Allah (English pronunciation: //, // or //; Arabic: الله Allāh, IPA: [ʔalˤˈlˤɑːh] ( listen)) is the Arabic word for God (al ilāh, literally "the God"), referring to the God in Abrahamic religions. The word has cognates in other Semitic languages, including Elah in Aramaic, ʾĒl in Canaanite and Elohim in Hebrew.
It is now mainly used by Muslims to refer to God in Islam, but is also used by Arab Christians since pre-Islamic times. It is also often, albeit not exclusively, used by Bábists, Bahá'ís, Indonesian and Maltese Christians, and Mizrahi Jews. Christians and Sikhs in West Malaysia also use and have used the word to refer to God. This has caused political and legal controversies there as the law in West Malaysia prohibits non-Islamic uses of the word.
The term Allāh is derived from a contraction of the Arabic definite article al- "the" and ilāh "deity, god" to al-lāh meaning "the [sole] deity, God" (ὁ θεὸς μόνος, ho theos monos). Cognates of the name "Allāh" exist in other Semitic languages, including Hebrew and Aramaic. The correspondfing Aramaic form is Elah (אלה), but its emphatic state is Elaha (אלהא). It is written as ܐܠܗܐ (ʼĔlāhā) in Biblical Aramaic and ܐܲܠܵܗܵܐ (ʼAlâhâ) in Syriac as used by the Assyrian Church, both meaning simply "God". Biblical Hebrew mostly uses the plural (but functional singular) form Elohim (אלהים), but more rarely it also uses the singular form Eloah (אלוהּ). In the Sikh scripture of Guru Granth Sahib, the term Allah (Punjabi: ਅਲਹੁ) is used 37 times.
Allah is unique, the only Deity, creator of the universe and omnipotent. The God in Abrahamic religions. There are both similarities and differences between the concept of God as portrayed in the Quran and the Hebrew Bible. It has also been applied to certain living human beings as personifications of the term and concept.
In pre-Islamic Arabia, including Mecca, Allah was probably used by polytheistic Arabs as a reference to possibly a creator god or a supreme deity of their pantheon. In pre-Islamic Arabia, Allah was not used to refer to the sole divinity as it is in Islam. The notion of the term may have been vague in the Meccan religion. Muhammad's father's name was ʿAbd-Allāh meaning "the slave of Allāh". Pre-Islamic Christians, Jews and the monotheistic Arabs called Hanifs used the name Allah and the terms 'Bismillah', 'in the name of Allah' to refer to their supreme deity in Arabic stone inscriptions centuries before Islam.
As Hebrew and Arabic are closely related Semitic languages, it is commonly accepted that Allah (root, ilāh) and the Biblical Elohim are cognate derivations of same origin, as is Eloah, a Hebrew word which is used (e.g. in the Book of Job) to mean '(the) God' and also 'god or gods' as is the case of Elohim. Elohim and Eloah ultimately derive from the root El, 'strong', possibly genericized from El (deity), as in the Ugaritic ’lhm (consonants only), meaning "children of El" (the ancient Near Eastern creator god in pre-Abrahamic tradition).
The Aramaic word for "God" in the language of Assyrian Christians is ʼĔlāhā, or Alaha. Arabic-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths, including Christians and Jews, use the word "Allah" to mean "God". The Christian Arabs of today have no other word for "God" than "Allah". (Even the Arabic-descended Maltese language of Malta, whose population is almost entirely Roman Catholic, uses Alla for "God".) Arab Christians, for example, use the terms Allāh al-ab (الله الأب) for God the Father, Allāh al-ibn (الله الابن) for God the Son, and Allāh al-rūḥ al-quds (الله الروح القدس) for God the Holy Spirit. (See God in Christianity for the Christian concept of God.)
Arab Christians have used two forms of invocations that were affixed to the beginning of their written works. They adopted the Muslim bismillāh, and also created their own Trinitized bismillāh as early as the 8th century. The Muslim bismillāh reads: "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful." The Trinitized bismillāh reads: "In the name of Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God." The Syriac, Latin and Greek invocations do not have the words "One God" at the end. This addition was made to emphasize the monotheistic aspect of Trinitian belief and also to make it more palatable to Muslims.
