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11-11-2005 06:11 PM


Allah is not the Arabic word for "God."
According to an excellent online survey the word allah comes from the compound Arabic word al-ilah. Al is the definite article “the” and ilah is an Arabic word for “god.” “By frequency of usage, al-ilah was contracted to allah, frequently attested to in pre-Islamic poetry,” according to the Encyclopedia of Islam III:1093 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1971).
It’s a purely Arabic word and has no counterpart in the Biblical understanding of the Trinitarian God or Yahweh. See Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, I:326, and J. Blau’s “Arabic Lexiographical Miscellanies” in the Journal of Semitic Studies, volume XVII, number 2, 1972, pages 173-190 for further discussion on the matter. Allah is not a Hebrew or Greek word for the God of the Bible, it is a purely Arabic term used in reference to an Arabian deity.
More scholarly findings on the matter:
· “‘Allah’ is a pre-Islamic name...corresponding to the Babylonian Bel.” (Encyclopedia of Religion I:117)
· “The Arabs, before the time of Mohammad, accepted and worshipped, after a fashion, a supreme god called allah.” (Encyclopedia of Islam I:302, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1913)
· “Allah was known to the pre-Islamic Arabs; he was one of the Meccan deities.” (Encyclopedia of Islam I:406, ed. Gibb)
· “The origin of allah goes back to pre-Muslim times. Allah is not a common name meaning “God” or a “god”, and the Muslim must use another word or form if he wishes to indicate any other than his own peculiar deity.” (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics I:326, ed. Hastings)
So who was "Allah?"
Okay, so Muhammad didn’t come up with the name Allah, it was already well-known to Arabs when Muhammad started the Qu’ran around 610 A.D. Of course his claim was that Allah was the Biblical God of the patriarchs, prophets and apostles. In other words, his claim to pagans was that Allah was the greatest of their pantheon of gods and his claim to Christians and Jews was that Allah was just the Arabic name for what they called God. Is that true, or is there some other “Allah” who’s really being worshipped here?
Among Arabs in pre-Islamic times worship of the moon god(dess) was common. According to Dr. Arthur Jeffery, one of the foremost Western Islamic scholars in modern times and professor of Islamic and Middle East Studies at Columbia University, “The name Allah, as the Qu’ran itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Africa.” [Arthur Jeffery, ed., Islam: Muhammad and His Religion (New York: The Liberal Arts Press, 1958), page 85].
The Quraysh tribe into which Muhammad was born in 570 A.D. was particularly devoted to Allah the moon god, and especially to Allah’s three daughters, Al-lat, Al-uzza, and Manat, children of the moon god father allah and the sun goddess mother. These three star goddesses were viewed as intercessors between the people and Allah.

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