‘Allah’ is Substitute for Hebrew Words ēl, ĕlōah, and not for English Word ‘God’

‘Allah’ is Substitute for Hebrew Words ēl, ĕlōah, and not for English Word ‘God’

For news event regarding the Sultan of Selangor’s decree that says non-Muslims must not use the word Allah see my other post at:

Religious Liberty Watch, Selangor Sultan Says non-Muslims Must Not use ‘Allah’, Pakatan and Christian Federation of Malaysia Disagree  LINK

MAIS secretary Datuk Mohd Misri Idris announced “His majesty the Selangor Sultan has made a decision and decreed that the word ‘Allah’ is a sacred word specific to Muslims and is strictly forbidden to use by any non-Muslim religion in Selangor as stated in a fatwa and gazetted on 18 February 2010.”

 

The ban is unprecedented and it is questionable whether a fatwa can be applied to non-Muslims. In any case, as a non-Muslim, my profession of faith cannot be determined by any human authority (whether the government or the Sultan). It is ultimately between me and my God.

 

Only God is almighty; still he does not impose blind obedience onto his decree. Instead, he invites us reason with him. As God decreed, “Set forth your case, says the Lord; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob” (Isaiah 41:21) and “Put me in remembrance; let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right” (Isaiah 43:26). Authority in matters of faith is legitimate not because it is backed by legal or political coercion, but because it is supported by a compelling argument that is open to reason. The only force that is legitimate is the force of truth and peaceable persuasion.

 

In this respect what rational justification have the authorities given for the ban? What evidence, reasons and arguments have the advisers to the authorities set forth that would legitimize the ban? It is significant that IKIM (headed by graduates from ISTAC and working with officials from JAKIM) released a press statement that coincides with the Sultan’s decree. Perhaps a declaration from a think-tank would encourage rational discourse whereby matters of religious disputes could be settled in an amicable manner. Alas, such hopes are quickly dashed.

 

The experts advising the authorities are mistaken right from the beginning. The press statement from IKIM goes as follows, “Kenyataan Media oleh YBhg. Datuk Nik Mustapha bin Haji Nik Hassan, Ketua Pengarah IKIM “Internet TV IKIM Siar Muzakarah Pakar Terjemahan “God” Sebagai Allah : Mengenal Pasti Punca dan Permasalahannya”. LINK

 

The press statement follows a meeting of ‘translation experts’ seeking to identify the causes and problems of the present Allah controversy. Note how IKIM experts simply frame their discussion as the problem of translating the word “God” as “Allah”. Unfortunately, these experts have misconstrued the problem from the start. What comes across from IKIM press statement is that the Christians in Malaysia are insisting on substituting the English word ‘God’ with the word ‘Allah’. It is arguable that such an act makes no sense and these experts conclude that Christians must be up to mischief, that is, they are attempting to confuse Muslims.

 

I agree with IKIM experts that substituting the word ‘God’ with ‘Allah’ seems an unnecessary choice for translation. Indeed, I personally am happy to address my God as ‘God’. But then I am talking about using the Bible and praying to God in English. I see no need to substitute the word ‘God’ with ‘Allah’ and IKIM can rest assured that the English speaking churches in Malaysia would agree with me. Truth be told, it is IKIM that is mischievous in insinuating that the Christians in Malaysia for no good reasons want to substitute ‘God’ with the word ‘Allah.’

 

More importantly, the insinuation from IKIM is a red-herring that distracts us from addressing the reality that the Allah controversy in Malaysia pertains to the right of the Bumiputera Christians from East Malaysia and Peninsular Orang Asli Christians to continue using the word Allah in the Malay Bible (Alkitab) which has been around for generations. These Bumiputera Christians are only asking the authorities to respect their right to profess their faith in their mother tongue. Malaysian Bumiputera Christians have consistently insisted that when they use the word ‘Allah’ they are only maintaining a continuity with historical churches which use the Semitic languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic) when they translate the Hebrew words ēl, ĕlōah (Hebrew) or ĕlāh (Aramaic) or alaha (Syriac) into Allah (Arabic and Malay Bible).

