The word Allah
Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Sep 7, 2009 at 17:15
Baz you wrote
>Can you point me to any proper, comprehensive unbiased and serious studies completed on the word Allah?
Well the simple answer is the word Allah is the proper name for God in Arabic and if we turn to Lisan al-3Arab by Ibn Manzur which is the earliest Arabic language dictionary (some 600 years after the death of Muhammad and yes it is more Middle Arabic than Quranic Arabic) the word ALLH (this is the rasm) means God
What we hear from non Arab Muslims (I have never heard it from Arabic speaking Muslims and I seem to only hear it from Pakistanis!) is that the word Allaah (after adding the missing vowels in the original rasm ALLH) is a contraction of the word al-Ilah (the word ILH is a Semitic word for God in Arabic Syriac and Hebrew). But from the grammar point of view al al-ta3reef or the Arabic language definite article makes all the difference in what a word would mean so the word al-Ilah contracted as Allah would change the meaning of the word Allah from God to The God which is a big difference and would even change the meaning of many sentences which means that the claim by some Muslims that it is a contracrion of the word al-Ilah is not correct
Now more evidence that this contraction business is not correct are the following:
1. In Arabic there is a vocalization rule where the letter lam in an al (the definite article) would be silent in the case of a word that follows the rule of a lam shamsiyya (shams means sun) so the word the sun is written as al-Shams but it is vocalized as A-Shams and in the case the word al-Rab which is another word for the God in Arabic the lam is gone when vocalizing it and it becomes A-Rab. Inspite of all this we do not contract the word al-Rab and make it A-Rab so why contract the word al-Ilah and make it Allah it just does not make any sense
2. In compound Arabic names the name WHBLH (Wahballah) means the gift of God and not the gift of the God and the name 3Abdallah means the slave of God and not the slave of the God which means that the word Allah here means God and not the God (remember that the definite article makes all the difference)
3. The word ALLH (alif lam lam heh or this is what we are told by the masorites) which is read as Allaah (after adding the missing vowels in the rasm) could very well be according to Puin that the letters are alif lam then alif maksura and then heh which would change the word into ALAH and then indeed this betrays the origin of the word from Syriac as you shall see below.
And yes the masorites at times had no clue what the Qur'an is really saying and an example the i like to give in the word MLK in Surat al-fatiha as it is read as maalki or the owner of or malki or the king of and I'm sure you agree with me Muhammad must have heard it as maalki or malki and it could not be both so it would not be surprising if they could not even read the word ALLH or is it ALAH
We still have alif maksura in Arabic (eg: the word desert is sahara and the last a is an alif maksura which have the same morphology as the letter yeh but with no two dots under the slope) and early on the Arabs used to use alif maksura in the middle if a word then later on they stopped using it in the middle of a word and they only use it if it exists at the end of a word (eg: the word asra in Q17:1 and the the alif here is an alif maksura and then in the next aya the word bani the last letter is a yeh and both letters have the same morphology except in the case of a yeh there are two dots under the slope
Then where does the word Allah comes from? The word Allah must be a loan word (gasp!) from Syriac Alaha (in Nestorian it is Allaha) or the absolute state of Alaha and it is Arabized by dropping the last letter alif as in Arabic having an alif at the end of a proper name would change the gender to feminine (eg: Majid and Majda) and Allah is supposed to be a masculine name and the second alif is the alif maksura in the rasm. For refernece see Payne Smith Thesaurus Syriacus I col. 195-196 (See Ibn Rawandi) and as matter of fact the word alaha was the name of God among the Nabateans
Now you also hear from Muslims that are not Arabs and do not know any Arabic this nonsense (Arabs know very well that the word Allah means God period and this is why they have no difficulty when Christian Arabs use it) about Christian Arabs calling God Allah well the truth is they should as their God in Syriac is called Alaha or Allaha so that it should not be surprising and their God or their Alaha/Allaha cannot be the Allah of the Arabs after all their God is Jesus and for the jews their Allah or God is their ethnic god that they do not share with anyone.
And in the case of the Copts there was a very famous (and it still exists) Syrian Monastery located in Wadi el-Natrun which is south of Alexandria or el-deer el-suryani that was located in the same area as other Coptic monastaries and the word Alaha must have been a familiar word to many Copts before the Arab invasion of Egypt
I hope I helped
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".
Reader comments (906) on this item
Comment on this item
Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes