Muslim History and Allah

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Learn the Historical roots of the name of Allah, Islam and the Muslim Religion.
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  1. The True Origin of 'Allah': The Archaeological Record Speaks  A. The Name of God in the Bible   The God of the Old Testament is known as YHWH ()or, when pointed with the correct vowels, Yahweh . This translates as The Self-Existent One , being derived from the Hebrew háwáh , meaning to exist . As Allah is the name of God on the Muslim Holy Scriptures, the Koran (or Quran), so Yahweh is the Name of God in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Bible. What is particularly interesting and significant is the fact that Yahweh   never   appears as the name of of any  deity outside the Bible. There is no record anywhere of any other tribe or religion which worshipped Yahweh. The Hebrew Name of God is unique to the Bible and its chosen people. From this alone we may deduce that the Name Yahweh was not borrowed from some other culture or religion. It emerged uniquely within the Bible revelation. It is claimed by Muslims that Allah is the God of the Bible and that he is mentioned in the sacred texts. This is absolutely not true. The name Allah does not appear once in either the Old or New Testaments. The only time God is referred to by name  in the Old Testament is either as YAHWEH  (meaning He (who) is ) or as a contraction, YAH . [Please note that the name Jehovah is not  a biblical name of God but was especially 'created' by Jews afraid to pronounce the Sacred Name by combining the consonants YHWH with the vowels from adonai , meaning Lord ]. The word alah   does  exist in Hebrew but it is not a proper name and it never   refers to God. It has three principal meanings: (a) to curse, swear, or adjure; (b) to lament (weep); and (c) to arise, ascend, climb, go away, leap, etc.. It is an indisputable fact that ALLAH does not appear even once as the Name of God, or even of a man, in the Hebrew Scriptures. There is no word 'alah' or 'allah' in the Greek New Testament at all. It was, quite simply, unknown in the Bible world. To therefore claim that 'Allah' was the name of God in the Bible is without one single shred of evidence. God has always  been known as Yahweh , or (much less frequently) by the contraction Yah. Muslim scholars have gone to great lengths to try and prove that the Arabic Allah is, in fact, the same as the Hebrew Eloah , which is not a proper name and simply translates as God . The words El and Elohim also translate the same way, appear far more numerously than Eloah, and may be used to designate either the true God, pagan deities, idols, or even human judges. It is for this reason that I have heard Muslim apologists get annoyed when other Muslins talk about God instead of Allah because the word God can be applied to any religion's god. They recognise that Allah is a proper name which distinguishes the God of the Muslims from the God of the Jews and Christians, or the gods of the Hindus and others. Eloah is, in any case, a derivative of El and its plural Elohim which doesn't remotely sound like Allah . You will not find many (if any) Muslims insisting that they worship the Hebrew Eloah - the only time they ever try to make a connection is when trying to recruit Jews and Christians to Islam. If I were confess that Eloah were my God and that Mohammed was his prophet I doubt any Muslim would believe I had converted to Islam! There is another El-derived word for God in the Old Testament which sounds similar to Allah and that is Elah . It is only used by the prophets Ezra, Daniel and once by Jeremiah. It is, again, not a proper name, and actually also means an oak tree and was thus also used by pagans as a title for their tree deities, i.e. idols. I doubt somehow that Muslims would wish their Allah to be associated with an idol. Even if the Muslim scholars were right about Eloah (which the evidence strongly repudiates) we would then be faced with the problem that God has two proper names - Yahweh and Eloah/Allah - which contradicts God's own testimony in the Old Testament that He is only  known as Yahweh. The Name Yahweh  is enshrined in the Third Commandment: Thou shalt not take the Name of Yahweh () thy Elohim [God] in vain  (Ex.20:7)  The word vain is the Hebrew shoaw , meaning to rush over, to bring devastation, uselessness, or ruin . In other words, this is THE  Sacred Name above all names. This Name is not to be blasphemed (Lev.24:16) or desecrated. It is to be treated with reverential awe because it is the essence of the True God Himself. The Catholics and most Protestants have blasphemed this Name by changing it to Jehovah which translated God is perverse by mutilating it (as described above). There