 

What could be more natural than the choice of the word Allah? Just look the words – linguistically they share similar roots and sound similar. The simple reason is they are cognate languages or dialects within the family of Semitic languages. They share similar sounds as these linguistic communities have existed side by side for millennia. In the same way, words sound similar but also slightly different when one compares Hokkien, Cantonese and Hakka since they all are dialects within the Chinese language. Any reasonable person who acknowledges the historical background (and not dogmatically write them off as times of ignorance, jahiliyyah) would agree that it would indeed be an unnatural decision not to follow the historical-linguistic trajectory (Hebrew words ēl, ĕlōah (Hebrew) or ĕlāh (Aramaic) or allahu (Syriac) into Allah (Arabic or Bahasa Malaysia) and adopt the word Allah.

 

IKIM statement, “IKIM berharap siaran TV IKIM dan penulisan artikel ilmiah di laman web IKIM (www.ikim.gov.my) akan membantu orang ramai memahami isu ini dan berharap isu ini akan dihentikan polemiknya,” suggests that the scholarly articles from both its website and TV IKIM should put a stop to the Christian polemics that is the source of the controversy.

 

The Muslim scholars speaking in TV IKIM did not hide their enmity towards Christians, based on their (mis)perception that Christians are both incompetent translators and mischievous missionaries when they adopt the word Allah. The viewer would be disappointed that these scholars did not offer evidence from comparative philology, linguistics and sound arguments. All one gets is dogmatic religious assertions, deliberate misrepresentation of the Bible, rhetoric and polemics. O yes! IKIM is the one guilty of polemics with the suggestion that Christians have caused offence in taking ‘God’ as ‘Allah’ when in reality Christians are innocently maintaining the centuries-old practice of using the word Allah as equivalent to the original words ēl, ĕlōah and allahu in their revealed Scriptures. In common parlance, IKIM press statement is a fig leaf to cover up an act (the ban) that is simply intellectually unwarranted and legally indefensible.

 

Appendix

For those who can handle linguistic technicalities of comparative philology, I give below two much abbreviated entries (leaving out references to ancient sources) on the word ēl, ĕlōah (Hebrew) or ĕlāh (Aramaic) from the two most authoritative lexicons for Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic – 1. (BDB): Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon and 2. (HALOT): Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament

 

El Lexicon BDB HALOT

IKIM simply parades the old presentations from its scholars without any change, as though no one has critiqued them and found them wanting. You may read my response to their papers: Refutation of Muslim Scholars’ Arguments in the Allah Controversy at:

Part 1/3LINK

Part 2/3 LINK

Pat 3/3 LINK

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Full text of IKIM Press Statement added on 11 Jan 2013 after IKIM changed its website design and the link to the original article became broken:

Kenyataan Media oleh YBhg. Datuk Nik Mustapha bin Haji Nik Hassan, Ketua Pengarah IKIM “Internet TV IKIM Siar Muzakarah Pakar Terjemahan “God” Sebagai Allah : Mengenal Pasti Punca dan Permasalahannya”

07/01/2013 |
Internet TV IKIM telah menyiarkan rakaman program Muzakarah Pakar “Terjemahan “GOD” sebagai Allah : Mengenal pasti Punca dan Penyelesaiannya” bermula pada hari ini, 7 Januari 2013. Siaran ini dapat diikuti di www.tvikim.my di Saluran Perspektif.

Siaran rakaman pembentangan kertas kerja ini melibatkan dua orang pegawai kanan IKIM iaitu Dr. Mohd Sani bin Badron, Pengarah/Felo Kanan, Pusat Kajian Ekonomi dan Kemasyarakatan IKIM dan En. Mohd Asham Ahmad, Felo, Pusat Kajian Syariah, Undang-undang dan Politik IKIM.

Muzakarah pakar ini merupakan anjuran IKIM yang telah dianjurkan pada 21 Januari 2010 di Dewan Besar IKIM.

IKIM melalui penganjuran aktiviti keilmuan, program dalam radio IKIMfm dan penulisan di akhbar-akhbar berbahasa Melayu dan Inggeris telah mengambil langkah proaktif dalam memberi kefahaman dan penjelasan dalam isu ini bermula pada tahun 2008.

Pendirian IKIM kekal seperti berikut :

(i) Oleh kerana bahasa Melayu adalah tergolong dalam rumpun bahasa Islam, makna yang sah bagi kalimah ‘Allah’ ialah makna yang dikehendaki oleh al-Qur’an dan dijelaskan dalam akidah Islam.

