Semantik Kalimah Allah

Semantik Kalimah Allah*

Kita mendekati pembahasan kata “Allâh“ dari sudut bahasa. Kata “Allah” berasal dari dua kata: al, dan ilah, Al adalah kata sandang (band, bahasa Inggeris; the), dan ilah bererti: yang kuat, dewa. Dalam bahasa-bahasa Semit,kata ini menunjuk pada kuasa yang ada di luar jankauan manusia, yaitu pada dewa. Sudah di masa pra-Islam, al-ilah disambung menjadi Allah. Dan dalam agama orang-orang Arab pra-Islam, kata ini digunakan untuk menunjuk pada dewa yang paling tinggi di antara dewa-dewa yang lain yang masing-masing mempunyai namanya sendiri. Namun kata Allah itu sendiri bukan nama, seperti di atas diterangkan. Dengan demikian, kata Allah sudah ada dalam zaman jahiliyya. Ia bukan ciptaan orang Islam ia juga tidak baru muncul dalam Al-qur’an Alkarim, melainkan ia merupakan kata biasa dalam bahasa Arab lepas dari ikatan dengan salah satu agama tertentu.

Secara estimologis dan semantik, kata ini terdapat pula dalam bahasa-bahasa Semit yang lain, mulai dengan bahasa Assiris dan Babilonia sampai bahasa Phoenicia di Ugarit, dan pula dalam bahasa Ibrani dan Siriani atau Arami yang luas digunakan di Timur tengah sejak abad ke-5 sebelum Masehi. Akar kata ini yang terdapat dalam bahasa-bahasa itu ialah dua konsonan (huruf mati), yakni elif dan lam (’l), dan ucapannya yang lengkap dengan phonetic masing-masing bahasa, umpamanya ‘el dalam bahasa Ibrani dan ’il dalam bahasa Arab.

Yang dikenal dalam bahasa Ibrani dan dengan demikian pula dalam nats Ibrani Perjanjian Lama (Tenakh orang-orang Yahudi), adalah kata ’el dalam beberapa bentuknya, entah ’al-elyon, dewa yang terringgi, band. Kel. 14). ’el syaddai dewa yang kuasanya dasyat), dan lain sebagainya atau kata ’eloah (kepanjangan untuk menandai kebesaran). Dengan mengikut tata phonetika, maka eloah dalam bahasa Ibrani adalah same dengan bentuk ilah dalam bahasa Arab. Dari bentuk eloah ini dibentuklah kata jamak elohim. ’Elohim-lah yang paling sering digunakan dalam Perjanjian Lama, di mana jamaknya menunjuk kepada kemahabesarannya (pluralis maiestastis, atau jamak kemuliaan yang pula dikenal dalam Al-quran di mana perkataan Allah dikemukakan dengan nahu kami). Di samping itu, “tetragram” (YHVH, Yahveh) digunakan pula untuk nama Allah (Kel. 3,14 dsb) dikemudian waktu nama itu tidak diucapkan lagi melainkan dalam bacaan nata suci is digantikan dengan ucapan adonai (Tuhan) atau saja dengan kata sy’nad (bahasa Arami, band. Bahasa Ibrani syein dan bahasa Arab (inn), artinya “nama itu”. Ucapan adonai atau sy’nd hanya digunakan dalam pembacaan, sedangkan dalam nats ibrani yang tertulis, empat hurup YHVH tetap ditulis.

Dalam terjemahan Perjanjian Lama iaitu dalam bahasa Yunani, yakni dalam “Septuaginta” (LXX) seabad sebulum Masehi, tetragram diterjemahkan dengan kyrios, Tuhan, dan itulah artinya dalam Perjanjian Baru. Sedangkan kata ’el, eloah, atau elohim di terjemahkan dengan kata ho theos, “dewa itu” (= al-ilah atau Allah), ‘dan kata Yunani itu juga digunakan dalam Perjanjian Baru.

Dalam khotbah rasul Paulus di Areopagus di kota Athena, Paulus malah menghindari menyebut dewa-dewa Yunani dengan kata theoi (jamak), Yang dalam termahan bahasa Indonesia dengan “sangat beribah kepada dewa-dewa” (yang menunjuk kepada sikap religius orang-orang Yunani politicis) kurang tepat. Dalam bahasa Yunani nats itu berbunyi: mereka adalah deisidaimontsitrous. Jadi “dewa-dewa” Yunani disebut sebagai daimon, yakni begu atau leyak dalam bahasa-bahasa suki Indonesia atau jinn dalam bahasa Arab. Mereka bukan dewa, sehingga kata ho theos hanya digunakan untuk menunjuk kepada Allah yang benar dan tidak digunakan untuk dewa-dewa orang politics.

Melihat kewaspadaan rasul Paulus dan para penulis Alkitab yang lain dalam perkataan yang mereka pilih untuk menyebut Allah, maka mengherankan benar bilamana dalam terjemahan Alkitab ke dalam bahasa Indonesia, “dewa-dewa” orang-orang polities diterjemahkan dengan ‘allah-allah”. Terjemahan itu salah, baik dari sudut teologis maupun dari sudut filologis. “dewa-dewa” itu paling boleh diterjemahkan dengan “ilah-ilah” sebagai penggani jamak bahasa Arab yaitu aliha, atau lebih baik lagi dengan “dewa-dewa”. Juga tulisan “illahi (pakai dua “l”) yang sering kita temui memang salah.

Dalam terjemahan Perjanjian Lama dan perjanjian Baru ke dalam bahasa Siryani yang digunakan di Siria sebelum Islam datang dan yang merupakan salah satu cabang bahasa Arami, terjemahan mana dikerjakan baik oleh orang-orang Yahudi maupun Kristen, maka kata yang digunakan untuk “Allah” adalah lagi kata yang biasa digunakan dalam bahasa-bahasa Semit, yakni yang berakar dalam akar-kata ’l dan dalam bahasa Siryani diucapkan a-laha, “dewa itu” yang sama artinya dengan ha-eloah dalam bahasa Ibrani, ho theos dalam bahasa Yunani dan Allah (=al-ilah) dalam bahasa Arab. Dengan demikian tidak mengherankan pula bahawa orang-orang Islam menggunakkan kata Allah (=al-ilah) untuk menunjuk kepada Allah yang benar, dan orang-orang Yahudi dan Kristen baik yang sudah menggunakan bahasa Arab sebelum munculnya agama Islam maupun yang kemudian mengginakan bahasa Arab setelah wilayah mereka dikuasai oleh orang-orang Arab, memakai kata yang sama itu pula sebagaimana terbukti dari sya’ir-sya’ir Kristen Arab pra-Islam dan tulisan-tulisan Kristen Arab sesudah Islam datang.

Jadi kata Allah bukan kepunyaan orang Islam saja melainkan ia kepunyaan semua orang yang menggunakan bahasa Arab itu. Is sudah digunakan oleh orang Arab di zaman pra-Islam yang sering disebut “zaman jahiliyya”, kemudian dipegang bersama-sama orang Yahudi dan Kristen yang menggunakan bahasa Arab dan kemudian pula orang-orang Islam, semua berdasarkan latar belakang estimologis kata itu sendiri dan tradisi teologis agama-agama mereka yang berakar dalam Perjanjian Lama (Tenakh) dan yang membedakan mereka dari agama polities baik di Palestina Kuno, Yunan maupun di Arabia.

Hal itu diakui pula dalam alqur’an sendiri di mana nabi Muhammad dalam percakapan dengan orang Kristen dan Yahudi menggunakan pula kata Allah dan dengan sendirinya dicatatlah dalam buku suci umat Islam itu bahawa orang Yahudi dan Kristen menggunakan kata yang sama. Dalam tradisi Islam berbahasa Arab pun tidak pernah dipersoalkan bahawa orang-orang Yahudi dan Kristen menggunakan istilah yang sama dengan orang Islam untuk menyatakan Dia yang menjadi tujuan ibadah dan amal mereka. Mempersoalkan hal ini merupakan gejala yang baru yang bertengtangan dengan al-qur’an, dan karena itu semestinya disebut sebagai bid’at. Bid’at itu muncul umpamanya di Malaysia di mana pemerintah federal dan beberapa pemerintah Negara bagian sejak tahun 1982, melarang orang bukan Islam untuk menggunakan kata Allah dan beberapa kata Arab lainnya. Orang-orang yang membujuk pemerintah Malaysia untuk tindakan itu sebenarnya jahil terhadap agama Islam dan tradisi ajarannya yang bersumber pada al-qur’an dan Sunna nabi Muhammad. Kejahilan itu boleh saja dianggap masalah mereka sendiri. Namun dengan mencapuri urusan agama-agama yang lain yang mereka juga tidak pahami – selain agama Kristen maka agama orang Sikh dikenal pula sebab dalam buku-buku suci mereka sudah digunakan kata Allah sehingga mereka malah dilarang oleh pemerintah mereka mambaca kitab suci mereka dalam bahasa aslinya – masalah itu menjadi masalah fitnahan dan intimidasi, di mana orang-orang jahil itu hendak memaksakan pendapat mereka bahawa umat-umat beragama lain memuja dewa selain Allah.

Di Indonesia dapat pula muncul masalah bilamana syahada Islam yang pertama , la ilaha illa ’llah, diterjemahkan: tiada Tuhan selain Allah. Terjemahan itu keliru karena arti ilah bukan “tuhan” melainkan “dewa” sedangkan “tuhan” itu ialah rabb dalam bahasa Arab. Hal itu pun tidak perlu menjadi masalah selama setiap umat beragama mengurus ajarnnya sendiri, sesuai dengan nats dan maksud sila pertama dalam Pancasila. Namun ia menjadi masalah bilamana pemeluk salah satu agama merasa diri terpanggil untuk menafsirkan ajaran agama yang lain dengan bertolak dari ajaran agamanya sendiri. Umat Kristen mengaku Yesus Kristus (‘Isa al-Masih) sebagai Tuhan (rabb) berdasarkan faham mereka tentang penyataan Allah yang menyatakan Dirinya sebagai yang terunggul. Jadi menyebutkan Yesus sebagai “Tuhan” dengan mengingat latar belakang kata itu dalam Alkitab yakni YHVH atau nama Allah dengan yang mana Allah memperkenalkan diri, berarti bahawa tetap Allah yang satu ditujukan melalui penyataannya. Tak mungkin mempertentangkan atau memisah Yesus Kristus sebagai penyataan dengan Allah yang menyatakan. Dirinya dan yang sekaligus berkuasa melalui Rohnya yang kudus. Inilah faham tentang Allah yang terunggul yakni Allah yang sama dan satu.

Namun diketahui pula bahawa di antara orang-orang Islam ada yang menuduh orang Krsiten percaya pada tiga dewa di mana Allah dipisahkan dari Yesus Kristus dan Rohulkudus, atau malah Maryam Atas latar belakang tuduhan itu maka sebutan Yesus Kristus sebagai Tuhan biasa menimbulkan kesan seolah-olah dia disembah selain Allah dan jika itu diterima, maka orang Kristen biasa juga dituduh berdiri di luar ketuhanan yang maha esa. Uraian seperti itu memang mentahrifkan (memutarbalikkan) ajaran Kristen, namun rupanya ia tetap disebarluaskan dan malah digemari.

Kenyataan itu seyogianya merangsang orang-orang Kristen sendiri untuk senantiasa memeriksa kembali bahasa ajaran teologis dan pengakuan mereka sendiri supaya angan mereka sendiri turut menimbulkan kesalapahaman seperti itu. Jika umpamanya dalam cetakan Pengakuan Iman Rasuli dicetak.

