Christian Churches of God

No. 54

 

 

 

The Name of God in Islam

(Edition 2.0 20020126-20110503)

Since September 11 2001 there has been an extraordinary amount of misinformation and childish vilification occurring as a result of the approach to history and debate in the United States of America, particularly among its religious systems. The derivation of the name of God is one such example.

 

 

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(Copyright ã 2002, 2011 Wade Cox)

 

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The Name of God in Islam

 


Ignorance: The beginning of hatred

Often one is simply stunned by the appalling ignorance of the religious systems of this world. In the discussion of late there has been an extraordinary amount of vilification of the Islamic system based on, or as a result of, the terrorist attacks coming from the Afghan systems under the Taliban and the Bin Laden network and the Allied counter reactions. Many papers are being circulated that are so obviously false, yet presented in such an assertive way, that a scholar of Comparative Religion would laugh at the assertions. However, a number of people, who are less informed, are being taken in by these religious bigots.

 

One such fairy tale of the bigots concerns the name of God or Allah in Islam.

 

We will now look at some of the assertions regarding these matters. Perhaps we might get some sense and reason based on fact into the argument.

 

The Origin of the name Allah

One assertion concerning the name of Allah is doing the rounds as follows.

 

"If this were an authentic history, the textbook would explain that the god of Muhammad was man's creation. Arabia was a pagan nation that worshiped over 300 gods. One of those was the moon god named, al-ilah. Legend has it that the moon god mated with the sun god and had two daughters, both of whom were worshiped as goddesses. When Muhammad claimed to have had his `vision' and `revelation from Gabriel' he chose al-ilah as the god to build his army around. Muhammad shortened the name, al-ilah, to, Allah, and declared that he alone should be worshiped. He forbade the worship of the daughters. To this day, a crescent moon can be found at the front of every mosque, acknowledging that Allah was, and is the moon god. All of this is missing from the Houghton-Mifflin accounts."

 

Now on the face of it this argument might appear plausible to the uninformed and indeed it is circulated by some as a genuine view.

 

Note the writer is attacking the Houghton- Mifflin accounts because they do not contain what is presented as verifiable truth. It seeks to assert some failure of the compilers to identify this valuable piece of information. It is not surprising that the accounts do not contain such references, as the assertions are completely false, as we will see.

 

The Names of the Moon God and Sun Consort

The Name of the Moon God anciently was Sin among the Israelites. The Arabs gave this male deity the name Qamar and the consort was named Shams. The details can be seen in the paper The Golden Calf (No. 222).

 

The Sun God was a female consort. The names we find among the Celts are derived from these names. For example James is a derivation of the Shamus type and comes from this system. So also are Milcom and Chemosh gods of the pagan descendants of Lot. The god Milcom is related in the name Malcolm.

 

The name Al ilat being circulated as we see above is a corruption of one of the three female deities. The name Al ilat is the older form of the sun Goddess referred to in Herodotus i. 131; iii. 8. This became Al lat or Allat and means simply the goddess. She was worshipped among the Arabs of the Sinaitic peninsular and particularly the Nabateans and Palmyrenes. Herodotus asserts in the second passage that ‘alilat and ‘orotalt are the sole deities of Arabia. Nöldeke (ERE 1, p. 661) draws attention to the name as the older form of Allat and makes comparison with the name Al’ilãh, which was the older form of Allãh. In both passages Herodotus identifies her with Ούρανίη and thus a great celestial goddess.

 

The definitive proof that al ilat as the goddess is not associated with Allah is the statement by Muhammed himself in the Koran at Surah liii:19, where he identifies al ilat as one of the three heavenly deities, Al Lat, Al Uzza and Manat as the third. He denounces their adherence and places Allah as one true God. In this Surah he goes on to denounce the adoration of Sirius also in these contexts when he proclaims Allah as Lord of Sirius (Surah liii:50) in condemnation of the belief that Sirius itself had divine power.

 

Al Lat is also referred to in the inscription at Safã as ‘LT and perhaps HLT. She is understood as the Mother of the Gods. The name is seemingly pronounced as Hallat. She was venerated among the later Arabs. 

