Foreign Vocabulary and Loan Words in the Quran: Historical Facts

Foreign Vocabulary and Loan Words in the Quran: Historical Facts

One repeated assertion by Muslim scholars defending the government’s ban on the use of the word ‘Allah’ by Christians is that Quranic Arabic is the ‘purest’ and most appropriate language of divine revelation. As such, Christians are not allowed to use the word ‘Allah’ on the assumption that improper usage of the word by Christians will lead to corruption of language – to use the emotive words of a Muslim scholar – it amounts to raping the soul of their race (“Pemerkosaan Jiwa Bangsa”).

Such an assertion is intellectually questionable. It is evident that there is no such thing as a pure language which would presuppose a self-contained and self-sufficient linguistic community, hermetically sealed from interactions with neighboring linguistic communities – a historical impossibility by any account. Indeed, the Arabic language coexisted and dynamically interacted with other cognate Semitic languages like Nabatean, Hebrew and Aramaic (Syraic) in its early history. We only need to point out the phenomenon of loan words in (Quranic) Arabic to prove the point. As the Encyclopedia of the Quran puts it,

From the earliest period of Islam down to the present day, attentive readers have observed that there are words in the Quran which appear to be of non-Arabic origin. Such observations, motivated by varying factors, have been the source of controversy, discussions and extensive study in traditional Muslim and Euro-American scholarship.(See the entry, “Foreign Vocabulary” written by Andrew Rippin found in Encyclopedia of the Quran vol 2 E- I ed., Jane Dammen McAullife (Brill 2002) pp. 226- 237).

 

Naturally many Muslim scholars have tried to rationalize away this phenomenon on theological grounds by asserting that God sends a prophet in the language of his community.  As such the Quran is sent down in the a form  which the Arabs will easily understand – “la’allakum ta’qiluna”- and how, they ask, could the Arabs have been expected to understand it, were it sent down in a non-Arabic tongue? [Note: the original Arabic script is here transliterated for readers of this post: The phrase occurs at different verses in the Qur’an, e.g. Su 2:73, 242; 6:151 and means “for that you may understand” (from ‘aql, reason)]

Other Arabic scholars argued that since Arabic is the widest and richest of the languages, it should not be surprising that they exists similar words between Quranic Arabic and other languages. That is to say, while similarities may exist, they are there simply by coincidence and not because of a relationship between the words.

Finally, Abu ‘Ubayd (d. 224/838 AH), argued that words of foreign origin are to be found in the Quran but they had been incorporated into Arabic well before the revelation of the Quran and are thus to be considered Arabic. Furthermore, the nature of the Arabic usage of such words is superior to their usage as found in other languages. (Encyclopedia of the Quran, vol 2, p.230).

Not surprisingly, these explanations remain contested by historians. Still, it is undeniable that there are numerous words in the “Foreign Vocabulary in the Quran.”

One of the most helpful studies of this phenomenon of Foreign Vocabulary in the Quran is Arthur Jeffrey book, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Quran (Cairo. Oriental Institute Baroda, 1938). LINK

Arthur Jeffrey wrote, “Closer examination of the question [foreign words in the Quran] reveals even further and more detailed correspondences than these which appear on the surface, and forces on one the conviction that not only the greater part of the religious vocabulary, but also most of the cultural vocabulary of the Quran is of non-Arabic origin… By tracing these words back to their sources we are able to estimate to some extent the influences which were working upon Muhammad at various periods in his Mission, and by studying these religious terms in their native literature contemporary with Muhammad, we can sometimes understand more exactly what he himself means by the terms he uses in the Qur’an (p. 2, 5).

Arthur Jeffrey’s introduction was followed by an extensive discussion (from page 43 – 297) of the following words:

Abb abba? father
ababil
Ibriq can
Iblis devil
Ajr salary
Ahbar news
Adam human
IdrisHenoch?
Ara’ik ?experiences?
Iram?
Azar power
Asatircurtain?
Ashat
Istabraqbrokat
Ishaq Issac
Isra’il Israel
Ussis (name)
Aslama surrender
Ismail
Al-A’rafcrown (cock)
Allah
Allahumma call to God
Ilyas Elias
Al Yasa’ name
Umma people
Amr order
Amshaj
Amana commission
InjilgospelAya sign
Ayyub Hiob
Bab gate
BabilBabel
Baraka blessing
Bara’acreation, or free
Barzakh isthmus, obstacle
Burhan proof
Buruj
Bashshara
Batala
Ba’l
Ba’ir
Bighal mule
Balad land
Banna (adopt Coffebrown?
Bunyanbuilding
Buhtan false accusation
Bahimamonster
Burwheat
Biya
Taba?repent?
Tabut
Tubbal
Tatbir
Tijara
Tajalla
Tasnim
Tafsir
Tannur
Tawwab
Taurah
Tin
Jabia
Jalut
Jubbwell (water)
Jibt
JibrilGabriel
Jabin
Jizya tax
Jalabibkind of clothing
Junahtrespass
Jund soldier
JahannamHell, gehinnom
Judi

