Pamela Geller, “Allah” and “God”

Pamela Geller, “Allah” and “God”

by Sheila Musaji


Back in 2007 when some Malaysian clergy raised the ridiculous issue of the use of the word Allah for God by Christians, we published many articles condemning them for such a decision.  Malaysia, Allah, and God sums up this dispute and provides an extensive collection of resources.

It is difficult to believe they do not understand the clear statements of the Qur’an:

“And dispute not with the People of the Book but say “We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and that which came down to you…our God [Allah] and your God [Allah] is One, and it is to Him we bow”  Qur’an 29:46

“Say (all of you): We believe in God and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes of Israel and what was given unto Moses and to Jesus and what was given to all the prophets from their Lord. We draw no distinctions between any of them, and we are a people who submit themselves (willingly) to God.” Qur’an 2:136

“To you have we given the scriptures, just as we have given scriptures to people before you.  We have protected your scripture [the Qur’an] in its entirety.  So, judge among people from what knowledge has come to you, and do not be carried over by your vain desires.  Unto every one of you We have appointed a [different] governing system of law (shir’ah) and a [different] way of life (minhaj).  If God had so willed, all humanity would have been a single community.  God’s plan is to test you in what each one of you has received [in both scriptures and inspiration].  So strive as in a race in all virtues.  The goal of all people is to God.  God [alone] will tell you the truth about matters over which you dispute.”  Qur’an 5:48

The article on the Malaysian incident included the ISNA statement on that issue:

(Plainfield, IN – January 4, 2010) The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) commends the landmark ruling by a Malaysian Court on December 31, 2009, that affirms the religious freedom of Malaysian Christians. The ruling asserts that Christians have the right to use the word “Allah” to translate “God” into Bahasa Melayu, the Malaysian language. It strikes down a government ban that was placed in 2007 on the use of the term in Christian literature.

The opponents of the use of the word Allah in reference to God have argued that the term “God” is usually translated by Malaysians who follow faiths other than Islam as “Tuhan” in Bahasa Melayu, not “Allah.” They insist that “Allah” should only be used to refer to God in Islam. This argument is contrary to both Islamic understanding and practice.

The Qur’an is quite explicit that Muslims worship the same God recognized by Christians. The Qur’an commands Muslims to declare that the God they worship and the one worshiped by the followers of revealed books, including Christians, is one:  “… and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him do we submit.” (Qur’an 29:46)

With regards to actual and historical practices, Christian Arabs have been using the word “Allah” to refer to God in their religious sources since the inception of Islam, and have never been challenged by private Muslims or Muslim governments on this ground. Islamic law is clear that followers of the Christian faith have the right to practice their religion according to their own religious teachings.

We call on the Malaysian government to uphold the religious freedom of Christians and to let the court ruling stand. We also urge Muslim NGOs to respect Islamic teachings and long-held Islamic traditions, and to withdraw their opposition to the use of the word “Allah” by their Christian compatriots.

I mention this particular Malaysian dispute because it is raised by some Islamophobes in order to “prove” that Muslims themselves believe that Allah and God are not the same.  That couldn’t be further from the truth, and the Malaysian incident is an aberration from normative Muslim thought on this issue over the centuries.

Pamela Geller has made her position on whether or not Allah and God are the same very clear in many of her writings.  For example:

Pamela Geller objected to the Muhammad Asad translation of the Qur’an into English using the English word God for the Arabic word Allah.  The first thing I noticed was that this translation uses “God” for Allah throughout, even as it shows on every page that the Allah of the Qur’an is not the G-d of the Jews or of the Christians. Hmmmm.

She also said that ”Muslims have no right to invoke Moses and Abraham. This is a delegitimization of Judaism. It is offensive and vile. And while Jesus is not my guy, the same thing goes for him. It is a delegitimization of Christianity. These are not Muslim prophets.” 

In one of her articles about halal Thanksgiving Turkeys - she said  “This is an issue for many groups, including those Christians who believe that the Christian Bible prohibits the consumption of meat sacrificed to idols; many Christians would view halal meat as meeting that definition since in halal slaughter, an imam offers the animal up as a sacrifice to Allah.”

Clearly her position is a mirror image of that of the bigoted Malaysian clerics.  In fact, she goes one step further, she sees the Arabic language itself as dangerous or suspicious.  She said:

“It shows how we mischaracterized, we willfully misunderstand Islam. Yes, on the face of it, yes, Arabic is a language. In a sense there would be no difference between opening a foreign language school — a Spanish language school or a french language school — but in fact Arabic is more than a language. It is explicated the language of Islam, so in that sense it is part of the Islamic religious imperial project. Radical Islam advances through the Arabic language. And you go all kinds of places that aren’t in the Arab world now, like Pakistan, Indonesia, Central Asia, the Balkans, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Canada and the United States, and you will here those Imams preaching in Arabic. Arabic is not just another language like French or Italian, it is the spearhead of an ideological project that is deeply opposed to the United States.”

