by Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi
We recently came to know of the allegation made by the self-proclaimed Christian Critic of Islam Mr. Quennel Gale that from historical sources, it can be ascertained that the word "Allâh" for God in Arabic originates from pagan sources and have never been used in a monotheistic context. This paper will serve to refute the claim from etymological and historical sources and prove that that the Arabic word for God, "ALLAH" as well as the Hebrew "ELOHIM" and Aramaic "ALAAHA" comes from the common Semitic word "EL" (Ancient Canaanite)
The Religion of the Pagan Arabs
In trying to "prove" his delusion that Allâh has always been a pagan god, the Critic argues the following:
If you ask a Muslim how do they know that Allah is the one true God, they will go to Muhammad and the testimony in the Qur'an to prove their point. But if you look back in history, before Islam, you will never see at any point that Allah was just one alone...Allah's monotheism is a myth. If the Muslim claims that you have proven that well "Allah had a family and was used in pagan worship but was just truly one"; can they actually prove that? No, because it's not the truth historically.
Not only does the Critic show his ignorance of the origins of the word ALLAH in Arabic, but he also shows his ignorance of the religion of the pagan Arabs in pre-Islamic Arabia. Let's discuss it in brief here: To the pagan Arabs, ALLAH is the One True God of Abraham and Ishmael, and the Lord of the Ka`aba. This religion was originally pure monotheism in nature. However, the pagan Arabs tainted this simple monotheistic religion of worshipping Allâh alone by resorting to worship of idols as intercessors to worship Him. They would stand by an idol and, using it as an intercessor, worship Allâh.
In an article of Infoplease.com, the following paragraph states the belief of the pagan Arabs:
...Arabic chronicles suggest a pre-Islamic recognition of Allah as a supreme God, with the three goddesses al-Lat, al-Uzza, and Manat as his "daughters".
Another article by Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2000 regarding Allah states the following:
ALLAH...The term is a contraction of the Arabic al-ilah, "the God." Both the idea and the word existed in pre-Islamic Arabian tradition, in which some evidence of a primitive monotheism can also be found. Although they recognized other, lesser gods, the pre-Islamic Arabs recognized Allah as the supreme God.
In the Collier's CD-ROM Encyclopedia, more details could be found regarding how the pagan Arabs view Allah:
Archaeological, linguistic, and non-Arabic data support the view that there were among the Arabs, long before the emergence of Islam, worshipers of a supreme god known as Allah...leaves little doubt that the Meccans, despite their idolatry, recognized that Allah was Creator and Supreme Provider...Allah was recognized as a High God to whom the inhabitants of the desert and the townsfolk turned in all great difficulties. Two pagan bards, Nabighah and Labid, used the name "Allâh" in connection with the Supreme Deity, while the so-called Hanifs, in their search for an acceptable religion, rejected polytheism and sought freedom from sin by appeal to the will of Allah.
On the description of this "primitive monotheism" of Arabia, it says:
Evidence shows that Islam goes back to a primitive monotheistic belief of ancient Arabia. Though this early faith in Allah was not a monotheism complete with theological dogma, there was a continuous tradition among the peoples of the desert, or among some of them, that maintained a belief in an Originator, a Supreme Being. This High God was the guardian of their flocks, arbiter of ends, protector of their lives, sender of rain, and their defender against the hazards of fate.
Rev. St. Clair Tisdall, the author of The Original Sources of The Qur'an, despite unfailingly asserts the theory of "Qur'anic borrowing", does admit in his book the following:
For the word Allah, containing as it does the definite article, is a proof that those who used it were in some degree conscious of the Divine Unity. Now Muhammad did not invent the word, but, as we have said, found it already in use among his fellow countrymen at the time when he first claimed to be a Prophet, a Divinely commissioned messenger. Proof of this is not far to seek. Muhammad's own father, who died before his son's birth, was called Abdu'llah, "Servant of Allah." The Ka'bah or Temple at Mecca seems long before Muhammad's time to have been called Baitu'llah or "House of Allah."
It is clear that contrary to what the Critic is claiming, the pagan Arabs had always recognized ALLAH as the Supreme Deity and the Lord of the Kaa`ba. Yet, he is trying to claim the opposite of what historians have acknowledged about pre-Islamic Arabia.