Some archaeological excavation quests have led to the discovery of ancient pre-Islamic inscriptions and tombs made by Arabic-speaking Christians in the ruins of a church at Umm el-Jimal in Northern Jordan, which contained references to Allah as the proper name of God, and some of the graves contained names such as "Abd Allah" which means "the servant/slave of Allah".
The name Allah can be found countless times in the reports and the lists of names of Christian martyrs in South Arabia, as reported by antique Syriac documents of the names of those martyrs from the era of the Himyarite and Aksumite kingdoms.
In an inscription of Christian martyrion dated back to 512, references to Allah can be found in both Arabic and Aramaic, which called him "Allah" and "Alaha", and the inscription starts with the statement "By the Help of Allah".
In pre-Islamic Gospels, the name used for God was "Allah", as evidenced by some discovered Arabic versions of the New Testament written by Arab Christians during the pre-Islamic era in Northern and Southern Arabia.
Pre-Islamic Arab Christians have been reported to have raised the battle cry "Ya La Ibad Allah" (O slaves of Allah) to invoke each other into battle.
According to Islamic belief, Allah is the proper name of God, and humble submission to his will, divine ordinances and commandments is the pivot of the Muslim faith. "He is the only God, creator of the universe, and the judge of humankind." "He is unique (wāḥid) and inherently one (aḥad), all-merciful and omnipotent." The Qur'an declares "the reality of Allah, His inaccessible mystery, His various names, and His actions on behalf of His creatures."
In Islamic tradition, there are 99 Names of God (al-asmā’ al-ḥusná lit. meaning: 'the best names' or 'the most beautiful names'), each of which evoke a distinct characteristic of Allah. All these names refer to Allah, the supreme and all-comprehensive divine name. Among the 99 names of God, the most famous and most frequent of these names are "the Merciful" (al-Raḥmān) and "the Compassionate" (al-Raḥīm).
Most Muslims use the untranslated Arabic phrase in shā’ Allāh (meaning 'if God wills') after references to future events. Muslim discursive piety encourages beginning things with the invocation of bismillāh (meaning 'in the name of God').
There are certain phrases in praise of God that are favored by Muslims, including "Subḥān Allāh" (Holiness be to God), "al-ḥamdu lillāh" (Praise be to God), "lā ilāha illā Allāh" (There is no deity but God) and "Allāhu akbar" (God is greater) as a devotional exercise of remembering God (dhikr). In a Sufi practice known as dhikr Allah (lit. remembrance of God), the Sufi repeats and contemplates on the name Allah or other divine names while controlling his or her breath.
Some scholars[who?] have suggested that Muḥammad used the term Allah in addressing both pagan Arabs and Jews or Christians in order to establish a common ground for the understanding of the name for God, a claim Gerhard Böwering says is doubtful. According to Böwering, in contrast with pre-Islamic Arabian polytheism, God in Islam does not have associates and companions, nor is there any kinship between God and jinn. Pre-Islamic pagan Arabs believed in a blind, powerful, inexorable and insensible fate over which man had no control. This was replaced with the Islamic notion of a powerful but provident and merciful God.
According to Francis Edwards Peters, "The Qur’ān insists, Muslims believe, and historians affirm that Muhammad and his followers worship the same God as the Jews (29:46). The Qur’an's Allah is the same Creator God who covenanted with Abraham". Peters states that the Qur'an portrays Allah as both more powerful and more remote than Yahweh, and as a universal deity, unlike Yahweh who closely follows Israelites.
As a loanword
English and other European languages
The history of the name Allāh in English was probably influenced by the study of comparative religion in the 19th century; for example, Thomas Carlyle (1840) sometimes used the term Allah but without any implication that Allah was anything different from God. However, in his biography of Muḥammad (1934), Tor Andræ always used the term Allah, though he allows that this "conception of God" seems to imply that it is different from that of the Jewish and Christian theologies.
Languages which may not commonly use the term Allah to denote God may still contain popular expressions which use the word. For example, because of the centuries long Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula, the word ojalá in the Spanish language and oxalá in the Portuguese language exist today, borrowed from Arabic (Arabic: إن شاء الله). This phrase literally means 'if God wills' (in the sense of "I hope so"). The German poet Mahlmann used the form "Allah" as the title of a poem about the ultimate deity, though it is unclear how much Islamic thought he intended to convey.