habl
taw

Hizb party
Hasada envy
Hisn goodness
Hitta line
Hikma wisdom
Hananloving
Hanif searcher for God
Hawariyun disciples
Hubb love
Hur free
Khalam /qalam? feather
Khubz bread
Khardal
Khazana treasure
Khati’a sin
Khalaq creation
Khamr whine (red)
Khinzirpig
Khaimatent
Dawud David
Darasa study
Dirhammoney
Dihaq full
Din religion
Dinar money
Dhakka
Ra’ina
Rabb lord, tuhan
Rabbani my lord (hebr./aram
Ribh
Ribbiyun
Rujz
Rajim
Ar-Rahman
Rahiq
Rizq
Raqq
Ar-Raqim
Rumman
Rauda
Ar-Rum
Zad
Zabania group of angels
Zabur PsalmZujaja bottle, glass
Zukhruf decoration
Zarabi carpet
Zakariyya Zakarias
Zaka clean (morally)
Zakat social offer
Zanjabil ginger
Zawj couple
Zur ly, falsehood
Zait olive
Sa’a hour
As-Samiri
Sahira
Saba’
Sabt Sabbat
Sabbaha praise
Sabil way
Sajada carpet
Sijill list, scroll
Sijjil
Sijjin prison
Suhl ?soft ground?
Sahara dessert
Siraj sesam oil
Suradiq
Sirbal gown
Sard quotation
Satara line
Sifr number
Safara travel
Safina ship
Sakar
Sakana to rest
Sikkin knife
Sakina presence of God (hebr.)
Salam peace
Silsila geneology
Sultan ruler
Sullam staircase
Salwa entertainment, comfor
Sulaiman Salomon
Sunbul grain
Sundus silk
Siwar necklage (arm)
Sura letter, picture
Sawt voice
Suq market
Sima ?sign?
Saina’ (Sinai?)
Shirk polytheism
Shi’ra Sirius (star)?
Shahr month
Shuhadal
Shaitan devil, satan
Shi’a
As-Sabi’un
Sibgha
Suhuf
Sadaqa
Siddiq
Sirat
Sarh
Salaba
Salawat
Salla pray
Sanam
seat (on camel)Suwa’equal
Sawami’
Sura chapter, letter (mail)
Saum/Siyam fasting
Taghut
Tabul
Taba’a print
Tabaq cover, plate
Tahara clean
Tuba ?His Blessedness (addressing)
Tur mountain
Tufan
Tin soil
‘Alam world
‘Abd servant
‘Abqari genius
‘Aliq food ?
‘Adn Eden
‘Arub
‘Azzara
‘Uzair Esra
‘Ifril
‘Illiyun highest heaven
‘Imad pillar
‘Imran pers. name
‘Ankabut spider
‘Id feast
‘Isa Jesus
Fajir lyer, naughty
Fatir fresh
Fath conquest
Fakhkhar cheramics
Furat Euphrates
Firdaws paradise
Fir’aun Pharaoh
Furqan the Divider (name of Qur’an)
Falaq firmament
Fulk ship (of Noah)
Fil Elephant
Qurun horn, edge
Qudus holy
Qur’an lectionary
Qurban offering
Qirtas paper
Qarya village
Quraish name of tribe
Qist just, correct
Qistas
Qissisun
Qasr
Qitt
Qatiran
Qufl
Qalam
Qamis
Qintar
Qiyama
Qayyum
Ka’s
Kafur
Kahin
Kibriya pride, greatness
Kalaba longing?
Kursiy chair
Kafara unthankful, unbelieving
Kanz choice
Kab
Kail measure
Lata
Lauh plate
Lat ?name of goddess
Ma’ida table
Ma’un
Malik king
Mathani
Mithqal weight
Mathal parable
Al-Majus Majician
Madyan (name)
Madina (place of religion; dwelling
Marjan
Mursa
Maryam Maria
Mizaj
Masjid mosque
Misk
Miskin poor
Masih Messiah
Mishkat lamp
Misr Egypt
Musawwir painter
Ma’in
Miqlad key
Milla (= umma) religious community
Malak angel
Malik king
Malakut kingdom
Manna
Munafiqun hypocrites
Manfush
Minhaj
Muhaimin
Mawakhir
Mu’tafika
Musa Moshe
Mikal
Nabiy prophet, nabi
Nabuwwa prophethood
Nadhr oath
Nuskha copy
Nasara “Christians” (Nazoreans)
Namariq pillow
Nuh Noah
Nun Jona
Harut wa Marut (name)
Harun Aharon
Haman
Hawiya deep valley ?
Wathan homeland
Warda Rose
Wazir minister (government)
Yajuj wa Majuj
Yaqut
Yahya
Ya’qub
Yaghuth
Yaqtin
Yaqin
Yamm
Yahud
Yusuf
Yunas

Undoubtedly the origins of these words remain disputed by Muslim scholars. Still, it should be instructive for us to consider how recognition of the fact of loan words clarifies some puzzles in Quranic exegesis.

It is granted that the 13th century Arabic dictionary, Lisan al-Arab, was a great feat of scholarship. But the fact was that the meaning of many words of Quranic Arabic as used in Muhammad’s time was lost when Arabic scholars began compiling the dictionary. Therefore, the compilers of the Lisan could not make sense of these words in the Qur’an even though they collected and analysed everything Arabic they could obtain, especially from old Arabic poetry.

