Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Who Is Allah?

“I knew that my God was bigger than his [Somali Muslim warlord] God. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” 1
Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence
Conservative Evangelical
June 2002

“We meet here today not as Muslims or Christians or Jews…not as people of Arab or European descent or African or Asian descent ... We are children of the same God and of the same father, Abraham. We are quite literally brothers and sisters.”2
Senator Joseph Lieberman
Practicing Jew (He was addressing an Arab-American group).
October 2003

The question of who Allah is has been a mystery to most Western Christians for many years. During the Crusades (1095-1270), many Western Christians thought that Muslims worshipped Muhammad—though the terms Muhammedans and Muhammednism were not yet coined until 16813. There are many Western Christian scholars who believe that Allah was a pagan moon god worshipped in Arabia before Islam.

Although considered derogatory by Muslims, the Catholic Encyclopedia still uses Muhammedans and Muhammedanism4 for Muslims and Islam, respectively.

In this presentation, we will examine the origins of the word “Allah”. We will also study who Allah is in Islam and in (Arabic) Christianity as well. The last but not the least, we will also investigate pre-Islamic archeological evidence concerning the term.

I. Allah: An Arabic Word for God

Many scholars believe that the word Allah comes from the Aramaic/Syriac “alaha”, which means “God” or “the God.” This school of thought teaches that the definite article, the final “a”, in the word was dropped off when the word was barrowed into Arabic. Another school of thought teaches that Allah comes from the Arabic, “al Ilah” which means “the God.” Arab Christians have always used Allah for YHWH and still continue to do so.

Needless to say, Muhammad did not coin the word Allah and the word itself is pre- Islamic in nature. Muhammad’s father was called “Abdallah”, which means the servant of Allah, though he was a pagan from a pagan family. The polytheistic Arabs adopted Allah as one of their numerous deities. It was only in AD 630 that the prophet of Islam forcefully rehabilitated the word destroying the numerous idols associated with Allah.

Abd Al-Masih, a famous German writer on Islam, says “Satan met Muhammad, disguised himself using the old Arabic name for God, ‘Allah’ and demanded from him total submission and worship.”5 Abd Al-Masih only accuses Muslims of worshipping “the wrong Allah”, not of worshipping an idol!

Fouad Elias Accad, the great Christian scholar from Lebanon, says that “offshoot Christian sects such the Nestorians sent missionaries throughout the Arabia during the sixth and the seventh centuries A.D. During this same time period, there was the appearance of Bedouin seekers after the one true God, truly monotheists, who were called “Hanifs.” These people were the first to use the term Allah for the one God.”6

The late prominent Al Azhar scholar, Dr. Abd al Ati, gives the Muslim understanding of Allah in his own words: “Finally, the word Allah in Islam simply but most emphatically means the One and the only Eternal God, Creator of the universe, Lord of all lords, and King of all kings.”7

Muslims do not see Allah as an exclusive deity just for them. The Qur’an says "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you [Jews and Christians]; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)." Sura 29:46.

II. Allah & Arab Christians
There are about 12 million Arab Christians in the Middle East. All these Christians, whether Coptic, Orthodox or Protestant, use Allah for God. In the Arabic Bible, John 3:16 would read “For Allah so loved that he gave his only begotten Son….” In fact, “ a stone lintel recovered by archaeologists and dated to about 100 years BEFORE Mohammed reads in Arabic “Blessed be Allah the father of our Lord Jesus Chist”8—this is a quote from Ephesians 1:3.

Though Muslims and Christians use the same term for God, there is a difference when Muslims and Christians use Allah. Christians see their Allah as Trinitarian who sent his own Son die on the cross for the redemption of sinners. Muslims see their Allah as a non-Trinitarian who has no Son to send—their understanding of Allah is very close to the Jewish understanding of YHWH.

III. Allah According to the Qur’an
Sura 22:40 “Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure.”

Sura 2:136. “Say ye: ‘We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam)."’

Sura 3:3 “It is He [Allah] Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).

Sura 21:22 “If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both! but glory to Allah, the Lord of the Throne: (High is He) above what they attribute to Him!

