By Dr. Iyad Sultan
Muslim Writer and Presenter
In Arabic, Allah means literally the one God. It is pretty easy to understand how different languages give the same thing different names. Is it that unusual to hear Muslims call God another name, like “Allah”, while you call him God or Lord? Some people have no minds; in the last decade, a growing phenomenon was seen on the internet and in published literature. Allah is said to be the “moon god” that Arabs worshiped, and Ka`bah (The Muslims holiest place on Earth) is His temple. The evidence for this theory is the crescent that appears on the top of many mosques all over the world plus a fabricated picture of the “moon god”.
This idea is very dangerous. If you believe that Muslims are worshiping an idol, then there is no basis even to talk to them. They are pagan idolaters like Hindus and Buddhists. It is alleged that although Islam is a monotheistic religion, the Muslims’ only God is simply another idol that Muhammad (peace be upon him) chose (or in some versions of the story, he made it up).
To invalidate this foolish theory, one has to take the story from different angles.
The crescent is not a symbol of Islam, but of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans are those tribes that moved to Turkey from east and middle Asia. They converted to Islam and built a huge Muslim Empire that ruled the whole Muslim world for centuries. When they took Islam as a religion they started using the lunar calendar, the calendar that was used by Muslims, Jews and early Christians. Even today, the flag of Turkey has a crescent on it. There was no crescent on any mosque built before the Ottomans era.
Prophet Abraham built the Ka`bah for people to worship God. While pagan Arabs admitted this fact and even kept the stone where he used to stand to build the Ka`bah (Abraham’s station), they brought idols to the Ka`bah and worshiped them to get closer to Abraham’s Lord, Allah, God of gods. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) came with the monotheistic message of Islam. Arabs defended these idols and refused to give up the religion of their fathers and grandfathers. They offered to Muhammad a deal, that is to worship their gods for one year, and they worship Allah alone for one year. A chapter of the Qur’an came with the response from God to this evil invitation:
Say: O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your Way, and to me mine. (Al-Kafirun 109: 1-6)
Later on, the Qur’an started calling Allah by other names. One of those holy names was Al-Rahman (the Gracious). Arabs wondered:”is this a new God?” The Qur’an responded again:
Say: “Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. (Al-Isra` 17: 110)
It is not a new god; it is a new name for the same God. Allah has ninety nine names in Islam; all of them are holy and speak about different attributes of the same creator, almighty Allah. As an example, read these verses of the Qur’an:
Allah is He, than Whom there is no other god; Who knows (all things) both secret and open; He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Allah is He, than Whom there is no other god; the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace (and Perfection), the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme: Glory to Allah! (High is He) above the partners they attribute to Him.
He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or Colors). To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names: whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare His Praises and Glory; and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. (Al-Hashr 59: 22-24)
When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) came back to Makkah, he entered the city peacefully on the top of an army of 10,000 men, exactly as the Bible described him “pre-eminent above ten thousand.” (Solomon 5:10). He did not burn a single home; he did not harm a single person; he just went to the Ka`bah and destroyed all the gods Arabs had there. He kept nothing in the Ka`bah. Where is this picture of the moon god coming from? I don’t know. Did anyone of the pagan Arabs have a digital camera by then?
There is evidence that the word Allah existed before the birth of Muhammad (peace be upon him) for thousands of years. It is probably the oldest name man used to call God. Most likely, Adam used the word Allah to call the Lord. On the other hand, the word “GOD” was born with the English language, less than ten centuries ago. Can we say that all English speaking nations are pagans because they use the word “God”? What about Chinese monotheists? How should they call God?
Prophet Muhammad’s father’s name was `Abdullah (The slave of Allah). This name was common among Arab pagans and Jews. `Abdullah ibn Salam was one of the first Jews to convert to Islam in Medina. When Arabs call Allah in prayer they say: “Ya Allah” or “Allahoma”. Aren’t these words familiar to you? “Alleluia” and “Elohim” are the words used to call Allah in the Bible. In Hebrew, the suffix im means many. So Elohim literally means many Allah(s). This is a known way to express dignity and respect to almighty Allah by calling Him plural. This phenomenon is known in Hebrew, Arabic, English and other languages. In Qur’an, the same pattern is seen many times. For example, God says in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an:
We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption). (Al-Hijr 15:9)
In the English translation of the Bible, you read, “Let us make man in our image”-(Genesis 1:26-KJV).
The word Allah is used in all Arabic translations of the Bible. It was used in some English translations of the Bible like the original “Scofield Reference Bible”-reference: what is his name? by Deedat. In the New Testament, Jesus is believed to cry before his death “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” Eloi is the exact Arabic word “Elahi” which comes from the same root as Allah.
I have no doubt that the word “Allah” is the oldest known name man called God with. For those who choose to ignore this fact and transgress, Muslims have nothing to offer. Allah says in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an:
If any, after this, invent a lie and attribute it to Allah, they are indeed unjust wrong-doers. (Al `Imran 3:94)
For Muslims, Allah is perfect. He has no partners. We worship Him and Him alone. Our faith is summarized in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an:
Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him. (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)
Taken with slight modifications from Islam101.com.