These scholars may have inkling that some of these words (labeled as of “dark, or unknown meaning”) which still are discussed in Ulum al-Qur’an today, might have come from another Semitic language, particularly Aramaic/Syriac even though they deny such possible origins. But some troubling linguistic problems remain: Why, for example, does khalîfa end with an “a” which should denote it as a feminine? There is no answer from Arabic, but in Aramaic it is the article which usually in that language comes as an “a” (alif in Aramaic/Syriad spelling, ta’ marbuta in Arabic) at the end of the word, e.g. meshîha, the Messiah. These scholars would have been able to account for the “feminine” gender of khalîfa if they admit to its origin in the cognate Semitic languages.

More appropriate to the current controversy – we can consider the words ‘salat’, or ‘zakat’ which the Malaysian authorities banned from being used by non-Muslims, even though these words are of Christian origin. How is it that in Qur’anic Arabic they are spelled with a “w” in the middle, and not, as outside of the Qur’an, with ‘alif’ to make it sound a long “a” (salât), while the Qur’anic spelling makes it sound like ‘salôt’,or ‘zakôt’? There is no answer from Arabic grammar for this observation, but the phenomenon is easy to explain if we take them to be loan words from Aramaic/Syriac, which uses a long ‘o’ where the Arabic uses a long ‘a’. The same explanation applies to the word, ‘salâm’ and ‘shalôm’.

In passing it should be noted that the Quran attributes the origin of salat and zakat to Jesus Christ’s teaching to his disciples (Qur’an, Sura Maryam (19) v. 31) – and irony of ironies – Christians are now banned from using these words!

In short, so long as it is assumed that everything Qur’anic must be based on the assumption of  ‘pure’ Arabic, a position assumed by the Lisan al-Arab, the modern discipline of comparative philology will be rejected as irrelevant by present Islamic scholars in their insistence that certain ‘pure Islamic’ words should be banned from being used by Christians. But then should theological dogmatism trump over historical facts?

More significantly, Muslims scholars cannot deny the fact that the earlier linguistic communities did not protest when these loan words where incorporated into the Quran. These Semitic communities also respected the freedom and the right of early Muslim believers to redefine the loan words according to the newly emerging Islamic theological framework.

Of course, many government Muslim scholars argue that the early Muslims were merely purifying the Arabic language of their time. Whether it is a case of purification of language (which can only be a non-objective theological judgment), it cannot be denied that from the perspective of historical analysis, it was a case of borrowing of words to be adapted for theological purposes of an emerging religious community. That being the case, does not a sense of integrity and fair play require Muslims in Malaysia to respect the right and freedom of other religious communities (e.g., the Malay speaking Christian communities) to use any word they deem suitable to express their beliefs?

Given below are some examples taken from Arthur Jeffrey’s  Foreign Vocabulary in the Quran

 

 


 

which the Arabs will easily understand – -“la’allakum ta’qilūna” and how, they ask, could the Arabs have been expected to understand it, were it sent down in a non-Arabic tongue? [Note: the original Arabic script is here transliterated for readers of this post: The phrase occurs at different verses in the Qur’an, e.g. Su 2:73, 242; 6:151 and means “for that you may understand” (from ‘aql, reason)]

 

 

20 Comments

  1. Muhammad Khaw Abdullah says:

    Arthur Jeffery the supposed scholar on Islam as the Christians call him wrote a book titled the forein vocabulary in the Quran, his basic argument was that there were words in the Quran who’s roots were not arabic but from other languages. I read some of what was written in the book and was not impressed, I mean I thought I would find some good arguments in there but to my disappointed found non. The fact that this rebuttal is going to be simple and easy throws out the Christian saying that Mr. Jeffery is a supposed scholar in Islam who knows alot about it.

    It must be said that Mr. Jeffery’s argument is not a really new or suprising one, many Christians have brought this same weak argument up over and over again. The weakness of this argument is amazing.

    Now it will be easy to respond to Mr. Jeffery’s claims, lets say there are words in the Quran which are not originally arabic, does that really mean anything at all? In the english language you have words such as sugar, and alcohol which are originally arabic words. However so when people say sugar and alcohol people recognize them as english words and wont go around saying no these are not english words. Yes, the root and origin of the words may not be english, however so it does not mean or make these words non-english words, it just means their root is not english but from another language. Words are taken from each culture and adapted to their own, this is a common issue and nuthing big. So hence the same with the Quran, just because one word is not originally an arabic word and comes from another language does not mean the Arabs couldnt take that word and adapt it to their own hence making it an arabic word.

    The Quran is indeed an arabic Quran, it would be silly to say otherwise, just because the origin of some words are not arabic does not make the Quran a non arabic book. Go to the english dictionary and you will find english words in there which were not originally english, no one will say theyre not english, This is a weak argument. So hence Arthurs work here really does not mean much, it doesnt refute the fact that the Quran is still arabic.

    So the fact that the response is that simple and not to long shows the weakness of this argument. This also shows that Mr. Jeffery isnt really all that great in his arguments neither.

