Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. - Irenaeus

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Allah's 99 names?

As with the Hebrew Bible the Qur’an calls God by many descriptive names; "The Mighty", "The First", "The Last", "the Merciful One", Etc. The Qur’an cites ninety-nine names of Allah which are descriptive of his character and holiness etc. Some of these titles are listed in Surah 59:23&24. They are often recited while fingering the ninety-nine worry-beads of the Muslim rosary.

A tract entitled Concept of God in Islam published by the Muslim proselytizing group WAMY makes the claim that Allah is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and a sister language of Arabic. This is simply not true. An Aramaic dictionary will show that there were many names used for God in the Jewish Tenach. El, Elohim, Eloah were general terms for the Deity, even used for false gods. We see it linked with other Jewish words such as Israel, Michael, Daniel etc. Yahweh (Jehovah in Latin) is the common pronunciation of the tetragammaton (YHWH) or "I AM". Adonai (Lord) became the most common word used in reference to the God of Israel because of fear of taking the name YHWH in vain. Allah is nowhere to be found. Muslims speak much of the 99 names of God, however El is never mentioned. Even when words like Jibrail (Gabrael) and Israel appear in the Qur’an they conveniently avoid referring to the obvious connection to the God (El) of the Jews. We might wonder why Israel in the Qur'an is not Isra-allah, or Jibrail is not Jibra-allah.

It seems quite clear that the Arabic word Allah was linked to ancient pagan deities of pre-Islam. Modern Muslims however are quick to dismiss such connections. It is claimed by some that Allah is the God Arabic-speaking Christians worship and that Allah is nothing other than a generic word for God such as the French Dieu, or the Spanish Dios. It seems rather odd that a true Christian would even consider Jesus to be the Son of a Pagan deity, yet that is what the modern Arabic Bible implies. In a tract distributed by WAMY it is claimed Allah is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and a sister language of Arabic. This is simply dishonest. The sister language statement is correct but any person with a simple Strongs Concordance can look in its Aramaic dictionary to get the truth about the many words used for the God of the Hebrews. Many English versions of the Qur’an translate the name simply "God." The question then lies in whether God looks beyond the technical data of history and looks at the intent of the human heart. I would suggest that the heart is more important on the surface of the argument but one must take a serious look at the nature of the God that Islam represents.  Notice that Jews in Jerusalem are facing Mecca.  Neither did Jesus.  The thought of Jesus calling God his father is repulsive to a Muslim because they cannot comprehend that kind of relationship with the divine.