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"Allah" is simply the Arabic for "God"[edit]

Naturally, there are significant NPOV issues here and in any discussion of religion, but in point of fact, "Allah" is not "the Muslim name for God". It is simply the Arabic for God. Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also use "Allah". There is also a shift in English usage (at least in the US press), to translate "Allah" as "God" instead of leaving it untranslated, as in "God is great" instead of "Allah is great" for "Alahu akbar" (apologies if I have misspelled this). -dmh

I edited it to say "word for" instead of "name for", for accuracy (tho it might be better to just leave it out entirely; print dictionaries appear to just say things like "God, especially in Islam contexts"). —Muke Tever 18:32, 13 May 2004 (UTC)
Fine with me. Also, thanks for fixing the link (I had meant to, but got distracted reading it :-) -dmh 19:30, 13 May 2004 (UTC)
(See also Talk:Islam) Is this definition actually correct? In particular, does English recognize Allah as meaning God in non-muslim contexts? There are certainly many English speakers who believe that "Allah" is different from "God" (Islamic theology to the contrary). There should probably at least be two separate senses. In any case, the definition I just reverted was not well worded, even if it does legitimately reflect usage. -dmh 20:25, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It's correct. The main problem is that not everyone pays attention to what's correct when they speak... :) and in an NPOV context, we can't really tell anyone they're wrong. I would probably amend the definition slightly, using "especially" instead of "often". If a second sense is necessary it should say something like "The supreme deity according to Islamic beliefs, especially as contrasted to Judeo-Christian ones", or some better-phrased alternative — I'm trying for one that doesn't inject a POV of whether or not "Allah, Islamic God" equals "God, Judeo-Christian God".
(BTW, not just Islamic theology, but also several Christian denominations equate them, at least officially—but popular opinion is a different matter: it doesn't help that speakers of both Arabic and English tend to consider their language's word for God to be itself the name of God, so “clearly theirs must be different from ours if they have different names...”.) —Muke Tever 00:55, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think the situation here is similar to that of hacker, where popular usage has overtaken the strictly correct usage. With hacker, there is, at least, an identifiable set of people who actively recognize the historically correct sense (even if we're careful not to use it in general speech). I'm hard-pressed to think of times I've heard someone use Allah in English without reference to Islam specifically. What I have heard is Muslims (both relgious and secular) use God with reference to Islam (e.g., something like The Qu'ran reveals God's plan for us.). I would expect very few native English speakers would take Allah to mean anything but the Muslim God.
So what to do with the article? I'd suggest either separate senses, with the popular sense primary, or a usage note to the effect that in practice, Allah implies Islam. -dmh 06:22, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It's incorrect, god in Arabic is إله ('ilāh) and Allah is الله (allāh), they are related but not the same! That's why there is a phrase in Arabic, لا إله إلا الله (laa 'ilāha 'illa (a)llāh) - "there's no god but Allah". If the words for Allah and god were identical, it would be impossible to say it. In speech of Muslims Allah can also mean God, since this is the only for Muslims and is used in many expressions but Christian Arabs may also use other phrases. Anatoli 06:58, 20 September 2009 (UTC)


I just noticed that an anonymous user has changed in the etymology section ال-‏ (al- "the") to الـ. Is "ـ" a kind of hyphen in Arabic? I thought it was mainly used for justifying lines of text. The reason for including the hyphen in the first case is to indicate that "al" is attached, in writing, to the following word. — Hippietrail 05:32, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Allah = God?[edit]

dmh removed by proper definition to post a very narrow-minded version.

Allah is not the arabic name for God. Allah is the arabic deity, and God is the biblical deity. To say that Allah is the "arabic word for God" makes the false assumption that Muslims worship the biblical deity whose name is God. Both God and Allah are proper names for deities of different religions.

Please do not alter definitions for personal purposes, thanks.