is even a whole church called the Jehovah's Witnesses which uses this disgusting name. The Bible teaches from cover to cover that the true Name of God, Yahweh , is essential to salvation. It is mentioned right at the beginning of the Bible and is used throughout. Yahweh  is the creator who made the earth and the heavens (Gen.2:4). One thing most Muslims and  Christians are ignorant of is that the Name of the True God appears within  the Name of Jesus. Most Christians are rather embarrassed to learn that Jesus isn't the real Name of Christ at all. If you had asked someone in New Testament times who Jesus was, nobody would have known. If you had asked Mary (Miryam) is she had a son called Jesus she would have stared at you blankly. The son of Mary was not called Jesus but Yah'shua  (). Jesus is a Greek word. The letter J doesn't even exist in Hebrew. Yet the angel Gabriel told Mary/Miriyam that the Messiah's Name, which was given by Almighty God Himself, was of special significance. It has a precise meaning of prophetic importance. Gabriel said that He would receive this Name because He shall save His people from their sins . Every Hebrew scholar will tell you that the Name given through Gabriel was Y'SHUA  or YAH'SHUA . Literally translated this means, YAH saves - and you will remember that Yah  is a contraction of Yahweh . You see, God's true Name was even preserved in the Name of the Messiah because it is YAH  / Yahweh  - who saves. The Name of Jesus was YAHWEH SAVES . The Scriptures are therefore consistent not only in preserving the true Name of God, Yahweh , throughout, but in placing the Sacred Name in the Messiah as well. This is no accident of immense prophetic significance. There are now millions of believers who now no longer use the perverse name Jehovah and who use the correct name of Jesus, Yah'shua, in order to be true to the Scriptures. I am one of them. Christians have been guilty of obscuring the truth by adopting perverted or Hellenised Names of Deity. What has this to do with our discussion of Allah? The reason I have spent so much time underscoring the Biblical Name of God is to show clearly and finally that it has been known as Yahweh  since the beginning of time. And whilst there are certain superficial similarities in sound to the Arabic Allah the meaning and historical srcin is quite, quite different. B. Origin of the Name Allah  The word Allah comes from the compound Arabic word, al-ilah . Al is the definite article the and ilah is an  Arabic word for god , i.e. the god. We see immediately  that (a) this is not a proper name but a generic name  rather like the Hebrew El  (which as we have seen was used of any  deity; and (b) that Allah is not a foreign word (as it would have been if it had been borrowed from the Hebrew Bible) but a purely Arabic one. It would also be wrong to compare Allah with the Hebrew or Greek for God ( El  and Theos , respectively), because Allah is purely an Arabic term used exclusively in reference to an Arabic deity. The Encyclopedia of Religion  says: 'Allah' is a pre-Islamic name ... corresponding to the Baylonian Bel  (ed. James Hastings, Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, 1908, I:326). I know that Muslims will find this hard to believe so I am now going to make many citations and present the archaeological evidence to prove conclusively that is true. Though this data will be painful for many of our readers, it is necessary to face the truth. Facts and facts, and unless you are willing to desert all logic, reason and common sense, and the evidence of your eyes, they must be faced.    Allah is found ... in Arabic inscriptions prior to Islam  ( Encyclopedia Britannica , I:643)     The Arabs, before the time of Mohammed, accepted and worshipped, after a fashion, a supreme god called allah  ( Encyclopedia of Islam , eds. Houtsma, Arnold, Basset, Hartman; Leiden: E.J.Brill, 1913, I:302)    Allah was known to the pre-Islamic Arabs; he was one of the Meccan deities  ( Encyclopedia of Islam , ed. Gibb, I:406)    Ilah  ... appears in pre-Islamic poetry ... By frequency of usage, al-ilah  was contracted to allah , frequently attested to in pre-Islamic poetry  ( Encyclopedia of Islam , eds. Lewis, Menage, Pellat, Schacht; Leiden: E.J.Brill, 1971, III:1093)    The name Allah goes back before Muhammed  ( Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend , The Facts on File , ed. Anthony Mercatante, New York, 1983, I:41)   The srcin of this (Allah) goes back to pre-Muslim times. Allah is not a common name meaning God (or a god ), and the Muslim must use another word or form if he wishes to indicate any other than his own peculiar deity  ( Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics , ed. James Hastings, Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1908, I:326) Scholar