Allah or Yahweh
AA Is there any relation between the names Allah and Yahweh? A Christian approached me with this question: The Holy Scriptures which constitute the Bible are the testimony of over 40 inspired scribes in 66 books. They all agree on the covenant name of the God of Abraham as \”Yahweh\”. Thus, all the Prophets before Islam came in the name of Yahweh, how come Muhammad came in the name of Allah? JAK
All praise be to Allah, and may His peace and blessings be on His final messenger, Muhammad,
In answering a question like this, we need first to examine the languages and sources of both claimed names, and then we may address the names themselves.
As for the languages, it is known that Hebrew, as a spoken language today, has been revived by the Jews of the nineteenth century, who felt that a unifying language must be sought to allow for the unification of the Israelites after centuries of diasporas.
This effort was not perfect, and according to many scholars, including Zuckermann, the revivalists could not avoid the Ashkenazi mindset arising from their European background. He added that “Had the language revivalists been Arabic-speaking Jews, Israeli Hebrew would have been a totally different language – both genetically and typologically, much more Semitic.”[i]
In contrast, Arabic has been uninterruptedly spoken by millions of people since the revelation of the Quran. Of note here that the word “Allah” has been used before the Quran was revealed by the Arabs irrespective of their religious belonging.
As for the sources of both claims, namely the Quran and Bible, there is probably no doubt amongst credible historians, whether or not they believe in the divine origin of either book, that the Quran was better preserved than the Bible.
Sir William Muir (Orientalist) said the following in reference to the Quran: “There is, probably in the world, no other book, which has remained twelve centuries with so pure a text.”
You will find the following statement about the authenticity of the Bible in the preface of the RSV, “The King James Version has with good reason been termed the Noblest Monument of English prose…[y]et the King James Version has grave defects, by the middle of the nineteenth century, the development of Biblical studies and discovery of many manuscripts more ancient than those upon which the KJV was based made it manifest that these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision of the English translation.”
It is noteworthy here to mention that of those interpolations, found to be absent from the most ancient manuscripts, is the very word “begotten” used in reference to Jesus (blessings and peace be upon him).
And with regard to the inspired scribes of the Bible, I don’t think that any credible historian would claim that they are known to be credible; in fact many of them are not known to begin with, as you may find in Collins’ RSV, 1971: pp 12-17.
Now, let us take a look at the names, Allah and Yahweh:
The name Yahweh was not consistently used by the Jews or the Christians; In fact, its use ceased in the Greco-Roman period. [ii]
The meaning of the name is also said to mean (in its short form Yo, Yah, or Yahu) a religious invocation of no precise meaning evoked by the mysterious and awesome splendor of the manifestation of the holy. [iii]
Knowing the similarities between Hebrew and Arabic, I find it very likely that it meant (Ya Howa) which is Arabic for “O You Who Is.”
The other name used to refer to God in the Bible is “Elohim” This may be closer to the truth, as far as the proper name of God is concerned.
The word Elohim infers that God is god for all people, and in the Britannica, it says that the Jews used it “to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel’s God over all others.” I would say, it is not that the God of Israel prevails over all others, but rather there is one God for all people, who are all equal in his sight.
The word “Elohim” after removing the “im”, which is the plural of respect, would be “Eloh”, which is very close to Allah. Knowing how the use of the word ‘Allah” was never interrupted or doubted by its users, it is the more rational choice.
Allah is His proper name.
Allah is the name of God used by the Arabs – including the Christians – before Islam, and it is the name still used in the Arabic Bibles.
There is no plural of this word and there are no masculine or feminine forms of it because Allah is one, and He is transcendent above genders.
We believe it has been always His name, which was revealed to the previous prophets, including Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus (blessings and peace be upon them all). The historical, archaeological as well as theological facts support that belief. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “…The name’s [Allah] origin can be traced back to the earliest Semitic writings in which the word for “god” was Il or El, the latter being an Old Testament synonym for Yahweh. Allah is the standard Arabic word for “God” and is also used by Arab Christians as well as by Muslims.”[iv]
The word “Allah” is close to the Arabic word al-Ilah (The God). Whether or not it is derived from it, it does infer the meanings of al-Ilah, which are: the only one to be worshipped; the one to whom belongs all devotion, worship and gratitude. It also means the one, ultimately loved with subjugation and surrendered to with adoration.
This is the essence of the messages of all messengers. Many people believed that God is the creator as may be inferred by the name “Yahweh” according to some interpretations. However, the ultimate message of the messengers was to guide them to worship God alone.
Allah knows best.
[i] Zuckermann, Ghil’ad (2006), p. 63.
[ii] Yahweh. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved February 09, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/651183/Yahweh
[iii] Yahweh. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved February 09, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/651183/Yahweh
[iv] Allāh. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved July 14, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/15965/Allah