Aku percaya kepada Allah, Bapa yang Mahakuasa……..maka dengan sendirinya timbul kesan seolah Allah dan Bapa itu sama sedangkan dua penyataan Allah yang lain (Yesus Kristus dan Rahul-kudus) berbeda. Yang seharusnya dicetak ialah:

Aku percaya kepada Allah:

1)      Bapa yang mahakuasa…, dan

2)      Yesus Kristus…

3)      Aku percaya kepada Rohulkudus…

Sehingga titk 1 s/d 3 menjadi jelas sebagai penerangan tentang Allah yang satu dan siapa Dia.

Karena latar belakang estimologis dan sebagian pula tradisi bersama agama-agama yang dalam tradisi Islam disebut “agama-agama surgawi” (al-adyan as-samawiyya) maka orang-orang Islam yang tinggal sekarang di benua Eropa atau Amerika di tengah-tengah umat Krsiten dan yang menggunakan bahasa-bahasa eropa, sejak lama menuntut bahawa mereka pula dapat menterjemahkan kata Allah ke dalam bahasa-bahasa Eropa itu menjadi God, Gott, Dieu dan lain-lain. Dan tuntutan itu memang tidak dapat dibantah. Ataukah harus orang-orang eropa mengikuti contoh Malaysia dan melarang orang-orang Islam (dan yang menganut agama lain pula) menggunakan kata-kata Eropa itu, dengan latar belakang pikiran dalam benaknya bahawa “Allah” merupakan pahala orang-orang Islam? Lucu atau fasik ide itu! Namun sama lucunya atau fasiknya dengan peraturan pemerintah Malaysia. Bagaimanakah seandainya orang-orang Buddhis di Malaysia mau melarang orang-orang Islam untuk menggunakan istilah-istilah yang masuk ke dalam bahasa Melayu dari bahasa Sanskerta melalui tradisi Buddhisme pada zaman kerajaan Sri Wijaya sebelum Islam, seperti kata-kata dosa, karunia, manusia, surga, duka, suka dan puluhan lainnya?

Memang tidak dapat disangkal adanya suatu masalah. Namun yang menjadi masalah ialah soal dogmatika atau ‘aqida’ sebab tiga agama surgawi itu mempunyai faham dogmatis yang berbeda mengenai Allah yang sama, baik hakikat-Nya maupun pula mengenai cara penyataan-Nya dan tindakan-tindakan-Nya. Namun soal dogmatic adalah satu hal, dan soal bahasa sebagai alat komunikasi antara manusia dibatasi pada satu filsafat atau agama tertentu saja, adalah hal yang lain

 

* It seems that many Bahasa Malaysia readers missed this article as it was embedded inside an earlier post with its title in English, ‘Allah’ is for all Malay Speaking People in Nusantara. LINK

Hopefully, re-posting this article on its own will make it more accessible to our Bahasa Malaysia readers.

 

5 Comments

  1. daniei says:

    Allah bukan seperti yang diterangkan, kata sambungan al-ilah (walaupun ia tidak akan dibincang dalam artikel ini). Ia dalam sejarah pernah digunakan sebagai kata nama khas yang TIDAK selalunya merupa (bukan merujuk) dewa paling tinggi. Mari kita melihat perkembangan penggunaan “Allah” dalam sejarah.

    1. Antara inskripsi pertama yang mempunyai perkataan Allah adalah dalam bentuk “Alla” boleh didapati dalam Epik Atrahasis zaman lewat Babilonia (sila rujuk Primeval History: Babylonian, Biblical, and Enochic: An Intertextual Reading ms 44-45). Alla dalam epik ini bukanlah dewa tertinggi. Mengikut Scripture in Context II: More Essays on the Comparative Method edited by William W. Hallo, James C. Moyer, Leo G. Perdue ms 6, Alla merupakan vizer Ninggizida yang merupakan seorang dewa dalam zaman Sargon lewat atau neo-Sumerian awal.

    2. El menjadi Allah. Mengikut teori ini, ‘lh dalam Hebrew menjadi Alaha dalam Aramaic and akhirnya menjaid Allah dalam Arabic. Jika ini benar, penggunaan Allah dalam kitab Injil adalah dibenarkan mengikut teori ini. Terdapat beberapa masalah dengan teori ini. Walaupun nama El merupakan satu gelaran bagi YHWH dalam bahasa Ibrani tetapi ia juga merupakan nama khas bagi seorang tuhan untuk orang Kanaan. Dalam agama orang Kanaan, El disimbolkan dengan simbol lembu jantan (ingat kembali lembu jantan emas yang dibina oleh Aaron di Keluaran). Terdapat juga pandangan yang mengatakan El sebenarnya ialah nama khas bagi tuhan untuk orang Yahudi pada zaman sebelum Musa sebelum nama sebenar YHWH diberitahu kepada Musa. Pandangan ini adalah berdasarkan Kejadian 33:20. Akan tetapi, kalau penulis tidak silap, EL tidak lagi diguna sebagai nama khas selepas Kejadian. Dengan itu El sebenarnya boleh berfungsi sebagai satu gelaran dan kata nama khas bergantung seseorang bertanya kepada siapa dan pada masa bila. Untuk perbincangan El sebagai kata nama khas dan kata nama appelatif boleh merujuk kepada El in the Ugaritic texts, Volume 2 By Marvin H. Pope. Jadi, El (dalam bentuk Allah) manakah yang diguna oleh orang Arab? Bukti arkeologi seolah-olah memihak kepada penggunaan Allah sebagai gelaran kepada tuhan tertinggi. Tetapi terdapat satu inskripsi “‘lh,’lh” atau “Ilaha, tuhan kepada” pada zaman lepas Nabataeans (The Religion of the Nabataeans: A Conspectus By John F. Healey m.s. 92) dan berdasarkan orang Arab pada kerajaan klasik tidak meninggalkan banyak tulisan, Allah mungkin juga digunakan sebagai kata nama khas dan kata nama appelatif oleh orang Arab utara zaman kerajaan klasik.