Dalam Surah al-Ikhlas, Allah berfirman dengan maksud:

“Katakanlah : Dia adalah Allah, Yang Maha Esa.
Allah, yang Maha Kekal Abadi tiada berkesudahan.
Tiada Dia beranak, dan tiada pula Dia diperanakkan.
Dan bagi -Nya tiada suatu pun tara (setara).
Dan ini berbeza dengan konsep ketuhanan yang dianjurkan dalam agama Kristian yang berasaskan konsep triniti :

Tuhan Bapa, Tuhan Anak dan Tuhan Roh Suci (Holy Spirit) .

(ii) Usaha memberikan makna yang asing bagi kalimah itu mesti juga boleh dianggap sebagai usaha merosakkan bahasa Melayu dan pemikiran orang Melayu.

(iii) Menyedari dan mengakui hakikat ini, menjadi kewajiban orang-orang Melayu dan kerajaan yang dipimpin mereka mengambil langkah-langkah yang perlu bagi memelihara kesucian bahasa mereka agar tidak dicemari oleh unsur-unsur asing yang boleh mengelirukan pandangan hidupnya.

Kesimpulan-kesimpulan ini didokong oleh hujah-hujah yang terang lagi nyata. Kita telah membuktikan kebenaran pegangan kita bahawa ‘Allah’ adalah terjemahan yang salah bagi ‘god’.

Terjemahan itu tidak dapat diterima kerana ia bukan sahaja menyalahi lunas-lunas bahasa bahkan tidak dapat dipertahankan dari segi akidah, sejarah, mahupun undang-undang.

Keputusan Kabinet pada 16 Mei 1986 telah memutuskan empat (4) peristilahan Islam yang tidak boleh digunakan dalam Bible dalam apa jua keadaan iaitu : Allah, Kaabah, Baitullah dan Solat.

Di samping itu, sebanyak lima penulisan artikel telah disiarkan dalam akhbar dan laman web IKIM (www.ikim.gov.my) yang disediakan oleh Pegawai-pegawai penyelidik IKIM seperti berikut:

(i) “Kemelut Pemikiran Agama” oleh Y.Bhg. Datuk Dr. Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas, Mantan Ketua Pengarah IKIM pada 6 Januari 2008 di akhbar Mingguan Malaysia.

(ii) “Heresy Arises From Words Wrongly Used” oleh Y.Bhg. Datuk Dr. Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas, Mantan Ketua Pengarah IKIM dan Dr. Mohd Sani Badron, Pengarah Pusat Kajian Ekonomi dan kemasyarakatan yang disiarkan pada 20 Februari 2008 di laman web IKIM.

(iii) Artikel “Antara Nama dan Hakikat” oleh En. Md. Asham b. Ahmad, Felo Pusat Kajian Undang-undang, Shariah dan Politik disiarkan pada 7 Mei 2008 di akhbar Utusan Malaysia.

(iv) “Isu Penggunaan Kalimah Allah” oleh En. Abu Bakar b. Yang, Felo, Pusat Kajian Sains & Alam Sekitar” pada 6 Februari 2009 di akhbar Utusan Malaysia.

(v) “Menelusuri Kemelut Kalimah” oleh Y.Bhg. Datuk Dr. Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas, Mantan Ketua Pengarah IKIM pada 12 April 2009 di akhbar Utusan Malaysia.

(vi) “Antara Nama dan Hakikat” oleh En. Md. Asham b. Ahmad, Felo Pusat Kajian Undang-undang, Shariah dan Politik, pada 14 Januari 2010 di akhbar Utusan Malaysia. Disiar semula atas permintaan akhbar Utusan Malaysia.

Sebanyak tiga program ilmiah telah dianjurkan oleh IKIM seperti maklumat berikut:

(i) Sesi Bengkel Khas “Mengenai ‘Tuhan” Dalam Agama Kristian” oleh Tn. Hj Ayub Abd. Rahman b. Abdullah, Pendakwah Bebas (bekas Paderi di Kuching Sarawak) Pusat Maklumat Islam, Kuching, pada 16 Mac 2009 bertempat di Bilik Gerakan IKIM.

(ii) Sesi Seminar Tertutup Penerangan Kes Kalimah Allah: Implikasi Perundangan dan Perlembagaan” pada 1 April 2009 bertempat di Dewan Besar IKIM.

Pembentang :

Tuan Haji Zainul Rijal b. Abu Bakar
Presiden, Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia (PGSM)

Tuan Haji Mahamad Naser bin Disa, Ketua Unit Pentadbiran & Penyelarasan, Hal Ehwal Undang-undang Sivil & Syariah, Jabatan Peguam Negara

(iii) Sesi Muzakarah Pakar “Terjemahan ‘God” Sebagai “Allah”: Mengenalpasti Punca Permasalahan dan Penyelesaiannya” pada 21 Januari 2010 bertempat di Dewan Besar IKIM.

