Allah (Template:Ll: الله allāh) is the Arabic word for "God". It is ultimately derived (according to most etymologists) from Proto-Semitic ʾil-, as is Hebrew El). The word Allah is traditionally used by Muslims, but it is not used in Islam exclusively; Arab Christians and Arab Jews also use it to refer to the monotheist deity. Arabic translations of the Bible also employ it, as do Catholics in Malta (who pronounce it as "Alla"), and Christians in Indonesia, who say "Allah Bapa" (Allah the Father).
"Allah" as a word
Although the name "Allah" is most commonly associated with Islam, it was also used in pre-Islamic times. The pagan Arabs had a chief deity, in their pantheon, whom they called "Allah"; "Along with Allah, however, they [pre-Islamic Arabs] worshipped a host of lesser gods and 'daughters of Allah' [the three daughters of Allah being Allat, Al-Uzza, and Manah]" (Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, "The Facts on File", ed. Anthony Mercatante, New York, 1983, I:61). The pagan Arabians often used the word "Allah" in the names of their children; Muhammad's father, who was born into paganism, was named "Abdullah", which translates "servant of Allah". The word was also used in a monotheistic sense by Arab Christians in the pre-Islamic Umm al-Jimal inscription (6th century). The Hebrew word for deity, El (אל) or Eloh (אלוה), was used as an Old Testament synonym for Yahweh (יהוה). The Aramaic word for God is alÃ´h-Ã´ (Syriac dialect), which comes from the same Proto-Semitic word (*ʾilÃ¢h-) as the Arabic and Hebrew terms; Jesus is described in Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46 as having used this word on the cross (in the forms elÃ´-i and Ãªl-i respectively). One of the earliest surviving translations of the word into a foreign language is in a Greek translation of the Shahada, from 86-96 AH (705-715 AD), which translates it as ho theos monos, literally "the one god". Also the cognate Aramaic term appears in the Aramaic version of the New Testament, called the Pshitta (or Peshitta) as one of the words Jesus used to refer to God, e.g., in the sixth Beatitude, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see Alaha." And in the Arabic Bible the same words (Mt 5,8): "طُوبَى لأَنْقِيَاءِ الْقَلْبِ، فَإِنَّهُمْ سَيَرَوْنَ الله"
Many linguists believe that the term Allāh is derived from a contraction of the Arabic words al (the) + ʾilah (male deity). In addition, one of the main pagan goddesses of pre-Islamic Arabia, Allāt (al + ʾilāh + at, or 'the female deity'), is cited as being etymologically (though not synchronically) the feminine linguistic counterpart to the grammatically masculine Allah. If so, the word Allāh is an abbreviated title, meaning 'the deity', rather than a name. For this reason, both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars often translate Allāh directly into English as 'God'; this also explains why Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians freely refer to God as Allāh. However, some Muslim scholars feel that "Allāh" should not be translated, because they perceived the Arabic word to express the uniqueness of "Allāh" more accurately than word "god", which can take a plural "gods", whereas the word "Allāh" has no plural form. This is a significant issue in translation of the Qur'an.
The word Allāh is always written without an alif to spell the ā vowel. This is because the spelling was settled before Arabic spelling started habitually using alif to spell ā. One exception is in the pre-Islamic Zabad inscription, where it is spelt الاه.
==Islamic use of "Allah"==
From the point of view of traditional Islamic theology, Allah is the most precious name of God because it is not a descriptive name like other Ninety-nine names of Allah, but the name of God's own presence. Muslims believe that the name of Allah had existed before the time of Adam. They also believe their God to be the same one worshipped by Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and other prophets of Islam. In Islam it is perceived that there is only one God and Muhammed is the last messenger.
The emphasis in Islamic culture on reciting the Qur'an in Arabic has resulted in Allah often being used by Muslims world-wide, regardless of their native language. Out of 114 Suras in the Qur'an, 113 begin with "Bismi 'llāh ar-rahmān ar-rahīm" (بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم) which means "In the name of Allah, the most kind, the most merciful". Muslims, when referring to the name, often add the words "Subhanahu wa Ta'ala" after it, meaning "Glorified and Exalted is He" as a sign of reverence, or "Az wa Jal" (عز و جل). The entire religion of Islam is based on the idea of getting closer to Allah. Although commonly referred to as a "He", Allah is considered genderless, but there is no neuter gender to express this in the Arabic language. When Greek or other polytheistic deities are discussed in Arabic, it is customary to use the expression ilāh, a "deity" or lower-case "god."
Islamic conception of Allah
The Islamic concept of mankind's place in the universe hinges on the notion that Allah, or God, is the only true reality. There is nothing permanent other than Him. Allah is considered eternal and "uncreated", whereas everything else in the universe is "created." The Qur'an describes Him in Sura 112: "Say: He is Allah, Singular. Allah, the Absolute. He begetteth not nor was begotten. And to Him have never been one equal." (see Tawhid for more). The Qur'an condemns and mocks the pre-Islamic Arabs for attributing daughters to Allah (sura 53:19.)
Allah is considered by Muslims to be omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. He is said to be "in Heaven" (Qur'an 67:16) and "in the heavens and the earth" (Qur'an 66:3), but also said to be "nearer to him [man] than his jugular vein" (Qur'an 50:16); He constantly watches all that goes on in the world, and knows all things. This suggests that He is present in the heart as the supreme witness. "And He it is Who takes your souls at night (in sleep), and He knows what you acquire in the day, then He raises you up therein that an appointed term may be fulfilled; then to Him is your return, then He will inform you of what you were doing. (sura 6:60)"
Muslims do not try to draw or depict Allah in any way, according to Islamic belief it could lead to idol worship. Instead, they focus on His 99 "Attributes" that are stated in the Qur'an, the holy book of the Muslims. Nearly one third of the book is used describing Allah's attributes and actions. Also, "hadith qudsi" are special recorded sayings of Muhammad to Muslims where he quotes what Allah says to him. The ninety-nine "Attributes" are frequently written in calligraphic Arabic as a permissible decoration, which adorns mosques and homes of Muslims.
Uses of "Allah" in phrases
There are many phrases that contain the word Allah:
- Allahu Akbar (الله أكبر) (God is greatest)
- Bismillah (بسم الله) (In the name of God)
- Insha'Allah (إن شاء الله) (God-willing)
- Ya Allah (يا الله)(my God)
- may be the origin of the Spanish exclamation "Â¡OlÃ©!".
- Masha Allah (ما شاء الله) ([Look at] what God has willed!)
- Subhan Allah (سبحان الله) (Glory be to God)
- Alhamdulillah (الحمد لله) (All praise be to God)
- Allahu A`alam (الله أعلم) (God knows best)
- Jazaka Allahu Khairan (جزاك الله خيراً) (May God reward you for your deeds)
- Free Encyclopedia of Thelema (2009)
- Wikipedia (2005). Allah. Retrieved July 10, 2005.