    3. Adalah diakui bahawa, secara amnya, Allah diguna sebagai kata nama appelatif yang merujuk tuhan tertinggi bagi orang Arab politeistik pada zaman pra Islam and lepas keturunan Yesus Kristus (walaupun terdapat pihak yang tidak setuju dengan pandangan ini, tetapi fakta ini tidak penting untuk bahasan penulis). Bagaimana dengan Kristian? Tidak dapat dinafikan bahawa terdapat Kristian yang diberi nama “Allah” pada zaman itu. Tetapi itu adalah sebelum zaman Islam. Selepas Islam, nama Allah telah menjadi nama khas (rujuk Edward William Lane: An Arabic-English Lexicon ms 83). Syahadah Islam telah jelas menunjukkan nama Allah ialah kata nama khas. Kes “Allah” adalah seperti kes “El”.

    4. Soalan yang ingin penulis tanya kepada para Kristian, tiadakah perkataan lain untuk merujuk kepada tuhan dalam bahasa Arab? Bagaimana dengan ilah? Bukankah ia bermaksud tuhan? Tiadakah perkataan lain dalam bahasa Melayu?

    5. Terdapat pandangan yang berkata bahawa cara Kristian guna perkataan “Allah” adalah berbeza dengan Muslim: Kristian mengguna perkataan “Allah” sebagai gelaran dan bukan nama khas. Kami perlu melihat kepada Kitab Injil untuk sokongan:

    a) El diguna oleh orang Yahudi sebagai nama khas kepada YHWH.
    b) El diguna oleh orang Kanaan sebagai nama khas kepada salah satu patung.
    c) YHWH telah memberitahu Musa nama sebenarnya, dan gelaran El jarang digunakan selepas ini dan tidak lagi diguna sebagai nama khas (mengikut pengetahuan penulis). (sebaliknya Eloah atau Elohim yang digunakan).

    a) Baal dalam bahasa Ibrani bermaksud tuan.
    b) Baal ialah nama patung yang paling kerap disembah oleh orang Kanaan.
    c) Oleh itu, pengutus YHWH tidak pernah merujuk YHWH sebagai baal tetapi Adonai.

    Jelas kelihatan, tuhan YHWH tidak suka kekeliruan.

    a) Allah dalam konsep Kristian ialah Tuhan yang maha.
    b) Allah ialah nama tuhan Muslim.
    c) … fikirlah apa yang perlu dilakukan.

    6. Bagaimana dengan translasi Kitab Injil dan Tanakh yang mengguna “Allah” dalam bahasa Arab? Sebenarnya bukan semua orang Yahudi pada zaman Islam awal yang membuat translasi Tanakh ke bahasa Arab bersetuju untuk mengguna “Allah”. Sebahagian mereka masih mengguna perkataan al-rabb yang bermaksud tuan. Tetapi translasi yang dibuat pada masa lebih lewat mengguna “Allah” mungkin disebabkan oleh Saadiah Gaon. (Sila lihat The Karaite Tradition of Arabic Bible Translation By Meʼirah Polyaḳ ms 70-71). Cara translasi Saadiah Gaon telah dikatakan mengguna maklumat dari agama Islam. (Sila lihat The Use of Islamic Sources in Saadiah Gaon’s “Tafsīr” of the Torah David M. Freidenreich The Jewish Quarterly Review
    New Series, Vol. 93, No. 3/4 (Jan. – Apr., 2003), pp. 353-395)

  2. Kam Weng says:

    Response to Daniel,

    We are dealing with two distinct but related issues.
    A)Allah as a proper noun – Your meandering historical references to Allah have no decisive bearing on whether Allah is a proper noun/proper name. Even if in a particular (rare) context Allah assumes the character of a proper noun, the word is not a rigidly defined name that must be restricted to the God of Islam. Please refer to my article, “Allah: The Noun and the Name.”

    B) Historical trajectory of the Allah word among Semitic religions.
    Marvin Pope writes,” The word “El” with the definition of God is used in every Semitic language in some form except Ethiopic. “It is the most frequently occurring name for the deity in proper name throughout the ancient Semitic world.” (Marvin H. Pope, El in the Ugaritic Texts, p.1).

    1) As for Allah, John Healey (pp. 83-84) writes that the Nabatanean pantheon should be understood in the same way as the pre-Islamic Meccan understood their Kaabah, where “associationism” was the main feature rather than “polytheism” pure and simple…there may have been not only polytheists who regarded Allah as one among a host of gods but also worshippers as a “High God” who treated all other gods as secondary status, perhaps as mediators before Allah or gods of first recourse while Allah was the god of ultimate recourse (Watt, “Belief in a High God in pre-Islamic Mecca”, Journal of Scientific Semitic Studies (1971). Healey further observes that Allah was distinct at Mecca because he had no idol. However, some worshippers began to associate idols with him. Muhammad therefore condemned the associationism (Arabic al-sirk) of the associaters (al-musrikun).

    Healey’s comment makes sense as it reminds me of the anthropological theory of religion by Wilhelm Schmidt, Der Ursprung der Gottesidee (The Origin of the Idea of God) which highlighted how religion in many primitive societies began with essentially with a high god who was somewhat neglected because of his benevolence and people began to pay more attention to appease the more immediately threatening lesser gods. In this context, Allah or al-ilah, “The God” was easily recognized as the one God of monotheism (regardless of the various associations of Allah that have developed). However, various cultures had different understanding of this remote ‘High God’.

    2) Daniel was wrong when he claims, “Tetapi terdapat satu inskripsi “‘lh,’lh” atau “Ilaha, tuhan kepada” pada zaman lepas Nabataeans (The Religion of the Nabataeans: A Conspectus By John F. Healey m.s. 92) dan berdasarkan orang Arab pada kerajaan klasik tidak meninggalkan banyak tulisan, Allah mungkin juga digunakan sebagai kata nama khas dan kata nama appelatif oleh orang Arab utara zaman kerajaan klasik.”

