Allah is the Arabic term for "God" in Abrahamic religions and is the main term for God in Islam.
Arabic-speaking Muslims, Christians and Jews (including the Teimanim, several Mizraḥi communities, and some Sephardim) use "Allah" as the proper noun for 'God.' "Allah" is found in the Qur'an and in Arabic translations of the Bible. In the Qur'an, it refers to The Only God.
Outside the Arab world, Allah is associated with Islam and is used to refer specifically to the Islamic concept of God. The Islamic conception of God is a strict monotheism (known in Arabic as tawhid). It is the same as the Jewish conception of God but differs from the Trinitarian Christian conception of God.
Islamic scholars often translate Allah directly into English as 'God', especially Qur'an Alone Muslims. Other scholars feel that Allah should not be translated arguing that Allah is the term for "The God" in a glorified pronunciation. This is a significant issue when translating the Qur'an.
Etymology[edit | edit source]
Most linguists believe that the term Allāh is derived from a contraction of the Arabic words "al" (the) and "ʾilāh" (deity, masculine form) - al-ilāh meaning "the god".
Also, one of the main pagan goddesses of pre-Islamic Arabia, Allāt (al + ʾilāh + at, or 'the goddess'), is cited as being etymologically (though not synchronically) the feminine linguistic counterpart to the grammatically masculine Allāh. If so, the word Allāh is an abbreviated title, meaning 'the deity', rather than a name. For this reason, both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars often translate Allāh directly into English as 'God'; this also explains why Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians freely refer to God as Allāh. However, some Muslim scholars feel that "Allāh" should not be translated, because they perceive the Arabic word to express the uniqueness of "Allāh" more accurately than the word "god", which can take a plural "gods", whereas the word "Allāh" has no plural form. This is a significant issue in the translation of the Qur'an.
There is, however, a connection between the respective words for God in closely related Semitic languages. The word for God in Genesis 1:1 is Elōhīm, which is a plural form (grammatically used as a singular) of a more basic root-word in Hebrew for God, אֱלֺהַּ (Elōah). The Arabic translation of the Jewish Bible uses the name "Allah" to refer to God in Genesis 1:1.
In addition to the etymological connection based on sound, it was discovered that connections existed between the two names based on roots, spelling, meaning, and geography. The root is related to a root El, which means God, deity, power, or strength. The Aramaic word for God, according to the Lexicon, is Allah. This word, in the standard script, or the Estrangela script. It is spelled alap-lamad-heh (ALH), which are the exact corresponding letters to the Hebrew Elōah. The Aramaic language is closely related to the more ancient root word for God, ēl. The Arabic word for God, Allah, is spelled very similarly, and is related to the more generic word for deity, Ilah. The ancient Semitic names for God (Allah and Elohim) share a common root; the former with the fossilized article al-, the latter with the Hebrew masculine plural suffix -im.
The word Allāh is always written in Arabic without an alif to spell the ā vowel. This is because the spelling was settled before Arabic spelling started habitually using alif to spell ā. However, in vocalized spelling, a small diacritic alif is added on top of the shaddah to indicate pronunciation. One exception is in the pre-Islamic Zabad inscription, where it is spelled الاه.
Unicode has a glyph reserved for Allah, ﷲ = U+FDF2, which can be combined with an alif to yield the post-consonantal form, اﷲ, as opposed to the full spelling alif-lām-lām-hā الله which may be rendered slightly differently, in particular featuring a diacritic alif on top of the shadda. In this, Unicode imitates traditional Arabic typesetting, which also frequently featured special llāh types.
Also In Abjad numerals, The Name Of Allah (الله) numeric value is 66. The word Allah had been used in the Arabic tongue in the Jahiliyyah period (time period before Islam), and Arabic classical poetry contains that word.
The concept that name Allah is a contraction of the two words "al" and "ilah" is said by some Muslims not to be true, in spite of translations of "Allah" as "God" or "The God". Those Muslims often feel that the term "Allah" is untranslatable.
Islamic use of "Allāh"[edit | edit source]
From the point of view of traditional Islamic theology, Allāh is the most precious name of God because it is not a descriptive name like other ninety-nine names of God, but the name of God's own presence. Muslims believe that the name of Allah had existed before the time of Adam. It is the same God worshipped by Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and other prophets of Islam. In Islam, there is only one God and Muhammad is the last messenger. In the Qur'an, rabb is also one of the usual names of God.
The emphasis within Islamic culture on reciting the Qur'an in Arabic has resulted in Allāh often being used by Muslims worldwide as the word for God, regardless of their native language. Out of 114 Suras in the Qur'an, 113 begin with the Basmala ("Bismi 'llāhi 'r-rahmāni 'r-rahīm" بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم) which means "In the name of God, the most kind, the most merciful".
Muslims, when referring to the name of Allah, often add the words "Subhanahu wa Ta`ala" after it, meaning "Glorified and Exalted is He" as a sign of reverence, or "`Azza wa Jalla" (عز و جل). The entire religion of Islam is based on the idea of getting closer to God. Although commonly referred to as a "He", God is considered genderless, but there is no neuter gender to express this in the Arabic language. When Greek or other polytheistic deities are discussed in Arabic, it is customary to use the expression ilāh, a "deity" or "god"; sometimes the word ma`būd, literally meaning "worshipped [entity]", is used instead.