Moderator :

Y.Bhg Datuk Nik Mustapha Haji Nik Hassan
Ketua Pengarah IKIM

Pembincang I : Y.Bhg Prof. Madya Dr. Kamar Oniah Kamaruzzaman, Jabatan Usuluddin dan Perbandingan Agama, UIAM

Pembincang II : YB Dato’ Dr. Abdullah Md. Zin, Penasihat Agama kepada YAB Perdana Menteri

Pembincang III : YB Datuk Seri Haji Hadi Awang, Presiden PAS

Pembincang IV : Dr. Mohd Nor Manuty, Ahli Majlis Pimpinan Pusat, Parti Keadilan Rakyat

Pembincang V : Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin
Mantan Mufti Negeri Perlis

Pembincang VI : Dr. Mohd. Sani bin Badron
Pengarah, Pusat Kajian Ekonomi dan Kemasyarakatan IKIM

Pembincang VII : En. Md. Asham bin Ahmad, Felo Pusat Kajian Syariah, Undang-undang dan Politik IKIM

Sebanyak dua penerbitan khas telah diterbitkan oleh IKIM seperti maklumat berikut:

(i) Penerbitan monograf “Antara Nama dan Hakikat : Kemelut Kalimah Allah” oleh En. Md. Asham bin Ahmad, Felo Pusat Kajian Shariah, Undang-undang dan Politik. (seperti disertakan)

(ii) Penerbitan Majalah VISI Edisi Khas, Bil 109 – Nama Khas “Allah”; Persoalan dan Penyelesaian.

IKIM berharap siaran TV IKIM dan penulisan artikel ilmiah di laman web IKIM (www.ikim.gov.my) akan membantu orang ramai memahami isu ini dan berharap isu ini akan dihentikan polemiknya.

Tamat.

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News Report on the Ban

Non-Muslims Must Not use ‘Allah’, says Selangor Sultan

Malaysian Insider 8 Jsn 2013 LINK

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 – The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah is shocked at Lim Guan Eng’s remarks over the word “Allah” and has called for an emergency meeting with state Islamic religious officials to bar non-Muslims from using the Arabic word for god, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) said today.

In December 2009, the High Court ruled that the word “Allah” was not restricted to Muslims and the Catholic Church had the right to published the word in the Malay section of its weekly newspaper, Herald.

“His majesty the Selangor Sultan has made a decision and decreed that the word ‘Allah’ is a sacred word specific to Muslims and is structly forbidden to use by any non-Muslim religion in Selangor as stated in a fatwa and gazetted on 18 February 2010,” MAIS secretary Datuk Mohd Misri Idris said in a statement.

The Selangor Sultan also chided those who would use Islam for political purposes and warned them against destroying the existing peace enjoyed by Malaysia’s multireligious community, Mohd Misri secretary said.

Further information on the state laws and fatwa regarding the use of the word “Allah” can be read on its website, he said.

The “Allah” storm was reignited recently when Lim, the opposition DAP’s secretary-general, raised the controversial “Allah” issue in his Christmas message urging the federal government to lift its ban on the word published in the Malay bibles shipped in to Sabah and Sarawak, who form the bulk of Malaysia’s 9.2 per cent Christian population.

In recent years, the Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug-of-war over the word “Allah”, with the latter group arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim god.

Shipments of the Alkitab, the Malay-language Bible catering to the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Bumiputera Christians, were blocked or confiscated at ports, before the government finally bowed to pressure and released them in 2011. added that Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had issued a similar decree three years ago when the “Allah” issue first erupted and regretted that his statement was taken lightly.

He also said the Selangor Ruler had instructed MAIS and the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS) to take firm action against all groups, including non-Muslims, who continued to question the state fatwa.

He pointed out that the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment restricting the use of the word was passed in the state assembly 25 years ago and enforced in July 1988.

He said the state law was also in keeping with Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution governing the spread of non-Muslim doctrine.

“Section 9 of the Enactment strictly forbids the word ‘Allah’ to be used by non-Muslims in any matter related to their religions.

“Those who breach this provision can be charged and sentences meted out against them,” he said.

