by G.J.O. Moshay
The vociferous South African Muslim jihadist, Ahmed Deedat, wrote a whole pamphlet1 to ridicule the Christian God and to show his readers that the Arabic ‘Allah’ is right in the ‘corrupted’ Christian Bible. As if he was coming to give a shocker of the century, Deedat announces on page three of his pamphlet:
“It is enough, for the moment, to say that in the language of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, the name of God Almighty is ALLAH.”
What is that ‘shocker’? It is the presence of the Hebrew words elohim, elah, and alah in a footnote in an earlier edition of the Scofield Commentary Bible. Deedat concludes from the footnote that these words mean the Arabic ‘Allah’. I have seen this particular point repeated in at least two of his publications.
Deedat has tried to convince his readers that he is a wonderful scholar of comparative religion. Much of his argument, however, falls to the ground. The words he refers to are in the footnotes and not part of the text of the Bible. And according to the editors of the same edition of the Bible, while the first two words mean ‘God’, ‘alah’ on the other hand, is a common Hebrew word meaning ‘to swear’ [or a curse; See Daniel 9:11; Strong’s 423]. Moreover, it is a verb and not a noun as Deedat thinks. And the editors do not suggest anywhere that those three words mean ‘Allah.’
Deedat knows his readers and pupils do not know Biblical Hebrew, and he is smart at riding on their ignorance. This is the same method that the Jehovah’s Witnesses use to spread their wrong doctrines. First, the word ‘elah’ in Hebrew means an oak or terebinth, and it is a close morpheme. That is, it is a complete grammatical unit in itself. The only sense in which an oak can be associated with an attribute of God is because it represents strength.
The word is also used as personal names for some particular individuals in the Bible. For example, in Genesis 36:41, ‘Elah’ [Strong’s 425 same as 424] is given as one of the dukes of Edom. In I Samuel 17:2,19, we have ‘the valley of Elah’. In I Chronicles 4: 15, we have the son of Caleb bearing Elah. In I Chron. 9:8, a Benjamite is also called Elah. The father of Shimei is called Elah (I Kings 4:18); one of the kings of Israel is also called Elah. The father of Hoshea in 2 Kings 15:30 is also Elah.
Jesus said, ‘Hallowed be Thy Name’. If the LORD’s Name must be hallowed, we do not expect that Name to be given indiscriminately to human beings. Neither could it be the name of oak which anybody could mention any time, anyhow. God had commanded Israel not to take the name of the LORD their God in vain; and if we realize that Jews were afraid to even mention the covenant Name of the Lord, then we should know it would be impossible for them to give this same name or a similar one to their children.
In reference to God, the word ‘elahh’ [strongs 426] is introduced in Ezra 4:24 and used 43 times in that book alone. Another place where this word occurs is in Daniel where it appears 45 times. One significant point to note here is that these two books were written by people who had been in a foreign land (Babylon or Persia) for 70 years. Although they still believed in their God, their language had been greatly influenced. The last place this word appears in Hebrew Bible is in Jeremiah 10:11. Jeremiah’s use of the word is very significant. Here the prophet used it in the plural to refer to false gods:
Jeremiah 10:11 (KJV) Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, [even] they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
All the other times the word ‘oak’ is used in the original Hebrew texts, it refers directly to the oak tree or terebinth. In Amos 2:8-9, God reminds the children of Israel of the conquests He had wrought for them: “And they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god [Strong’s 430 & 433]. Yet destroyed I the Amorites before them whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.”
If ‘elah’ were the name of God, He would not have said He destroyed Amorites as ‘oaks.’ In Isaiah 1:29-30, God said: “For they shall be ashamed of the oaks [Strong’s 424 & 352] which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. For ye shall be as an oak (‘elah’)[Strong’s 424] whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.” God’s name is honorable, majestic and excellent in all the earth (Psalm 8:1); and if elah were His Name or even one of His names, he could not have used it as seen above.
It is also very significant to note that the oak is actually used in Isaiah 44:14-15 as referring to a place of idolatry where man had hewn down the ‘oak’ [Strong’s 437] to make a religion out of them. God actually derides man for making a god out of oak:
Then shall it be for a man to burn: he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god [ale; Strong’s 410], and worshippeth it; he maketh it a raven image, and falleth down thereto. He burneth part thereof in the fire: with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:
And the residue thereof he maketh a god [ale; Strong’s 410], even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worsippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god [ale; Strong’s 410].
