Why Allâh is Not Exclusive to Islam: 3 Short Arguments

The Allah dispute is the focus of 3 court hearings this week. Taking the risk of committing the sin of boring repetition – here are 3 short arguments why Allah is not exclusive to Islam.

First, ﷲ Allâh (al-ilah) is historically derived from a common noun (ilah), which is not a proper noun/personal name (Nama Khas). It is just a common reference to a divine being in general or to the Most High God in monotheist culture, along with other related references in the Semitic languages – Hebrew el, eloah, Syriac alaha etc.  Sibawayh (the father of Arabic grammar), noted the etymology of the word was disputed but suggested a Syriac connection as al-Ilaah, Allah results when one attaches ‘al’ with aliha and alaha. More importantly, the word ﷲ Allâh was used by Christians and other Semites long before the emergence of Islam.

Second, linguistic analysis confirms Allâh is not a personal name. For example, if Allâh were a personal name then it is unchangeable. One should find the reading: Allâh Ibrahim. But the phrase in common usage is ilah Ibrahim. Why? The rule of grammar says a noun can have only one determinator and 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.
Same confirmation following the grammatical rule when Muslims use the expressions 1) “Al-hamdu li-llah” and not “Al-hamdu li- Allâh”, and 2) “bismi-llah” and not “bismi- Allâh”.

Of course, there is no 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 one 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.

Finally, what if some Malay Muslims adamantly retort that as far as they are concerned, Allâh for them is a proper noun/personal name (Nama Khas)? Malay readers will understand how the following words which originally were either common nouns or adjectives have been adopted/transformed into proper nouns/names for newborn babies: Ahmad (praise, commendable), Megat (great one), Rayan (gate of heaven), Danish (clever, merciful), Haziq (skillful, intelligent), Ashraff (benevolent or honorable), Iman (honorable).

Some Malay parents may decide to call their sons “Hakim (judge)” since they have high regard for justice. They have a right to use or adopt the common noun “hakim” as a proper noun/name “Hakim”, but by the same token, they cannot deny the right of other people to the customary usage of the word “hakim” as a common noun. Likewise, some Muslims (in this case, only some Malaysian Muslims in contrast to Indonesian Muslims and the Arabic world) may decide that “ﷲ ” for them is a personal name (Nama Khas). Still, by the same token, they cannot deny other people the customary usage of ﷲ as derived from a common noun (whether in reference to god in general or to the One High God).

Conclusion: Muslims who insist that the Allâh word (as a personal name) is exclusive to Islam are either willfully ignorant or unreasonable.

7 thoughts on “Why Allâh is Not Exclusive to Islam: 3 Short Arguments”

  1. Great piece but who really cares? Im a Christian… [THE REST OF THE COMMENT HAS BEEN DELETED BY NKW SINCE IT IS INAPPROPRIATE IN A PUBLIC FORUM]

  2. You have Administrator perogatives. Comments like those posted by “Jv”, I would suggest, be better vetted. The comments are not helpful to your cause and serve only to muddy the waters. A “Christian” making incompatible comments with inordinate labels?

  3. Hi ckhdkc,

    Because of my high regard for intellectual freedom I normally tolerate people with different opinions, even those who vehemently disagree with me. I loath to impose censorship and thought policing in the internet. There should be no internet policing in the name of someone’s thin skin sensitivity.

    But your point is well taken, the comment by Jv is not just a matter of a different opinion which should be tolerated. In my view believers should accept people’s right to criticize any religious belief, provided it is accurately represented and fairly or rationally critiqued.

    Jv is entitled to his own opinion, even if his comment lacks the minimum of public courtesy and contradicts the spirit of Christian magnanimity (assuming his internet persona is authentic). But it is not right to publicly call names and associate the Muslim God with the devil, to put it mildly. It can fairly be taken to be offensive and perhaps, provocative.

    So, Jv’s comment shall be deleted in the name of fair mindedness, public courtesy and mutual respect.

    Thanks for your suggestion.

  4. Thank you for your speedy response. You can accordingly also remove my comments as they would be no longer applicable. Gbless

  5. To ckhdkc,

    Hope you don’t mind if I let the comment stays. It is a good reminder to our readers to maintain intellectual integrity, fairness and public courtesy.

  6. No matter what facts one presents these so called defenders of a particular religion will insists they are correct and Christians are wrong, as they need to show supramicism over another. They will fight with violence if needed to show superiority.

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