 

The Sun god held in special honour by the Nabateans and identified by Strabo (784) was also understood to be Al Lat (ERE, ibid.).

 

The cult was at Ta’if to the east of Mecca and the tribe of the Thaqif spoke of her as their mistress.

 

The most important cult of later times also was the cult of Al Uzza, which was the worship of Venus. The name meant simply “the Mighty.”

 

Manat was perhaps associated with the deity of Meni (Isa. 65:11). Manat was venerated by the tribe of the Hudhail close to Mecca and especially among the inhabitants of Yathrib (Medina). The incidence of her name is evidence that the cult was found over a great part of Arabia.

 

For this reason the Prophet Qasim (termed Muhammad) had to attack the worship of these deities. In the explanation of the problem he located the worship of the deities to the time of Noah and thus associated them with the system at Babel as seen from Genesis. The deities so located were:

Yaghuth (helper) (Surah lxxi. 23)

(Robertson Smith identifies this deity with Ye’ush the ancestor of the Edomites mentioned in Genesis 36 and elsewhere in the OT). It is only later that we hear of this god’s idol being in contention among the tribes of the Yemen.

Ya’uq and

Suwa (prob. the preserver) the cult was confined to Yemen (Sur lxxi. 20).

 

Hubal and Dhu Shara

There are two deities that are also relevant to this argument: Hubal and Dhu Shara.

 

Dhu Shara or more correctly Dhu ‘sh-Shara, which means “pertaining to ash-Shara” has an obvious connection to the term Asherah of the Bible. It is a deity that was worshipped by the Nabateans in their capital of Petra. He was represented by a four-cornered block of unhewn black stone four feet in height and two feet in width. The blood of sacrificial victims was poured upon it and before it. Underneath it stood a golden pedestal and the whole sanctuary blazed with gold and votive offerings (ERE, vol. 1, p. 663). The Greek records show this deity as Dusares. Epiphaneus says the festival of Dusares was celebrated at Petra on the 25th December which was the winter solstice. The ERE acknowledges it as a connection with sun worship (ibid.) (cf. the paper The Origins of Christmas and Easter (No. 235)).

 

In the centre of the home of the cult As sherah (hence The Groves) he was identified with Dionysus. The connection of the cult with luxuriant vegetation is also that of sun worship in the cycles. This god became represented by an idol among the tribe of Daus not far from Mecca.

 

The black stone of Dusares or Dionysus the god of the Nabateans at Petra was taken to the Ka’aba and became the cult focus there that even Muhammed would fail to remove. It subsequently became adopted by Hadithic Islam and the worship of a pagan god has become the centre of the Meccan pilgrimage.

 

The second God to come from the North was that of Hubal. ‘Amr b. Luhai is understood to have brought his idol to Mecca from Moab (Ma’ab) and placed it in the Ka’aba. It was originally of human form. It had with it divining arrows for divination.

 

The Kalb tribe of the Syrian Desert used the name of Hubal for a person or clan and they also used Isaf and Na’ila, which were two other deities peculiar to Mecca.

 

‘Amr b. Luhai is held to be the representative of the Huza’a which was the tribe to occupy Mecca before the Quraish (ERE, ibid., p. 664).

 

We might thus deduce that the Huza’a introduced the pagan cults to Mecca although

Nöldeke considers it improbable that ‘Amr B. Luhai should be credited with this move but does not specify the reason, leaving us to infer that it preceded him.

 

The word El was used by earlier Arabs as a single name for the deity as simply God in the same way it is used in the Bible. The word became iyal as a plural form of majesty.

 

In the same way the word for Lord, Baal, as The Lord became a name of the deity and appears commonly in the Semitic system. The verb ba’ila (to be bewildered) means in effect to seize for the God Ba’al (probably also our bail).