Does "IL" Comes from "ENLIL"?
The Critic argues the following points:
The root form of the name of the earth god in Sumer is found in Enlil, the primal god. If we drop the gender prefixes from Enlil and his consort Ninlil, we are left with the root, "LIL." This is reduced later in many cultures to "IL." (Some "scholars" have tried to say that IL is EL, but the root form of IL is LIL, so this notion just won't work. Of course these "scholars" have no respect for the Bible unless it supports their presuppositions.) The system of putting prefixes before the god names were used in the Hamatic cultures like Sumer. After the god / goddess moved on to Semitic cultures such as Assyria and Semitic Babylon, a suffix was attached after the "LIL" or "IL" root.
Actually, the Critic had committed a mistake here. Enlil was a storm lord (in Sumerian: EN = lord; LIL = storm) and his consort Ninlil (NIN = lady), not an air god. His name is rendered in Akkadian simply by Bel (Akkadian: BELUM - means lord). As "lord of the storm" he was closely connected with mountains, and eventually with the earth itself. The Arabic for "god" is ILAH. Hence, how LIL = storm in Sumerian can be related to ILAH = god in Arabic is beyond me. Even if we were to drop the gender prefixes, as the Critic suggests, it would still not prove that ILAH originates from the Sumerian word for storm! So to say otherwise would be fallacious.
Is "AL-ILAH" of the Pagan Arabs Synonymous With "BAAL" of Babylon?
Earlier, the Critic listed out the differences of "EL" and "BAAL", from his earlier pre-conceived notion that "BAAL" which originates from "ENLIL", is the same "ALLAH" of the Pagan Arabs, because ILAH "originates" from the same root as "ENLIL". As has been shown, "ILAH" cannot originate from "LIL" because the root word of "LIL" means "storm", not "god".
The following is excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia's article on the pagan god Baal:
The Semitic word baal, meaning owner or master, was also used in ancient religions for lord or god, and it is still defined as a Canaanite or Phoenician deity. Among the greatest of the Semitic peoples' deities were Baal and Astarte both symbols of fertility. Baal, the god of the sun, was supposed to make crops grow and flocks increase. Astarte, the goddess of the moon, was identified with passionate love.
On the places where Baal is worshipped, the same article says:
The religion of Baal was spread by Phoenician sailors throughout the Mediterranean world (see Phoenicians). Baal cults grew up in Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Carthage, and Spain. Baal and Astarte, under different names, were worshiped in Babylonia and Assyria.
Regarding on how Baal was worshipped by its devotees, it continues:
The priests taught that Baal was responsible for droughts, plagues, and other calamities, and they made sacrifices to appease the angry god. Bullocks, goats, sheep, and sometimes humans were burned alive.
In the Collier's CD-ROM Encyclopedia, we find the following information on Baal:
Referred to as Aliyan (I Prevail), Baal triumphed over the champions he encountered in battle. He came to be distinguished by the name of the locality in which he was adored and by the special character or function attributed to him. Every major aspect of religious life could, moreover, develop the cult of its own Baal. In general, he was credited with being the male author of fertility in soil and flock, and offerings in kind were presented to him at proper festivals.
From what we have gleaned above on the pagan Arabs' religion on ALLAH as well as on BAAL, the following can be concluded about Baal:
- BAAL, god of the sun, is the pagan symbol of fertility. This is not a characteristic of what the pagan Arabs believe about ALLAH, who is the Supreme Deity and Lord of the Kaa`ba.
- BAAL was a warrior-god, which ALLAH is not considered so by the pagan Arabs.
- BAAL was worshiped in Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Carthage and Spain. Nowhere was it said that he was worshiped in Arabia, as was ALLAH.
- Sacrifices to BAAL included burning humans. ALLAH was never given human sacrifice or any sacrifice by burning.
So can we say that ALLAH is actually the pagan god BAAL? Based on what is seen above, we can conclude that the answer is no. Obviously the differences in terms of characteristics of the pagan gods with the pagan Arabs' view of ALLAH are glaring, even if we do accept the original argument of the Critic that the Arabic word ILAH comes from the word LIL of Sumer.
Fallacy of Equivocation
We've seen that EnLIL, the air god's attributes were given over to Baal. Allah at the time of Muhammad was the high god, while Allat was his consort. Enlil in Sumer was the same thing while Ninlil was his consort. In Babylon, Baal was the high god. This derived from LIL/IL of Sumer, which was mentioned earlier. The breakdown of the name is BA' ILAH, and the goddess is BA' ILAT. Langdon reports that Astarte was also Ba' Alot or Beltis, the wife consort of Gebel, another LIL derived god of Babylon.
The efforts of the Critic trying to find a similarity between ENLIL and BAAL with that of ALLAH here is built around the (mis)conception that the goddess ALLAT, or AL-LAT of the pagan Arabs is the consort of ALLAH. But this is already false. Why? Because the goddess ALLAT, or AL-LAT of the pagan Arabs is not the consort of ALLAH. AL-LAT is, along with AL-UZZA and AL-MANAT, are the three daughters of ALLAH to the pagan Arabs.
Surely the Critic can do better than just throwing assumptions at us. For this important claim, i.e. that AL-LAT is the so-called consort of ALLAH, he offers no quote of an authority, no diagram, no illustration and no specific detail. He does not say when, where or by whom this information is derived. Does the Critic expect his readers to accept his most important point on faith alone? Usually we take at face value what a writer says, because we expect him to tell the truth. We have been seeing again and again that with the Critic, we cannot afford that risk.
Obviously, we can see here that the Critic is committing the fallacy of equivocation. He takes a term which meant one thing in a certain context and the same term which means another thing in a new context and pretends that since the term is the same the meaning is also the same. He argues that since the Enlil of Sumer had a consort, Baal of Babylon had a consort and the false notion that the High God Allâh of the Meccan Arabs had a consort, therefore they are one and the same god having consorts.
To see how this fallacy works, consider this argument for illustration:
The Japanese believed their emperor to be the Son of God. Christians also believe in the Son of God.
That way of saying things implies that Christians believe in the Japanese emperor. That, of course is not true. Now consider Quennel Gale's argument:
The pagan storm lord Enlil of Sumer had a consort. Baal of Babylon had a consort. The High God Allâh of the pagan Meccan Arabs also had a consort
If no one knows that Allâh of the pagan Arabs never had a consort, the Critic would therefore get away with his implication that Allâh was therefore the same god as is ENLIL and BAAL. But this is no more truer than to say that Christians believe in the Japanese emperor.
Quennel Gale's Folly
The Critic Quennel Gale thinks that if he can prove that what the pagan Arabs at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) called upon as Allâh are actually Mesopotamian deities such as ENLIL and BAAL, then he will have proved that what he has presented are
...cited evidence on my Allah link that disproves the idea of Allah being the original God of the Arabs.
Perhaps we can help rescue him from his folly by pointing to what he has already acknowledged. He admitted and reiterated many times throughout his articles that al-ilah means "the god". Well, in that case, when a message about the true God comes to them what are they supposed to call the true God? The non-god? Of course they will call Him by the names and titles they already know for deity. But they will be no longer calling out to their pagan gods although they are still using the same title or name meaning deity.
If the Critic still cannot understand this we can draw his attention to the Old Testament which uses the ancient Babylonian and Canaanite name for god "El" besides the One True God of the Bible. Muslims do not accuse the Old Testament, however, in that case of idolatry. So why does the Critic seek to insult the Qur'ân in this way?
Or, we can draw his attention to the New Testament. There God is referred to many times as ho theos. Does the Critic realise that the worshippers of Jupiter referred also to Jupiter as ho theos? Would he then accuse the New Testament writers of reviving the worship of Jupiter?
Or, read Acts chapter 17. Athens was a major centre of idolatry, but the people there also worshipped what they called "an unknown god." When Paul had an opportunity to address them, he spoke thus:
"Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: To An Unknown God. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you." (Acts 17:22-23)
Would the Critic take issue with Paul for this? You see what Paul has done. He noticed an altar dedicated to an unknown god and realized that in addition to all their idols, they also worshipped the true God. Their problem, however, was that they did not know enough about the true God, and Paul aimed to now fix that with his preaching.
