Friday, January 8, 2010

Allahu Akbar

One of the best ways to twist the knickers of an ultraconservative Christian is to use the name Allah in a way that seems to imply that the God of Muslims is the same as the God of Christians and two/thirds of the God of Jews.

When progressive and moderate Christians seek that monotheistic commonality, it's taken as either syncretistic or naive. Allah is, like, so not the same, say those on the right. Some point out the variances between the nature of Allah as expressed in the Qu'ran and the YHWH described in the Torah...and there are, certainly, some differences. Others point out differences in ethical emphasis between the God Jesus articulated and the Allah that Mohammed proclaimed. There are certainly some significant distinctives, although ultraconservatives tend to highlight them in ways that are more polemic and intentionally negative.

But many seem...well...less sane. Allah is a pagan Moon God, or so Jack Chick's little psychotronic komiks would have us believe. Allah is an evil demon, say glazed-eye folks who unsurprisingly TEND TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS. There can be no use of that name by Christians!

What I've found interesting here is that once again, Christian fundamentalists and Islamic fundamentalists seem to have ended up on the same side of an issue. An interesting snippet of faith news out of Malaysia recently involved efforts on the part of Muslim conservatives to forbid Christians from using the name Allah to describe God in their speech and in their writing. A law there forbidding that action was recently repealed on the basis of personal religious liberty, and that repeal has the Islamic right-wingers up in arms. It might...cause confusion. Syncretism. Muslims deciding of their own free will that they might want to be Christian. Or worse yet, a sense of mutual understanding and monotheistic commonality. That this is a perfect mirror image of the perspective of Christian ultraconservatives is unsurprising. The extremes always, always, end up looking functionally identical to that thing they claim to hate the most.

I tend not to use the name Allah meself, for the same reason I don't drop into an overblown Latino accent whenever I pronounce a word with Spanish origins. Like, say, "I recently vacationed in "Ghhwaah-tay-Maaal-Ah." It seems a bit forced, a bit too "golly-look-at-me-I'm-so-open-minded-and-progressive." But I'm also not willing to preclude any overlap at all between my faith and that of those who approach the Creator in ways that...while they differ...are not inherently evil.


  1. And isn't the main reason why utilizing the name "Allah" for God as a Christian is acceptable is because... oh yeah, we believe there really IS ONLY ONE GOD! (apologies for the all caps).

    I've had this conversation in a couple of different settings, but when we get right down to it, if there is only 1 God, as Jews, Christians and Muslims believe (although each will nuance that substantially and particularly alienate Christians on the whole Trinity issue) - if we believe there is only 1 God, than whatever you "call" God (Allah, just means "God" in Arabic, right?) You're saying the same thing, right? Well, kinda, I guess. Because each of us MEAN something else when we say God - so it's a whole language thing too.

    When I get right down to it, for me it's the fact I'm either referring to/praying to, etc GOD or not. I may be off-base in my theology, in my personal understanding of who God is, but if I'm truly thinking/referring to/praying to God, then that's what I'm doing. If it's prayer/reference, etc to a Supreme being, to some degree outside of my ability to contemplate, there's a sense that I really am praying/referring to that same God. If I THINK God is some rock or statue or oversized goat, that's different. But if we're right, there's only 1 God, whether I say it in English (God) or Arabic (Allah) or some other language, it's still the same being.

    Maybe that's a bit metaphysical, but I think it's dead on theological. If there's only 1 God, you can't pray to ANOTHER God, right?

  2. Say, “He is God, the One. God, to Whom the creatures turn for their needs. He begets not, nor was He begotten, and there is none like Him.” - Sura 112:1-4

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

    Why exactly to you think saying Allah to refer to the One True and Living God is acceptable? Allah is not YHWH, the Great I AM. There are more than 6,000 contradictions in the Quran concerning the Holy Bible. Are the "holy" books of Buddhism or Hinduism valid as well?

    Is God a buffoon? Does He not know what He says?

    For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would call themselves a Christian when they proudly say they use the name "Allah" and in the same breath demean those who uphold that the Holy Bible is 100% the only Word of the only True God.

    And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. - John 17:3

    I pray that you will repent of your blasphemy and humble yourself before the God you claim to serve.

    Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. - Gal 6:7

    And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. - Jos. 24:15

  3. @ Anonymous: concur with the radical Muslims, and disagree with the evangelical Christians who are using the name "Allah" to facilitate conversations with Muslims about Jesus?