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 A law there forbidding that action was recently repealed on the basis of personal religious liberty, and that repeal has the Islamic right-wingers up in arms.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.