    The fuller quote from John F. Healey, The Religion of the Nabateans: A Conspectus (E.J. Brill 1999), pp. 92-93 says otherwise:
    “Dushara [the God of the Nabateans] appears rather rarely as an element in the theophoric personal names and in this context it is most likely that Dushara is referred to simply as ‘lh’, “the god” par excellence (Teixidor 1977, 83). In addition, we have noted that among the Nabateans there is only one doubtful piece of evidence for the worship of Allah, an inscription from Ruwafah, probably of post-Nabatean date, in which the dedication is to ‘lhl llh…, “Illaha, god of…” (Milik in Parr et al. 1971, 57-56). Allah’s cult was reported introduced to Mecca from the north, but from Lihyan, not from Nabatea (Winnett, 1938, 246). Dushara also became the dynastic god of the kings of the Nabateans, and in this context is called “Dushara, god of our lord (the king)”, “god of Rabel”, etc. But again the god’s original name and nature was not revealed.”

    3) In any case, for Christians allah (el, Elohim) is not a proper name or nama khas. With regard to E.W. Lane’s lexicon in para 3
    With all due respect the great Lane, modern linguists disagree with him on whether one should categorize the Allah word as a proper noun. But even if for the sake of argument we take Allah as a proper noun, this does not detract the origin of Allah as derived from al-ilah (this etymology stands despite contrary assertions from some Muslims), we should note that in the final analysis it is usage and not etymology that determines the meaning of a word. Note that one can turn even a common noun into a proper noun, “Imam Muslim gathered the second most important collection of the hadiths – Muslims. Please refer to my article Allah, the Noun and the Name for various nuances in approaching a proper noun/name.

    4) Daniel points to some disagreement among Jews and Christians about using Allah. But disagreement is to be expected within any religion that does not rely on a centralized absolute authority like the Caliph to ensure homogeneity, at least in early Islam. Still, the groups referred to by Daniel are marginal. What matters is the consensus among major Christian leaders that Christians should continue their long history of using the Allah word.

    5) The Jews were extremely careful when using words referring to God. Pronouncing the Hebrew words el, elohim etc was acceptable, but not the sacred Name YHWH (which was substituted with adonai or with a textual marker to give pause to any reading the YHWH name). The Jews were therefore most reluctant to translate the name of God into other languages (including Arabic). Indeed, the Jews under Islam continued to use the Hebrew texts as their final authority. The Judeo-Arabic texts (Arabic dialect written in Hebrew characters) had only secondary authority. Thus the liturgy of Yemenite Jews read the Torah in the synagogue twice, first in Aramaic targum and then the Saadia Arabic translation or rather the tafsir. It is significant that Saaida described his work as a “tafsir” or explanation.

    A closer reading of Saadia’s text would caution us to be guarded about its theological significance. Still the question of interest is, “how did Saadia translate the Hebrew word for God and the name of God?” We may refer to the journal article by Jonathan Kearney, “The Torah of Israel in the Tongue of Ishmel: Saadia Gaon and his Arabic Translation of the Pentateuch, PIBA 2010. Saadia naturally used the word Allah for Elohim. Significantly, Saadia also used the word Allah for YHWH; perhaps he took the liberty since he considered his text only as tafsir or explanation and his target audience did not know the original Hebrew language. Still, where it matters, as in the case of the Shema (Deut. 6:4) Saaida combined Allah with the Arabic word Lord (rabb) and his Arabic rendering can be translate thus: “Know, People of Israel, that God is our Lord, God the One”. p. 70-71.

    6) Finally, regarding Daniel’s appeal to the authority of David M. Freidenreich, “The use of Islamic sources in Saadiah Gaon’s Tafsir of the Torah” Jewish Quarterly Review 93 (2003): 353-395.
    It should be instructive to read what Freidenreich (pp. 366-367) says,
    “When the phrase ani YHWH “I am the Lord” and its variants “is unmodified in the biblical texts (e.g. Lev 19:3, 19:18), Saadiah regularly augments it with one of over a dozen adjectival or verbal descriptions of God, such as al-wahid, “the One” (e.g., Lev 19:4), al-mu’aqib, “the Punisher” (e.g. Lev 19:10)…As a result of Saadiah’s modifications, nearly every occurrence of the phrase ana allah in the Tafsir is followed immediately by a description of God or of God’s action.”

    “In this matter Saaidah is following the Quranic practice where references to God are followed by descriptive adjectives. But he never uses the most common quranic epitheets – al-rahman al Rahim from the basmala – presumably for the simple reason that they do not fit well into the context of the biblical ani YHWH passages. Saadiah uses specific Islamic words and a particular Islamic literary style because he considers them to be accurate, or useful for his purposes, or simply suitable for an assimilated Jewish audience. He does not, however, engage in wholesale copying merely to create parallels between the Quran and his Tafsir.”

    “Note that Saaidah adopted common idiomatic phrases common to his Muslim majority society, but his primary purpose is not to confuse Muslims but “because he considers them to be accurate, or useful for his purposes, or simply suitable for an assimilated Jewish audience.”

    I hope my Malaysian Muslim friends will acknowledge and accept the fact that Christians translate their scripture for the education of their own community, and not to confuse and convert Muslims.

    7) Finally, Daniel cites The Karaite Tradition of Arabic Bible Translation By Meʼirah Polyaḳ to suggest that the adoption of the Allah word in Arabic translations of the Bible was a late practice due to the influence of Saaidah Gaon’s “Tafsir”.

    I disagree with this claim – The latest and most compelling account of the state of the art research on the history of translation of the Arabic Bible is given by Sidney Griffith, The Bible in Arabic: The Scriptures of the “People of the Book” in the Language of Islam (Princeton UP, 2013). Griffith cites with approval the conclusion of Gregor Schoeler “that prior to Muhammad’s time, and indeed during his lifetime, Arabic speakers made use of rough-copy, written notes and aides de memoire, but did not put forward a literary text as such prior to the collection of the Quran (p. 52). Griffiths adds that the stories of the biblical patriarchs and prophets were circulated in Syriac homiletic traditions especially in the memre and arranged according to the liturgical cycles (pp. 94-95).