Some Muslims leave the name "Allāh" untranslated in English.
Malaysian and Indonesian language
Christians in Malaysia and Indonesia use Allah to refer to God in the Malaysian and Indonesian languages (both of which are standardized forms of the Malay language.) Mainstream Bible translations in the language use Allah as the translation of Hebrew Elohim (translated in English Bibles as "God"). This goes back to early translation work by Francis Xavier in the 16th century. The first dictionary of Dutch-Malay by Albert Cornelius Ruyl, Justus Heurnius, and Caspar Wiltens in 1650 (revised edition from 1623 edition and 1631 Latin-edition) recorded "Allah" as the translation of the Dutch word "Godt". Ruyl also translated Matthew in 1612 to Malay language (first Bible translation to non-European language, only a year after King James Version was published), which was printed in the Netherlands in 1629. Then he translated Mark which was published in 1638.
The government of Malaysia in 2007 outlawed usage of the term Allah in any other but Muslim contexts, but the Malayan High Court in 2009 revoked the law, ruling that it was unconstitutional. While Allah had been used for the Christian God in Malay for more than four centuries, the contemporary controversy was triggered by usage of Allah by the Roman Catholic newspaper The Herald. The government appealed the court ruling, and the High Court suspended implementation of its verdict until the appeal was heard. In October 2013, the court ruled in favor of the government's ban. While in early 2014, the Malaysian government confiscated more than 300 bibles for using the word to refer to the Christian God in Peninsular Malaysia. However, the use of Allah does not prohibited in the two Malaysian state of Sabah and Sarawak. The main reason it is not prohibited in these two states is that usage has been long-established and local Alkitab (Bibles) have been widely distributed freely in East Malaysia without restrictions for years. Both states also do not have similar Islamic state laws as those in West Malaysia.
As a reaction to some media criticism, the Malaysian government has introduced a "10-point solution" to avoid confusion and misleading information. The 10-point solution is in line with the spirit of the 18- and 20-point agreements of Sarawak and Sabah.
In other scripts and languages
- Assamese, Bengali: আল্লাহ Allah
- Bosnian: Allah
- Chinese (Mandarin): 阿拉 Ālā, 安拉 Ānlā; 真主 Zhēnzhǔ (semantic translation as "the true master"), 胡大 Huda (Khoda, from Persian language)
- Czech, Slovak: Alláh
- Greek: Αλλάχ Allách
- Filipino: Alā or Allah
- Hebrew: אללה Allah
- Hindi: अल्लाह Allāh
- Malayalam: അള്ളാഹ് Aḷḷāh
- Japanese: アラー Arā, アッラー Arrā, アッラーフ Arrāfu
- Latvian: Allāhs
- Maltese: Alla
- Korean: 알라 Alla
- Polish: Allah, also archaic Allach or Ałłach
- Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian: Алла́х Allakh
- Serbian, Belarusian, Macedonian: Алах Alah
- Spanish, Portuguese: Alá
- Thai: อัลลอฮ์ Anláw
- Punjabi (Gurmukhi): ਅੱਲਾਹ Allāh, archaic ਅਲਹੁ Alahu (in Sikh scriptures)
- Turkish: Allah
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. However, in vocalized spelling, a small diacritic alif is added on top of the shaddah to indicate the pronunciation.
- الاه : This reading would be Allāh spelled phonetically with alif for the ā.
- الإله : This reading would be al-Ilāh = 'the god' (an older form, without contraction), by older spelling practice without alif for ā.
Unicode has a codepoint reserved for Allāh, ﷲ = U+FDF2, in the Arabic Presentation Forms-A block, which exists solely for "compatibility with some older, legacy character sets that encoded presentation forms directly", which is discouraged for new text. Instead, the word Allāh should be represented by its individual Arabic letters, while modern font technologies will render the desired ligature.
- "Allah". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
- "Allah - definition of Allah in English from the Oxford dictionary". oxforddictionaries.com.
