ahad”, we say that the missionary have certainly never heard this Sura’ being recited when he made this idiotic claim. To listen to Sura’ al-Ikhlas, we implore our readers to download and listen to the Sura’ recitation by Sheikh Abdul Rahman As-Sudais here [ .mp3 format]. Readers can easily note how the Sura’ is structurally pronounced and the overall tone of the Sura’ is rhythmically consistent in the usage of the word “ahad“. Hence this missionary polemic is dismissible and can now be discarded as nothing more than inflated nonsense.

“Echad” and the Missionary’s Folly

In their futile attempt in trying to “determine” the origin of ahad, the missionary made the following laughable claim:

    One possible, and even probable, explanation as to why Muhammad, or the author of the Quran, used the word ahad is because of his interaction with the Jews. Muhammad may have heard the Jewish Shema, the monotheistic creed of faith found in Deuteronomy 6:4, recited which uses the word echad to refer to Yahweh?s unity.

Any student of the Semitic languages will be gaping in awe at this sweeping statement. It is known that Arabic and Hebrew are sister languages, hence there are many words in both languages which share the same language. Brown-Driver-Briggs’ lexicon exhibits this understanding with the following entry:

bdb_echad Ahad(un) and the Missionary's Folly5

Please note that the BDB have included ahad in its entry of “echad”, and both are identified as adjectives. Unfortunately for the missionary, there is no meaning “one of” recorded by this celebrated lexicon.

With regard to the word echad, Strong’s concordance also agrees with the BDB:

strong_echad Ahad(un) and the Missionary's Folly6

Conclusions

In his summary, the missionary made the following fatutous claim:

    In any case, Muslims are in a dilemma. Since the data shows that the literal rendering of Sura 112:1 is that “Allah is one of,” the question remains one of what? Is he one of many gods?

We had shown in the above that the missionary is confused between an adjective (“ahad“) and a pronoun (“ihda“), two different Arabic words that have little correlation to each other and certainly the latter does not exist in Sura’ al-Ikhlas (Qur’an, 112). Hence from where did this missionary got his “literal reading” from if the word “ihda” is non-existent in the above-mentioned Sura’? Certainly the missionary is hard-pressed to provide such evidence apart from his blinkered view of Islam. It is indeed understood that God is, as explained by Ibn Katheer in his interpretation of Sura’ al-Ikhlas:

“He is the One and Only without equal, nor any minister or partner, nor any like or parallel; and this description cannot be applied to anyone save Allah(T) because He(T) is Perfect in all His Attributes and all His Actions.”7

It is also equally obvious that the missionary is desperate enough to “read into” the Qur’anic text for evidence of the non-existent Trinitarian doctrine as held by Christians. Worse still for the missionary, we have shown from his own Bible that the Hebrew echad (which is also an adjective) is understood as “one” and is synonymous with the Arabic ahad, and its accompanying interpretation from Jewish scholars. There is no room for a Trinitarian interpretation for “echad“, and likewise, there cannot be any form of the pseudo-monotheistic Trinity in its sister equivalent, “ahad“.

And only Allahu Ahad knows best.

Footnotes

  1. J.M. Cowan (ed.), The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, Spoken Language Services, NY, (1976) []
  2. Elias A. Elias & Edward E. Elias, Elias’ Pocket Dictionary Arabic/English, Elias Modern Publishing House, Cairo (right column) []
  3. Ahmad Ibrahim, Al-Qur’an Malay-English Dictionary: Denoting Books and Verses, Pustaka Bina Insani, Kuala Lumpur (1989), p. 18 []
  4. J.M. Cowan (ed.), ibid. []
  5. F. Brown, S. Driver and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: Withh An Appendix Containing The Biblical Aramaic, Hendrickson Publishers, Massachusetts (2001) []
  6. James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Tenessee (1996) []
  7. Sameh Strauch (transl.), Selected Qur’anic Verses Explained From The Tafseer of At-Tabari, Ibn Katheer & Ibn Al-Qayyim, IIPH, Riyadh (1999), p. 130 []

4 Comments

  1. anyone who study arabic will know that the KHABAR AGREE WITH THE MUBTADAH IN GENDER AND IN NUMBER.

    ..

  2. anyone who study arabic will know that the KHABAR AGREE WITH THE MUBTADAH IN GENDER AND IN NUMBER.

  3. Azalalaykam bro,

    The Christian missionaries did get me on one point: If Allah is Ahad, then why is his attribute/name Al-Wahid, intead of Al-Ahad? I just don’t understand if Ahad is more “monotheistic” and singular, shouldn’t his name be Al-Ahad as well?

    Yet in Surah Ikhlas it says Qul-Hu-Allahu-Ahadun(Say-He-Allah-One). Notice the ‘Al’ is not before Ahad, so it’s not a title for him, but is a descriptive sentence. If it did mean ‘one of’, it would be Arabic ihda,which occurs 11 times elsewhere in Qur’an.

    I do agree with you that the Hebrew Echad = Arabic Ahad. They both mean ONE nevertheless, and are not comparative. Al-Wahid seems to be more like ‘The Unified’ instead of Al-Ahad, ‘The One’.

  4. Assalamu ‘alaykum Wa Rahmathullah Wa Barakathuhu brothers and sisters,

    This claim by the missionary is pathetic and at an all time low. They suggested that ‘wahid’ be used instead of ‘ahad’. However, the use of the word ‘ahad’ actually demonstrates the miracle of Qur’anic eloquence. Very simply, one of the miracles in the language of the Qur’an is the compression of great depths of meanings with very few words, all the while maintaining eloquence, beauty, structure, rhythm and cadence. Another aspect of its miraculous eloquence is the perfect choice of words over its synonyms. Mufti Shafi demonstrated this supreme eloquence of the Qur’an in his tafsir, Ma’ariful Qur’an by going through this very verse (Surah Iklaas, ayat 1):

    Say, ‘‘The Truth is: Allah is One.’’ (Surah Iklaas 112:1)

    ”The imperative qul (Say) is directly addressed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad ??? ???? ???? ? ???, thus indicating that he is Allah’s Prophet and Messenger. This verse directs and commands him to convey Allah’s ?????? ? ????? message to mankind. The epithets ahad and wahid are both applied to Allah ?????? ? ????? which are normally translated as ‘One’ but the word ‘ahad’ includes an additional sense which signifies that Allah ?????? ? ????? is beyond composition, plurality and resemblance, which means that He is neither composed of any elements, nor does He have any partner, not has He any resemblance to anything. This is a response to those who asked about Allah ?????? ? ????? – whether He is made of gold or silver or pearls. This concise statement covers all aspects of discussion on the Divine Being and His attributes. The imperative qul [say] points to the Messengership of the Holy Prophet ??? ???? ???? ? ???. If analysed properly, this brief sentence covers all the detailed discussions expounded in voluminous books on theology.”

    SubhanAllah! Not only is the word ‘ahad’ more rhythmically and aesthetically pleasing, it adds further depths and layers of meaning not given by its synonyms. This demonstrates the miraculous accuracy, eloquence and masterpiece of the Qur’an.

    The missionaries lies and falsehood are revealed again.

    Wasalam.

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