Uses of "Allāh" in phrases[edit | edit source]
There are many phrases that contain the word Allāh:
Allāhu Akbar (الله أكبر) (God is most great/God is the greatest / God is Greater) A'ūzu billāhi min ash shaitāni r rajīmi (I seek refuge in Allah from Shaitan, the accused) Bismi-llāh (بسم الله) (In the name of God) In shā' Allāh (إن شاء الله) (If God is willing) which is also the origin of the common Spanish interjection "Ojalá" (Old Spanish, "Oxalá") and Portuguese interjection "Oxalá"; May it be so (ie. God-willing) Yā Allāh (يا الله) (O God) which may be the origin of the Spanish and Portuguese exclamation "Olé!". Mā shā' Allāh (ما شاء الله) ([Look at] what God has willed!) Subħān Allāh (سبحان الله) (Glory be to God) al-ħamdu li-llāh (الحمد لله) (All praise be to God) Allāhu A`alam (الله أعلم) (God knows best) Jazāka llāhu khayran (جزاك الله خيراً) (May God reward you for your deeds) "Allāh" appears in a stylized form on the flag of Iran, in the phrase "Allāhu Akbar" on the flag of Iraq, and as part of the shahādah on the flag of Saudi Arabia.
"Allah" is not correctly used as a man's name. See Arabic name#Mistakes made by Europeans and other non-Arabs.
Islamic concept of God[edit | edit source]
Main article: Islamic concept of God. The Islamic concept of God (Allah) is a strict monotheism (tawhid). Muslims believe that the foremost ideal in religion is the acknowledgment of God, testifying Him and believing in His Oneness. They believe that believing in God's Oneness requires one to believe that:-
- God is Pure.
- He has no limits to his power.
- He can do anything he wants.
- He created the universe.
- He created time.
- A human being cannot imagine how he looks because there are limitations to the human brain.
- He knows everything and controls everything.
- He has never been married and will never be, has no children and will never have.
- Nothing in the world is like him.
- He is the only one who should be asked for help and the only one who is (really) able to help. Any other help is sent through Him, as He controls everything.
- He does not require food, water or sleep.
- He begets not, nor was He begotten.
- There is no co-equal or comparable unto Him.
- None has the Right to be Worshipped but He.
- Allah is Everliving.
- Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes him.
- He knows what is in the heavens and the earth.
History[edit | edit source]
The name Allāh was used in pre-Islamic times by Pagans within the Arabian peninsula to signify the supreme creator. Pre-Islamic (as well as Islamic-era) Jews referred to God as Adonai(as well as El, YHWH, and other names). (God is also referred to as Elohim, literally "the Gods", in the Tanakh, possibly implying polytheistic roots). The pagan Arabs recognized "Allāh" as the supreme God in their pantheon (as was El in the Canaanite pantheon); along with Allah, however, the pre-Islamic Arabs believed in a host of other gods, such as Hubal and 'daughters of Allāh' (the three daughters associated were al-Lāt, al-`Uzzah, and Manah) (Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, "The Facts on File", ed. Anthony Mercatante, New York, 1983, I:61). This view of Allah by the pre-Islamic pagans is viewed by Muslims as a later development having arisen as a result of moving away from Abrahamic monotheism over time, although the case may be that polytheism/animism originated before monotheism. Some of the names of these pagan gods are said to be derived from the descendants of Noah, whom later generations firstly revered as saints, and then transformed into gods). The pagan Arabians also used the word "Allāh" in the names of their children; Muhammad's father, who was born into pagan society, was named "`Abdullāh", which means "servant of Allāh". "`Abdullāh" is still used for names of Muslim and non-Muslim Arabs.
The Hebrew word for deity, El (אל) or Elōah (אלוה), was used as an Old Testament synonym for the Tetragrammaton (יהוה), which is the proper name of God according to the Hebrew Bible. The Aramaic word for God is alôh-ô (Syriac dialect) or elâhâ (Biblical dialect), which comes from the same Proto-Semitic word (*ʾilâh-) as the Arabic and Hebrew terms; Jesus is described in Mark 15:34 as having used the word on the cross, with the ending meaning "my", when saying, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (transliterated in Greek as elō-i).
One of the earliest surviving translations of the word Allāh into a foreign language is in a Greek translation of the Shahada, from 86-96 AH (705-715 AD), which translates it as ho theos monos, literally "the one god". Also, the cognate Aramaic term appears in the Aramaic version of the New Testament, called the Pshitta (or Peshitta) as one of the words Jesus used to refer to God, e.g., in the sixth Beatitude, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see Alāha." And in the Arabic Bible the same words: "طُوبَى لأَنْقِيَاءِ الْقَلْبِ، فَإِنَّهُمْ سَيَرَوْنَ الله"
Other beliefs[edit | edit source]
The Nation of Gods and Earths, one of the many sects created as the result of black separatist movements in the United States, holds that the word "Allah" is the name of the original black man and stands for "Arm, Leg, Leg, Arm, Head", which is an English abbreviation. As the word Allāh is universally understood to be an Arabic term, those familiar with the origins and history of Arabic and English would consider this a false etymology. This concept also differs dramatically from mainstream Islam thought which strictly opposes any attempt to portray Allāh as a human or in any other way.
The Bahá'í Faith, whose scriptures are primarily written in Arabic and Persian, also uses Allah to mean God, though the typical practice is to use the customary word for God in the language being spoken. In certain specific uses, Allah is not translated, rather the whole Arabic phrase is used. The chief example of this would be the customary Bahá'í greeting Alláh'u'abhá, which is commonly translated as God is the All-Glorious.