(Stepping in here) Excuse me?? "God, often used in the context of Islam" is "very narrow-minded", while restricting it to Islam specifically is, what, broad?. Allah is "the Arabic deity"? Care to mention that to the non-Arabic majority of the Muslim world?
My "personal purpose" for changing the definition was based on usage, and my reconsideration (you did notice who signed the "is this correct" question, didn't you?) is also based on usage. (stepping out) -dmh 03:35, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I've never heard of "God" being god's actual name before. The Christian old testament is a version of the Jewish bible and the Jewish name for god has been lost, leaving us only words such as Adonai, JHVH, Jehovah, Yahweh, none of which are god's name either. Although I am no theologian I was pretty sure that the 3 Abrahimic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) all believe in one god, referring to him with different words, perhaps giving him different attributes, but beleiving the one god to be the same god, perhaps believing that the other religions think about that same god in a different way, but being the same god none-the-less.
That is certainly how some people perceive it. In this case I would like to name what name or word muslims and arabs use to refer to the monotheistic gods of other religions, especially the Abrahimic ones, in their own language (Arabic). I find it hard to interpret that monotheists could attribute other monotheists to beleiving in different gods when they all believe there is only one god - but that is theology and far be it for me to understand such things. — Hippietrail 10:52, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

hippietrail - You're definetely wrong about that. Let me explain.

First you said you thought they all believed in the same deity. If you read these three texts you will clearly find their deities each have DIFFERENT properties, DIFFERENT origins, and DIFFERENT rules for humans to live by. Their deities are as different as night and day.

Secondly, the bible (in english) refers to their deity as God, with a capital G which is a proper noun. God is the proper name of the biblical deity in the English language. Allah is the proper name of the islamic deity in the muslim (and english) language. So it's quite clear that these are proper names for different deities.

Other names for mythical deities are Zeus, Satan, Diablo, Yawheh, etc.... all proper names for various deities.

No, you're wrong on that count. Allah is the Arabic word that means "God". Arabic-speaking Christians call God "Allah" because that's all the word means in Arabic, "God". Arabic-speaking Jews do the same, I understand. The Bible (in English) refers to the Christian deity as God with a capital G not because it is a proper name, but because it is a title (for a parallel example, try "mother" vs "Mother"). In English Bibles it is stated that God's name is not "God" but YHWH (variously spelled) though in most cases it is tabuistically replaced with a less powerful word (LORD in small caps is common). —Muke Tever 23:02, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It does not matter what human beings call their deity. That does not define what a word means. The Quran uses the term Allah in English to refer to the islamic deity. The bible uses the term God in English to refer to the biblical deity. You said "arabic speaking christians refer to their deity as Allah". While you may know some who do, I could find christians referring to their deity as all manner of things. This does nothing to prove against my case.

I have behind me a mastery of history which states clearly that both of these terms are proper nouns for deities. To say that Allah is the arabic word for God is as absurd as saying Saddam is the arabic word for Bush. They are both proper nouns for characters holding the same position; president.

And as I stated, God is capitalized in the bible because it is a proper noun just like Jesus is. You stated that the bible said that their deities "real name" is Yahweh etc... - but this holds no bearing on this matter. Any manner/version of the christian bible may say any manner of things. The true definitions of these words come from their historical meaning, not from how popular modern life has manipulated them. - user:LaughingMan

I think the important to remember is how do English speakers use the word in English. All this theological stuff isn't really important or relevant to a dictionary. If we were defining الله, then it would be defined as 'God'. However Allah in English is exclusively in a Muslim context. Really dmh's "Arabic word for God, often used in the context of Islam.", I might drop the 'often' but it seems like a reasonable definition to me. Maybe its the over wikifaction, but the current def "The deity of the Muslim monotheistic religion." doesn't strike as an improvement While you may know some who do, I could find christians referring to their deity as all manner of things. This does nothing to prove against my case. Yes it does, the English dictionary's job since the end of 19th century has been to report on language, not regulate it. Just as well, we don't need a bunch of folks with master in history running our language. If Arabic speakers of all faiths use the word 'Allah' then it means what they think it means. --Eean 01:18, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Ean - Allah is the deity described in the Quran. Which is the book of the muslim monothestic religion. There's no other definition for Allah. If you want to say Allah is the god described in the Quran, that's fine - although deity is a better choice than god. But ALLah most certainly is NOT the "muslim word for God". Muslims use the word GOD to refer to christians and jews, and they use the word Allah to refer to what they say is the truth. Of course there are exceptions to this; there's also christians who don't believe jesus existed - but we wouldn't say this in the definition of christianity because it does not meet the proper standards