    Can’t you come up with a better argument? And Copy from others and pasted into here is really not a sincere acts, without the proper knowledge of Arabic you are not entitle to argue anything on it blindly………. don’t be fooled and don’t let people look at your foolishness…

  2. Chin Choon Meow says:

    I don’t read Arabic. Neither have I read Arthur Jeffery. But I find language is something that is alive. As a Malaysian, I love Bahasa Malaysia although there are “imports” from the English Language with changes in the spelling, some examples are “serius,” “teknologi,” “informasi,” etc. I speak Hokkien, and there are different words for “stone” in Hokkien depending on whether one lives in the northern or southern part of Peninsular Malaysia. The Hokkien in the south will call it “cheok” but those in the north will call it “batu” – a possibly borrowed word from the Malay Language.

    I agree with En Muhammad that “The Quran is indeed an arabic Quran, it would be silly to say otherwise, just because the origin of some words are not arabic does not make the Quran a non arabic book.” I also agree with the Dr Ng Kam Weng, “That being the case, does not a sense of integrity and fair play require Muslims in Malaysia to respect the right and freedom of other religious communities (e.g., the Malay speaking Christian communities) to use any word they deem suitable to express their beliefs?”

  3. Allana says:

    I think we must be clear about the issue here. Having borrowed
    words does not make the Quran non-Arabic- it is Arabic without a doubt. And as En Muhammad said, ‘sugar’ and ‘alcohol’ are still English words although their origins are not.

    But trouble starts should the English claim monopoly to the words and say no one else is allowed to use them because they an pure, English words. In such a circumstance will we not say, something like,”Hey, look. Why can’t others use ‘sugar’ and ‘alcohol’ too? After all you borrowed from others, why can’t we?”

  4. Allana says:

    And furthermore, in using the word “Allah”, not only are the Christians not borrowing that word, but rather,are using a word that predates Islam.

  5. Micheal Lim says:

    Muhammad Khaw Abdullah’s comments: “Can’t you come up with a better argument? And Copy from others and pasted into here is really not a sincere acts” is really interesting since he copied the entire rebuttal from http://www.answering-islam.com/sami_zaatri/rebuttaltoarthurjeffery.htm. The original rebuttal was written by one Sam Zataari.

    Not citing your sources may be construed to be “not a sincere acts (sic)”.

  6. Allana says:

    Oh no!!!!!
    Thanks Micheal Lim!

  7. Adeliyn says:

    Mr. Muhammad, I believe you are missing the whole point, regardless whether you copied your argument or not.

    The main point of this whole article is that those who are not of the Muslim faith, should be given the same right to speak and write the words the Muslims consider as holy. It does not matter where did the Arabic language came from, because all languages in this world came from God.

    My questions to you and everyone else is,

    1) Does God need human advocacy?
    2) Is the Malaysian Muslims faith so weak that by using words such as “Allah” and “zakat” would cause them harm?
    3) Do the Muslim religious leaders doubt their followers faith in Allah?
    4) Or is all this brouhaha just another political ploy for leaders with a hidden agenda?

    Dear all, use your God-given brains and think rationally. Don’t argue just for the sake of arguing.

  8. Muhammad Khaw Abdullah says:

    ‘Allah’ is the well known God of Muslim here in Malaysia and all over the world. For Christians, only Christians in Arabia and Indonesia are calling their god as ‘Allah’ and the rest are not accept ‘Allah’ as god, at least not yet.

    Christians are confuse them self by the issue of ‘Allah’ as the name of God. Some scholars in Christendom believed that ‘Allah’ is really the truth name of God and they were trying their best in using the word ‘Allah’ or ‘Alah’ as God, and finally this word was appear in ‘The New Scofield Reference Bible’, pls. see:

    http://www.jamaat.net/name/genesis1.jpg

    But after that the majority of Christians are protested against the using of the word – ‘Alah’ as God and lastly in the ‘New and Improved’ edition of The New Scofield Reference Bible they have thrown the word ‘Allah’ or ‘Alah’ out. Pls. see:

    http://www.jamaat.net/name/genesis2.jpg

    So you Christians are still not accept ‘Allah’ wholeheartedly as God, but this not an issue in Islam, ‘Allah’ is the only True God for us.

    If every single Christian on this earth is willing to use ‘Allah’ as god, I think no need to ask permission from the court to use the mentioning word as God, no! needless. When you are using the court to apply for the word (‘Allah’), so this is something fishy and we as Muslims feel uneasy for that – whereas not everybody in Christendom are happy to use ‘Allah’ as God, but then why you want to use the word here?

    I suggest Christians here in Malaysia who are too eager to use ‘Allah’ as God to settle the problem about who ‘Allah’ really is in Christianity first until every version of the Bible are using the word ‘Allah’ and we (Muslims) feel that you too have the right to use the same word as God.

