Who is Allaah?
Some of the biggest misconceptions that many non-Muslims have about Islam have to do with the word "Allah". Somehow, many people have come to believe that Muslims worship a different God than Christians and Jews. This is totally false, since "Allah" is simply the Arabic word for "God" - and there is only One God. Let there be no doubt - Muslims worship the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus - peace be upon them all. However, it is certainly true that Jews, Christians and Muslims all have different concepts of Almighty God. For example, Muslims - like Jews - reject the Christian beliefs of the Trinity and the Divine Incarnation. This, however, doesn't mean that each of these three religions worships a different God - because, as we have already said, there is only One True God. Islam teaches, however, that other religions have, in one way or another, distorted and nullified a pure and proper belief in Almighty God by neglecting His true teachings and mixing them with man-made ideas.
It is important to note that "Allah" is the same word that Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews use for God. If you pick up an Arabic Bible, you will see the word "Allah" being used where "God" is used in English. "Allah" is the only word in the Arabic language equivalent to the English word "God" with a capital "G". It should be noted, however, that in Arabic, "Allah" is a somewhat unique word grammatically, since it cannot be made plural or given gender (i.e. masculine or feminine), which goes hand-in-hand with the Islamic concept of God. The root word "god" in English, for instance, can be used in similiar forms, such as "gods", "God" or "goddess", all with different connotations and meanings. Because of this, and also because the Qur'an, which is the holy scripture of Muslims, was revealed in the Arabic language, some Muslims use the word "Allah" for "God", even when they are speaking other languages. In English, the only difference between "god", meaning a false god, and "God", meaning the One True God, is the capital "G". In Arabic alphabet, since it does not have capital letters, the word for God (i.e. Allah) is formed by adding the equivalent to the English word "the" (Al-) to the Arabic word for "god/God" (ilah). So the Arabic word "Allah" literally it means "The God" - the "Al-" in Arabic basically serving the same function as the capital "G" in English. Due to the above mentioned facts, a more accurate translation of the word "Allah" into English might be "The One -and-Only God" or "The One True God".
This brings us to a more important point: It should be clearly understood that what Islam is primarily concerned with is correcting mankind's concept of Almighty God. What we are ultimately going to be held accountable at the end of our life is not whether we prefer the word "Allah" over the word "God", but what our concept of God is. Language is only a side issue. A person can have an incorrect concept of God while using the word "Allah", and likewise a person can have a correct concept of God while using the word "God". This is because both of these words are equally capable of being misused and being improperly defined. As we've already mentioned, using the word "Allah" no more insinuates belief in the Unity of God than the use of the word "God" insinuates belief in the Trinity - or any other theological opinion. Naturally, when God sends a revelation to mankind through a prophet, He is going to send it in a language that the people who receive it can understand and relate to.
Almighty God makes this clear in the Qur'an, when He states:
"Never did We send a Messenger except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people in order to make (things) clear to them". -
From the Holy Qur'an, Chapter 14 - "Abraham", Verse 4
As Muslims, we think that it is unfortunate that we have to go into details on such seemingly minor issues, but so many falsehoods have been heaped upon our religion, that we feel that it is our duty to try to break down the barriers of falsehood. This isn't always easy, since there is a lot of anti-Islamic literature in existence which tries to make Islam look like something strange and foreign to Westerners. There are some people out there, who are obviously not on the side of truth, that want to get people to believe that "Allah" is just some Arabian "god", and that Islam is completely "other" - meaning that it has no common roots with the other Abrahamic religions (i.e. Christianity and Judaism). To say that Muslims worship a different "God" because they say "Allah" is just as illogical as saying that French people worship another God because they use the word "Dieu", that Spanish-speaking people worship a different God because they say "Dios" or that the Hebrews worshipped a different God because they sometimes call Him "Yahweh". Certainly, reasoning like this is quite ridiculous! It should also be mentioned, that claiming that any one language uses the only the correct word for God is tantamount to denying the universality of God's message to mankind, which was to all nations, tribes and people through various prophets who spoke different languages.
It is interesting to note that the Aramaic word "El", which is the word for God in the language that Jesus spoke, is certainly more similar in sound to the word "Allah" than the English word "God"! Also, the various Hebrew words for God are "El" and "Elah", and its plural form is "Elohim". It should also be noted that in translating the Bible into English, the Hebrew word "El" is translated variously as "God", "god" and "angel"! This imprecise language allows different translators, based on their preconceived notions, to translate the word to fit their own views.
Even more interesting is the fact that some Christian missionary organisations print English literature intended to teach Christians about Islam in which say such things as: "Allah is the god of the Muslims" and that "Muhammad came to get people to believe in the god Allah" - implying that "Allah" is some sort of false "god". However, in their literature that they make in Arabic, hoping to lead Arabic speaking people "to Christ", they use the word "Allah" for God. It seems that if they were on the side of truth, they would not have to resort to such inconsistencies.
There are also missionary organisations that exceed this in ignorance by writing pamphlets that call on Muslims to give up their belief in "Allah", and instead worship the "Lord" Jesus, "the Son of God". Besides making it abundantly clear that they are outside the community of Pure Monotheism, the people who write such material don't even realise that if they wrote such a pamphlet in Arabic, it would be self-contradictory. This is because in an Arabic Bible Jesus is the "Son of Allah"! If an Arabic-speaking person gave up the worship of "Allah", they would have no God to worship, since "Allah" is simply the Arabic word for God!
Before we conclude, however, we would like to ask our readers to ask themselves what they think the reasons are behind all of these lies? If Islam was just some false religion that didn't make any sense, would so many people, from Western scholars to Christian missionaries, have to tell so many lies about it? The reason is that the Ultimate Truth of Islam stands on solid ground and its unshakeable belief in the Unity of God is above reproach. Due to this, Christians can't criticise its doctrines directly, but instead make up things about Islam that aren't true so that people lose the desire to learn more. If Muslims were able to present Islam in the proper way to people in the West, it surely might make many people reconsider and re-evaluate their own beliefs. It is quite likely that Christians, when they find out that there is a universal religion in the world that teaches people to worship and love God, while also practising Pure Monotheism, would at least feel that they should re-examine the basis for their own beliefs and doctrines.
* pbuh - Peace be upon him; It is a Muslim practise to convey prayers of peace whenever the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and other prophets is taken.