Sura 59:22-24 "Allah is He, than Whom there is no other god;- Who knows (all things) both secret and open; He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Allah is He, than Whom there is no other god;- the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace (and Perfection), the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme: Glory to Allah. (High is He) above the partners they attribute to Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or Colors). To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names: whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare His Praises and Glory: and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”

IV. The 99 Most Beautiful Names of Allah9
1. Ar-Rahman The All-Compassionate
2. Ar-Rahim The All-Merciful
3. Al-Malik The Absolute Ruler
4. Al-Quddus The Pure One
5. As-Salam The Source of Peace
6. Al-Mu'min The Inspirer of Faith
7. Al-Muhaymin The Guardian
8. Al-'Aziz The Victorious
9. Al-Jabbar The Compeller
10. Al-Mutakabbir The Greatest
11. Al-Khaliq The Creator
12. Al-Bari' . The Maker of Order
13. Al-Musawwir The Shaper of Beauty
14. Al-Ghaffar The Forgiving
15. Al-Qahhar The Subduer
16. Al-Wahhab The Giver of All
17. Ar-Razzaq The Sustainer
18. Al-Fattah The Opener
19. Al-'Alim The Knower of All
20. Al-Qabid The Constrictor
21. Al-Basit The Reliever
22. Al-Khafid The Abaser
23. Ar-Rafi' The Exalter
24. Al-Mu'izz The Bestower of Honors
25. Al-Mudhill The Humiliator
26. As-Sami The Hearer of All
27. Al-Basir The Seer of All
28. Al-Hakam The Judge
29. Al-'Adl The Just
30. Al-Latif The Subtle One
31. Al-Khabir The All-Aware
32. Al-Halim The Forebearing
33. Al-'Azim The Magnificent
34. Al-Ghafur The Forgiver and Hider of Faults
35. Ash-Shakur The Rewarder of Thankfulness
36. Al-'Ali The Highest
37. Al-Kabir The Greatest
38. Al-Hafiz The Preserver
39. Al-Muqit The Nourisher
40. Al-Hasib The Accounter
41. Al-Jalil The Mighty
42. Al-Karim The Generous
43. Ar-Raqib The Watchful One
44. Al-Mujib The Responder to Prayer
45. Al-Wasi' The All-Comprehending
46. Al-Hakim The Perfectly Wise
47. Al-Wadud The Loving One
48. Al-Majíd The Majestic One
49. Al-Ba'ith The Resurrector
50. Ash-Shahid The Witness
51. Al-Haqq The Truth
52. Al-Wakil The Trustee
53. Al-Qawi The Possessor of All Strength
54. Al-Matin The Forceful One
55. Al-Wáli The Governor
56. Al-Hamid The Praised One
57. Al-Muhsi The Appraiser
58. Al-Mubdi The Originator
59. Al-Mu'id The Restorer
60. Al-Muhyi The Giver of Life
61. Al-Mumit The Taker of Life
62. Al-Hayy The Ever Living One
63. Al-Qayyum The Self-Existing One
64. Al-Wajid The Finder
65. Al-Májid The Glorious
66. Al-Wahid The Only One
67. Al-Ahad The One
68. As-Samad The Satisfier of All Needs
69. Al-Qadir The All Powerful
70. Al-Muqtadir The Creator of All Power
71. Al-Muqaddim The Expediter
72. Al-Mu'akhkhir The Delayer
73. Al-Awwal The First
74. Al-Akhir The Last
75. Az-Zahir The Manifest One
76. Al-Batin The Hidden One
77. Al-Walí The Protecting Friend
78. Al-Muta'ali The Supreme One
79. Al-Barr The Doer of Good
80. At-Tawwib The Guide to Repentance
81. Al-Muntaqim The Avenger
82. Al-Afu The Forgiver
83. Ar-Ra'uf The Clement
84. Malik al-Mulk The Owner of All
85. Dhul-Jalali Wal-Ikram The Lord of Majesty and Bounty
86. Al-Muqsit The Equitable One
87. Al-Jami The Gatherer
88. Al-Ghani The Rich One
89. Al-Mughni The Enricher
90. Al-Mani' The Preventer of Harm
91. Ad-Darr The Creator of The Harmful
92. An-Nafi The Creator of Good
93. An-Nur The Light
94. Al-Hadi The Guide
95. Al-Badi The Originator
96. Al-Baqi The Everlasting One
97. Al-Warith The Inheritor of All
98. Ar-Rashid The Righteous Teacher
99. As-Sabur The Patient One

Source: BLib 397

1. NewsweeK, October 21, 2003; http://www.msnbc.com/news/982257.asp#BODY
2. ibid.
3. http://m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=Muhammadanism, 08 November 2003
4. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10424a.htm, 10 November 2003
5. Abd Al-Masih. Islam Under the Magnifying Glass. Villach , Austria: Light of Life;
n.d., (p.50).
6. Fouad Elias Accad. Building Bridges: Christianity and Islam. Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1997 (p. 40).
7. Hammudah Abd al Ati. Islam In Focus, (3rd revised edition), Beltsville, Maryland: Amana Publications; 1998 (p.11).
8. http://users.iafrica.com/l/ll/lloyd/2-PersonalFaith/fallacies.htm#25, 13 November 2003
9. http://home.clara.net/najm/992.html, 17 November 2003

No comments: