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A summary reply to Oliver about the usage of Allah by Arabic Christians.

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God? - Continued

Submitted by zzazzeefrazzee (United States), Mar 22, 2008 at 14:23

A summation of the arguments that Oliver and I have posted.

1) First you insisted that Allah must be different god because it used the definite article "al". I responded showing you references to the 5th century tri-lingual Christian Zabad inscription mentioning al-ilah.

2) Then you insisted that al-Ilah and Allah could not be the same thing, although linguistically speaking, that doesn't make a lot of sense. AS I replied- one is simply a contraction of the other.

3) Note that I never discounted that the word "Allah" may have been also derived from the Aramaic Alaha, also used by Assyrian Christians today. As someone who maintains an objective and inclusive approach to these matters, I agree with scholar who state that we cannot be certain if the name is derived from or the other or even both.

4) You insist that Allah should not be used as it has become Islamicized and that Christians who use the term suffer from "dhimmitude" or "politcal correctness". The problem with this is that it is not only a post-hoc fallacy, but that I would also counter that Arabic speaking Christians who use the term defend their historical precedent to use it. Is that really a case of "Dhimmitude"? In short your argument is "Muslims made them do it", while mine is that "Christians used the term before the advent of Islam".

This is not only given weight by the Zabad inscription, but also by the Assyrians who use the term "Alaha"- a term that Jesus himself very likely used. As an aside, many of these Christians would also argue for "Aramaic primacy" in for the New Testament as opposed to "Greek primacy'. While I do not agree that it is exclusively one or the other (for example, I do think that Paul wrote letter in Greek, but I also think it is plausible that at least the Gospel of Mark may have had an Aramaic precedent) , I do think that the usage of the name of God "Alaha" by early Christians may very well have had a direct impact on the a Christian usage of teh name of God in Arabic.

Have you considered studying Aramaic and Syriac and learn the history of the early Christian manuscript tradition in these languages? Harvard professor Dr. Wheeler Thackston has written an excellent manual. I'd add Arabic as well, but I'm afraid that would be too much to ask.

5) You insist that "Allah should not be worshipped" by Christians, as the Bible commands that no other God should be worshipped, as that would be heresy. You did not provide any caveats when you first wrote about this, and there was no "could" or "would" added to your statement about how the usage "makes me cringe". That means that your subseqent suggestion that it "could be blasphemous" is most insincere. Once again, your bias speaks volumes, and your views about Christian usage are rooted in this animosity more than they are derived from any real understanding of the nature of the practice among Christians.

Arabic speaking Christians that I know do not view this to be a different God, but the Arabic translation of for the name of God. As such, they do not agree with your particular literalist views. After all- the same verses has been translated into Arabic and have been in use for how long??

Funny enough, but Jews would also view the ascription of YHVH to Jesus as the exact same kind of heresy that you stipulate. (Don't bother responding, as I know that you will provide a litany of scriptural references to defend your beliefs).

6) You insist that Allah is solely a pagan god pre-Islamic Gods. yes, the fact that Allah was worshipped a as supreme deity along with other gods (or at least 3 goddesses) was certainly true, to an extent in Mecca and the Hijaz, but I have countered that the evidence for Pre-islamic Christian Arab kingdoms should not be ignored (Najran, Ghaffarrids, and also the Lakhmids), who clearly did not engage in this kind of worship.

Obviously, your view is based on a very selective interpretation of historical evidence, which is that of Robert Morey or Morey-derived. The problem with this is that Morey's views are not exactly accepted by credentialed academics, archaeologists, or scholars. For starters He was on the faculty of an unaccredited "seminary" in California that taught distance learning courses. Even Daniel Pipes has reviewed his books and not found very much in the way of respectable scholarship therein. Perhaps if you showed me articles from the "Journal for Semitic Studies" or

Furthermore, If you are going to refer to the historical record, then in all fairness, you should do the same for Judaism. Most scholars studying the early evidence for Judaism agree that Yahweh was one of many Canaanite gods who eventually superseded the others. In that respect, there are more parallels between Yahweh and Allah as Supreme Gods in a pantheon found in historical evidence than there are differences. Day (see below), even goes so far as to say that Jews combined the attributes of El (Yet another word that is related to Allah) and Yahweh together!

See:

Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan. By John Day

Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel
by Mark Smith

Goddesses and Trees, New Moon and Yahweh: Ancient near Easter Art and the Hebrew Bible by Othmar Keel. Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.

btw- Jennifer alluded to 360 gods in the pre-Islamic pantheon, but that is not exactly correct. Various historical sources state that there may have been that many idols in the Ka'aba shrine, but there may very well have been Christian icons among them:

While you assert that there is no "hard evidence' that Arabs are descended from Abraham, there is obviously no equally "hard" evidence for the Jews either.

Finally, rather than ask me to defend Christian Arabs, why not meet a few for yourself and ask them about their views directly? What's stopping you? You can easily find directories online and can arrange to visit them one near your community in person; here's a few for starters.

Arab Evangelicals
http://www.arabicbible.com/

Arab Catholics (Assyrians and Chaldeans)
http://www.al-bushra.org/

Copts
http://www.copticchurch.net/cgibin/bible/

Antiochian Orthodox:
http://www.antiochian.org/

Needless to say, please check your pre-conceived animosities at the door when you visit.

In short, your main argument is to assert that your particular view is an absolute- or "theologically correct' as you defined it. As I have often repeated, that is not a value shared by all Christians, and as I have repeatedly stated, Arabic speaking Christians that I know are not inclined to agree with your sentiments.

Once again, I never stated that Jews, Christians, and Muslims agree on the nature of God, but they are a part of the same common monotheistic tradition. Whether or not you choose to agree with this view is up to you, but so far, I feel very comfortable in stating that your arguments would never stand up to the scrutiny of scholars in the field. You would have to let go of your particular chosen literalist views, your hostility, and your sanctimonious arrogance, and develop a more reserved, objective tone before you could even make such an argument viable. Quoting scripture alone is insufficient- you may justify your belief in biblical inerrancy and literalist interpretations in doing so, but you are only "preaching to the converted" rather than effectively persuading someone else that you position hold any merit.

In short, I do not agree with your non-academic approach, your absolutist views, or your rather callous disregard for the practices of other Christians.

Now, I have to move on, as I have other things to do, but suffice it to say, I'm not writing this only in order to convince you, as I see little hope in ever doing so; sanctimonious zealots are not exactly objective thinkers. I'm just here to leave a record on this board for others to read so that they can arrive at their own opinions.


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