Based on the linguistic and historical evidence and on the admonishment of Scripture, it seems clear that those who claim to be Christians or Jews (religious) who fail to properly qualify their use of the common noun allah or worse still, make the proper noun Allah (As used in the Quran) synonymous with YHVH, are placing themselves in grave spiritual peril.
In my recent facebook post concerning my refusal to pray to the Allah of the Quran I said, "No Jacinda Ardern (NZ Prime Minister 2019), I will not answer the call to pray to Allah this Friday"*.
*[Note, "call to pray", "Allah" (as a Proper noun), and "this Friday", all references to Islamic practice].
There are those who have argued that Allah is formed from a common Arabic noun (ilah) comparable to the Hebrew "el" or "elohim" and the English "god". It is true that Arab Christians and Jews appear to have used Allah as a common noun in reference to God prior to the inception of Islam. However, Arab speaking Jews have not, and do not replace the Holy Proper Noun YHVH with the common noun Allah. In addition Allah was also used prior to the inception of Islam to refer to one of a pantheon of pagan deities (360 at one count).
The most popular linguistic theory is that Allah is a contraction of the Arabic phrase "al-ilah". The common noun "ilah" being used by ancient Arabic speakers to refer to "a god" and the definite article "al" preceding it. Thus, the translation "the God". This begs the question, "Does a proper noun formed from a common noun, remain a common noun?" The evident contradiction makes the linguistic argument seem somewhat dishonest at best.
It is of course, not popular to add the historical fact that Allah (the god) was worshipped in the Ka'ba at Mecca along with a pantheon of gods long before Muhammad chose him as the monotheistic deity of Islam. In fact Muhammad's father Abdullah (Abd "Servant" Allah "of Allah") was an Arab pagan named for one of the gods of the Arab pantheon "Allah". At some point prior to the inception of Islam Allah was associated with the worship of numerous gods like "Hubal, Sin" (moon deities) etc. and is said to have had three daughters, one of which was Allat (A feminine form of Allah: this contradicts the notion that the Arabic word Allah is neuter).
Prior to Islam Allah was being worshipped by many throughout the middle east as the chief deity of a pantheon, making him no different in many ways, to Zeus or Odin, or any other chief pagan deity for that matter.
Those who advocate for the "Common noun" theory regarding Allah must exercise consistent logic and admit that one cannot say on one hand that Allah is formed of a common noun and therefore maintains its common meaning as God generic, and on the other hand, contrary to their own argument conclude that Allah is also a Proper Noun (As Islam claims). Either Allah is the Proper Noun for God in Arabic and therefore, not synonymous with YHVH (The Proper noun which names the God of the Bible), or Allah is a common noun in Arabic and equally therefore, not synonymous with YHVH. Either way, Allah is not the Personal God of the Bible.
To substitute the title Lord for YHVH in English shows respect for the Holy Name, however, to substitute the common term God (el, elohim, allah, Ilah etc.) as a translation of YHVH is blasphemy. The same is true when applied to the Arabic language version of the Bible.
There are of course numerous other evidences both archeological and linguistic that prove that Allah was worshipped as one of many other deities in pre-Islamic Arabia (and elsewhere), and it is hard to deny the connection between Allah and the ancient moon deities of the middle east. However, in my recent post I was not referring to the common noun Allah used by Arabic speaking Christians and Jews but rather to the use of Allah as a proper noun and specifically in reference to the Allah of Islam. This is clear by my reference to refusing to "answer the call to pray" which was the Islamic call to prayer (so called), in actual fact it is not an invitation to pray but rather a theological affirmation of faith in the god of the Quran and his prophet Muhammad: something that many Christian leaders tacitly agreed to by standing in quiet submission, or worse, professing Allah (thinking it a generic term for the One God) while this Islamic (not universal) proclamation (not call) was made on mainstream media last week throughout Aotearoa NZ.
Regardless of whether the common noun Allah can be used in a generic sense to identify God, the fact remains that the god of the Quran does not equate to the God of the Bible. Anyone of intellectual integrity who takes the time to compare the Holy Bible and the Quran can only conclude that they present two very different and distinct Gods. On this point the majority of Islamic scholars and I agree.
To conclude, based on the linguistic and historical evidence and on the admonishment of Scripture, it seems clear that those who claim to be Christians or Jews (religious) who fail to properly qualify their use of the common noun allah or worse still, make the proper noun Allah (As used in the Quran) synonymous with YHVH, are placing themselves in grave spiritual peril.
HaShem (YHVH) has said, "I am YHVH, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols." -Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 42:8
"Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips." -Shemot (Exodus) 23:13
-Yaakov Ben Yehoshua
© 2019 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.