 

In the Saifa inscriptions the word Hallah meaning The God enters the composition of the various personal names of the Nabateans and many various Northern Arabs at a very early time. Forms such as Zaid Allahi or increase of God, etc., are found from an early time and the word was in use among even the pre-Islamic and heathen Arabs. Allah became a common use among the various idiomatic phrases in common use among the heathen Arabs. The Koran itself is the evidence for the view that the pre-Islamic and heathen Arabs themselves regarded Allah as the Supreme Being. They turn to Allah when in distress (Surahs x. 23; xxix. 65; xxxi. 31). Solemn oaths are sworn in his name (S. vi. 109; xvi. 40; xxxv. 40). He is recognized by mankind as the Creator, and Giver of rain (xxxi. 61ff.). Their crime is that they worship other gods beside Him; namely the three goddesses Al Lat, Al Uzza and Manat who are believed to be His daughters (xvi. 59ff.).

 

Wellhausan cites a large number of passages in which pre-Islamic Arabs mention Allah as a great deity. There are so many that even if we strike some out as suspicious there are so many as to establish beyond doubt that the term Allah is a pre-Muhammedan term.

 

The term is the common name for God among all Arabs, heathen and otherwise. Yet despite the evidence Wellhausen then goes on to try and establish a link that says the name Allah is derived from the worship of the Moabite Hubal. This seems to be a religious bias with no basis in historical fact that one can readily see. In fact the evidence is quite the contrary.

It is from Wellhausen that the false argument is derived (ERE, ibid.).

 

The confusion in the names comes from the danger of a little knowledge of some based on an error by Wellhausen.

 

Because we repeatedly find the name of a deity followed by the title Alaha, or the god, Wellhausen argued that the Arabs of a later age might have applied the epithet Allah as the God to a number of different deities and that, in this manner, from being a mere appendage to the name of a great god, may gradually have become the name of the Supreme God.

 

This argument is appalling reasoning ignoring the text of the Bible and the ancient linguistic forms concerning the names of God in the Hebrew, Chaldean, Aramaic and Arabic languages.

 

The Origin of the name Allah

When the Ka’abah was cleaned out in Mecca there were some 167 idols there. The pagan pantheon among the Arabs was extensive, albeit confined in the main to the three deities, and Sirius. Much of this pagan worship entered Islam as we will see but it did not involve the Name of God.

 

Muhammed came from a family that was in large part Unitarian Christian and it was in this manner that he was exposed to the Bible structure.

 

He set about destroying three aspects to the worship of the one true God. Firstly he set about eliminating pagan worship from the Arab tribes. He was then faced with the task of exposing and destroying the Trinitarian system, which had imposed itself on the East from Constantinople as a tool of the Roman system. He also had the task of liberating the Arabs from the Jewish aristocracy and kingships that controlled the Middle East at that time. Much of this influence extended into Khazaria and would see the conversion of the Khazar Ashkenazi to Judaism in the next century in 740 CE.

 

Muhammed began to teach in 610 CE and by 632 Islam was established after the Hejira or the flight from Mecca to Medina.

 

It is true that the mosques in Islam have crescents associated with them but so do many Trinitarian Churches in Christianity. However, the names have nothing to do with the name of Allah. Much of the mosque structure is also associated with the breasts of the goddess in its roof form and is directly pagan, but this has little to do with the Prophet and with true Islam.

 

As we see Al’ilãh was the older form of Allãh. This is not associated with the Moon God at all and not with the celestial goddess Al ilat or Al Lat either in any way.

 

The Hebrew and Arabic languages are related in this way. The Hebrew was the originator of the western Aramaic form, which was spoken after the Babylonian captivity in place of Hebrew. The Chaldean Semitic language became eastern Aramaic and from which the modern Arabic springs.

 

The names for God in Hebrew were:

Eloah (singular form); and

Elohim (plural form).

 

El was a short form and could mean mighty as applied to a person.

 

The names for God in Chaldean were:

Elahh (singular form) (= Heb. Eloah)

Elahhin (plural form) (= Heb. Elohim)

 

El had the same meaning. Both the Hebrew and the Chaldean appear in the Bible texts using these forms. The book of Ezra shows that the name Eloah is the title of the God of the Temple at Jerusalem. This name is singular and admits of no plurality. It refers to the one True God alone.