    Contrary to Daniel’s suggestion: That many significant and surviving Arabic Biblical manuscripts are dated after the advent of Islam (or late in the words of Daniel) is only to be expected. Likewise, there is a paucity of Arabic manuscripts of any length from the pre-Islamic period. Historically, Arabic became an important literary language only after the ascendency of Islam. Until then, there was no incentive to translate the Jewish and Christian scripture into Arabic.To conclude, the Allah word was already in customary religious and liturgical usage in a culture with strong oral tradition. But the translation of the Bible into literary Arabic language flowed in tandem with the ascendency of Islam. But this contingent historical situation does not give license to ignore historical evidence that confirms the use of Allah in pre-Islamic Middle East.

    Please read Sidney Griffith’s fascinating and compelling account of the historical development of the Arabic Bible.

  3. daniei says:

    Regarding Kam Weng’s claim that Daniel did not show that Allah is used as a proper noun, he did so rightly. The intention of the first comment is never written to show that Allah is a proper or common noun but to show that it is a theological error to use Allah NOW BUT NOT THEN (pre-Islamic then). All the historical evidences were written to show that some words can be both proper and common noun. These words include El, Allah, and Baal. Daniel then draws parallelism between the usage of El, Baal and Allah to show that, theologically Allah should not be used.

    Then Kam Weng try to redirect Daniel to another article of his “Allah: The Noun and the Name”. The problem with that article (like the present one) is that Kam Weng did not push far enough into history and keep pushing that Allah is the contraction of al-ilah without showing how is it grammatically possible in Arabic. In this article, Kam Weng related the word to Assyrians in one hand but then failed to mention that there are many idols in Babylonian who has similar name with “Allah” such as “Alla”, “Allatu”, etc. with idol such as Alla was worshipped by Akkadians. Akkadian is a Semitic people originally live in the south of Arab peninsular. (this is written to show Allah can be used as proper name, not to establish any relationship between gods.)

    Kam Weng continued to point out that I have wronged in saying that there is a possibility that Allah is used as personal name in Northern Arabic classical kingdom. Perhaps Kam Weng should reread my statement, I only quote Healey in my first half of my statement and I reach a conclusion for northern Arabic Classical Kingdoms which include Nabateans and Lihyan and there is a “mungkin” involved.

    While Kam Weng is correct in pointing out meaning of words is different to different
    people, he insisted that Christian always use El as an appellation. Then I hope Kam
    Weng will explain how he considers Genesis 33:20 “And he erected there an altar, and
    called it Elelohe-Israel.”

    As to (4-7) I do not understand what Kam Weng is trying to prove here. I have no qualm about using Allah by Christians in the pre-Islamic era as noted in my writings. I rejected Saadiah Goan’s Tafsir because he used Islamic source, not only “Allah”. My focus is after the rise of Islam, not prior and as we know meaning of word can change over time.

    Let repost my parallelism:

    1. El, Baal and Allah can be used to refer to YHWH as an appellation. Note: Baal in Hebrew means lord.

    2. El and Baal are proper names for a god in religion of people living in contact with Hebrews. Allah is the proper name for God of Islam and now Christians is living with Moslems.

    3. Jews did not refer God as El the proper name after entry into the Promised Land, instead they used eloah or elohim as appellative noun and rarely El.

    Prophets never in their writings refer God as Baal.

    But Christians insist that using Allah to refer to YHWH is okay after the rise of Islam.

  4. Kam Weng says:

    Hi Daniel,

    First the simple issue:
    1) Regarding proper nouns – my discussion makes it clear that they are ‘proper nouns’ and they are ‘proper nouns’. In the end it is the context that brings out the nuances. You suggest Baal as a proper name. It is actually much much more complex. Baal can mean – possessor, husband or lord (in marriage), partner in a community, owner (of an ox), or master, of as you put it, lord. It can also mean “the highest God” – and becomes a proper name in some cults (used anthropologically).

    Arabic and Malay Christians are using the word Allah in the Christian linguistic community. They are not presuming to be talking about Islamic doctrines. It is unacceptable for Muslims (only some Muslims and only in Malaysia) to impose an Islamic criteria to limit Christian discourse. One cannot rule out followers of another faith from using a word simply because of theological differences. On theological dispute – another time.

    Regarding the qualifier ‘mungkin’ – again there are different ‘mungkins’. Your comment suggests a stronger ‘mungkin’ and I proceeded to bring out what Healey’s citation really says. Now that we have Healey’s citation in full, I leave it to you to clarify how strong is your ‘mungkin’.

    2) As for the contraction of al-ilah and Allah – I don’t pretend to be an expert in Arabic. I have been contented to follow what most internationally recognized experts are saying and to me their suggestion makes sense. Maybe you can use this occasion to demonstrate your Arabic expertise and show why not?

    But for the sake of discussion, and I am depending on others more competent than I am in Arabic – maybe can refer to Wheeler Thackston “Koranic and Classical Arabic” on one of the (parallel) grammatical rules? – When a word begins with Alif, the alif is retained orthographically but not pronounced. Thus, Imrat, which means women is written امراة – becomes with li- attached: لامراة – li-mrat
    Al-bint “the girl” becomes li-lbint
    So if a word intrinsically has Alif at the beginning, then that alif is retained in writing but not pronounced. But when a word does not begin with alif, such as bint, but has the definite article (which does have alif at the beginning), then that alif is removed completely.

    Apply to allah –
    The alif is dropped. This would suggest that there is a definite article in front of Allah. That is to say, al-ilah means the God. At the very least it means it is not a name.

    My point – If the first alif laam of (Allah) was part of a name, it will not go away when we prefix (li).

    It is understandable that retaining al-ilah would suggest that this god/God is one of a species of ilah which would not be troubling to monotheists. Hence, the word is specially retained as Allah – a special orthographic adaptation by Muslims. This is only a surmise, but it is coherent to the grammatical rules and does not nullify the explanation such orthographic changes show Allah is not a name.