    Other than that, another confuse issue is that the attributes of ‘Allah’ in Islam are different with the attributes of ‘Allah’ in Christianity. This is, I think, the major thing that Muslims are against the using of the word ‘Allah’ as God by Christians. Let me put it this way, let says if a foreigner meet you and she is trying to describe something about our former PM – Tun Mahathir Mohamed by saying that he is 40 years old and not married, wait a minute! She got wrong here, she is not describing the right attributes of Tun, whereas there is only one Tun Mahathir here, he is more than 80 years old and has married with Tun Siti Asmah – may be she get confuse with the other Tun, might be! But the most important points here is what she was describing is not Tun, somebody else, not the same.

    Similar with the attributes of ‘Allah’ for both religions, they are different in some attibutes. I will give several examples:

    1)

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)

    Whereas in Islam Allah is begetteth not nor was begotten,

    “He begetteth not nor was begotten” (Qur’an 112:3)

    We Muslims are taking exception on this because “only begotten son” means to being physically like a human being, – begetting is an animal act, belonging to the lower animal functions of sex.

    2)

    Christians believe in Trinity as a concept of god (I do not include any Bible verse because no prove in the Bible about the Trinity)

    “They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the One God. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve.” (Qur’an 5:73)

    3)

    Christians accept Jesus as god and he died for their sin, so the god of Christians is immortal, read:

    “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3)

    Whereas in Islam Allah is Mortal

    And…
    IMPERFECT DESCRIPTIONS OF GOD

    LIKE A MAN
    (Genesis 11:5)
    “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.”

    MOSES SEES GOD’S BACK PARTS?
    (Exodus 33:23)
    “And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”

    WRESTLES WITH JACOB
    (Genesis 32:28)
    “And He (God) said, thy name shall be called no more lacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and has prevailed.”

    LIKE ONE DRUNK
    (Psalm 78:65)
    “Then the Lord awakened as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.”

    REGRETS MAKING MAN
    (Genesis 6:6)
    “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”

    SMELLS SWEET FLAVOUR
    (Genesis 8:21)
    “And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart…”

    A CROUCHING LION
    (Numbers 24:9)
    “He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up?”

    DEVOURING FIRE
    (Exodus 24:17)
    “And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.”

    RESTED AND REFRESHED
    (Exodus 31:17)
    ” … in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested AND WAS REFRESHED.”

    Just not a same.

  9. Muhammad Khaw Abdullah says:

    So Sorry I mean Allah in Islam is Immortal whereas in Christianity ‘allah’ is mortal.

    So They are not the same god. Moreover if we translate ‘god’ to Malay, it is ‘tuhan’, not ‘Allah’.

  10. Jenn Ji says:

    En. Muhammad,

    You have a valid reason to describe the difference between the God of Islam and the God of the Christians. However, again, your latest rebuttal does not fully reflect a comprehensive understanding of biblical scriptures. Surely you have a point in saying that Christians have yet to decide whether their God is Allah or Tuhan but that is because according to scripture and believe that the God of the Christians attributes to many names to describe His nature. Although this may disagree with you but it is something that Christians hold firm to and therefore would explain why they may seem undecided using the right name for God. Which brings me to a 2nd point.

    Anthropology. The Bible writers have used human terms which is to help their readers understand and describe God and His nature in the best and most understandable way possible. Can you fully and truly describe an indescribable feeling or emotion that you feel sometimes? Not really because sometimes there are no words that can express it. But we tend to use the closest word possible to describe how we feel. In the same context, sometimes the Bible describes God in a way that the reader will be able to understand and feel. Is God really a lion? Obviously not. But metaphorically, that’s probably a good description of what the context of the scripture was. Again, it’s a language thing.

    I felt you started off well with your rebuttal to the credibility of Arthur Jefferey and respected you for that but the latest one was not called for. Yes the rest who commented and disagreed with you were probably not very polite either but I thought it could have been handled better.

    Anyhow the point of this post was not to show off whose God had a bigger stature and status now wasn’t it? If the matter was regarding the borrowing of Allah in terms of a linguistic issue, then shouldn’t we agree to disagree on the matter? Because this issue is not as easy as everyone would want it to be. I hope that all this Bible and Q’uran bashing / Allah and God comparisons be handled in a better way in this thread.

  11. Allana says:

    Dear En Muhammad,
    It’s good we can express our views openly in this way. It brings understanding, challenges my own faith and helps me understand where you and other Muslims are coming from. I hope we will put aside our suspicions and be honest and sincere in our discussions. Let’s interact in order to gain understanding and perspective instead of seeking to win.

    I have nothing at all against Muslims or people of any other faith because God made us all. Christians believe we are all made in God’s image and therefore each person is precious.

    Please don’t take things personally while we are discussing here-rather let’s think of it as thinking through a delicate matter together. BTW, I don’t consider that we have been Bible or Quran bashing (more like ‘people bashing’ at times, though! LOL!)!

    Coming back to your argument .You said,”Other than that, another confuse issue is that the attributes of ‘Allah’ in Islam are different with the attributes of ‘Allah’ in Christianity.”

    You know something? When non-Christian people write, speak, sing or curse using the word ‘Jesus’, the attributes of ‘Jesus’ in Christianity are also different with the attributes used by them(non-Christians). So would it be right for Christians to ban the word from being used by everyone else?