 

In the eastern Aramaic the singular Elahh became Allah’ in the Arabic in this way. Elahh was referred to as Al Elahh or The God in the singular as it appears in the Bible text and the Chaldean. It then became Al’ilãh in the Arabic from the eastern Aramaic, the two hh sound being expressed as an aspirant with the final letter h of Allah. Thus the ancient Arabic form was Al’ilãh altering the double h sound. Islam under Muhammed carried on the name Allah because it was singular and it admits of no plurality.

 

There is no doubt that the name Eloah of the Bible and Allah of the Arabic come to us from the Semitic language via Ancient Hebrew and Ancient Chaldean respectively and mean the same thing.

 

The name Yahovah is a title applied to Eloah as the third person form of the verb meaning He Causes to Be. This view is confirmed by the footnote to the text in Exodus 3:14 in the Annotated Oxford RSV. The name expressed in the text in Exodus 3:14 means I am what I will become (‘eyeh ‘asher ‘eyeh cf. Bullinger fn. to Companion Bible also). It designates an act of creation in expansion of Himself by the One True God in accordance with His will and plan. In this sense all men will become sons of God.

 

It is thus a name applied to the spokesman of the One True God who is referred to as Yahovih (SHD 3069) or Yahovah of Hosts. Yahovah (SHD 3068) is used to refer to subordinate deities and sometimes multiple deities at the same time. In other words they all act for the one True God Eloah as the elohim. Thus all men will become spiritual gods or elohim as sons of God (see the paper The Elect as Elohim (No. 1)).

 

The name Yahovah is applied to at least four beings, three of whom are angels or messengers for the God in Heaven at the same time as we see from the instance with Abraham and Lot, and the destruction at Sodom and Gomorrah. These aspects have been all examined at the papers: The Angel of YHVH (No. 24); The Names of God (No. 116); The Pre-Existence of Jesus Christ (No. 243); and Abraham and Sodom (No. 91).

 

It is from this ignorance of the origins of names in language and a desire to slander and malign by self-righteous bigots in Christianity that we see error and slander arise. The ignorance of Islam based on the traditions of men further increases the hostility.

 

Why would people attack the name Allah? What is the significance of the term?

 

The real problem stems from the false theology that entered Christianity and finds expression today in the Churches of God.

 

The Trinitarian system developed from a Binitarian structure that found itself adopted at Nicaea in 325 CE. The Trinity was developed by the Cappadocians, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil. The theology was adopted in 381 CE and crippled Christianity theologically. Augustine of Hippo then set the erroneous theology in concrete in his writings.

 

The Churches of God have even less excuse for the error. They developed, under Herbert Armstrong in the twentieth century, a ditheism that commenced a false theology around two co-eternal Gods. These erroneous teachers are faced with the Bible terminology of Eloah being the name for God in the singular and which can only be used of the One True God who sent Jesus Christ (John 17:3). They then have to attack the use of Eloah as One True God. They do this by coupling the terms Eloah and Allah, which is a correct link, but assert it relates to the worship of a moon God in Islam because of the pagan intrusions into the mosques under a mystical system. It is true that Islam, like Christianity before it, is hopelessly paganised but that has nothing to do with the use of Allah in the Koran or Qu’ran.

 

Some churches such as the Church of God (Seventh Day) when penetrated by Trinitarians in the USA opted for Binitarianism as the easy way out and no doubt will end up in Trinitarianism. The Seventh Day Baptists are Unitarian as they have always been in their International Conference but became Trinitarian in the US Conference from the mid seventies. Theologically they are very weak. The Churches of God and the Seventh Day Baptists were originally Unitarian in every denomination including the Seventh Day Adventists. Armstrong was credentialed a minister of the Church of God (Seventh Day) when it was Unitarian. The Seventh Day Adventists became Trinitarian at the end of the 1970s.

 

These same people are now faced with the fact that they have invented a false doctrine and permeate the Churches of God with error.