Henry Preserved Smith of Harvard University stated:    Allah was already known by name to the Arabs  ( The Bible and Islam: or, the Influence of the Old and New Testament on the Religion of Mohammed , New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1897, p.102) Dr. Kenneth Cragg, former editor of the prestigious scholarly journal Muslim World and an outstanding modern Western Islamic scholar, whose works were generally published by Oxford University, comments:   The name Allah is also evident in archaeological and literary remains of pre-Islamic  Arabia  ( The Call of the Minaret , New York: OUP, 1956, p.31) Dr. W. Montgomery Watt, who was Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Edinburgh University and Visiting Professor of Islamic Studies at College de France, Georgetown University, and the University of Toronto, has done extensive work on the pre-Islamic concept of Allah. He concludes: In recent years I have become increasingly convinced that for an adequate understanding of the career of Muhammad and the srcins of Islam great importance must be attached to the existence in Mecca of belief in Allah as a high god . In a sense this is a form of paganism, but it is so different from paganism as commonly understood that it deserves separate treatment  ( Mohammad's Mecca , p.vii. See also his article, Belief in a High God in pre-Islamic Mecca , Journal of Scientific Semitic Studies , vol.16, 1971, pp.35-40) Caesar Farah in his book on Islam concludes his discussion of the pre-Islamic meaning of Allah by saying: There is no reason, therefore, to accept the idea that Allah passed to the Muslims from the Christians and Jews  ( Islam: Beliefs and Observations , New York: Barrons, 1987, p.28)  According to Middle East scholar E.M.Wherry, whose translation of the Koran is still used today, in pre-Islamic times Allah-worship, as well as the worship of Baal, were both astral religions in that they involved the worship of the sun, the moon, and the stars (  A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran , Osnabrück: Otto Zeller Verlag, 1973, p.36). In ancient Arabia, the sun-god was viewed as a female goddess and the moon as the male god. As has been pointed out by many scholars as Alfred Guilluame, the moon god was called by various names, one of which was Allah (op.cit., Islam , p.7) The name Allah was used as the personal  name of the moon god, in addition to the other titles that could be given to him. Allah, the moon god, was married to the sun goddess. Together they produced three goddesses who were called 'the daughters of Allah'. These three goddesses were called Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat. The daughters of Allah, along with Allah and the sun goddess were viewed as high gods. That is, they were viewed as being at the top of the pantheon of Arabian deities  (Robert Morey, The Islamic Invasion , Eugene, Oregon, Harvest House Publishers, 1977, pp.50-51). The Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend  records: Along with Allah, however, they worshipped a host of lesser gods and daughters of Allah  (op.cit., I:61). It is a well known fact archaeologically speaking that the crescent moon was the symbol of worship of the moon god both in Arabia and throughout the Middle East in pre-Islamic times. Archaeologists have excavated numerous statues and hieroglyphic inscriptions in which a crescent moon was seated on the top of the head of the deity to symbolise the worship of the moon-god. Interestingly, whilst the moon was generally worshipped as a female deity in the Ancient Near East, the Arabs viewed it as a male deity. In Mesopotamia the Sumerian god Nanna, named Sîn by the Akkadians, was worshipped in particular in Ur, where he was the chief god of the city, and also in the city of Harran in Syria, which had close religious links  with Ur. The Ugaritic texts have shown that there a moon deity was worshipped under the name yrh . On the monuments the god is represented by the symbol of the crescent moon. At Hazor in Palestine a small Canaanite shrine of the late Bronze Age was discovered which contained a basalt stele depicting two hands lifted as if in prayer to a crescent moon, indicating that the shrine was dedicated to the moon god. The worship of stellar deities, instead of Yahweh , was always a temptation faced by the Israelites (Dt.4:19; Jer.7:18; Am.5:26; Ac.7:43). But Yahweh  is at the zennith of the heavens (Job 22:12). The Quraysh tribe into which Mohammad was born was particularly devoted to Allah, the moon god, and especially to Allah's three daughters who were viewed as intercessors between the people and Allah. The worship of the three goddesses, Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat, played a significant rôle in the