  12. Muhammad Khaw Abdullah says:

    This discussion/dialog is really important for both Muslim and Christian in order to understand each other without bias. As a Muslim, I’ll try to transmit my views from Islamic perspective, and I hope this can be an open minded dialog between us. And at the end of the day, this will clear up the haze of who is Allah in both religions.

    Mr. Jenn Ji wrote:
    Is God really a lion? Obviously not. But metaphorically, that’s probably a good description of what the context of the scripture was.

    In the house of Islam, Allah is describing in very highly respected ways. Because Qur’an teaches us that:

    “To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names” (Qur’an 59:23)

    and in another place Qur’an says:

    “And there is none comparable unto Him” (Qur’an 112:4)

    Of course ‘a lion’ is not a beautiful name or attribute for Allah (infact not even for man! If so, how dare we are using it to describe Allah?). In Islamic point of view, you can’t put the attribute of the creatures to Allah in what ever reason that you have such as, “He couched, he lay down as a lion.” (Numbers 24:9) – no! Qur’an says, “Naught is as His likeness” (Qur’an 42:11). Allah is neither as a lion, nor as a man (who drunk?), save Him none as His likeness. If you are still comparing Allah with any of His creature, so you are disgrace Allah whereas Allah is free from all corruptions.

    Christians should know that not only Islam is prohibited to make the resemblance/likeness between any creature with God, but the OT also prohibited this, please read:

    “Thou shalt not make……any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” KJV (Exodus 20:4)

    Actually for me, both teaching are similar in honouring Allah but then we should learn to make the teaching of the both scriptures to be alive accordingly.

    And this is Allah:

    Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous. (Qur’an 2:255)

    And this is a part of Allah’s Beautiful Names:

    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 Colours). 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. (Qur’an 59:22-24)

    And Allana wrote:

    You know something? When non-Christian people write, speak, sing or curse using the word ‘Jesus’, the attributes of ‘Jesus’ in Christianity are also different with the attributes used by them(non-Christians). So would it be right for Christians to ban the word from being used by everyone else?

    I’ll try to share with you who was Jesus (p.b.u.h.) in Islam.

    Muslims believe, that Jesus was one of the mightiest messengers of God that he was the Christ, that he was born miraculously without any male intervention (which many modern-day Christians do not believe today, pls. read this http://www.jamaat.net/muh-christ/Image20.jpg ), that he gave life to the dead by God’s permission and that he healed those born blind and the lepers by god’s permission. In fact, no Muslim is a Muslim if he or she does not believe in Jesus! We too believe that Jesus will return again as a Messiah.

    The Christian does not know that the true spirit of charity which the Muslim displays, always, towards Jesus and his mother Mary spring from the fountainhead of his faith – the Holy Quran. He does not know that the Muslim does not take the holy name of Jesus, in his own language, without saying Eesa, alaihi assalam (“Jesus, peace be upon him” – p.b.u.h)

    The Christian does not know that in the Holy Quran Jesus is mentioned twenty five times (whereas prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) only mentioned five time in the holy Qur’an) for example:

    “We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit” (The Holy Quran 2:87)

    “O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary…” (3:45)

    “…Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of god…” (4:171)

    “…And in their foot steps we sent Jesus the son of Mary…” (5:46)
    “And Zakariya and John, and Jesus and Elias: all in the ranks of the righteous.” (6:85)

    I hope you can understand our faith batter.

  13. Allana says:

    Dear En Muhammad,
    Thank you so much for your response.I do understand what you have written and I do know your beliefs. Precisely because I know what your beliefs about Jesus are, that’s why I know what you believe about Him is not the same as what Christians believe about Him. Put in your words, ‘the attributes of Jesus for a Muslim is different from the attributes of Jesus for the Christian” . I know Muslims respect Jesus, but yet you will not agree with the most important things Christians believe about Him.

    But we don’t stop others from using the word, ‘Jesus’. If you were to look through your post above, you have used the word ‘Jesus’ at least 13 times. Thank you that you respect Him, but still your attributes of Jesus is not the same as Christian belief.

    And please don’t misunderstand me when I say that people write and sing and curse using Jesus name,I don’t mean the Muslims at all! I am sorry that I did not make myself clear on that. I meant the people on TV and movies etc. So, my question is, can Christians ban people who don’t believe the same things about Jesus from using His name?

    The name of Jesus is very important to Christians too. Phil2:9-10 say,’Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’.

    Now this is definitely not the Jesus that non Christians believe in. So, can Christians ban them from using the word ‘Jesus’?

    My friend, please do not tell me the New Testament has been corrupted, because then I will have nothing more to say, except that we just need to respect the beliefs of others from our hearts.

    May He be gracious to us.
    May His peace be upon us.
    Allana.

  14. Muhammad Khaw Abdullah says:

    Dear Alana,

    I hope this positive dialog will benefit both of us as well as the readers here. In order to make this dialog to be really significant, we have to have an open minded mind. I thanks you for replying to my post.

    You has wrote:

    “Put in your words, ‘the attributes of Jesus for a Muslim is different from the attributes of Jesus for the Christian” . I know Muslims respect Jesus, but yet you will not agree with the most important things Christians believe about Him.

