ʾIlāh (Arabic: إله; plural: آلهة ʾālihat) is an Arabic term meaning "deity" or "god". The feminine is ʾilāhat (إلاهة, meaning "goddess"); with the article, it appears as al-ʾilāhat (الإلاهة). The Arabic word for God (Allāh) is thought to be derived from it (in a proposed earlier form al-Lāh) though this is disputed. 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 إلٰه 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 discussing the existence of God or the beliefs in other divinities by non-Muslims. Notably, the first statement of the šahādah (the Muslim confession of faith) is "There is no god (ʾilāh) except God (Allāh)."
- 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.
- Zeki Saritoprak (2006). "Allah". In Oliver Leaman (ed.). The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 34.
- Vincent J. Cornell (2005). "God: God in Islam". In Lindsay Jones (ed.). Encyclopedia of Religion. 5 (2nd ed.). MacMillan Reference USA. p. 724.
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