Thursday, April 26, 2007

On Speaking of God: One World Under Allah

Not only is Matahari's text compelling, I find these accompanying pictures from her travels posted to her MySpace page quite beautiful as well. -gw
Window Seat View
GOD

Category: Religion and Philosophy
Just another one of my reflective thought. I respectfully propose this thought for your consideration and dialogue: Is the term "God" Christian, or can it be universally applied (with a big 'G,' not a small 'g' as in god or gods)? Or is it just an English term for the supreme or ultimate reality: as the being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe. Whatever religion or faith people belong to, when they speak of God in English, they tend to say, "God" They would never have said, "The Buddha" or "Lord Krishna" or "Lord Shiva" etc It is a common stance for non-Christians in the US to appropriate the term "God," perhaps in an attempt to bridge the cultural-religious difference with ethnocentric Americans. It is also common for Christians to call deities of other religions 'their god' - usually employing the qualifier 'their' (and not simply "God," which linguistically implies a shared perception). About the notion that God is the Abraham deity (Judeo-Christian-Muslim): Does a shared prophet (Abraham) mean that the deity is the same for all three? Perhaps or was it supported by a shared interpretation? Not really. Jews aren't supposed to speak his name. It's often "G_d" in writing, which is similar to how they would write his Hebrew name.

Could "God" truly be used to replace "Allah"? Respectfully, for the sake of peace and unity, I ask both the Muslims and non-Muslims. I ask you because I believe religious tolerance is in a danger fueled by ignorance. Several Christians have told me that the *modified* Pledge of Allegiance, which includes "One nation under God" can support ANY god. I ask them if they would say, "One nation under Allah." None would. Could it be because of their ignorance? Or could it be because of fear and shame that would immediately link them to the "terrorists". And also perhaps, outside the Arabic World, the use of Allah is generally associated exclusively with Islam, and is used to refer specifically to the Islamic concept of God. It is nearly the same as the Jewish conception of a single God, but differs from the Trinitarian Christian conception of God. In Islam, the concept of one God is strictly observed. The Qur'an refers to a Jewish belief in Ezra as the Son of God (qu'ran 9:30) although historical Judaism is also strictly monotheistic.

Mt. Merapi & the surrounding area
Allah is the Arabic language word referring to "God", "the Lord" and literally according to the Qur'an, to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" in the Arahamic religions. It does not mean "a god" but rather "the One and Only True God" the Supreme Creator of the universe, and it is the main teem for the deity in Islam. "Allah" means the same God that the people of Christianity and Judaism faith believe in; in other words, the three prominent religions comes from the same source and believe in the same God.

"Allah" is not restricted to just Islam, and used by certain countries in Africa, Arab Christians and Jews according to geographic region. Allah is not only found in the Qur'an but also in Arabic translations of both the Tanakh and the Gospels and even in the Indonesian translations of the Bible. The Baha'i Faith whose scriptures are primarily written in Arabic and Persian also uses Allah to mean God, though typical practise is to use the customary word fro God in the language being spoken. In certain specific uses Allah is not translated, rather the whole arabic phrase is used. The chief example of this would be customary Baha'is' greeting Allah'u'abha which is commonly translated as God is the All Glorious. ...

Muslim and non-Muslim scholars often translate "Allah" directly into English as "God", especially Qur'an alone Muslims. And Arabic speaking Jews and Christians refer to God using the Arabic word Allah. However, other scholars feel that "Allah" should not be translated arguing that "Allah" is the term for "the Only God" in a glorified pronunciation. And because they perceive the Arabic word to express the uniqueness of "Allah" more accurately than the word "god", which can take a plural "gods", whereas the word "Allah" has no plural form. This is a significant issue in translation of the Qur'an.

Would you and would there be any change if you used "Allah" in your communication instead of "God"?

Peace be upon you
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{Re-posted with permission}

1 comment:

Martijn Rep said...

Good to realize how linguistic issues highlight underlying beliefs. It is interesting in this context to note that in Iran, both the arabic Allah and the persian Khoda are used to mean the one God. Naturally, then, both terms are used in bahai scripture. Khoda may well stem from the same linguistic root as 'God', but I haven't looked into that.