Allah, al-llahGeneral Information
Allah is the proper name of God in Islam. He is one, unique and incomparable, and his unlimited sovereignty implies absolute freedom. But there is also a firm relationship between him, the Lord of Mercy, and all human beings, based on his being the creator and sustainer and on his providing in nature and history abundant signs of his goodness, reflected specifically in his sending of messengers and prophets. The interrelated emphases on Allah's uniqueness and on the significance of his revelatory act are expressed in the Islamic witness: "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger."
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Macdonald, D. B., "Allah," in Encyclopaedia of Islam (1913-38); Gardet, L., "Allah," in Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed. (1960- ); Ullah, Mohammed Z., The Islamic Concept of God (1984).
Allah is the Muslim name for the Supreme Being. The term is a contraction of the Arabic al-llah, "the God." Both the idea and the word existed in pre-Islamic Arabian tradition, in which some evidence of a primitive monotheism can also be found. Although they recognized other, lesser gods, the pre-Islamic Arabs recognized Allah as the supreme God.
The Qur'an (Koran), the holy book of Islam, asserts that Allah is the creator and the one who rewards and punishes; that he is unique and can only be one; that he is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and all-merciful. The core of the religion is submission to the will of Allah; people must abandon themselves entirely to God's sovereignty.
Although as creator Allah is utterly transcendent and not to be compared to any of his creatures, he is nevertheless a personal god, a fair judge, merciful and benevolent. Each chapter of the Qur'an begins with "Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate," and before fulfilling religious obligations the Muslim recites, "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate."
Islam does not admit of any mediator between Allah and humans; a person approaches Allah directly in personal prayer and in reciting the Qur'an, which is considered literally the speech of Allah. The prophets, who conveyed the word of Allah, are not considered in any way divine.
(Jesus is considered to be such a Prophet.)
Unfortunately, we are not aware of any scholarly texts on this subject which have yet been translated into English. We know that a number of Arabic scholars have written wonderful texts in Arabic, and look for the day when we will be able to add higher quality texts to this presentation.
Many Christians and Jews see Allah as a spurious Being, a concept that is opposite the God of Judaism and Christianity. Christian and Jewish scholars understand differently, that Allah is actually one and the same as God.
A review of the Koran shows Allah creating Adam, and then Eve. Later, Abraham is instructed by Allah to take his son to a hill and to sacrifice him, which Abraham prepares to do. The Koran includes a variance here from the Bible/Torah/Pentateuch in that the son to be sacrificed was not Isaac but Ishmael, his first son, but not a son by Sarah. As in the Bible, Allah stopped Abraham from completing the sacrifice, but in both religions Abraham had proven his total Devotion, establishing himself as the very first true believer in the One Allah.
As such, Abraham, and Ishmael are central to Muslim Faith, and they face Mecca for all Prayers to Allah because they believe that Abraham built a special building there, the Kaaba, on instructions from Allah.
The Koran also includes the entire story of Moses, including the Ten Commandments, his brother Aaron's errors regarding the Golden Calf, Egypt, the desert, and all the rest. Often, when Allah chose to give guidance to individuals, the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) appeared. Dozens of other familiar people and stories from the first five Books of the Bible are similarly presented in the Koran.
Scholars all agree that these many similarities necessarily establish that Allah is one and the same as the God YHWH (Jehovah) of the Jews and the same as He Who Christians call Father. In hundreds of places, the Koran refers to "the Book" as being the Pentateuch, the first five Books of the Bible, as being the center of all Faith. To a great extent, the Koran initially expressed a Faith that was essentially identical to Judaism, being based on the exact same Scriptures and the same Deity, Allah / YHWH. Later Muslim leaders and teachers chose to make different interpretations of verses in the Koran, sometimes out of context, to establish claims of support for their leadership, which gradually developed into rather severe animosity toward Jews and Christians. Some of those interpretations also initiated divisions within Islam.
But it cannot be dismissed, that Allah is the exact same One and Only God that Jews and Christians believe in. Individuals on either side may want to claim otherwise, but this is an unavoidable truth.
The most obvious proof is that the very first human who truly believed in the One True God, enough to be willing to sacrifice his own son, was Abraham, and this story is prominent in both religions about Abraham.
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