Geller’s translation skills are limited or non-existent, but that doesn’t stop her from making false claims, which is inexcusable since information about the terminology used to refer to the One God, is readily available from both popular and academic sources.  In fact, Geller would only need to speak with a Rabbi, or someone fluent in both Arabic and Hebrew, to discover that her statements about Allah and God are incorrect.

Joachim Martillo did a Backgrounder on the word “God” in Arabic and English:

Some Christians claim that Muslims do not worship the same god as Christians do even though Arab Christians routinely use the following terminology:

الله الآب, Allah al-Ab, i.e., God the Father,
الله الابن, Allah al-Ibn, i.e., God the Son,
الله الروح القدس, Allah al-Ruh al-qudus, i.e., God the Holy Spirit.

Allah, which is a God-name like Yahweh, is not exactly equivalent to God, which is the English word for god generically.

To be specific, the phrase “the God” is perfectly normal English but an Arabic phrase like al-Allah or a Hebrew phrase like ha-Yahweh is neither normal Arabic nor normal Hebrew.

English and most other European languages do not have a native God-name equivalent to Allah or Yahweh.

The generic Arabic word for god is ilaah (إله or إلاه ), which is comparable to Hebrew eloah or to Aramaic elah (אֱלָה) or to Syriac alah (ܐܰܠܳܗ).

אֱלָהָא is the determined form in Aramaic
ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ is the determined form in Syriac.

Targum Onkelos (Jewish Aramaic translation) for Psalms 18:32 contains the phrase:

Leyt elaha (אֱלָהָא) ela Yahweh.

La ilaaha illa allahu (لا إله إلاَّ الله) is the Arabic equivalent.

Thus, the first half of the Islamic Statement of Faith (the Shahada), “There is no god but God (Allah),” is, in fact, Biblical.

[Leyt (Aramaic for existential negation) requires a determined nominative where la (Arabic for not) requires an undetermined accusative.]

And, here is another readily available source for some information on the term Allah:

The term Allāh is derived from a contraction of the Arabic definite article al- “the” and ʾilāh “deity, god” to al-lāh meaning “the [sole] deity, God” (ὁ θεὸς μόνος, ho theos monos).[8] Cognates of the name “Allāh” exist in other Semitic languages, including Hebrew and Aramaic.[9] Biblical Hebrew mostly uses the plural form (but functional singular) Elohim. The corresponding Aramaic form is ʼĔlāhā ܐܠܗܐ in Biblical Aramaic and ʼAlâhâ ܐܲܠܵܗܵܐ in Syriac as used by the Assyrian Church, both meaning simply “God”.

... The Aramaic word for “God” in the language of Assyrian Christians is ʼĔlāhā, or Alaha. Arabic-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths, including Christians and Jews, use the word “Allah” to mean “God”.[7] The Christian Arabs of today have no other word for ‘God’ than ‘Allah’.[14] (Even the Arabic-descended Maltese language of Malta, whose population is almost entirely Roman Catholic, uses Alla for ‘God’.) Arab Christians for example use terms Allāh al-ʾab (الله الأب) meaning God the Father, Allāh al-ibn (الله الابن) mean God the Son, and Allāh ar-rūḥ al-quds (الله الروح القدس) meaning God the Holy Spirit (See God in Christianity for the Christian concept of God).

... As Hebrew and Arabic are closely related Semitic languages, it is commonly accepted that Allah (root, ʾilāh) and the Biblical Elohim are cognate derivations of same origin, as in Eloah a Hebrew word which is used (e.g. in the Book of Job) to mean “(the) God” and also “god or gods” as in the case of Elohim, ultimately deriving from the root El, “strong”, possibly genericized from El (deity), as in the Ugariticlhm “children of El” (the ancient Near Eastern creator god in pre-Abrahamic tradition).  Wikipedia

Geller is not alone in this nonsense, her partner in hate, Robert Spencer also claims that God and Allah are not the same. 

Pamela Geller regularly uses the term “Allahu Fubar” when pointing to some perceived act she falsely sees as “stealth jihad”.

For exampleObama’s seditious Ramadan dinner is the consummate achievement of the stealth jihad. Allahu FUBAR!  She has used this term in article titles

I have often wondered what it meant.  According to Wikipedia and to Acronym Finder: FUBAR is an acronym that commonly means “fucked up beyond all recognition/any repair/all reason”.