    Maybe can just consider one example from the Quran?
    6:3. …wa huwa allah fi al-samawati …
    6:3. …and he is the god in the heavens …

    I know of some translations trying to evade the surface meaning of this verse, but the word ‘allah’ means al-ilah (the god)?

    Of course, as in languages, there are always exceptions when it comes to how the definite article is used. But the bottom line is that because Allah displays orthographic changes in different grammatical usage – it shows clearly it is not a proper noun (or in the context of our discussion in Malaysia – not a personal name).

    3) I gave some examples in my article – http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2010/06/refutation-of-muslim-scholars-argument-in-the-allah-controversy-part-23/

    Allâh is not a Personal Name Based on Arabic Morphology
    The changes entailed when the word Allâh is used under different grammatical usage in Arabic make it more obvious that it is not a personal name:
    If Allâh were a name then it could not be changed under different grammatical usage. This includes the case of the Alif in the beginning, where it should be an alif-hamza (‘), and then it should be pronounced e.g., bismi Allâh (in the name of God), or al-hamdu li-Allâh.
    However, this is not the case in actual usage: it is bismi-llah, or al-hamdu li-llah. Why? because the alif is alif wasla, assimilated to the preceding vowel, and that identifies it as the alif of the article which is always alif-wasla.
    If Allâh were a name that is unchangeable, one should fine the reading: Allâh Ibrahim. Note here the name remains unchanged! But the phrase in common usage is ilah Ibrahim. Why is this the case? It is because a noun can have only one determinator: either the article (at-ta‘rîf, or: al-), or a personal pronoun (“my”), or another noun. In the case of “the God of Abraham”, “Abraham” is the determinator. And that means any other determinator has to be omitted, in this case the article. The rule of the language demands that the article al- has to be omitted from Allâh, and then ilah remains.Thus the God of Abraham becomes Ilah Ibrahim. No Muslim would conclude that the ilah Ibrahim is not Allâh, the only One.
    Of course, there is no direct possibility of using Allâh in the plural. It is a word in the singular, just like “man” is also a singular. But at any time you can change it into the plural when using its plural form. The plural form of “man” is “men”. Likewise, when expressing the plural form of “Allâh”, the word “Allâh” goes back to its original form, al-ilah, and the plural is al-âliha.
    Consider two common examples where the word ‘Allâh’ undergoes change in grammatical usage, thereby refuting the claim that “Allâh” is a proper noun/personal name. Every Muslim would have violated basic Arabic grammar several times daily if the claim were true. They use expressions like “Al-hamdu li-llah” and “bi smi-llah.”
    If Allâh is an unchangeable name, then Muslims would have to say: “Al-hamdu li-Allâh”, “bi smi-Allâh” because in these cases, the “A” in the beginning must not be changed. Put in terms of Arabic grammar: it must be “alif hamza.” A similar rule is found in the Greek language (spiritus lenis- smooth breathing) before every vowel opening a word. But the “A” in these cases is not “alif hamza.” Moreover it is “alif wasla”, an alif which is assimilated to a preceding vowel and that is the case of the alif in the article (“al-”). Thus, the alif of the article disappears (is assimilated), and only the “l” remains: bi smi-llah. This grammatical change proves that the first “A” in Allâh belongs to the article al-, and that Allâh is nothing else than al-ilah (>Allâh).
    This is the explanation given by the Muslim scholar al-Tahanawi (12th century) in his work Kashshâf. Again, the word Allâh has to be adjusted to the rules of grammar, like any other common noun. In contrast, a personal name would have to be maintained without any change.
    It is evident that Allâh is not a personal name and as a generic word/common noun. It follows the grammatical rules of other generic words in Arabic. Whenever a noun becomes connected to some determinator (e.g., personal pronoun, or another noun as “mudaf ilaihi”) 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”. Likewise, it is bait al-âb and not: “al-bait al-âb”.
    Now consider the case of Allâh = al-ilah: in: “Abraham’s God”, God (”the God”, “Allâh = al-ilah” is determined by Abraham and therefore has to lose its article as well. This means Allâh is used without the article, that is, ilah: ilah Abraham. As such, “Allâh Abraham” is impossible, or grammatically incorrect. You will not find it in any Arabic translation of the Bible or any where else.
    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. The word Allâh is a singular, like al-ilah, and when there is need for a plural form, it goes back to its root (ilâh) and becomes al-âliha
    [Side Remark: The above discussion on morphology illustrates how linguists cross the boundary between languages to highlight some general linguistic principles, in this case how vowels may be assimilated under certain circumstances (because of phonetic necessity; the tongue just glides over certain sounds to avoid awkwardness in pronunciation). This exercise is quite common when linguists comment on similarities between cognate languages. For this reason, linguists often make comparisons between Arabic and Hebrew
    Note: Only for those interested in the grammatical parallels between Hebrew and Arabic
    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/élöhîm. 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
    Obviously, the rule applies for common nouns and not personal names and it applies on how ilah/Allâh is used, it is then a common noun.

    Maybe you give your own grammatical and logical explanation if you don’t accept the above explanation?

    4) Regarding El as an appellation? I should just say el can be a common noun or an appellation. Again it is the context. Not sure why you bring up Genesis 33:20. It is easy to throw a challenge and put a supposedly difficult question in internet discussion. Would have been more impressive if you have just proceeded to give an explanation how the grammar of this verse supports your case. Anyway, I will just answer it.

    ESV – There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.
    Hebrew text – wayyacceb-šäm mizBëªH wayyìºqrä´-lô ´ël ´élöhê yiSrä´ël s

    Note the juxtaposition of el and elohe – the elohe is a common noun, masculine plural construct.
    Some translations like the ESV just leave it untranslated. I assume you know Semitic languages to acknowledge some words (sentences) allows for different semantic range (translations).

