A grammatical error in the Quran? Rather, Musa’s (Alayhis Salaam) words carry a powerful nuanced statement. Before we get to the Aayah in question, I’ll feed you the story briefly and set the scene.
Musa a.s had run away from Egypt as he was wanted for murder. Many years later however, Allah revealed to Musa that he must return, not only return, but to go directly to the king, the Pharoah himself. Musa a.s asks Allah for support, he wanted his brother Haroon to assist him in his mission. Allah grants his du’a/request and sanctions Haroon a.s as a Prophet.
Allah then commands both of them; “Idh-habaa bi-aayaatinaa”, “Both of you (Musa & Haroon) go (to the Pharoah) with our signs/miracles”
So they travel across the desert to get into Egypt and stealthily get through the streets without being detected and identified for who they were. Musa a.s remember, has been a fugitive for a very long time. A wanted man in all of Egypt. Musa a.s had killed the Pharoah’s soldier, therefore this ‘criminal’ case was also personal to the Pharoah himself.
However, undetected, Musa & Haroon make their way all the way to the gates of the castle of the Mighty Pharoah. To the most secure building in all of the land. The Pharoah’s palace is not like a train-station where you can just walk in and out of casually. There’s a platoon of heavily armed and combat trained security, preventing unauthorised personnel from entering.
As Musa had been gone for many years, the soldiers guarding the front gates didn’t recognise him. So to the soldiers, they were just two people wandering around.
Now imagine this; Musa and Haroon both belong to the Israelite race, the ‘lowest cast’ of society. The race that were made slaves in Egypt.
These two slave race members have now just walked up to the gates, and they demand to speak with the King.
How do you think the guards going to react? What do you think he’s going to say? ‘Who are you people?! The Pharoah has no business with you! Move along!’ Musa a.s tells the guard to let the Pharoah know that Musa is here. (Musa a.s had been raised in that palace, he was adopted and basically brought up as a prince.)
So now, even to the guards it’s not just ‘anybody’ who’s returned, even though Musa belongs to the Israelite slave race, he was exceptionally raised in Pharoah’s castle.
There are now echoes being heard across the halls of the castle, the word gets in, all the way to the Pharoah. The Pharoah immediately orders the summoning of Musa at once!
Now as Musa a.s is about to walk in, who’s with him? His brother Haroon a.s. Musa is being summoned, but as for Haroon a.s, there is no call for him, he’s just a ‘somebody’ from the slave race, he was never a royal like how Musa a.s was. He has no real connection in any matters. Before Musa can enter, the guards stop him and sternly refuse entry for Haroon a.s
‘You (Musa) come in! This one (Haaroon) has to stay! He has no authorisation to enter in the presence of the Pharoah!’
So now, Musa a.s, who requested from Allah to have Haroon as his aid in this daunting mission, has to make a solid case that he, and his brother are inseparable.
Even though in the eyes of the security, they are separable, and only Musa has access to enter. Now here’s the absolutely incredible words of Musa a.s recorded in Quraan, from Surah Ash-Shu’araa, Aayah 16; Musa faces up to the soldiers and says, “إِنَّا رَسُولُ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ ” . . . ‘Innaa rasoolu rabbil ‘Aalameen’ Let me give you a breakdown of the translation;
“No doubt We . . .” “إِنَّا” . . . ‘Innaa’ – (Musa a.s is speaking, referring to him and his brother Haroon)
“No doubt we are “رَسُولُ” . . . ‘Rasoolu’ “The messenger” “No doubt we are the messenger” ?
Notice the word is singular. “The messenger” . . . ?
In Arabic you’d be expecting the word “Rasoolaa”, to say ‘We are the messengers’
But the Aayah doesn’t say that,
It says “We are *The Messenger* of the master of all nations”
He says the word “We” then goes to a singular word. That sounds weird in any language. Something’s not right.
In English for example, we don’t say, ‘We are the student’, or ‘we are the teacher’
You’d say ‘We are the studentS’, ‘We are the teacherS’
But Musa a.s says “We are *the Messenger . . .”
It begs to the question why? Is it a grammatical mistake? Or is it something more profound and deeper?
Musa a.s needs to make a strong case, So what he says, is to to describe himself and his brother together as one. As a unit, and not as two individuals. That what Musa has to say, is the exact thing Haroon has to say, and they are together in their message.
Musa is illustrating that they are not separable,
‘Either both of us come in, or neither of us!’ Like that, Musa a.s gets his brother Haroon access inside.
The argument Musa a.s makes is just incredible! How he makes a firm point of their inseparability, which can only be deciphered by firstly, recognising the grammar is odd, but when you dig deeper understanding how the Arabic language operates, it paints a whole new picture of how the events unfolded.
How the singular form of the word was used, instead of the expected dual form. In translations you will see it as something like “Certainly we are the messengers . . . “, but, when you stick to the truest text, that’s not what the Arabic says, that’s not what Allah says.
Only through the beauty and the depth of Quranic Arabic, Aayaat of Quran are brought into a whole new light, giving a deeper, more clear perspective into the historical events. Seeing these subtle nuances, enhances for you the beauty of what you’re reading, revealing insights to which you could never have otherwise been able to capture. You would just totally miss it! [Subscribe at the bottom of the page to receive Quranic Insights directly]