About the use of the word 'Allah'

A friend recently asked about how I viewed the use of the word 'Allah' instead of 'God' when discussing religion with Muslims. Here is my (slightly edited) answer:

Hello XXXXX,

How do I feel about using the word Allah?

As someone who speaks Arabic all the time I have no choice but to use Allah, and since it is the word used in the Bible, I don't see any problem with it. When I speak English I always use God. Do I object to using the word Allah in English? Not really, but it seems silly and like part of the general Islamic tendency to Arabicize everything. I mean, Islam is Arab culture, and the two can't be separated anymore (which makes it tough for Arab Christians).

Christianity adapts to its place and culture: From Orthodoxy in Russia to old school fundamentalism in Alabama, to Anglicanism mixed with Native American culture in Nunavut to pilgrimages to Mexico City to the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico, to MBB's here kneeling towards Mecca as they pray for the salvation of that city, there is a common foundation, though the cultures are profoundly different.

In fact, Christianity is salt, it preserves cultures. Did you know that the Cyrilic alphabet (used by the Russian language, for example) was developed by Saint Cyril? He was a missionary and he developed the alphabet so he could teach them the Bible and liturgy in their own language!

Nevertheless, I would say once can use the word Allah if it will help you overcome a stumbling block: "I put a stumbling block in no one's path that my testimony might not be discredited," said Paul. But would I say it is the ideal? No. The English word "god" comes from the name of a pagan deity, but now we use it to refer to the Most Holy and Triune God. The word has been baptized and redeemed, what could be more Christian than that?

Peace brother.

Abu Daoud

Comments

SocietyVs said…
That's some great insight - so Allah just means God? I think that was a great explanation and I know that I learned something from it.
Abu Daoud said…
Yep, it just means "God" or more literally, "The God." That's why Arabs who don't speak English very well will often say 'the God' when they are talking about God.

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