    But we don’t stop others from using the word, ‘Jesus’. If you were to look through your post above, you have used the word ‘Jesus’ at least 13 times. Thank you that you respect Him, but still your attributes of Jesus is not the same as Christian belief.”

    Alana to be direct, what is the right of Christians to ban the ‘Jesus of Muslim’ whereas Islam is arrived in Tanah Melayu first then only came Christianity. In the eyes of the Muslims at that time were – Christianity was bringing the different Christ to Tanah Melayu. That was one of the reason why Malay at that time rejected the Christianity because they already knew who Jesus (p.b.u.h) really was. But remember even so, we are not ban you for that, but when you go further by claiming ‘Allah’ as God, so at this time please give us a break.

    In this very Islamic country, to be honors, it is heartful when we read, “Jesus is God” at your car back’s sticker or elsewhere, but that is your belief and we have to tolerate on that, we also have right to put “Jesus is not God” at our car, but no we are not doing so, we don’t want to heart our Christians fellow brothers and actually that is not the right way to propagate our religion. It is so heartful until we can’t dare to see any next sticker says, “Jesus is Allah”, I hope you Christians can understand our stand on this issue. I am so sorry if I heart anybody feeling when say all these.

    Before further discussing of my point of view whether ‘Jesus is God’ or not, please read the similarities that we are sharing together:

    1. Muslims believe, that Jesus (p.b.u.h) was one of the mightiest messengers of God or a prophet, this parallel with Matthew 21:11 – Jesus a prophet from Galilee.

    2. He was the Christ or Messiah, same as what teaches by the Bible.

    3. He gave life to the dead by God’s permission, this point too is parallel with the teaching of the Bible.

    4. He healed those born blind and the lepers by god’s permission, plainly similar as what teaches by the Bible.

    So we to share the same attributes of Jesus.

    For me Jesus (p.b.u.h) can’t be God at any time. What I will transmit here is not to heart your feeling but to show you what I believe as the truth, and once again we should open our mind and don’t be biased. Let us call a spade as a spade. If I’m wrong then I will admit it, so do in your side (I hope). These are the reasons why Jesus (p.b.u.h) can’t be God at any time from my points of view (in points form):

    1. If Jesus is God, how could he die for your sins?

    Please read 1 Timothy 1:17, (focus a the word in bold)

    Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

    God cannot die, yet Jesus was killed and then resurrected (Acts 5:30). The Bible does not say that only his “human nature” died; it says that Jesus died, which would include all of Jesus (100%), read:

    1 Corinthians 15:3

    For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.

    2. How can Jesus be “God” and have a “God” at the same time?

    The God of the Bible is the Almighty, the Creator, the Most High, and no one compares to Him. Jesus Christ cannot be “God” if he says that your heavenly Father is his “God.”

    You cannot be the “Most High God” and be in submission to the “Most High God” (1 Cor.15:28) and say that He is your God. This makes no sense at all.

    If words truly have meaning, then one cannot be “God” and have a “God” at the same time.

    Check out the verses below that clearly show that the Father is the “God” of your Lord Jesus Christ:

    Ephesians 1:17

    I keep asking that the God of your Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

    Romans 15:6

    …so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    2 Corinthians 1:3

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort…

    Ephesians 1:3

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

    1 Peter 1:3

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

    The above verses are very clear. Jesus Christ has a God. Who is the God of your Lord Jesus Christ? Ephesians 1:17 very clearly says that this God is your glorious Father.

    Jesus Christ himself called the Father his “God” and Father many different times in Scripture.

    John 20:17 (KJV)

    …I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'”

    Revelation 3:12

    Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.

    Revelation 3:21

    To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

    3. If God cannot be tempted by evil, yet Jesus was tempted in every way we are, how can he be God?

    James 1:13

    For God cannot be tempted by evil.

    but then read Hebrews 4:15

    For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

    Dear Alana, the Bible never says that Jesus’ “human nature” was tempted, it says “Jesus” was tempted. Nowhere does it say that “part” of Jesus was tempted; it was “all” of him. If Jesus is God, this is a clear contradiction. Fortunately, Jesus is the human Son of God, so there is no contradiction.

    Thus in Islam Qur’an is corrected the misunderstanding about Jesus (p.b.u.h) by Christianity says:

    And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother* as gods in derogation of Allah.?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.

    “Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, ‘worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things. (Qur’an 5:116-117)

    *In New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia on Mary says that there was a group of Christian which was worshiping Mary as mother of God which called ‘Theotokos’ in Greek.

    So these are my 3 points which are for me denying Jesus (p.b.u.h) as God. Let us look at the point one by one and consider it. Again let us call a spade as a spade. For the Bible says, “The truth shall let you free”. If you are not agree with my point let us see why?

  15. Allana says:

    Dear En Muhammad,
    I hope this will not remain a conversation between 2 people but that others will join in to share their thoughts.

    Talking about who has or has not the right to ban, I must admit I don’t know much about politics and the Constitution. But I really do not wish to go into it because religion is already sensitive enough an issue! Also I don’t want to say the wrong thing and add ‘fuel to the fire’.Anyway, maybe someone else can enlighten us on this issue.

    As Chinese New Year is around, I would be very busy. So will talk to you again later?