ALLah most certainly is NOT the "muslim word for God". You didn't read the etymology at all, did you. You haven't done any research into what actual Muslims say "Allah" means. Your mastery of history doesn't seem to apply to linguistics, or apparently religion either. —Muke Tever 04:56, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

PS: Ean I do not have a masters in history - what I said was the understanding that Allah and God are proper names for deities comes from a great deal of highly credible people who researched the origins of every religion. I have this knowledge with me and it's best put to use here to help others understanding what these terms truly mean, and not the multitide of things people might use them for across the whole world. I am still unsure as to which you guys are debating - calling Allah the arabic word for God, or calling Allah the god (versus deity) of islam. Allah states that mohammed is his only profit, and God states that Jesus is his only profit - these are hardly synonymous words for the same thing - they are proper nouns for the same TYPE of thing!

  • profit was a freudan slip I assure you!
It doesn't seem too hard to understand, we use the word 'God' and 'gods' freely, not associated with any religion. My point was it doesn't matter what the 'origins of religion' are and certainly not the credible people who researched them. Outside of etymology (where such experts could be helpful), we're simply defining words as people use them. God gives the Arabic translation as الله - what is your suggestion as an improvement? --Eean 04:59, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Reading a little further into the discourse above (I still haven't made it all the way through), I see he loses me at "It does not matter what human beings call their deity. That does not define what a word means."
As far as I can tell, the way human beings call things is exactly what defines what a word means.
As to the names of God, the notion that the original name has been lost is popular, but that's not quite right. Here's a fairly exhaustive (and exhausting) run-down. [1]. A few high points from this and my own experience:
  • The name principally used in the Torah is יהוה, generally transliterated as YHWH.
  • There is some uncertainty as to the original pronunciation of this word, but there is very good evidence that it is Yahweh (with Hebrew, not English pronunciation, of course)
  • Spoken use of this name became less common over time, particularly during the Babylonian exile.
  • Even when its use was limited, it was still used in the Temple during Yom Kippur.
  • Eventually, Adonai (Lord) came to be substituted, which led later Christian scholars to misread Yahweh as Jehovah (I'll spare you the details).
  • Modern usage tends to favor less direct names, including Adonai, Elohim (actually the first name given in Genesis, from the same Semitic roots as Allah), Ha-shem (literally, "the Name") and a variety of terms very much analogous to Islam's 99 attributes (All-merciful, the Eternal etc.) I would tend to regard these, particularly Adonai, Elohim and Ha-Shem (and God, for that matter) as also being names of God.
  • Modern Judaism, even Orthodox, doesn't make a big issue out of this. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, in his excellent "Jewish Literacy" ISBN 0688085067 devotes a short article in the 700+ page book to "Eyeh Asher Eyeh" (I will be what I will be, the name given to Moses at the burning bush, curiously never mentioned again but etymologically related to YHWH) to the effect that it's not easy to translate and "Although generations of Bible scholars have tried to decipher the name's precise meaning, it really did not seem to matter that much to Moses." That's about all he has to say on the subject. In the rest of the text, he uses God consistently, except when transliterating Hebrew, where he uses "Ha-shem", following current Orthodox practice. Telushkin is hardly the sole authority on Jewish practice, but his work and opinions are widely respected, even outside Orthodox circles.
  • The Torah itself talks about the name of God, notably in the third commandment Lo tissa et shem יהוה Eloheika la-shav. (You shall not carry the name יהוה in vain). Telushkin transliterates יהוה here as "Ha-Shem" (the Name) because this is common practice, not because the name is not known. I put it in Hebrew letters here to emphasize that that's how the actual text reads (I looked :-).
Untold ink and bits have been devoted to the finer points of YHWH and company but as far as I can tell, there's less there than meets the eye. -dmh 05:36, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)


Back at the main theme, here's an interesting usage of "Allah" in Indonesian (but clearly borrowed from Arabic), to mean "God" in the context of a Catholic Mass. "Salam" also appears: [2]. For example:

Demikianlah sabda Tuhan.