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Malaysiakini 9 Jan 2012 LINK

We’ll continue to use ‘Allah’, declares churches council

Although the Selangor sultan has barred non-Muslims from using the word ‘Allah’ in religious affairs, the Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) today announced that all churches will continue to use the word as they deem it a right guaranteed by the federal constitution.
General secretary Rev Hermen Shastri (right) said the heads of churches of the CCM, meeting in their retreat in Ipoh, have noted the current discourse over the use of the word ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims.

“We wish to reiterate our stand that Malaysian Christians have been using the word ‘Allah’ in their Malay Bible and devotional life for centuries,” he said in a statement.

“Also many indigenous communities in our nation have incorporated this word in their everyday language.

“That being the case, we shall continue this practice – a right guaranteed to us in our federal constitution (Article 11) and call on all parties to respect this fundamental right.”

CCM’s view is shared by the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM).

“Malaysian Christians have been using the word “Allah” in our Bahasa Malaysia Bibles and in our faith to signify the Almighty God and we will continue to do so,” stressed chairperson Bishop Datuk Ng Moon Hing in a statement.

Sultan’s decree

Yesterday Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah decreed that all non-Muslims in the state are banned from using the word ‘Allah’ as this is exclusive to Muslims.

According to the Selangor Islamic Affairs Council, the ruler had expressed shock and regret over DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng’s statement urging the federal government to allow the word to  be included in the Malay-language Bible.

However, Pakatan Rakyat has taken a different stance.

At a joint press conference with PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang yesterday, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang reiterated that Islam does not prohibit people of other faiths from using the word ‘Allah’, although this would not reach the original meaning of the Quran.

 

16 Comments

  1. Kam Weng says:

    Hi Sivin,

    I noticed IKIM has just put up a new webpage design/layout. Can no longer access the Press Statement and the articles that were originally available.

    I have decided to add the full text of the Press Statement in the post above (c.f red heading) for the benefit of the readers

  2. Hj. Lee says:

    Hi,

    What is the relationship between ‘Yahweh’ and ‘Allah’? Can anybody please clarify on this matter?

    Thanks

  3. Jason Loh says:

    Dear Hj Lee,

    The relationship between “Yahweh” and “Allah” is the relationship between Hebrew and Arabic.

  4. Hj. Lee says:

    Hi Jason,

    Hebrew and Arabic are sister languages but I don’t see any connection between these Divine’s Names. They are spell differently, so they are not cognates to each other. So why not you use only ‘Yahweh’ since it is in Hebrew and your god has proclaimed this divine’s name in Exodus 3:15, whereas ‘Allah’ is in Arabic and Christians has nothing to do with this language and this Divine’s Name.

  5. Jason Loh says:

    Dear Haji Lee,

    The use of Allah PREDATES the advent of islam. It was used by both ARAB Christians and the so-called “Pagan” Arabs.

    Malay-speaking and related Christians have been using the word, “Allah” BEFORE the
    emergence of the modern states of Malaysia and Indonesia.

    The word, “Allah” simply means “The God.” Even muhammad is NEVER recorded as denying the use of “Allah” to Christians (and the Jews).

    Please kindly note that the Treaty of Hudaibiyah and the Constitutions of Medina contains NO provisions whatsoever in trying to prevent non-Muslims from using the word, “Allah.”

  6. Ashraf Munim says:

    Dear Jason,

    New Testament was written originally in Greek. Quran is in Arabic. Just maintain the status quo so that we dont trespass each other cultural values. however we cannot force or control the usage at the individual level. But otficiially, it should be greek if you are talking fair play.

  7. Jason Loh says:

    Dear Ashraf,

    Fair play is not politicising the use of the word, “Allah.” Fairplay is not interfering, intervening, infringing, encroaching on the fundamental rights of poor, underprivileged, deprived, oppressed Bumiputera Christians to profess and practice their Faith.

    Fairplay means the recognition that the use of the word, “Allah” does not depend on any edict or decree of any authority since Christians are not under syariah law.

    Fairplay means the recognition that the use of the word, “Allah” predates Islam.

  8. Jason Loh says:

    Dear Ashraf,

    Fairplay means the recognition that in Christianity, there is no such thing as a “heavenly language” of the Sacred Scriptures. New Testament Greek is not heavenly language but the language used by the ordinary Greek — colloquial Greek … bahasa pasar Yunani … the language spoken by the working and artisan class … the farmers, fishermen, labourers, etc. etc.