worship at the Kabah in Mecca. The first two daughters of Allah had names which were feminine forms of Allah. The literal Arabic name of Muhammad's father was Abd-Allah. His uncle's name was Obied-Allah. These names reveal the personal devotion that Muhammad's pagan family had to the worship of Allah, the moon god  (op.cit., Morey, p.51). History proves conclusively that before Islam came into existence, the Sabbeans in Arabia worshipped the moon-god Allah who was married to the sun-goddess. We have also seen that it was a matter of common practice to use the name of the moon-god in personal names in Muhammad's tribe. That Allah was a pagan deity in pre-Islamic times is incontestible. And so we must ask ourselves the question: why was Muhammad's God named after a pagan deity in his own tribe? It is an undeniable fact that an Allah idol was set up at the Kabah along with all the other idols of the time. The pagans prayed towards Mecca and the Kabah because that is where their gods were stationed. It made sense to them to face in the direction of their god and pray since that is where he was. Since the idol of their moon god, Allah, was at Mecca, they prayed towards Mecca.  As we have seen, and as is acknowledged amongst all scholars of Middle Eastern religious history, the worship of the moon-god extended far beyond Allah-worship in Arabia. The entire fertile crescent was involved in moon-worship. The data falls neatly in place and we are able therefore to understand, in part, the early success Islam had amongst Arab groups that had traditionally worshipped Allak, the moon-god. We can also understand that the use of the crescent moon as the symbol of Islam, and which appears on dozens of flags of Islamic nations in Asia and Africa, and surmounts minerets and mosque roofs, is a throwback to the days when Allah was worshipped as the moon-god in Mecca. Educated Muslims understand these facts only too well - better, in fact, than most Christians. Robert Morey recalls a conversation he once had: During one trip to Washington DC I got involved in a conversation with a Muslim tax driver from Iran. When I asked him, 'Where did Islam obtain its symbol of the crescent moon?' he responded that it was an ancient pagan symbol used throughout the Middle East and that adopting this symbol had helped Muslims to convert people throughout the Middle East. When I pointed out that the word Allah itself was used by the moon-god cult in pre-Islamic Arabia, he agreed that this was the case. I then pointed out that the religion and the Quran of Muhammad could be explained in terms of pre-Islamic culture, customs, and religious ideas. He agreed with this! He went on to explain that he was a university-educated Muslim who, at this point in his life, was attempting to understand Islam from a scholarly viewpoint. As a result, he had lost his faith in Islam. The significance of the pre-Islamic source of the name Allah cannot be overestimated  (op.cit., pp.52-53). What is particularly interesting to me personally is seeing the parallels between the evolution of Islam and the Roman Catholic Church, both of which absorbed pagan ideas in order to make converts. Muhammad was not alone in his plagiarisation of other religions. Bogus Christian churches have done it too. Those naming the Name of Christ must accept responsibility for similar things. And it is for this reason that this author has renounced all counterfeit forms of Christianity and returned to the srcinal teachings of the Bible and to the true God, Yahweh-Elohim . If there is one thing that has been abundantly clear in my study of comparative religions it is this: all the major religions have different concepts of deity. Yahweh , Allah, Vishnu and Buddha are absolutely not  the same. In other words, all religions do not  worship the same God, only under different names. That is why the use of the word God in describing deity is so inadequate and why we must return to the names  of these deities to discover what they actually mean in terms of personality and attributes. Ignoring the essential differences which divide world religions is an insult to the uniqueness of world religions. Yahweh , the God of the Bible, is not  Allah the god of the Koran, is not  Vishnu the god of the Vedas, is not  the god of the Buddhists, etc.. As we shall see in a later article, there are fundamental differences between Yahweh  and Allah in terms of personal attributes, theology, morals, ethics, soteriology, eschatology, theocracy, and in almost every other respect. They represent two different spiritual worlds. And when we discover even more of the nature of Yahweh  through the revelation of Yah'shua  (Jesus) we see that the gap between the Bible and the Koran is even wider.
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