ʾIlāh (Arabic: إله; plural: آلهة ʾālihah) is an Arabic term meaning "deity" or "god". The feminine is ʾilāhah (إلاهة, meaning "goddess"); with the article, it appears as al-ʾilāhah الإلاهة. It appears in the name of the monotheistic god of Islam as al-Lāh, translated, that is, "the god". In some cases, it is used by Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews, although not as frequently as other titles, such as Rabb, or "Lord" - a title also used by Muslims for Allah - similar to the Hebrew use of Adonai, which is the most frequently used by Jews of all languages, along with HaShem or "the Name". Amongst Christians, Yasu - an Arabic transliteration of the name of the Christian Jesus - Yahweh, or Shaddai, translated, that is, "Almighty", are common, with some other names and titles generally borrowed as transliterations from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. In Malaysia, it is illegal for Christians, Jews, or any other non-Muslim to refer to their God as "Allah".
ʾIlāh is cognate to Northwest Semitic ʾēl and Akkadian ilum. The word is from a Proto-Semitic archaic biliteral ʔ-L meaning "god" (possibly with a wider meaning of "strong"), which was extended to a regular triliteral by the addition of a h (as in Hebrew ʾelōah, ʾelōhim). The word is spelled either إله with an optional diacritic alif to mark the ā only in Qur'anic texts or (more rarely) with a full alif, إلاه.
The term is used throughout the Quran in passages detailing the existence of God and of the beliefs of non-Muslims in other divinities. Notably, the first statement of the šahādah (the Muslim confession of faith) is, "there is no ʾilāh but al-Lāh", that is, translated, "there is no deity except for Allah" or "there is no god except for the [one] god".
- Georgii Wilhelmi Freytagii, Lexicon Arabico-Latinum. Librairie du Liban, Beirut, 1975.
- J. Milton Cowan, The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. 4th edn. Spoken Language Services, Ithaca (NY), 1979.
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