- "God". Islam: Empire of Faith. PBS. Archived from the original on 2014-03-27. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
- "Islam and Christianity", Encyclopedia of Christianity (2001): Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also refer to God as Allāh.
- Gardet, L. "Allah". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Online. Retrieved 2 May 2007.
- Columbia Encyclopedia, Allah
- Brown, Francis; Driver, S.R.; Briggs, Charles. A. Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendricksen. p. 41, entry 410 1.b. ISBN 9781565632066.
- Merriam-Webster. "Allah". Merriam-Webster. Archived from the original on 2014-04-20. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- Rick Brown, Who was 'Allah' before Islam? Evidence that the term 'Allah' originated with Jewish and Christian Arabs (2007), page 8.
- "Allah." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica
- Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, Allah
- Sikhs target of 'Allah' attack, Julia Zappei, 14 January 2010, The New Zealand Herald. Accessed on line 15 January 2014.
- Malaysia court rules non-Muslims can't use 'Allah', 14 Oct. 2013, The New Zealand Herald. Accessed on line 15 January 2014.
- Malaysia's Islamic authorities seize Bibles as Allah row deepens, Niluksi Koswanage, 2 January 2014, Reuters. Accessed on line 15 January 2014. Archived 16 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine
- Idris Jala (24 February 2014). "The 'Allah'/Bible issue, 10-point solution is key to managing the polarity". The Star. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- Columbia Encyclopaedia says: Derived from an old Semitic root referring to the Divine and used in the Canaanite El, the Mesopotamian ilu, and the biblical Elohim and Eloah, the word Allah is used by all Arabic-speaking Muslims, Christians, Jews, and other monotheists.
- The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon – Entry for ʼlh Archived 18 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- http://www.srigranth.org Archived 11 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine
- Smith, Peter (2000). "prayer". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 274–275. ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6.
- F.E. Peters, Islam, p.4, Princeton University Press, 2003
- Nation of Islam – personification of Allah as Detroit peddler W D Fard Archived 13 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- "A history of Clarence 13X and the Five Percenters, referring to Clarence Smith as Allah". Finalcall.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
- "''Unicode Standard 5.0'', p.479, 492" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-04-28. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
- L. Gardet, Allah, Encyclopaedia of Islam, ed. by Sir H.A.R. Gibb
- Zeki Saritopak, Allah, The Qu'ran: An Encyclopedia, ed. by Oliver Leaman, p. 34
- Gerhard Böwering, God and his Attributes, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an, ed. by Jane Dammen McAuliffe
- Hitti, Philip Khouri (2002-09-06). History of the Arabs. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 800. ISBN 9780333631423.
- Lewis, Bernard; Holt, P. M.; Holt, Peter R.; Lambton, Ann Katherine Swynford (1977). The Cambridge history of Islam. Cambridge, Eng: University Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-521-29135-4.
- Thomas E. Burman, Religious Polemic and the Intellectual History of the Mozarabs, Brill, 1994, p. 103
- Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization, University of Chicago Press, p. 156
- James Bellamy, "Two Pre-Islamic Arabic Inscriptions Revised: Jabal Ramm and Umm al-Jimal", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 108/3 (1988)
- Enno Littmann, Arabic Inscriptions (Leiden, 1949)
- Rick Brown, Who is "Allah" ? - International Journal of Frontier Missions, (23:2 Summer 2006), page 80.
- Ignatius Ya`qub III, The Arab Himyarite Martyrs in the Syriac Documents (1966), Pages: 9-65-66-89
- Alfred Guillaume& Muhammad Ibn Ishaq, (2002 ). The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Isḥāq's Sīrat Rasūl Allāh with Introduction and Notes. Karachi and New York: Oxford University Press, page 18.
- Adolf Grohmann, Arabische Paläographie II: Das Schriftwesen und die Lapidarschrift (1971), Wien: Hermann Böhlaus Nochfolger, Page: 6-8
- Beatrice Gruendler, The Development of the Arabic Scripts: From the Nabatean Era to the First Islamic Century according to Dated Texts (1993), Atlanta: Scholars Press, Page:
- Rick Brown, Who was 'Allah' before Islam? Evidence that the term 'Allah' originated with Jewish and Christian Arabs (2007), page 10.
