“Now among His signs are the night and the day, as well as the sun and the moon: [hence,] adore not the sun or the moon, but prostrate yourselves in adoration before God who has created them – if it is Him whom you [really] worship” (Qur’an 41:37).
After a while, the accusations against the hated religion of Islam simply become humorous. Most of these accusations have been repeated many times over many years, but they don’t get any more believable by the repetition.
The one I’m writing about now says “Muslims worship a moon god”. You grin and say “huh?” 😆 Here’s how the argument goes: the pre-Islamic Arabs were polytheists, but they recognized one of their many gods as supreme in the pantheon. This supreme deity was the moon, and his name was “Allah”. Therefore “Allah” is the moon god of the polytheistic Arabs; so obviously Muslims are worshiping the moon god when they adore “Allah”! Well, surely nothing could be more conclusive. 😯
What is overlooked here, though, is that Arabic Jews and Christians also used (and use) the name “Allah” to refer to God – both before and after the time of Muhammad (peace be to him). In the ‘Old Testament’ translated into Arabic, “Allah” is used consistently to translate “El”, “Eloh”, and “Elohim” whenever they clearly refer to the One God; and in the New Testament, “Allah” is used to translate “Theos” when it refers to the One True God. Oh no! Arabic Jews and Christians also worship the moon god! 😈
The truth of the matter is, of course, that Jews, Christians, and Muslims who speak Arabic would never even consider using the name “Allah” for anything or anyone other than the One True God who is the source and creator of everything and everyone else. They would never refer to a created thing like the sun or moon as “Allah”. It is the polytheists who perverted the wonderful name of the One God by supposing the existence of many “gods”, and labeling one of them as “the greatest” among the many. (Indeed, God is the Greatest – because as Creator He far exceeds in ‘glory’ and might everything He has created. The glory and might of creatures are given as a gift from God, and can be taken away by God also. But no creature ‘shares’ the deity of God and none is equal to God or even comes close to it. There are no others ‘of the same kind’ as God.) It is they who are guilty of defiling the worthy name of God (“Allah”); the Jews, Christians and Muslims are not guilty of ‘stealing’ from the polytheists and in reality worshiping a created thing.
The word “Allah” is a contraction of two words: “al” meaning “the” and “ilah” meaning “god”. When they are combined to form one word, the “i” in “ilah” is dropped, and the word becomes “Allah”. The word “ilah” has both a feminine and a plural form, and means the same as “god” with a small “g” in our English usage. Polytheists would use this word “ilah” to refer to any of their multitude of “gods”; if they were referring to female “deities” they would use the feminine form of “ilah” (“ilaha”). It is this word (“ilah”) which would be used in the Old and New Testaments when the false “gods” of the nations were being mentioned, and in such statements as when the Psalmist wrote (as a statement of God) “I have said, you are gods” (Psalm 82:6). (Naturally the plural form of the word would be used there – “aliha”).
But the combined word “Allah” is always singular, and is never used by a monotheistic Arab to refer to anyone or anything other than the One True God, who created the heavens, the earth, and everything therein.
One of the very interesting things (to me at least) is that the Arabic language is related to the Hebrew and Aramaic languages which the Jews speak (or spoke); and therefore their words are frequently very similar in sound, and their meanings are similar or the same. All three are essentially consonantal languages; they were originally written with consonants only, and the vowel sounds had to be supplied by the reader. The ‘diacritical’ markings (vowel markings) were not added to the written texts until the time of Muhammad (on whom be peace) or later. The consonants in the Arabic “ilah” correspond to the consonants in the Aramaic/Hebrew “eloh”, and the meanings of the words are exactly the same. In fact, the consonantal form of the Hebrew “eloh” could be pronounced “alah”.
So when Jesus is said to have cried out, on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”, he used the possessive form of the word “eloh” for “God” (Matthew renders it as “eli”, which is the possessive of “el” – Matt. 27:46 – while Mark renders it “eloi”, the possessive form of “eloh” – Mark 15:34). Had he been speaking Arabic, he would have used a possessive form of “ilah”, or perhaps the word “Allah” itself. So as a matter of fact, Jesus called on “Allah” – 😯 – “Eloh” just being it’s Aramaic/Hebrew equivalent. And Arabic speaking Christians ever since have referred to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” as “Allah”.
Now it’s true that the concept “traditional” or “orthodox” Christianity has about the nature of the One True God (Allah in Arabic) is different from the concept of Jews and Muslims. “Traditional” or “orthodox” Christians consider God to be a “Trinity”, three “Persons” in one “Godhead”; while Jews and Muslims are strictly Unitarian in their understanding of the nature of the One God. Nevertheless, whether the One God is a Trinity or a Unity, He is still the One and Only God who created all things, and is the “Sustainer” of all things. Another site , to which I am greatly indebted for much of the information in this article, makes this comparison: people used to believe that the earth is flat (and a few people still do, it seems) while today we know that it is essentially round. Two different ideas of the “nature” of the earth, yet it is still the same “earth” which is being referred to. That is, it is the planet on which the human race lives, containing the same elements. We don’t use two different words to refer to our planet, just because there are two different conceptions of its “nature”. [I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I read or understand Arabic. Everything I know about these Arabic words comes from the above linked site and others. When I see Arabic writing, it looks like chicken scratches to me. 🙂 ]
Jews and Muslims will argue with traditional Christians, denying that God is a “Trinity” and that Jesus is the “Second Person” in that “Trinitarian Godhead” – and Unitarian Christians will agree with the Jews and Muslims. Unitarian Christians insist that the concepts of the Deity of Jesus and the Trinity are inventions of men – formalized in “Church Councils” beginning with the Nicene Council in 325 A.D. – and are not to be found either in the New or Old Testament. If you’ve read many of my previous articles, you’ll know that I agree with the Unitarian position (whether that be Unitarian Christian, Jew, or Muslim). Nevertheless, we all believe that there is only One God – even if He is perhaps somehow 3 Persons at the same time as He is only One – and in Arabic, Allah is His name. None of us will even for a second agree with the assertion that “Allah” is a pagan moon god – or any other pagan deity. The pagans wrongly usurped the name which belongs to the Creator of all things, and beside whom there is no other god.
I referred to Sura (chapter) 41:37 of the Qur’an at the beginning of this article to show what Islam thinks of God (“Allah”). He is not the sun or moon, or any created thing; rather He is the One who created the sun and moon, and the Creator alone must be worshiped. The Qur’an is full of such references. Here is another of those verses (Sura 10:5): “He it is who has made the sun a [ source of ] radiant light and the moon a light [reflected], and has determined for it phases so that you might know how to compute the years and to measure [time]. None of this has God created without [an inner] truth. Clearly does He spell out these messages unto people of [innate] knowledge”. Clearly, Allah is not a “moon god”! 😀
One other source which I found very helpful is an article on “Allah in the Jewish Bible”. Of course, over the past few months (since February 2010) I have read many articles containing helpful information related to this subject; but I can’t recall them all, and no longer know how to locate them. The two I have cited here are excellent, though; and I’m sure anyone who wishes to do further research can easily find information with an Internet search.