In a similar way the pagan Arabs worshipped 360 idols, but they also worshipped the true God. Their problem was that they did not know enough about the true God. So God commissioned his Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to fix that with his preaching.
The message of Paul to the Athenians and of Muhammad to the Arabians was not that they should forget about the unseen god in whom they believed. The message was that they should come to accurate knowledge about Him.
So, it can be agreed that what the Critic is presenting to disprove the whole message of the religion of Islam is absurd and fallacious right from the onset. The Critic is drowning in his own argument and could even lose his own faith if someone else were to patent his methods.
So Who Is "ALLAH"?
The Critic many times reiterated that
...before Muhammad, Allah was never worshiped as a single monotheistic god, so we clearly see that Allah has always been pagan, his monotheistic characteristics were the invention of Muhammad.
In answer to this allegation, let us turn to what the Sierra's Reference Encyclopedia says about the word Allâh and its origins:
ALLAH, the name of the Supreme Being in the Islamic religion. The word is a contraction of the Arabic al-ilah ("the God"); the idea and the word are rooted in primitive Arabian tradition in which traces of a simple monotheism are evident.
The article on the word Allah at Infoplease.com says:
Allâh; Pronunciation: [al´u, ä´lu] [Arab.,= the God]. Derived from an old semitic root refering to the Divine and used in the Canaanite El, the Mesopotamian ilu, and the Biblical Elohim...
Note: In Assyrian, Ilu is God, while Ilatu means "goddess".
Encyclopedia Britannica (1992) says:
Etymologically, the name Allâh is probably a contraction of the Arabic al-Ilah, "the God". The name's origin can be traced back to the earliest Semitic writings in which the word for god was Il or El, the latter being an Old Testament synonym for Yahweh.
In Caesar Farah's book, it says:
Allâh, the paramount deity of pagan Arabia, was the target of worship in varying degrees of intensity from the southernmost tip of Arabia to the Mediterranean. To the Babylonians he was "Il" (god); to the Canaanites, and later the Israelites, he was "El'; the South Arabians worshipped him as "Ilah," and the Bedouins as "al-Ilah" (the deity). With Muhammad he becomes Allâh, God of the Worlds, of all believers, the one and only who admits no associates or consorts in the worship of Him. Judaic and Christian concepts of God abetted the transformation of Allâh from a pagan deity to the God of all monotheists. There is no reason, therefore, to accept the idea that "Allah" passed to the Muslims from Christians and Jews.
This passage clearly says that the God who was called Ilah in Southern Arabia was called El by the Israelites. This fact would certainly ruin the Critic's entire 'ILAH is from LIL root of Mesopotamian deities' theory. Why should the Critic, after all, let his readers know that according to two of the Gospels, Jesus was on the cross calling out to El who, if the Critic is right, is the ENLIL of Islam?
The Arabic name Allah consists of the definite article "Al" [the] attached to the noun "Ilahun" [god -- allowing for the classical nunation]. When "Al" is attached, the I (aliph) of "Ilahun" become quiescent, the L of "Al" assimilates in pronunciation with the L of "Ilahun," and the word loses its nunation. Also Modern Arabic drops the final vowel [the case ending] in pronunciation. The resultant pronunciation is "Allah." However, the spelling in the Qur'an is Al[I]lah(u/i/a), where [I] is the quiescent but written aliph, and the last vowel is the case ending [u for nominative, i for genitive, a for accusative]. The Arabic word "Ilahun" is the equivalent of Aramaic "Elah" [no case endings in Aramaic] and of Hebrew "Eloah" [no case endings]. It is then obvious that the word "Ilah" comes from a common Semitic root, EL or ILU/IL for the word (g)od, as do the words "Eloah" in Hebrew and "Elah" in Aramaic.
Professor Carleton S. Coon in his book, Southern Arabia, states:
The god Il or Ilah was originally a phase of the moon god, but early in Arabian history the name became a general term for god, and it was this name that the Hebrews used prominently in their personal names, such as Emanu-el, Israel, etc...