They have not known nor see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? (Isaiah 44:14-19).
If the elah [Strong’s 425 same as 424] of the Hebrew Bible is the Allah of Muslims; if he is the god of the Black Stone in Mecca, the owner of the Kabah shrine which pagans were worshipping in Arabia and which Muslims worship today, he surely is not the ‘El’ and the ‘Jah’ of the Bible. In Hebrew, it is ‘El’ that was used to refer to God, and it is never used in isolation to refer to any other person, place or thing. It is usually used as an affix when used to refer to a person. For example, there is Elkana – God has possessed (used in eight places), Elnathan – God has given, Eltolad – kindred of God, etc. The nearest word to ‘El’ given to a human being is ‘Eli’, and it means ‘God is high’. When written differently it means ‘my God’. So, Deedat may claim that ‘Eli’ sounds like ‘Allah’; but the ‘i’ included, called Yodh, is not part of the word and it is usually a predicator or a modal as in ‘Elijah’ (‘El is Jah’ or ‘God is the LORD’). When Jesus cried ‘Eli’ or ‘Eloi’ on the cross, he was not saying ‘God, God’, but ‘My God, my God’. This is another area where Deedat misses the point in his pamphlet.
The Hebrew word used for God in Genesis 1:1 is ‘Elohim’ – not ‘Allah’, ‘alah,’ ‘ale’ or ‘elah’; and this word ‘Elohim’ appears 32 times in Genesis chapter one alone. Altogether, it appears 2,570 times in the Old Testament. IT IS A PLURAL WORD WHICH ESTABLISHES THE PLURALITY IN UNITY OF DEITY. This negates and destroys any identity with the Allah of the Quran because, grammatically, the word ‘Allah’ does not even allow plurality.
In an article in Mission Frontiers of January-February 2002, David L. Johnston, wrote that Christians were using the word ‘Allah’ for God before Muhammad was born. He asserts that, “Allah is the only Arabic word for God”.
That Christians were using the word ‘Allah’ for God before Muhammad was born is not correct historically, and the assertion that “Allah is the only Arabic word for God” is false. The Arabic word for God – whether with small letter or capital letter ‘g’ is ilah and that was what the pre-Islamic Christians were using. The most recent edition (1996) of the English translation of the Qur’an by two professors of Arabic language in the Islamic University, Medinah, Muhammad Muhsin Khan and Muhammad Al-Hilali, and approved by the Chief Justice of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid, differentiates between the specific ‘Allah’ of Muhammad and ‘Ilah’, the general ‘God’ in Arabic language. They translate Surah 2: 163 as, “And your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God). La ilah illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Gracious, the most Merciful…”
Moreover, Muhammad advised his followers to tell Christians and the Jews, “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our Ilah (God) and your Ilah (God) is One (i.e. Allah), and to Him we have submitted (as Muslims) [Surah 29:46, Al Hilali & Muhsin Khan].
Muhammad used Ilah to refer to the Christian God. This shows clearly that the name of God in Arabic is Ilah. The Allah of Muhammad is a specific being, and here Muhammad is trying to explain that his Allah is the same Ilah of the Jews and Christians. Therefore to say that, “‘Allah’ is the only Arabic word for God” is simply not true. In their comment on Surah 16:22 and 51 in the above translation, Professors Muhsin Khan and Al-Hilali define Ilah as “The One who has all the right to be worshipped.”
‘Ilah’, refers to the common universal God while ‘Allah’ refers to the specific ‘God’ Muhammad calls “the Lord of this city (Mecca)” (Surah 27:91). That is, the territorial god of Mecca! In Surah 37:4, the Quran says again, “Verily, your Ilah (God) is indeed One (i.e. Allah): Lord of the heavens and of the earth, and all that is between them, and Lord of every point of the sun’s risings.” (Muhsin Khan, et al. See also Surah 38:65).
[Taken from “Who Is This Allah” by G.J.O Moshey. Used by permission.]
1 Deedat, A. What is His Name. This and many other books like The God that Never Was by Ahmed Deedat, are deliberately written to mock the Christian concept of God, and to particularly ridicule the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.“But the LORD [JEHOVAH] is the true God [Ilah], he is the living God [Ilah]” (Jer 10:10; Arabic Van Dyke Translation; www.injeel.com) Note: Allah (in Arabic) is not found in this verse!