Source: Abd ar-Rahman Robert Squires
One misconception that many people have about Islam is to do with the word “Allah”. Many people think that Muslims worship a different God than Christians and Jews. This is not correct since“Allah” is simply the Arabic word for “God”. Muslims worship the same God, the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and all other prophets (peace be upon them all). Though the Jews, Christians and Muslims have different concepts of God e.g. Muslims and Jews reject the Christian beliefs of the Trinity and the Divine Incarnation. This, however, doesn’t mean that each of these three religions worships a different God.
“Allah” is the same word that Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews use for God. If you pick up an Arabic Bible, you will see the word“Allah” being used where “God” is used in English. The images below, with the exception of the first image, were taken directly from a translation of The Holy Bible in Arabic. This is the scripture which is used by Arabic-speaking Christians. So that those unfamiliar with Arabic script have something to compare these images with, the first image below is a verse from the Qur’an – which is the Muslim scripture. In the images, the Arabic word“Allah” is underlined in red so that it can be easily identified. Upon comparing the images, one should be able to clearly see that the word “Allah” appears in both the Qur’anic verses and Bible verses. Indeed, the word “Allah” appears throughout Arabic translations of the Bible, since it is simply the Arabic name for Almighty God. The examples below will help quell the doubts of those who have been duped into believing that “Muslims worship a different god”.
[Qu’ran 1:1 – English translation]
” In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the Compassionate “
[Qur’an 1:1 – Arabic transliteration]
” Bismi Allahi ar-Rahmani, ar-Raheem “
[Qur’an 1:1 – Arabic]
Example no 1:
[Genesis 1:1 – English Bible – King James Version]
” In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth . . . “
[Genesis 1:1 – Arabic transliteration]
” Fee al-badi’ khalaqa Allahu as-Samaawaat wa al-Ard . . . “
[Genesis 1:1 – Arabic Bible]
Example no 2:
[John 3:16 – English Bible – King James Version]
” For God so loved the world, that He gave . . . “
[John 3:16 – Arabic transliteration]
” Li-annhu haakadha ahabba Allahu al-‘Aalama hataa badhala . . . “
[John 3:16 – Arabic Bible]
Example no 3:
[Luke 1:30 – English Bible – King James Version]
” .. . . Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God “
[Luke 1:30 – Arabic transliteration]
” .. . . Laa takhaafee, yaa Maryam, li-annaki qad wajadti ni’amat(an) ‘indaAllahi.”
[Luke 1:30 – Arabic Bible]
Example no 4:
[Luke 3:38 – English Bible – New King James Version]
” .. . . the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”
[Luke 3:38 – Arabic transliteration]
” .. . . bini Anoosha, bini Sheeti, bini Aaadama, abni Allahi.”
[Luke 3:38 – Arabic Bible]
Example no 5:
[Matthew 19:17 – English Bible – New King James Version]
” .. . . there is none good but One, that is, God”
[Matthew 19:17 – Arabic transliteration]
” .. . . laysa ahadun Saalihaan illa waahidun wa huwa Allahu”
[Matthew 19:17 – Arabic Bible]
It is interesting to note that the Aramaic word “El”, which is the word for God in the language that Jesus spoke, is certainly more similar in sound to the word “Allah” than the English word “God”. This also holds true for the various Hebrew words for God, which are “El” and “Elah”, and the plural form “Elohim”. The reason for these similarities is that Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic are all Semitic languages with common origins.
Some Muslims insist on using the Arabic word “Allah” even when speaking English. Even though this practice certainly is not to be condemned when it is done around those who understand the meaning of the Arabic word “Allah”, such a practice can (and usually does) breed misunderstanding. It seems that often times, many of the Muslims who use the word“Allah” in lieu of the word “God”, even when trying to attract people to Islam, are unaware of the severe misunderstandings that many non-Muslims have about Islam (and the distorted way which Islam has been portrayed in the West). Insisting on using the word“Allah” only fuels the flames of misunderstanding.
Unfortunately, this practice is usually based on the false assumption – by a non-native speaker of English – that the word “God” in English is incapable of expressing a pure and proper belief in Almighty God. Many people who insist on using the Arabic word “Allah” usually don’t realize this, because in reality, they are not so much affirming the word “Allah” as they are rejecting the word “God” as unsuitable – based on incorrect assumptions.
It should be clearly understood that the important thing is the concept of Almighty God. What we are ultimately going to be held accountable at the end of our life is not whether we prefer the word “Allah” over the word “God”, but what our concept of God is. Language is only a side issue. A person can have an incorrect concept of God while using the word “Allah”, and likewise a person can have a correct concept of God while using the word “God”. This is because both of these words are equally capable of being misused and being improperly defined.
As Muslims, we think that it is unfortunate that we have to go into details on such seemingly minor issues, but so many falsehoods have been heaped upon our religion, that we feel that it is our duty to try to break down the barriers of falsehood. This isn’t always easy, since there is a lot of anti-Islamic literature in existence which tries to make Islam look like something strange and foreign to Westerners. There are some people out there, who are obviously not on the side of truth, that want to get people to believe that “Allah” is just some Arabian “god”, and that Islam is completely “other” – meaning that it has no common roots with the other Abrahamic religions (i.e. Christianity and Judaism). To say that Muslims worship a different “God” because they say “Allah” is just as illogical as saying that French people worship another God because they use the word “Dieu”, that Spanish-speaking people worship a different God because they say“Dios” or that the Hebrews worshipped a different God because they sometimes call Him“Yahweh”. Claiming that any one language uses the only the correct word for God is tantamount to denying the universality of God’s message to mankind, which was to all nations, tribes and people through various prophets who spoke different languages.