 

It was for this reason in the early centuries following the false Trinitarian theology in Christianity that Islam insists on referring to the One True God as Allah,’ rather than the plural ellahhin, because the name admits of no plurality whatsoever.

 

Rather than admit that they are in error, the Binitarian, Ditheist and Trinitarian teachers of the various Churches of God invent arguments based on falsehood and slander those who disagree. This practice is contrary to the Bible and now to the Laws of the United States as well as other nations.

 

The various errors in theology will be examined in the work FAQs on Islam (No. 55).

 

The idea that Allah is not the God of the Bible, whose name is actually Yahweh so it is claimed, is an idea that has emerged from Sacred Names theology in the USA and is false. It fails to understand the names of God in the Bible and the place of the Eloah-Elohim distinction there.

 

In one diatribe we find comments such as:

To the "people of the Scriptures" or "book," Muslims are told to say, "We have faith in that which has been revealed to us and in that which has been revealed unto you. Our God and your God are one, and unto him we are resigned," Koran 29:46.

Do Muslims believe in both the Koran (Quran) and the Bible?  We shall see.

 

Now this argument is a sound approach. It shows a need to examine the Koran and see what the differences are between the two religions.

 

The Koran does indeed require a true Muslim to follow both the Koran and the Bible. This position has great strength and could prove to be the point on which the religions are reconciled. An example of the fiction permeating the Churches of God currently follows:

 

What is the nature of the god - Allah - of the Muslims?  Is he the same as the Yahweh of Scripture?

As reported in the January/February 2000 issue of Battle Cry, a comparison of Allah and Yahweh, based on their portrayal in the Koran and the Bible respectively, is a study of opposites.

Unknowable: Allah is so transcendent, so exalted, that no man can ever personally know Allah.  Yahweh, on the other hand, sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world so we could know God personally, John 17:3 (R. Nickels, Islam and You, Study No. 185).

 

The Bible is clear that no one has seen God ever. He chose to reveal Himself through His servants the prophets and He sent Jesus Christ. The writer appears to be totally unaware of the term Eloah as it applies in the Bible. Also he appears unaware that the term Yahovah or Yahweh as he claims is used of Angels in the OT, one of whom, the spiritual Rock that was with Israel in the Wilderness (1Cor. 10:4) was Jesus Christ.

 

Ezra shows, in the great restoration, that The House of God at Jerusalem is the House of Eloah (Ezra 4:24) and not the house of “Yahweh.” Ezra identifies Eloah as the Eloah of Israel (Ezra 5:1). The prophets were the prophets of Eloah (Ezra 5:2). He is Eloah of the Jews (Ezra 5:5). He is the great Eloah for whom the House was built (Ezra 5:8). He is the Eloah of Heaven and Earth (Ezra 5:11). It was this Eloah that the fathers had provoked with wrath and He sent them into captivity (Ezra 5:12). Cyrus decreed that the house of Eloah be built, and the vessels of gold and silver were the vessels of Eloah, which were sent to be placed in it (Ezra 5:13-17, 6:5).

 

The House of Eloah was protected and ordered to be built by the rulers of the empire because Eloah had chosen Cyrus to begin this process. Darius II completed it and Artaxerxes II ordered its furbishment. Ezra and Nehemiah restored the Temple system and Ezra died in 323 BCE. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that it was the Temple of Eloah the God of Heaven and Earth. Not once is the name Yahweh mentioned in this regard. Indeed the name Yahweh is a mispronunciation of the name in any event.

 

From the above we have seen that the names Eloah and Allah’ are derived from the two variants of the same language structure. Eloah and Elahh are the same deity from whence comes the name Allah’. Given this major truth we might be able to then go into common ground and build some mutual understanding.

 

Allah’ is the Arabic form of the One True God Eloah who is extending Himself to become elohim through the people He has called into His system.

 

The Koran holds that Christians are nearest to them. They do not and never will accept the traditions that determined a Trinitarian and Binitarian structure. They certainly do not believe in a capricious God and this sort of dialogue serves no purpose other than to indulge bigotry and encourage hostility.