It is shocking that someone who calls themselves a proud Jew, and who claims to “love” Muslims could go this far in displaying absolute contempt for Muslims and Islam, and also for all of the children of Abraham (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) who happen to use the Arabic term for God. 

For anyone who declares themself to be a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim to use a phrase like this is totally reprehensible.  Geller doesn’t understand the difference between “the civilized” and “the savage”.

 


SEE ALSO:

9/11 and Rosh Hashanah: Reconciling Abraham’s Families, Celebrating American Diversity, Rabbi Arthur Waskow http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/911_and_rosh_hashanah_reconciling_abrahams_families_celebrating_american_di

A Call to Bridge the Abrahamic Faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Ph. D.  http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_call_to_bridge_the_abrahamic_faiths_judaism_christianity_and_islam

The Abrahamic Heritage and Interreligious Dialogue: Ambiguities and Promises, Tarek Mitri http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_abrahamic_heritage_and_interreligious_dialogue_ambiguities_and_promises

The Allah-God controversy in Malaysia, Eric Munir Winkel http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_allah_god_controversy_in_malaysia/

Backgrounder on the word “God” in Arabic and English, Joachim Martillo http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/allah/

CAIR Establishes Spirit of Islam Fund to Help Rebuild Malaysian Churches http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cair_establishes_spirit_of_islam_fund_to_help_rebuild_malaysian_churches/0017843

Can Allah Be Monopolised By Any Community?, Asghar Ali Engineer http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/can_allah_be_monopolised_by_any_community/0017853 

Church Bombings in Malaysia:  The Politics Behind the Dilemma, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/church_bombings_in_malaysia_the_politics_behind_the_dilemma/0017842

Combating Muslim Intolerance, John L. Esposito http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-l-esposito/combating-muslim-intolera_b_417319.html

Do Malaysian Muslims understand what ‘Allah’ means? Part 2, Farish A. Noor http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/do_malaysian_muslims_understand_what_allah_means_part_2/

Erasing “Allah” In Churches And Mosques, C.M. Naim http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/erasing_allah_in_churches_and_mosques/

For God and Our Father Abraham: Towards a More Inclusive Witness for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, D. Jason Berggren http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/for_god_and_our_father_abraham_towards_a_more_inclusive_witness_for_jews_ch

Interview With Chandra Muzaffar on Malaysian Allah/God Controversy, Yoginder Sikand http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/interview_with_chandra_muzaffar_on_malaysian_allahgod_controversy/

Islamic Marcionism in Malaysia: Is Allah Equivalent to God?, Joachim Martillo http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamic_marcionism_in_malaysia_is_allah_equivalent_to_god/

The legacy of Abraham, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_legacy_of_abraham

Let “God” be “God”!, Parvez Ahmed, Ph.D. and Lucinda Mosher, Th.D http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/let_god_be_god/

Malaysia, Allah, and God, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/malaysia_allah_and_god/

Malaysia, Allah, and God, Part II, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/malaysia_allah_and_god_part_ii/

Malaysia Catholics allowed to call God ‘Allah’ again. Why the fuss?  http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2010/0104/Malaysia-Catholics-allowed-to-call-God-Allah-again.-Why-the-fuss 

Malaysia: Government Appeals Ruling on ‘Allah’ Use http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/world/asia/05briefs-Malaysia.html

North American Muslims Determined to Counter Violence and Terrorism, Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/north_american_muslims_determined_to_counter_violence_and_terrorism/0017836 

One God, Many Names, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/one_god_many_names

Our common Abrahamic heritage, Javeed Akhter http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/our_common_abrahamic_heritage

Protecting Houses of Worship a Duty for Muslims, Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/protecting_houses_of_worship_a_duty_for_muslims/0017844

Respect in Islam for Followers of the Abrahamic Faiths, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/respect_in_islam_for_followers_of_the_abrahamic_faiths

Revisiting Hagar, The Woman Who Named God, Charlotte Gordon http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/revisiting_hagar_the_woman_who_named_god

The significance of Abraham in Our World Today Needs to Be Asserted, Imam Zaid Shakir http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the-significance-of-abraham-in-our-world-today-needs-to-be-asserted

Statement on Malaysian Church Bombings, Anwar Ibrahim http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/statement_on_malaysian_church_bombings/0017840

Tracing Abraham: Patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam may be key to peace http://www.deseretnews.com/article/660198213/Tracing-Abraham-Patriarch-of-Judaism-Christianity-and-Islam-may-be-key-to-peace.html

The tragedy of monotheism, Rabia Terri Harris http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_tragedy_of_monotheism 

Zaid calls for inter-faith council in wake of church attacks http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/49169-zaid-calls-for-inter-faith-council-in-wake-of-church-attacks-

 


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