  9. Hj. Lee says:

    Dear Jason,

    In Koine Greek of NT, the term for ‘God’ and ‘god’ is ‘theos’ (θεὸς) and fair translation for this in bahasa is ‘Tuhan’ or ‘tuhan’ not Allah. If you still want to refer to the Arabic Bible, the original name of your ‘God’ therein is ‘Yahwah’ ( يَهْوَهْ ) – read Exodus 3:15 in the Arabic Bible which is derived from the Tetragrammaton (or in Greek is τετραγράμματον, meaning “four letters”) – ‘YHWH’ ( יְהוָ֞ה).

    In the of truth, I don’t see the needs of using ‘Allah’ in the Alkitab then, Can you please explain?

  10. Kam Weng says:

    Response to Hj. Lee

    Quoting an Arabic word ‘Yahwah’ ( يَهْوَهْ ) looks impressive, but in this case Hj. Lee is misleading.

    Notice the word in question in Exodus 3:15 is YHWH and not el, eloah. YHWH or in Arabic YHVH is translated as LORD in English and TUHAN in Bahasa Malaysia/Bahasa Indonesia.

    Indonesian Alkitab: Selanjutnya berfirmanlah Allah kepada Musa: ”Beginilah kaukatakan kepada orang Israel: TUHAN, Allah nenek moyangmu, Allah Abraham, Allah Ishak dan Allah Yakub, telah mengutus aku kepadamu: itulah nama-Ku untuk selama-lamanya dan itulah sebutan-Ku turun-temurun.

    Many people like Lee assume Tuhan refers to ‘God’ and therefore facetiously suggest it can be a substitute for Allah (at least theoretically when used by non-Muslims). However, the real meaning for Tuhan is ‘Lord’ when it translates the Arabic word Rabb.

    Hence the Kamus Dewan’s entry for rab – Arabic yang empunya (sesuatu), tuan (Allah)
    Rabbi – Arabic Tuanku, Tuhanku

    When Christians translate YHWH as Tuhan they are only following a 2000 year tradition:
    First, when the Jews came across the word YHVH they reverently avoided (mis)pronouncing the name and merely added the vowels from the word adonay (master, Lord). The resultant word becomes YeHoVaH. Any Jew would immediately read the word YHVH as adonay (Lord), even though he visually and mentally recognized the actual word in front of him was YHVH. As a passing remark the Englishmen misunderstood the combined letters and took the name of God as Jehovah.

    Second, the Jews translated their Scriptures into Greek (the Septuagint (LXX) ca.200BC). The Greek translation for the word YHVH (adonay אָדוֹן ’=Lord) was kurios. Hence, we get the Greek of Exodus 3:15 – 15 και ειπεν ο θεοσ παλιν προσ μωυσην ουτωσ ερεισ τοισ υιοισ ισραηλ κυριοσ ο θεοσ των πατερων υμων θεοσ αβρααμ και θεοσ ισαακ και θεοσ ιακωβ απεσταλκεν με προσ υμασ τουτο μου εστιν ονομα αιωνιον και μνημοσυνον γενεων γενεαισ.

    Notice the word for YHVH is κυριοσ-kurios, set adjacent to the Greek word for God which is translated ο θεοσ-ho theos.
    Please don’t simply confuse or substitute the word Allah (theos) with the word TUHAN (YHVH/adonay/kurios)

    It is granted that Van Dyke, the 19th century Arabic translator decided just to keep consonants YHVH untranslated. This is an acceptable practice. However, since the whole purpose of any translation is to convey the meaning of a text in a new language, it is also acceptable, in fact desirable to continue the 2000 years tradition and translate the meaning of the YHVH using Rabb.

    Hence, TUHAN was adopted to translate the word YHVH since it is the Bahasa Indonesia/Bahasa Melayu semantic equivalent of the word Rabb/Kurios/Adonay/Lord. It should also be clear that the Bahasa Bible translation of the word YHVH -Rabb into TUHAN is a faithful continuation of a 2000 years tradition rather than an arbitrary or mischievous decision

    But notice how Lee shifts his question when he jumps from the issue of YHVH to a assertion “In the of truth [sic], I don’t see the needs of using ‘Allah’ in the Alkitab then, Can you please explain?”

    But in Exodus 3:15 (and elsewhere in the Bible) Tuhan is used to translate YHVH and not the Hebrew word eloah, elohim or the Greek word ho theos. These Hebrew and Greek words for God would appropriately be translated as Allah (or ilah).