The Word of the Lord

Syukur kepada Allah.

Thanks be to God.

Not sure this proves anything, but it's interesting. -dmh 05:41, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)

God's name in Islam[edit]

At 20:55 GMT on 11 August 2006 anon User: changed the defintion from "The deity of Islam." to "God's name in Islam." This edit had not been discussed here inspite of the controversy which can be seen through reading the above. I have reverted this edit.

Stating that "Allah" is God's name in Islam assumes that God and Allah are one and the same. Theologists might argue till they're blue in the face about such a point but what relevance has this here? As Eean points out, it has none.

"Allah" is the name of the deity of Islam. "God" is the name of the deity of Christianity. Whether or not deity of Islam is the deity of Christianity is another issue beyond the scope of a dictionary.

It has been noted that in Arabic the word means "god". It has been noted that Arabic speaking Christians and Jew use the word to refer to the deity in which they believe. This is all well and good from an etymological point of view but we are attempting to give the English definition of the word.

Bring the English speaking world as much etymology as you can, the question will still remain as to how we use the word. Are we describing or are we prescribing how the word is used? Without looking too far I'm sure you'll find that the overall consensus at Wiktionary is that of descriptivism as opposed to prescritivism.

Let us turn of a moment to a less controversial word. The Japanese word "鯉" ("こい", "koi") refers to common carp. However, in English the word "koi" is more specific referring only to the ornamental domesticated varieties. Nobody is beating their breasts about the fact that in Japanese the word is more general in meaning. Nor should they be: we're talking about the word in English.

Allah is the god of Islam. Whether Allah is God is beside the point. What the word means in other languages is also irrelevant.

Jimp 03:57, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

If I may throw myself into the conversation, Allāh is not actually the Arabic word for god; 'ilāh is. (I can provide references if need be.) So the users trying to say that the definition should read "Allah is the name of the God of Islam" are, as far as they go, technically correct. The only trouble is that because Arabic is so firmly associated with Islam, 'ilāh is almost never used any more except by scholars. Some Arabic-speaking Muslims also try to disguise the fact that Allah is not a "generic" name, but that is really beside the point. Dictionaries should reflect not only proper, but also vernacular use. Linguistically then, which is what a dictionary ought to be based on, the entry should look something like this:
  1. The name of the God of Islam.
  2. The most common Arabic word for God."
Now then, that said, I find the fact that the word is listed under "English" to be absurd. The word is Arabic, no question. There is not even an entry for Arabic! I will not carry out my above suggestion for the definition without anyone else agreeing, but I will edit the page to say Arabic rather than English. 20:12, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

How can it be Arabic? Arabic words aren't written in English letters. Equinox 20:19, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
The Arabic word is at الله. The word Allah is an English word that derives from the Arabic الله (allāh). —Stephen 23:35, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Incidentally, while this entry had briefly been changed to Arabic, I saw (in the "previous/next word" thing) quite a lot of English-via-Arabic terms spelled out in English letters. They may require attention. Equinox 23:39, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

The correct term is "transcribed", not "derived". It is the same word, the alphabet is merely different. This is not derivation or even translation. Still, the Arabic/English problem was a minor point; I'm much more interested in my main point about the definition.

It is wrongly supposed to be derived from ilah,- a deity or god, with the addition of the definite article Al, Al-ilah, the God.

The famous compiler of Arabic-English Lexicon, E.W. Lane says: ‘ALLAH, according to the most correct of the opinions respecting it, is a proper name, applied to the Being who exists necessarily by Himself, comprising all the attributes of perfection, the AL being inseparable from it’.

Abu Hanifah says that just as the essence of God is unchangeable, so is His name, and that Allah has ever been the name of the Eternal Being. 05:03, 19 September 2009 (UTC)