- Frederick Winnett V, Allah before Islam-The Moslem World (1938), Pages: 239–248
- Michael Macdonald, Personal Names in the Nabataean Realm-Journal Of Semitic Studies (1999), Page: 271
- Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth Century, Dumbarton Oaks Trustees for Harvard University-Washington DC, page 418.
- Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fourth Century, Dumbarton Oaks Trustees for Harvard University-Washington DC, Page: 452
- A. Amin and A. Harun, Sharh Diwan Al-Hamasa (Cairo, 1951), Vol. 1, Pages: 478-480
- Al-Marzubani, Mu'jam Ash-Shu'araa, Page: 302
- Böwering, Gerhard, God and His Attributes, Encyclopaedia of the Qurʼān, Brill, 2007.
- Bentley, David (September 1999). The 99 Beautiful Names for God for All the People of the Book. William Carey Library. ISBN 978-0-87808-299-5.
- Murata, Sachiko (1992). The Tao of Islam : a sourcebook on gender relationships in Islamic thought. Albany NY USA: SUNY. ISBN 978-0-7914-0914-5.
- Gary S. Gregg, The Middle East: A Cultural Psychology, Oxford University Press, p.30
- Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, Islamic Society in Practice, University Press of Florida, p. 24
- M. Mukarram Ahmed, Muzaffar Husain Syed, Encyclopaedia of Islam, Anmol Publications PVT. LTD, p. 144
- Carl W. Ernst, Bruce B. Lawrence, Sufi Martyrs of Love: The Chishti Order in South Asia and Beyond, Macmillan, p. 29
- William Montgomery Watt, Islam and Christianity today: A Contribution to Dialogue, Routledge, 1983, p.45
- Islam in Luce López Baralt, Spanish Literature: From the Middle Ages to the Present, Brill, 1992, p.25
- F. E. Peters, The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition, Princeton University Press, p.12
- Example: Usage of the word "Allah" from Matthew 22:32 in Indonesian bible versions (parallel view) as old as 1733 Archived 19 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- The Indonesian Language: Its History and Role in Modern Society Sneddon, James M.; University of New South Wales Press; 2004
- The History of Christianity in India from the Commencement of the Christian Era: Hough, James; Adamant Media Corporation; 2001
- Justus Heurnius, Albert Ruyl, Caspar Wiltens. "Vocabularium ofte Woordenboeck nae ordre van den alphabeth, in 't Duytsch en Maleys". 1650:65. Books.google.co.id. Archived from the original on 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
- Barton, John (2002–12). The Biblical World, Oxford, UK: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-27574-3.
- North, Eric McCoy; Eugene Albert Nida ((2nd Edition) 1972). The Book of a Thousand Tongues, London: United Bible Societies.
- (Indonesian) Biography of Ruyl
- "Encyclopædia Britannica: Albert Cornelius Ruyl". Britannica.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
- Roughneen, Simon (14 October 2013). "No more 'Allah' for Christians, Malaysian court says". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
- "BBC News - More than 300 Bibles are confiscated in Malaysia". BBC. 2 January 2014. Archived from the original on 25 January 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- "Catholic priest should respect court: Mahathir". Daily Express. 9 January 2014. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
- Jane Moh and Peter Sibon (29 March 2014). "Worship without hindrance". The Borneo Post. Archived from the original on 29 March 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- "Bahasa Malaysia Bibles: The Cabinet's 10-point solution".
- "Najib: 10-point resolution on Allah issue subject to Federal, state laws". The Star. 24 January 2014. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- "Zebed Inscription: A Pre-Islamic Trilingual Inscription In Greek, Syriac & Arabic From 512 CE". Islamic Awareness. 17 March 2005. Archived from the original on 2013-10-13.
- The Unicode Consortium. FAQ - Middle East Scripts Archived 1 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- The Unicode Consortium, Unicode Standard 5.0, Addison-Wesley, 2006, ISBN 978-0-321-48091-0, About the Unicode Standard Version 5.0 Book
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Allah|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to:|
- Names of Allah with Meaning on Website, Flash, and Mobile Phone Software
- Concept of God (Allah) in Islam
- The Concept of Allāh According to the Qur'an by Abdul Mannan Omar
- Allah, the Unique Name of God