    In this regard Lee question is both misleading, mischievous and irrelevant.

    More importantly, the very verse that Lee quotes proves precisely our contention that Allah is not a proper noun, personal name or nama khas, nama peribadi.

    First look at the whole verse in Arabic which Lee suspiciously avoids quoting in full)

    وقال الله ايضا لموسى هكذا تقول لبني اسرائيل يهوه اله آبائكم اله ابراهيم واله اسحق واله يعقوب ارسلني اليكم. هذا اسمي الى الابد وهذا ذكري الى دور فدور.
    Arabic Bible (Smith & Van Dyke); Bible. Arabic. 1865

    You would notice that the repeated word ilah in the phrases “the God of your fathers,” “the God of Abraham,” “the God of Isaac,” and “the God of Jacob”.

    If our Malaysian Muslim scholars (or Lee) were correct in their assertion that Allah is a personal name, and since personal names cannot be changed under various grammatical usage or constructions (as they rightly insist), then we should be reading from the text “Allah Abraham”, “Allah Isaac” and “Allah Isaac”. But the text before us has the word “ilah Abraham”, “ilah Isaac,” and ‘ilah Jacob.”

    The reason for this change from Allah to ilah is precisely because the word Allah is a common noun and follows the grammatical rules that govern how common nouns should be written under various grammatical constructions/conjugations. I refer to an earlier post written in 8 Nov 2009:

    http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2009/11/allah-is-not-a-definite-name/
    Also
    http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2008/02/the-semantics-of-the-word-allah/

    Allah is not a personal name. It is a generic word and therefore follows the grammatical rules of other generic words in Arabic as whenever it becomes connected to some determinator (e.g., personal pronoun, “mudaf ilaihi” ) determinating a second noun like “the father’s house”. Where the second word, house, is determined by the first word it loses its article; you cannot say: “the house the father’s”, or “the father’s the house”. It is bait al-âb and not: “al-bait al-âb”.
    Now consider the case of Allah = al-ilah: in: “Abraham’s God”, God (”the God”, “Allah = al-ilah” is determined by Abraham and therefore has to lose its article as well. This means Allah is used without the article, that is, ilah: ilah Abraham. As such, “Allah Abraham” is impossible, or grammatically incorrect. You will not find it in any Arabic translation of the Bible or elsewhere.
    There is a plural form of ilah(god): âliha, “gods” or with the article: al-âliha. However, “al-ilah” is only contracted in the singular form….
    …“ilah” in English is “god”, this is only partly correct. It is “a” god, without determining article “the”. If you mean “the” (true”) god and not any god, then in Arabic you must also use the article as determinator, again as long as ilah is not terminated by another word of suffix.
    ——————
    I can think of a similar rule in the Hebrew language which is a cognate/Semitic language with Arabic –
    The word in the construct state never takes the article. When the compound idea is definite, it is (not the word in the construct but) the genitive (following it) which takes the article, thus we have:
    ´îš-´élöhîm 1Samuel 9:6 – A man of God.
    ´îš hä´élöhîm Deuteronomy 33:1 – The man of God. It’s not hä ´îš hä´élöhîm
    More immediately related to the present dispute is the case of el/elohim. We find in the Hebrew Old Testament the following construct state,
    ´élöhê ´abrähäm and not ha ´élöhê ´abrähäm – Genesis 31:42, Exodus 3:6 and Psalm 47:9 – ´élöhê being masculine plural construct
    Similarly we find,
    yad hä´élöhîm 1Samuel 5:11 and 2 Chronicles 30:12 – The hand of God
    In the simplest form of the noun, the feminine singular and masculine plural change their forms. However, the masculine singular and the feminine plural do not change externally (forms) but they are recognized as constructs by the maqqeph accompanying them
    ——————–
    Of course, we cannot change the word Allah in any sentence as we like it. We have to follow the grammatical rules! In the case of Allahumma, there is no personal suffix added, but it is given an emphatic expression, and therefore Allah remains. The same goes with Yah ‘llah! God is called at, but this is not given a different grammatical position.

    CONCLUSION
    Hj. Lee’s quotation of the Arabic translation of Exodus 3:15 only proves the very fact that he seeks to deny, that is, Allah is a common noun.

    A rudimentary knowledge of grammar would alert us that any noun that accepts a definite article is by virtue of this fact a common noun. This is confirmed by how the Allah word follows the grammatical rules/construction of all common nouns.

