Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


]] Allah الله (pronounced: al-law), is traditionally used by Muslims as the Arabic name for God (from the Arabic root al-ilah meaning 'The God'). The word Allah is not specific to Islam; Arab Christians and Jews, and the catholic Maltese, also use it to refer to the monotheist deity; for example in Arabic translations of the Bible.

The emphasis in Islamic culture on reciting the Qur'an in Arabic has resulted in Allah being used by Muslims world-wide, regardless of their native language (unlike the word "God", which is only used in the English-speaking world, and various Jewish divine appellations such as Adonai which are only used by Hebrew speakers). Out of 114 Suras in Quran, 113 begin with "Bism' Allah Al-rahman Al-rahim" (بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم) which means "In the name of Allah, the most kind, the most merciful". Also the cognate Aramaic term appears in the Aramaic version of the New Testament, called the Pshitta (or Peshitta) as one of the words Jesus used to refer to God, e.g., in the sixth Beatitude, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see Alaha." And in the Arabic Bible the same words (Mt 5,8): "طُوبَى لأَنْقِيَاءِ الْقَلْبِ، فَإِنَّهُمْ سَيَرَوْنَ الله" The Qur'an also uses the related name Allahumma, which may be an Arabic rendering of Elohim, a word for 'God' or 'deity' used in the Hebrew Bible.

It should be noted that many linguists believe that the term Allah is derived from a contraction of the Arabic words al (the) + ilah (male deity). As evidence for this view, one of the main pagan goddesses of pre-Islamic Arabia, Allat (al + ilah + at, or 'the female deity'), is cited as being the feminine linguistic counterpart to the grammatically masculine Allah. If so, the word Allah is an abbreviated title, meaning 'the deity', rather than a name. For this reason, non-Muslim scholars often translate Allah directly into English as 'God'; this is a significant difference between Muslim and non-Muslim translation of the Qur'an. Although many Muslims traditionally believe that the term Allah has neither any grammatical plural nor feminine, this argument is based upon the assumption that the al + ilah etymology mentioned above is incorrect. This also explains why Arab Jews and Christians freely refer to God as Allah; if it is indeed a title rather than a name, it cannot conflict with the use of Yahweh or Jesus, which Judaism and Christianity do regard as names of God.

From the point of view of traditional Islamic theology, Allah is the most precious name of God because it is not a descriptive name like other Ninety-nine names of Allah, but the name of God's own presence. The Islamic concept of mankind's place in the universe hinges on the notion that Allah, or God, is the only true reality. There is nothing permanent other than Him. Allah is considered eternal and "uncreated", whereas everything else in the universe is "created." The Quran describes Him in Sura 112: "Say: He is Allah, Singular. Allah, the Absolute. He begetteth not nor was begotten. And to Him have never been one equal." (see Tawhid for more).

Muslims, when referring to the name, often add the words "Subhanahu wa Ta'ala" after it, meaning "Glorified and Exalted is He" as a sign of reverence. The entire religion of Islam is based on the idea of getting closer to Allah. Although commonly referred to as a "He", Allah is considered genderless, but there is no neuter gender to express this in the Arabic language. When Greek or other polytheistic deities are discussed in Arabic, it is customary to use the expression ilaah, a "deity" or lower-case "god".

Allah is considered by Muslims to be omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. He is said to be "in Heaven" (Quran 67:16) and "in the heavens and the earth" (6:3), but also said to be "nearer to him [man] than his jugular vein" (Quran 50:16); He constantly watches all that goes on in the world, and knows all things.

Although the name "Allah" is most commonly associated with Islam, it was also used in pre-Islamic times. It was used by Arab Christians in the pre-Islamic Umm al-Jimal inscription (6th century). The father of Muhammad, Islam's prophet, had the name "Abdullah", which translates "servant of Allah." The pre-Islamic pagan Arabs claimed that the chief god at Mecca, Hubal, had three daughters, a belief condemned in Quran 53:19. Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians refer to God as Allah, and the Hebrew word for deity, El (אל) or Eloh (אלוה), was used as an Old Testament synonym for Yahweh (יהוה). The Aramaic word for God is alh- (Syriac dialect), which comes from the same Proto-Semitic word (*'ilh-) as the Arabic and Hebrew terms; Jesus Christ is described in Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46 as having used this word on the cross (in the forms el-i and l-i respectively).

Muslims believe that the name of Allah has existed since the time of Adam, since they believe their deity to be the same one worshipped by Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and other prophets of Islam. According to Islam, Allah is the God of Abraham, and thus the Muslims claim to be followers of the same God of Judaism and Christianity.

Muslims do not try to draw or depict Allah in any way, according to Islamic belief it could lead to idol worship. Instead, they focus on His 99 "Attributes that are stated in the Qur'an, the holy book of the Muslims. Nearly one third of the book is used describing Allah's attributes and actions. Also, "hadith qudsi" are special recorded sayings of Muhammad to Muslims where he quotes what Allah says to him. The ninety-nine "Attributes" are frequently written in calligraphic Arabic as a permissible decoration, which adorns mosques and homes of Muslims.

There are many phrases with Allah's name in it: