69 million page views

The word Allah and Syriac in the Qur'an

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God? - Continued
in response to reader comment: Response to zzazzeefrazzee

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Apr 26, 2008 at 10:25

Hi Mark

Very interesting

>I don't consider the Syriac 'alaha' strictly pertinent to this issue of pre-Islamic use of Allah by Jews or Christians.

And why is that?

As for the claim that the word Allah is a contraction of the word al-Ilah this is far from the truth as the word Allah means: God and the word al-Ilah means: THE God and they are very different words in Arabic and what non Arabic speakers do not understand is the so called rule of al al-ta3reef or the Arabic language definite article or al and it indeed changes the meaning of a word

>Alaha is a different language,

Very true but Syriac, Arabic and Hebrew are Semitic languages with very much in common and most significant is the fact that loan words from Syriac are very common in Quranic Arabic (eg: Tur or mountain and why would we have such Syriac word in the Qur'an when we have perfect Arabic word: jabal (or Gabal as you shall see below) and why would Allah use the word al-Ruum (the Greeks) which is a loan word from Syriac when we have perfect Arabic words for the Greeks: al-ighreeq and al-yunaniyuun and if such words are loan words in the Qur'an then why not Alaha/Allaha Arabized as Allah? Suyuti is his his work Itiqan (see ghareeb al-Qur'an) realized and admitted that the Qur'an also has its share of foreign words but he also wrote that such words became Arabic words (Arabized!) because the Quranic claim that it is written in perfect Arabic!

A slight diversion here: I understand that in the Sinai there used to be a quarantine station for Egyptians that went for the Hajj in Mecca and it was called Gabal al-Tur (From Quranic Tur Sinin or mount Sinai) as Arabic speakers realize that the word Tur is indeed not an Arabic word albeit Quranic and now we have the "mountain (or gabal) of the mountain (or al-Tur)" ' which in Egyptian Arabic is : gabal Sina

>and a different construction.

You are correct but what matters is not the construction but it is the fact that the word Alaha in the late antique world would have the clear meaning of the word God to an Arab albeit from a different construction and language and i suspect that an Arab would Arabize it and make it Alah/Allah

As a matter of fact if you listen to the vocalization of compound Arabic names eg: Abd Allah it would be vocalized as; Abdalah with no second lam

>It seems many people have the Syriac usage in mind when the say that Allah was used by Christians before Muhammad,

Well you will find many Syriac words in the Qur'an (eg: Ruum and Tur and notice that these words were Arabized by adding the al al-ta3reef and dropping the aye in ruumaye and a Greek was Arabized as Rumi) so why not the Arabized God or Allah? and all you have to do to Arabize it is to drop the small alif at the end as an alif at the end in a proper name in Arabic would be a feminine ending (eg: Jamal m. and Jamila f.) and God is a masculine name in Arabic so the a at the end must go

I also undersand that in old Arabic texts the letter alif makrura was used in the middle of a word (now you can only find it at the end of a word eg: al-sahara the alif here at the end is an alif maksura) in written arabic if you have double consonants you do not write the second consonant (eg: MHMD where there is only one meem) and you replace it with a shadda sign (and a shadda sign did not exit before the 9th century CE). So it is unusual to see two lams in a word in Arabic as in ALLH (this is the rasm of the word Allah) more so with a shadda sign and what I understand is that the second lam could indeed be an alif maksura (it has the same morphology as a yeh but without the two dots under the slope) so now we have

ALIF LAM ALIF MAKSURA LAM or ALAH

and you drop the last alif to Arabize and make it a masculine word it and now you have ALAH but again like any thing in the Qur'an we will never know

>but that is very sloppy linguistics.

And why is that?

>Yes, I imagine it was quite likely that pre-Islamic Christian Arabs did use the term 'alaha' to refer to YHWH, as they received their faith, as I understand, from Aramaic speakers.

They did and Nestorians also used the word Allaha for God

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to The word Allah and Syriac in the Qur'an by dhimmi no more

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List
eXTReMe Tracker

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2021 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)