So what do you know? According to Professor Coon's statement here, the same name which in Southern Arabia that was originally a phase of the moon god and later became a general term for god (Ilah) was also used in Hebrew names like Emanu-el, which the Critic considers a name for Jesus (pbuh)! Should we now make the claim that the name Emanu-el has actually a pagan heritage?
The following table depicts the common Semitic root word for (g)od, which is El or Ilu and was commonly used in reference to different deities besides the Only True God:
Semitic Origin of the Word "god" Ancient Canaanite EL Ancient Mesopotamia IL/ILU Hebrew ELAH/ELOAH Aramaic EL/ELAH Arabic ILAH
And the next table shows the common Semitic words used in reference to The One True (G)od.
Common Semitic Word for "God" Hebrew ELAH/ELOHIM Aramaic ALAAHA Arabic ALLAH
Response to the Critic's Criticisms
Mr. Gale wrote:
Mr. Mohd again shows his ignorance of these languages since AL in Allah is the definite article which is equivalent to God while Alaaha in Aramaic is without the definite article. The equivalent to this would be HaAlaaha!!
If that is so, then I think Mr. Gale is very much confused with the languages of Hebrew and Aramaic. Aramaic is the father of Arabic and is very much similar to classical Arabic.
The Catholic Encyclopedia states:
"There is no such verbal stem as alah in Hebrew; but the Arabist Fleischer, Franz Delitzsch, and others appeal to the Arabic, 'Aliha'.."
Seems like the Bible was trying to talk about "Allah" all along as "aaliha" is the general form from which "Allah" is derived. Franz Delitzch's theory is that "Elohim" is actually an Aramaic attempt at "Allah". Keep in mind that words such as "Eloh" and "Abraham" predate the Hebrew language by hundreds of years. The royal plural of "Eloh", which is "Elohim" very similar to the way Muslims plea to Allah in the form of "Allahuma".
It is interesting to note that the Aramaic word "Alaaha", which is the word for God in the language that Jesus spoke, is certainly more similar in sound to the word "Allah" than the English word "God". This also holds true for the various Hebrew words for God, which are "Elah" and "Eloah", and the plural form "Elohim". The reason for these similarities is that Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic are all Hamito-Semitic languages with common origins.
It should also be noted that the final 'a' in the Aramaic name "Alaaha" was originally the definite article 'the' and is regularly dropped when Syriac words and names are borrowed into Arabic. Middle-eastern Christianity used 'alah' and 'alaha' frequently, and it would have often been heard. But in the Aramaic/Syriac language there are two different 'a' vowels, one rather like the 'a' in English 'hat' and the other more like the vowel in 'ought'. In the case of 'alah', the first vowel was like 'hat' and the second like 'ought'. Arabic does not have a vowel like the one in 'ought', but it seems to have borrowed this vowel along with the word 'alah'. Scholars believe that Jesus spoke mostly Aramaic, although sometimes he spoke Hebrew and he might have spoken Greek on some occasions. If Jesus spoke Aramaic, then he referred to God using basically the same word that is used in Arabic.
Response to the Critic's Criticisms
The Critic wrote in response to the paragraph above:
Elah is never translated as God in Hebrew read this:
Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible is Elah the name of God. It is the name of a man and the name of an oak tree. (Pictorial Ency. of the Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, USA, Vol. 5.)
Mr. Mohd's great evidence for this was from Ahmeed Deedat!!!
The Critic likes to make great claims without substantiating them. I never quoted Ahmed Deedat's work in writing this paper, simply because I don't believe he is the right authority to go to. Anyway, we can see that Mr. Gale's claim is false. In Strong's Concordance, we read the following regarding elahh :
No. 426 elahh (Chald.), el-aw`; corresp. to 433; God:-God, god.
It is true that according to Strong's Concordance no. 424, 425, elah does refer to an oak tree. But that is only part of the truth, as we have shown above. The most likely answer is that Mr. Gale has taken his quote out of context as usual to "prove" his point.
