The Arabic word “Allah” presents no such difficulty or ambiguity, since it is only used forAlmighty God alone. Additionally, in English, the only difference between “god”, meaning afalse god, and “God”, meaning the One True God, is the capital “G”. In the Arabic alphabet,since it does not have capital letters, the word for God (i.e. Allah) is formed by adding theequivalent to the English word “the” (Al-) to the Arabic word for “god/God” (ilah). So theArabic word “Allah” literally it means “The God” - the “Al-” in Arabic basically serving thesame function as the capital “G” in English. Due to the above mentioned facts, a moreaccurate translation of the word “Allah” into English might be “The One -and-Only God” or“The One Truee God”.More importantly, it should also be noted that the Arabic word “Allah” contains a deepreligious message due to its root meaning and origin. This is because it stems from theArabic verb ta’allaha (or alaha), which means “to be worshipped”. Thus in Arabic, the word“Allah” means “The One who deserves all worship”. This, in a nutshell, is the PureMonotheistic message of Islam. You see, according to Islam, “monotheism” is much morethan simply believing in the existence of “only One God” - as seemingly opposed to two,three or more. If one understands the root meaning of the word “Allah”, this point shouldbecome clear. One should understand that Islam’s criticism of the other religions that claimto be “monotheistic” is not because they are “polytheistic” in the classic sense, butbecause they direct various forms of worship to other than Almighty God. We will discussthe meaning of worship in Islam below, however, before moving on it should be noted thatmany non-Muslims are unaware of the distinction between simply believing in the existenceof only One God and reserving all worship for Him alone.
Many Christians are painfully unaware of this point, and thus you often find them askinghow Muslims can accuse the followers of Jesus, peace be upon him, of being “polytheists”when they were all “monotheistic Jews”. First of all, it should be clarified that the word“polytheist” doesn’t really sound right in this context, since to many it implies simplybelieving in the existence of more than one God. So in an Islamic context, “associators”,“man-worshippers” or “creature worshippers” might be more accurate and appropriateterms - especially since Christians believe Jesus to be both “100% God and 100% man”,while still paying lip-service to God’s “Oneness”. However, as we’re previously touchedupon, what is really at the root of this problem is the fact that Christians - as well as themembers of other religions - don’t really know what “monotheism” means - especially in theIslamic sense. All of the books, articles and papers that I’ve read which were written byChristians invariably limit “monotheism” to believing in the existence of “One Sovereignand Creator God”. Islam, however, teaches much more than this.Suffice it to say that just because someone claims to be a “monotheistic” Jew, Christian orMuslim, that doesn’t keep them from falling into corrupt beliefs and idolatrous practices.Many people, including some Muslims, claim belief in “One God” even though they’ve falleninto acts of idolatry. Certainly, many Protestants accuse Roman Catholics of idolatrouspractices in regards to the saints and the Virgin Mary. Likewise, the Greek Orthodox Churchis considered “idolatrous” by many other Christians because in much of their worship theyuse icons. However, if you ask a Roman Catholic or a Greek Orthodox person if God is“One”, they will invariably answer: “Yes!”. This lip-service, however, does not stop themfrom being “creature worshipping” idolaters. The same goes for Hindus, who just considertheir gods to be “manifestations” or “incarnations” of the One Supreme God.
Everyone should be aware of the fact that throughout the long history of the “AbrahamicFaiths”, there have people who, while believing in “One God”, have adopted beliefs andpractices that completely nullify their claim to “monotheism”. This is the Muslim view ofChristians. We’re well aware of the fact that they claim belief in “One God” with their lips,but this doesn’t mean that they don’t nullify their claim in other ways. This is because manypeople simply haven’t been taught everything that Pure Monotheism entails. From anIslamic point of view, “monotheism” can be nullified in many ways. For example, simplybelieving that it is permissible to rule by Western “liberal” and “democratic” laws in lieu ofthe Divinely Revealed Law of Almighty God makes one a “polytheist”. Certainly, a personwho does such a thing, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, doesn’t ever believe that thereis another Almighty Creator and Sovereign Lord. However, for all practical purposes, such aperson has take another “god”, whether they choose to admit it or not. In this way they areassociating partners with Almighty God (Arabic: shirk), and thus become a “polytheist” in apractical sense, regardless of their lip-service to “monotheism”. This holds true even if theperson doesn’t believe what they are doing is “worship”. For example, Roman Catholicswho pray to the Virgin Mary will staunchly deny that they are “worshipping” her. Theyinstead call it “adoration” or some other watered-down term. However, from an Islamic pointof view, what is worship if not this? Islam teaches that prayer and supplication are themarrow of worship, so if one directs their prayers to an intermediary (even if the pray is“ultimately” meant for God), then what is left of worship? Additionally, how can someonewho believes in Almighty God follow man-made laws instead of God’s Law, withoutadmitting that they’ve begun worshipping other than God? Do they know better than God?
Additionally, the Old Testament makes it perfectly clear that making a “graven image” of anycreated thing (not to mention ones which are supposed to “represent” Almighty God) isprohibited. Please see Exodus 20:4-6, Leviticus 26:1 and Deuteronomy 4:16, 23, 25, 5:8 andNehemiah 9:6 for some statements in regards to this point. Without addressing the issuethat Christians commonly violate the unambiguous commandment not to even “make”representations of anything that is in the “heavens above or on the earth beneath”, theseverses not only teach that worshipping idols is prohibited, but also that Almighty God iseternally distinct from His creation and thus nothing in His creation can represent Him. Tobelieve otherwise is to be a de facto idol worshipper - even if one claims belief in one, andonly one, “True God”. In Exodus 20:4-6 and Deuteronomy 4:16, Almighty God - who is a“Jealous God” - makes it perfectly clear that He is distinct from His creation.By giving such clear and merciful guidance to human beings, God is establishing auniversal and eternal Truth for the benefit of mankind. This eternal Truth is the bedrock ofreligious guidance, since once people begin to believe that Almighty God mixes with or canbe represented by His creation, they can be duped into believing almost anything. Oncesomeone accepts that God has become “incarnate” in His creation, or that someone orsomething is a “manifestation” - and thus representation - of Him, the floodgates are openand “Truth” becomes a matter of subjective guesswork. Once the first and most basicconcept is violated - regardless of how complicated and sophisticated the rationale for itmight be - it is very easy to fall further and further away from the Eternal Truth of PureMonotheism. In the final analysis, it is not a question of whether God is capable of becominga man, but rather a question of whether one bases their beliefs about God on clear,unambiguous and authentic guidance.
Once it is left up to the human mind to decide what Almighty God can and cannot do, thestage is set for misguidance to take root. Human speculation about God only ends upleading to misguidance and despair, since no clear conclusions can ever be reached. Forexample, is God capable of creating an object so heavy that He is incapable of moving it? Ifnot, does that mean that He is incapable? It is because of misguided questions like this thatIslam clearly teaches that mankind should only say about God what He has said aboutHimself. This means all of our ideas about God must be based on Revelation - not humanspeculation. In short, the final prophet of Islam - Muhammad - was sent by Almighty God topreach the same Pure Monotheism that was practiced by Noah, Abraham, Moses, David andJesus - peace be upon them all. This Pure Monotheism means not only believing that thereis only One God in existence, but realizing that He is transcedent above His creation andthat all worship is due to Him alone.Before concluding, we should probably address the practice of those Muslims who insist onusing the Arabic word “Allah” even when speaking English. Even though this practicecertainly is not to be condemned when it is done around those who understand the meaningof the Arabic word “Allah”, it is my experience - both during my years as a non-Muslim andmy years as a Muslim - that such a practice can (and usually ddoes) breedmisunderstanding. 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 thesevere misunderstandings that many non-Muslims have about Islam (and the distorted waywhich Islam has been portrayed in the West). Insisting on using the word “Allah” only fuelsthe flames of misunderstanding - so there’s no good reason to do it. I’ve often wonderedwhat value some Muslims think that using the word “Allah” adds to the Pure Message thatthey are trying to convey.
( . . . and I’m still waiting for an answer!) Unfortunately, those Muslims who insist on usingthe word “Allah” even when addressing non-Muslims who are unfamiliar with Islam and theArabic language, do both a disservice to themselves and their religion. Unfortunately, thispractice is usually based on the false assumption - by a non-native speaker of English - thatthe word “God” in English is incapable of expressing a pure and proper belief in AlmightyGod. This is certainly false. If someone says that the English word “God” cannot be used toexpress the Pure Islamic Belief in Tawhid, they are wrong not because they don’tunderstand Tawhid, but simply because they don’t understand the English language. Manypeople who insist on using the Arabic word “Allah” usually don’t realize this, because inreality, they are not so much affirming the word “Allah” as they are rejecting the word “God”as unsuitable - based on incorrect assumptions. For someone to assume that the word“God” presupposes a certain theological point-of-view (such as the Trinity) is simply Wrong- and that’s Wrong with a capital “W”. To say the word “God” should be rejected because itcan be changed into “god”, “gods” or “goddess” is illogical because each of these wordshas a distinctive meaning and a distinctive spelling - at least to someone who knows how tospeak English correctly. Using the same logic, I can demonstrate that the root letters “ktb”can be used to form the Arabic words “kitab” (book), “maktabah” (library), “maktab” (office)and “kaatib” (writer), but does that mean that these words have the same meaning? DoArabic-speaking people go through life confusing libraries with writers and offices withbooks (both in conversation and in reality)? I think not! This is not to mention the fact that ifthe Arabic “Al-” was put in front of these words in order to make them definite, confusionwould be even less likely! So the logic in both cases is the same, and this is because eventhough the same letters are used in “God” and “god”, these two words have two differentmeanings in the English language. The capital “G” implies something different than thesmall “g” - and anyone who denies this simply doesn’t know how to speak the Englishlanguage.
In concluding this point, it should be mentioned that Arabic-speaking Muslims who believein Pure Tawhid, Arabic-speaking Christians, the idol worshippers of Mecca and (so-called)Muslims who believe in “Wahdat al-Wujud” all use the word “Allah”. However, does thisguarantee all of them proper belief in “Allah”? Certainly not, because if they have a corruptconcept of “Allah” it doesn’t matter what word they use!This brings us to a more important point: It should be clearly understood that what Islam isprimarily concerned with is correcting mankind’s concept of Almighty God. What we areultimately going to be held accountable at the end of our life is not whether we prefer theword “Allah” over the word “God”, but what our concept of God is. Language is only a sideissue. A person can have an incorrect concept of God while using the word “Allah”, andlikewise a person can have a correct concept of God while using the word “God”. This isbecause both of these words are equally capable of being misused and being improperlydefined. As we’ve already mentioned, using the word “Allah” no more insinuates belief inthe Unity of God than the use of the word “God” insinuates belief in the Trinity - or any othertheological opinion. Naturally, when God sends a revelation to mankind through a prophet,He is going to send it in a language that the people who receive it can understand and relateto. Almighty God makes this clear in the Qur’an, when He states:“Never did We send a Messenger except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people inorder to make (things) clear to them.”
(Qur’an, Chapter 14 - “Abraham”, Verse 4)As Muslims, we think that it is unfortunate that we have to go into details on such seeminglyminor issues, but so many falsehoods have been heaped upon our religion, that we feel thatit is our duty to try to break down the barriers of falsehood. This isn’t always easy, sincethere is a lot of anti-Islamic literature in existence which tries to make Islam look likesomething strange and foreign to Westerners. There are some people out there, who areobviously not on the side of truth, that want to get people to believe that “Allah” is justsome Arabian “god”, and that Islam is completely “other” - meaning that it has no commonroots with the other Abrahamic religions (i.e. Christianity and Judaism). To say that Muslimsworship a different “God” because they say “Allah” is just as illogical as saying that Frenchpeople worship another God because they use the word “Dieu”, that Spanish-speakingpeople worship a different God because they say “Dios” or that the Hebrews worshipped adifferent God because they sometimes call Him “Yahweh”. Certainly, reasoning like this isquite ridiculous! It should also be mentioned, that claiming that any one language uses theonly the correct word for God is tantamount to denying the universality of God’s message tomankind, which was to all nations, tribes and people through various prophets who spokedifferent languages.Before closing, we would like everyone to be aware of the fact that some Christianmissionary organizations print English literature intended to teach Christians about Islamwhich say such things as: “Allah is the god of the Muslims” and that “Muhammad came toget people to believe in the god Allah” - implying that “Allah” is some sort of false “god”.However, when these same organizations print literature in the Arabic language, hoping tolead Arabic-speaking Muslims “to Christ”, they use the word “Allah” for God. It seems that ifthey were on the side of truth, they would not have to resort to such inconsistencies. And onan even more ridiculous note . . .
there are also missionary organizations that exceed this in ignorance (or deceit) by writingbooks that call on Muslims to give up their belief in “Allah”, and instead worship the “Lord”Jesus, “the Son of God”. Besides making it abundantly clear that they are outside thecommunity of Pure Monotheism, the people who write such material don’t even realize thatif they wrote such a pamphlet in Arabic, it would be self-contradictory. This is because in anArabic Bible Jesus is the “Son of Allah”! If an Arabic-speaking person gave up the worshipof “Allah”, they would have no God to worship, since “Allah” is simply the Arabic word forGod!Before we conclude, however, we would like to ask our readers to ask themselves what theythink the reasons are behind all of these lies? If Islam was just some false religion thatdidn’t make any sense, would so many people, from Western scholars to Christianmissionaries, have to tell so many lies about it? The reason is that the Ultimate Truth ofIslam stands on solid ground and its unshakable belief in the Unity of God is abovereproach. Due to this, Christians can’t criticize its doctrines directly, but instead make upthings about Islam that aren’t true so that people lose the desire to learn more. If Muslimswere able to present Islam in the proper way to people in the West, it surely might makemany people reconsider and re-evaluate their own beliefs. It is quite likely that Christians,when they find out that there is a universal religion in the world that teaches people toworship and love God, while also practicing Pure Monotheism, would at least feel that theyshould re-examine the basis for their own beliefs and doctrines