Who is Allah?

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Summary

The word Allah is simply the Arabic word for the One True God, a unique term to refer to the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. Allah is the God of all mankind, the God who was worshipped by Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all). It is a unique word which cannot be used linguistically to refer to anyone or anything other than Almighty God. It is a word used by Arabic speaking Muslims, Jews, and Christians. It is the name most frequently mentioned in Islamic scripture, and it is said that it is the greatest name of God. Allah says in the Qur’an:

“Indeed, your Lord is Allah who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then He rose above [His] throne, arranging matters [of His creation]. There is no intercessor [with Him] except after His permission. That is Allah, your Lord, so worship Him. Then, will you not receive admonition?” [The Qur’an: Yunus 10:3]

Full Answer

The word Allah is simply the Arabic word for the One True God, a unique term to refer to the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. It stems from the combination of two words: al – meaning ‘the’ – and ilaah meaning ‘God’, which together form the word Allah, the [only true] God.

A common misunderstanding is that the word Allah is unique to Muslims. In fact, Arab Christians and Jews both refer to God as Allah. Similarly, in Aramaic, a sister language of Arabic that was spoken by Jesus (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the word for God is Alaha.

In Islam, we are told that God has many names, including ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful; ar-Raheem, the Bestower of Mercy; al-Malik, the King; and as-Salaam, the Bestower of Safety and Security. However, the name which is most frequently mentioned in the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the name Allah. As we find mentioned in the Qur’an:

“Indeed, your Lord is Allah who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then He rose above [His] throne, arranging matters [of His creation]. There is no intercessor [with Him] except after His permission. That is Allah, your Lord, so worship Him. Then, will you not receive admonition?” [The Qur’an: Yunus 10:3]

Furthermore, it is said that Allah is the greatest of God’s names. A man was heard supplicating to Allah in his prayer. The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “You have asked Allah by His greatest name; the name when He is asked by it, He gives, and when He is supplicated to using it, He responds.” One of the most prominent opinions of the scholars with regard to this name is that the greatest name is Allah, since the name Allah encompasses all of the other names of Allah within its meaning, both those names that relate to the nature of God and those names that relate to His actions.

As for the name Allah, it is absolutely unique to Almighty God, and is not used to refer to anyone or anything else. It has no gender specific variations (the use of ‘He’ to refer to Allah in the Qur’an is a feature of the Arabic language, intended to convey His greatness, and not to convey a gender), nor does it have a plural, as opposed to the word ‘god’ which has a plural form, ‘gods’, and a feminine form ‘goddess’, and is used by many people to refer to many different things. In this regard, the word Allah is unique in referring to Almighty God, alone. It is also the case that the word Allah has never been taken as a name by any of God’s creation, as opposed to some of the other names that we find mentioned in Islamic scripture. For example, Pharaoh claimed to be god, as is mentioned in the Qur’an:

“And Pharaoh said, “O eminent ones, I have not known you to have a god other than me.” [The Qur’an: al-Qasas 28:38]

In another example, the disbelievers of Makkah at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) refuse to recognise the name ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful, instead referring to a false prophet who had taken the name for himself:

“And when it is said to them, “Prostrate to the Most Merciful,” they say, “And what is the Most Merciful? Should we prostrate to that which you order us?” And it increases them in aversion.” [The Qur’an: al-Furqan 25:60]

As is reported during the events of the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, when the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) commanded his scribe to write, “In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy,” the polytheists replied, “We only know the Merciful of al-Yamamah,” referring to that false prophet who had taken God’s name.

Subsequently, many Muslims prefer to use the word Allah, rather than the word God, because of its clarity and unique nature. Furthermore, the actual word ‘God’ in its English form is not one of the names of Allah which are mentioned in the Qur’an (the nearest equivalent name is the Arabic al-Ilaah), and so many Muslims prefer to talk about God using one of the names which He affirms for Himself in the Qur’an.

Also of some confusion to people is the use of the plural in the Qur’an to refer to Allah. This is a feature of eloquence in the Arabic language, referring to the glory of God and His greatness, similar to the majestic plural in the English language. As Allah says in the Qur’an:

“And your god is one God. There is no deity [worthy of worship] except Him, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.” [The Qur’an: al-Baqarah 2:163]

In summary, the word Allah is simply the Arabic word for the One True God, a unique term to refer to the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. Allah is the God of all mankind, the God who was worshipped by Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all). It is a unique word which cannot be used linguistically to refer to anyone or anything else. It is a word used by Arabic speaking Muslims, Jews, and Christians. It is said that it is the greatest name of God, as well as being the name most frequently mentioned in Islamic scripture.

bq. Who is Allah? What Do Muslims Believe About God? Do Muslims worship God?

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