    Thanks for your honesty and openness. I am beginning to understand more about your feelings and perspectives.

    God bless you.
    May His grace and peace be upon all those who seek His Truth.
    Allana.

  16. Muhammad Khaw Abdullah says:

    Dear Alana and readers

    I’m convert to Islam after I did some serious researches and finally I have to admit that the truth is only in Islam.

    I hope you will consider my all points sincerely, what to say, our discussion should be end here. Again to be sincere, no Christian all these while can ever responds to these kind of questions confidently, no, I not yet found. This is not because of my questions are really good no! This is not the matter here, but the most important thing is we should really consider our faith seriously whether it is on the right path or not. Because we will responsible for it in here after.

    I am apologize if I heart anybody feeling here. so lastly I wish to you and all Chinese Gong Xi Fa Chai. Bye.

  17. Even a casual glance at this list of foreign words given here shows that many, but not all, are Aramaic; many could equally be Hebrew as well. The relationship between Arabic, Aramaic and Hebrew is fairly close, so there is probably a lot of mutual borrowing of words between these languages. Even today, in Israel Hebrew is spoken, but there are a lot fo Arabic loan-words.

  18. […] For fuller discussions please read the following articles: 1) Allâh  and Linguistic Hegemony LINK http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2008/01/%E2%80%98Allâh %E2%80%99-and-linguistic-hegemony/ 2) The Semantics of Allâh LINK http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2008/02/the-semantics-of-the-word-Allâh / 3) Allâh  is Not a Personal Name LINK http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2009/11/Allâh -is-not-a-definite-name/ 4) Foreign Vocabulary and Loan Words in the Quran: Historical Facts LINK http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2010/01/foreign-vocabulary-and-loan-words-in-the-quran-historical-facts/ […]

  19. SJI says:

    Here’s a simple question:

    (1) If a father has two children, would he be happy that his children address him as “father” despite what they believe about him or would he say to them, “If and only if, your believes of me coincide exactly with the same believes I want you to have of me shall you call me ‘father’.”?

    A thing to consider:

    (2) Are all human beings expected to believe (and expected to be able to believe) exactly the same thing concerning everything concerning?

    If the answer to the above is “yes”, then human beings can be perfect in what is expected of them.

    Is this possible in the Qur’an? I am supposing the answer to that question is “no”. This then means the answer to question (2) must also be “no”.

    Be you a Christian or a Muslim, only God can be perfect.

    So what if I am a Christian and I called the one true God as Allah, accepting that there is only one true God, despite my faith? Would Allah strike me dead because I called His name? The only one who would strike me dead is likely a Muslim fanatic.

  20. Hermann Hekmholtz says:

    Amazing discussions about ‘foreign words.’

    First, it is unlikely that the Qur’an contained ‘foreign’ words that were not Arabized already and had entered the vocabulary of at least the citizens of Mecca. Recall that the Meccans were quite cosmopolitan, in as much as being a cosmopolitan in the 7th Century. The winter caravans arrive from Yemen, and carry the Indian and southern Arabian trade, and the summer caravans return from Damascus, but jot Palestine, according to the literature.

    This movement made Arabic gradually a lingua franca of the entire region, as one witnessed in the rise of the Nabatean Kingdom, for example.

    There is little doubt that the Mr. Jeffreys is no linguist, and does have some catching up to do in the history of antiquity, as well. More to the point, his knowledge of Arabic is rather mediocre, as one observes from the list above.

    1. I believe he directed his writing on the subject to an non-Arab reader, for, an Arab reader would probably fume at the inaccuracies and slips that the list contains.

    2. The Nabataeans were Arabs. They, indeed, were the first to introduce cursive Arabic, a form of writing that is missing in all other Semitic languages – to this day. That is somewhat strange.

    3. The use of the word ‘Semitic’ in describing most of the languages of the region is rather unfortunate. It probably has some Biblical or other non-scientific origin. For, these languages descend all from Aramaic… This must comes as a surprise to some of the scribes above – but a cursory knowledge of the history of the region would have quelled much excitement and a great enthusiasm… About what?
    I still cannot tell.

    Here is a case of a lively language, which historically acquired and imparted much vocabulary and instead of celebrating this, the only Aramaic descendant that survived for many millennia, and continues to thrive. It is, I may say ignorantly, slashed and dissected – not for linguistic or historical purposes – None of the scalple work and the streaming blood above bears a remote connection to linguistics or history, or were inscribed by a linguist or an historian.

    In that sense, one must understand the ire of Muslims who read such ‘contributions.’ They appear to be in the same genre of the usual contemptible casting of Islam – the religion of 1.3 billion people in the world, and growing – by the colonial powers in the past, and their heirs, it seems today.

    Muslims did not treat the Christians and Jews in the manner they were treated in the home countries by Christian and Jewish invaders – and now, in Western countries were even the law forbids such discrimination… But what am I talking about? I shall ask my black colleague to explain these laws for me – whops! he is in Florida, at a funeral of a young boy!

    This brings me to the essence of the this squabble. If I were a Muslim, I may not change my attitude towards other religions, but would certainly blame their religion for the intolerance that it apparently condones… And Islam does not!