    Two ways to understand this verse.
    a) It can be translated as “the God of Israel [is] strong [or “mighty”].”-

    Jacob purchased the land as a symbolic reliance on God’s promise that Canaan will be his land and the land of his descendants. Jacob also erected an altar, as Abraham had previously done after his entrance into Canaan (Gen. 12:7), and called it El-elohe-Israel, “God (the mighty) is the God of Israel,” to set forth in this name the spiritual acquisition of his previous life, and according to his vow (Gen. 28:21) to give glory to the “God of Israel” (as he called Jehovah, with reference to the name given to him at Gen. 32:29), for having proved Himself to be El, a mighty God, during his long absence, and that it might serve as a memorial for his descendants.
    This interpretation assumes the etymology – el associated with “to be strong”, “power” of “fear” see Theological Lexicon of the OT and Theological Word Book of the OT, BDB

    2) Another translation is to supply an equative verb, as in the translation: “The God of Israel [is] God.” The translation becomes “There he erected an altar and called it “The God of Israel is God”. – please note how the purpose of Abraham and Jacob erecting commemorative altars.

    4(a) Finally, where it matters, you show a simple misconception when you write: El you say is a proper name
    Unfortunately, the standard/authoritative Hebrew lexicon BDB or HALOT say otherwise.

    on 3 ) you write – Jews did not refer God as El the proper name after entry into the Promised Land, instead they used eloah or elohim as appellative noun and rarely El.
    Note- The word ʾēl occurs in the OT (238x) in very early as well as in later times; they are evenly distributed and are concentrated in Psa (77x), Job (55x), Isa (24x, Deutero-Isa 15x), Gen (18x), and Deut (13x) – looking at the distribution, how can you say they rarely use el after entry into the Promised Land? In any case one is singular, the other is plural form (with singular meaning – plural of majesty? deliberation?refer to GKC). Also you might want to know the TLOT Lexicon writes – With few exceptions the sg. ʾelôah occurs in the OT only in post-exilic literature (see II); hence one may assume that the sg. presupposes the pl.
    This seems contrary to what you suggest.

    4(b)You wrote – But Christians insist that using Allah to refer to YHWH is okay after the rise of Islam.

    The first clause is dead wrong. In Bible translation – Allah is used to translate – el, Elohim etc. TUHAN is used to translate YHWH. Misunderstanding el as a proper noun and equating Allah and YHWH shows ignorance of a very elementary matter. Maybe it is good opportunity for you to explain your statement and show more sophisticated and accurate use of Hebrew/Semitic language?

    When the basic reference terms are used wrongly, how to argue for/from parallelism?

    One last word. Be careful if you seem to suggest the children of Abraham [both Jews and Christians] use the word baal = lord = yahweh. The Jews were committing IDOLATRY AND DESERTING THEIR GOD when they confused/exchanged Baal for Yahweh- cf. evidence of compound names of Baal and Yahweh found in archaeological inscriptions. They were all severely condemned by all the God’s prophets (From Amos to Jeremiah. God finally destroyed the nation of Israel and sent the Jews into exile. Remember the confrontation between Elijah and the ‘prophets’ of Baal? 1 King 18. Not thanks to this suggestion.

  5. CosmicBoy says:

    @ Daniel,

    Sebelum ISLAM lahir pada abad ke 6, sebelum Kekristenan masuk ke tanah arab pada abad ke 1, ALLAH sudah ada :

    1. ALLAH : Nama DEWA bangsa ARAB, yang mengairi bumi ( buku “PASING OVER” Oleh Muh. Wahyuni Nafis 1998, halaman 85)
    2. ALLAH : Nama DEWA yang disebut-sebut suku QURAISY, bangsa ARAB, bersama-sama dewi AL LATA dan dewi AL UZZA (Kelengkapan Tarikh Nabi MUHAMMAD SAW, Oleh K.H Moenawar Chalil, Jilid 1, halaman 223
    3. ALLAH : Nama DEWA yang disembah penduduk MEKKAH (Buku Agama Manusia, Kata pengantar Djohan Ef fendi, 1985, halaman 258)
    4. ALLAH : Nama DEWA tertinggi bangsa ARAB bersama-sama DEWI AL LATTA dan DEWI AL UZZA yang disembah sejak dahulu kala, tertulis didalam inskripsi Arab (Buku Keberagaman Yang Saling Menyapa, Oleh Drs. Moh Sabri MA, 1999, halaman 70)
    5. ALLAH : Is the name of pagan deity from Babylon; he had wife name AL LATA, and who migrated with him, over 3500 years period, to Mecca. Based on inscriptions found in stone, Quran and Hadits. (Allah Devine of Demonic, by Steven van Natan, 1995, page 1)
    6. ALLAH : Orang Kafir Quraisy menyembah dewa yang bernama ALLAH. Bagi Islam Tuhan sesungguhnya bernama ALLAH. Lalu orang barat menganggap umat Islam itu musrik (pagan) karena menyembah ALLAH. Orang Islam menjelaskan bahwa yang mereka sembah bukan ALLAH masyarakat Purba. ( Buku Konflik Islam-Kristen, Pengantar. Deliar Noer, H. Sudarto, 1999, Halaman 162-163)
    7. ALLAH : Diam didlm Ka’bah yang disebut Baitullah atau Rumah ALLAH. Sebelum Islam, terdapat 360 berhala didalam dan disekitar Ka’bah Baitullah. Disekeliling Baitullah ini terdapat Patung AL LATA sebagai dewi musim panas, AL UZZA dewi musim dingin, AL MANAH dewi penentu nasib, AL HUBAL ada didalam Baitullah sebagai menantu ALLAH yaitu suami AL MANAH. (Hadits Shahih Bukhori 1187, Bidah-bidah di Indonesia, Oleh Drs K.H Bad ruddin Hsubky, 1994, Halaman 81)
    8. ALLAH : Adalah suatu NAMA yang TELAH DIKENAL sebelum Al’quran diwahyukan. ( Buku Ensiklopedia Islam, Jakarta, 1996, Halaman 23)
    9. ALLAH : Adalah NAMA Tuhan dalam bahasa Arab (Kamus besar bahasa Indonesia tahun 1996, halaman 27. Dep Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, Terbitan Balai Pustaka)