It should also be pointed out that in translating the Bible into English, the Hebrew word "Elohim" is translated variously as "God" (Genesis 1:1), "gods" (Genesis 3:5), "goddess" (1 Kings 11:5) and "angels" (Psalms 8:5)! This imprecise language allows different translators, based on their preconceived notions, to translate the word to fit their own views. The Arabic word "Allah" presents no such difficulty or ambiguity, since it is only used for Almighty God alone. Additionally, in English, the only difference between "god", meaning a false god, and "God", meaning the One True God, is the capital "G". In the Arabic alphabet, since it does not have capital letters, the word for God (i.e. Allah) is formed by adding the equivalent to the English word "the" (Al-) to the Arabic word for "god/God" (ilah). So the Arabic word "Allah" literally it means "The God" - the "Al-" in Arabic basically serving the same function as the capital "G" in English. Due to the above mentioned facts, a more accurate translation of the word "Allah" into English might be "The One-and-Only God" or "The One True God".
More importantly, it should also be noted that the Arabic word "Allah" contains a deep religious message due to its root meaning and origin. This is because it stems from the ARABIC verb ta`allaha (or alaha), which means, "to be worshipped". Allah is often referred to as Allah taa`la or "the One most high". Thus in Arabic, the word "Allah" means "The One who deserves all worship". This, in a nutshell, is the Pure Monotheistic message of Islam. You see, according to Islam, "monotheism" is much more than simply believing in the existence of "only One God" - as seemingly opposed to two, three or more. If one understands the root meaning of the word "Allah", this point should become clear. One should understand that Islam's criticism of the other religions that claim to be "monotheistic" is not because they are "polytheistic" in the classic sense, but because they direct various forms of worship to other than Almighty God. It should also be noted that many non-Muslims are unaware of the distinction between simply believing in the existence of only One God and reserving all worship for Him alone. Many Christians are painfully unaware of this point, and thus you often find them asking how Muslims can accuse the followers of Jesus, peace be upon him, of being "polytheists" when they were all "monotheistic Jews". First of all, it should be clarified that the word "polytheist" doesn't really sound right in this context, since to many it implies simply believing in the existence of more than one God. So in an Islamic context, "associators", "man-worshippers" or "creature worshippers" might be more accurate and appropriate terms - especially since Christians believe Jesus to be both "100% God and 100% man", while still paying lip-service to God's "Oneness". However, as we're previously touched upon, what is really at the root of this problem is the fact that Christians - as well as the members of other religions - don't really know what "monotheism" means - especially in the Islamic sense. Whenever I ask the Christians in many of the dialogues I have participated, they invariably limit "monotheism" to believing in the existence of "One Sovereign and Creator God". Islam, however, teaches much more than this.
Commenting on Islam's strong monotheism, the Collier's CD-ROM Encyclopedia says:
The belief in such a god is not surprising in view of the well-established hypothesis that monotheism is not a product of polytheism nor, in the history of the Near East, an offshoot of the pagan religions of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Iran, Anatolia, Greece, or Syria. The belief in one God that inspired Muhammad is not derived from primitive Arabian beliefs, nor is it a full carryover from Biblical religion, for it had a strong native foundation. It differed, furthermore, from the great religions of antiquity those of Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Phoenicia in its basic affirmation of one true God.
So Islam is not based on the pagan Arabs' religion which was added with idolatry, and that the original and pure worship to Allâh was based on simple monotheism, that He is the Supreme Deity.
On who uses the Arabic word Allâh, the article at Infoplease.com says:
...the word Allah is used by all Arabic-speaking Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others.
The Encyclopedia Britannica (1992) on the same topic states:
Allâh is the standard Arabic word for "God" and is used by Arab Christians as well as by Muslims.
Alfred Guillaume, in his book entitled Islam, states:
In Arabia Allâh was known from Christian and Jewish sources as the one God, and there can be no doubt whatever that he was known to the pagan Arabs of Mecca as the supreme being.
In Kenneth Cragg's book, entitled The Call of the Minaret, we find the following, which concludes all the above:
Since both Christian and Muslim faiths believe in One supreme sovereign Creator-God, they are obviously referring when they speak of Him, under whatever terms, to the same Being.