    If only UMNO government-sponsored Muslim scholars (and their followers like Hj. Lee) have been honest enough to face these simple grammatical facts, they would not persist in asserting that Allah is a proper noun or personal name restricted to the God of Islam.

  11. Wesley Wong says:

    Dear Hj Lee and Muslim readers,

    Please examine the translations of Surat Al-Fātiĥah 1:2 of Quran in various languages below. (Source: http://quran.com/1)
    Notice the translators have not been consistent in translating the Arabic word ﷲ Allah as “Allah” in all the translations.
    Look at the Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, German and some others that I didn’t list.
    Is this a simple and irrefutable proof that Muslims regard the Arabic word as a common noun for God, as well?

    Sahih International
    [All] praise is [due] to Allah , Lord of the worlds –

    Yusuf Ali
    Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds;

    Chinese
    一切贊頌,全歸真主,全世界的主,

    Dutch
    Lof aan God, meester des heelals.

    Finnish
    Ylistys Jumalalle, maailmojen Valtiaalle,

    French
    Louange à Allah, Seigneur de l’univers.

    German
    Lob sei Gott, dem Schöpfer der Welten,

    Indonesian
    Segala puji bagi Allah, Tuhan semesta alam.

    Malay
    Segala puji tertentu bagi Allah, Tuhan yang memelihara dan mentadbirkan sekalian alam.

  12. Jean Lloyd Bradberry says:

    Dear all,

    Actually, the Hebrew name for the “One God”, or “All Father”, as denoted by the tetragrammaton is backwards from the way that most people try to pronounce it today (“Jehovah”,, or “Yahweh”, which are based on YHVH, YHWH, or more accurately YHUH) It was derived for the Egyptian tetragrammaton, which was originally pronounced “HOOHIY”,/HUHT or HUHY. It meant the supreme “All Father” God to both Egyptians, and to the original Hebrews, such as Moses/Moshe, who came from an Egyptian foster family, etc. Although their view of this “Supreme God” differed Egyptian versus,. Hebrew, the word for this god is the SAME! Since common people read Hieratic script right-to-left, whenever the name was written left-to-right, as it often was, in Hieroglyphics, they would naturally have pronounced it something like “Yehuh” or “Yehoh”, as many people still do today. The Hebrews’ better-educated priests, may well have known, and kept the ORIGINAL pronunciation as a sort of Shiboleth/secret password to distinguish the educated/initiated from the ignorant masses, hence the legends about the “ineffable, unpronounceable lost word, or forgotten name of God, etc. of many modern traditions. Names such as Yohanan/John/JEHUHannan come directly from this very authentic version of the common Hebrews’ name for God (“Yehuh”, or “Yehu”). Regardless of all of this, I think that God knows what we mean when we refer to him by whatever name we may sincerely use to do so, and that He cares more about what is in our hearts, however, than about what is on our lips!

  13. CosmicBoy says:

    Dear Hj Lee,

    YHWH (Yahweh)=/= Allah but elohim (el and eloah) = Allah.

    Allah is an Arabic word. Allah is not an Islamic word.

    Get the fact right.

  14. Dennis Baru says:

    Dear Cosmicboy, Dr.Kam Weng and all,

    Kudos and many thanks for the sound, scholarly and good explanation for the origin and early usage of ‘Allah’ in the Arabic Bible and by Arab-speaking Christians.

    When the likes of ‘hj.lee’ and their ilk triumphantly try to parade objections supposedly based on ‘facts’ to deny the valid Christian use of Allah, are rebutted by real and solid refutations to their pet islamic theories, they can only slink away!

    It is already the end of December 2013 ie.ten months since Kam Weng’s refutation (above) and answer to ‘lee’s’ naive question, and Kam Weng put this question on the correct and proper track and in the right context for all sane and thinking people to rationally address the real pertinent issues especially by Christians and Muslims.

    It’s very clear that ‘lee’ has no logical or clear answer to the rebuttal already given! That’s why he has slunk away, that is what they always do it seems. Sometimes, they will use the excuse ‘too busy lah…’ Or ‘no time’ etc.. But 8-9 months is way long enough time for any thoughtful person who’s sincere enough to uncover the real truth.

    That’s why interfaith dialogues are very important for mutual understanding between peoples of different faiths, the more we do it, the more clarity is brought to clear the air from misunderstandings and mistepresantation which currently, is as hazy as it gets some times of the year over the peninsula.

    Keep up the good work!

    Dennis.