God or Allah

By: Dr. Ahmad Shafaat

(1984)


The question has often been raised whether in English we should use the word God or Allah to designate the Creator and master of the Universe. The answer to the question has, in fact, been given by the Holy Qur'an itself. In Surah Bani Israel the Holy Qur'an says:

        "Say! Call upon Allah or call upon Rahman: by whatever name you call upon Him (it is well): for to Him belong (all) the most beautiful names." (17:110)

Thus it is of no great importance by what name or word we call upon our Creator. What is important is that we have the right beliefs about Him, that we have faith and trust in Him and that we develop an inner relationship with Him through prayer and remembrance.



Those who insist that we must use the name Allah at all times, they do so on the grounds that the concept of God is associated with all kinds of pagan and Trinitarian ideas. But when the Holy Qur'an used the name Allah the concept of Allah was also corrupted by a lot of blasphemous ideas. The pagan Arabs, for example, considered their idols - Lat, Uzza, etc. as intermediaries between man and Allah. They believed angels to be the daughters of Allah while Arabic speaking Christians and Jews believed their prophets to be sons of Allah. Even so, the Holy Qur'an used the word Allah to talk about the Creator. It corrected many of the wrong ideas about Him, but it did so using the same word that was commonly used at the time in the Arabic language to talk about Him.

Consequently, we see nothing wrong if an English writer or speaker uses the word that is most commonly used in that language for the Creator, provided what we say about Him is consistent with the Qur'anic teachings. This is also the view of some of the reputed Muslim scholars who have written in English. For example, both Yusuf 'Ali and Muhammad Asad, the authors of the two best existing commentaries of the Holy Qur`an in English, consistently use "God" for "Allah" in their translations and explanations of the Qur`an.

 

 

 

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