In concluding this point, it should be mentioned that Arabic-speaking Muslims who believe in Pure Tawheed, Arabic-speaking Christians, the idol worshippers of Mecca and (so-called) Muslims who believe in "Wahdat al-Wujud" all use the word "Allah". However, does this guarantee all of them proper belief in "Allah"? Certainly not, because if they have a corrupt concept of "Allah" it doesn't matter what word they use! Please click here to see the word "Allah" being used in the Arabic Bible.
This brings us to a more important point: It should be clearly reasoned out that what Islam is primarily concerned with is correcting mankind's concept of Almighty God. What we are ultimately going to be held accountable at the end of our life is not whether we prefer the word "Allah" over the word "God", but what our concept of God is. Language is only a side issue. A person can have an incorrect concept of God while using the word "Allah" and likewise a person can have a correct concept of God while using the word "God". This is because both of these words are equally capable of being misused and being improperly defined. As we've already mentioned, using the word "Allah" no more insinuates belief in the Unity of God than the use of the word "God" insinuates belief in the Trinity - or any other theological opinion. Naturally, when God sends a revelation to mankind through a prophet, He is going to send it in a language that the people who receive it can understand and relate to. Almighty God makes this clear in the Qur'an, when He states:
"Never did We send a Messenger except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people in order to make (things) clear to them."
(Qur'an, Chapter 14 - "Abraham", Verse 4)
To say that Muslims worship a different "God" or to invalidate the whole religion just because they refer to God as "Allah" is just as specious as saying that French people worship another God because they use the word "Dieu", that Malay-speaking people worship a different God because they call upon "Tuhan", Spanish-speaking people worship a different God because they say "Dios" or that the Hebrews worshipped a different God because they sometimes call Him "Adonai". Certainly, reasoning like this is quite preposterous! It should also be mentioned, that claiming that any one language uses the only the correct word for God is tantamount to denying the universality of God's message to mankind, which was to all nations, tribes and people through various prophets who spoke different languages.
Before I conclude, however, I would like to ask the readers to ask themselves what they think the motives are behind all of these irrational lies? If Islam was just some false belief with complicated doctrines that didn't make any sense, would so many people, from Western scholars to Christian missionaries, have to tell so many untruths about it? If Islam were from the Devil, you do not need the Devil's ways to defeat it: explaining the truth would be enough. Yet, lies like this are common among missionaries. The reason is that the Ultimate Truth of Islam stands on solid ground and its simple yet unshakable belief in the Unity of God is beyond reproach. Due to this, Christians can never criticize its monotheistic convictions directly, but instead make-believe things about the religion that are not true so that people lose the enthusiasm to learn more. If Muslims are able to introduce Islam in the suitable method to people in the West, it surely might make many people reconsider and re-evaluate their own beliefs. It is quite likely that Christians, when they find out that there is a universal religion in the world that teaches people to worship and love God, while also practicing Pure Monotheism, would at least feel that they should re-examine the basis for their own beliefs and doctrines.
Below is the reproduction of an e-mail received from Mr. Peter Westh, a B.A. holder in History of Religions and currently pursuing his Masters at the University of Copenhagen. Mr. Westh has kindly offered his response regarding Mr. Gale's material. Some spelling errors have also been corrected (emphasis via bold or underline is my own).
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2000 12:26:59 +0100
From: "Peter Westh" PWESTH@*****
Subject: Re: Sv: ane Religions of ancient Sumer - Mr Westh
Dear Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi,
I have read the article you sent me a link to. I got the impression from your second email that you had written the article yourself, but it did not take me long to figure out that that could not be the case! if I were you. As far as I am concerned, it is complete and utter nonsense. Not only because of its misuse of historical and philological references, but mainly because of its lack of simple reason and common sense. First of all, arguments concerning the name someone uses for a God could never be a valid argument to establish the true nature or even existence of that God. IMHO names are traditional, and hence arbitrary (you may not agree if you are a Moslem, I know) Secondly, anyone with the slightest knowledge of Biblical studies would know that most of the various names used to designate the God of Abraham there have a Mesopotamian, or other Middle-Eastern background too. All languages borrow most of their words form other languages.
If historical arguments could be used to refute religious claims, no religious claims would be valid, Christian, Moslem or otherwise.