Rejoinder – Allah is Not a Personal Name: More Evidence Needed, Not Mere Assertions
Again in response to some comments on the article “ Allah is not a Personal Name LINK
I have decided to post my own rejoinder as a full post:
Further comments on use of allah
I am not concerned with how Muslims understand Allah (whether personal or generic; that is their personal liberty that I have no wish to interfere). But the thrust of the argument of my articles is that the Christian use of allah is consistent with the centuries of usage among the various Semitic languages/dialects. This argument has not been addressed, much less challenged.
There is no such thing as proprietary rights by earlier linguistic users over later users. Such a claim would render most 21 century language speakers unable to use much of their own languages (apart from some barely surviving Phoenicians, marginalized non-Muslims tribes in the Middle East, some Indo-Aryan tribes and the Han Chinese) since every language is somehow influenced by its unavoidable interactions with the languages of neighboring and longer existing societies. The outcome of universal linguistic restriction is patently so absurd that it is not much worth the effort to refute the claim of proprietary linguistic right
But for the sake of argument, and working from the premise of the right of prior user, I may first point again to the wide spread use of el, eloah and allah in Hebrew, Syraic and Nabataea (proto/paleo-Arab) dialects. From this historical observation, I can offer the following argument:
1) The earlier user has more rights to use a word than later user
2) Christians use the word allah (in related semitic dialects) before Muslims
3) Conclusion: Christians have more right to use the word allah than Muslims
Note that Muslims would reject the proposition (2) since they assume there was such a thing as a pure Arabic language that does not draw any influence from other earlier Semitic dialects. Of course there have to maintain dogmatically a pure linguistic system since any concession to proposition (2) will undermine their arrogation of propriety right to the word allah. Worse still, on their (debatable) premises, they might then have to concede greater rights to use allah to other people who could demonstrate any linguistic continuity with any Semitic dialect that is earlier than Quranic Arabic.
I doubt there is a linguist who accepts the myth of a pure linguistic system without any influence from earlier neighboring languages. As to Quranic language, I refer to the book by Arthur Jefferey, Professor of Semitic Languages. School of Oriental Studies, Cairo, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Quran (Oriental Institute Baroda, 1938) who listed and discussed hundreds of foreign words in the Quran. In particular, read his discussion on the word allah and allahumma (pp. 66-67).
I shall for the moment only point to some academic sources for anyone interested to pursue further research in the area of the use of allah in pre-Islamic Arabia. Further tapping into the expertise of people from the United Bible Society also confirms the following historical reality:
1. The Arabs used the word Allah for the supreme being before the time of Muhammad.
See H.A.R. Gibb & J.H. Kramers, Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1974), 33. Even Muhammad’s father was named Abd Allah, God’s servant;
See also Philip Hitti, History of the Arabs: From the Earliest Times to the Present,Tenth Edition (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1970), p. 101.
2. Inscriptions with Allah have been discovered in Northern and Southern Arabia from as early as the fifth century B.C.
See René Dussaud, Les Arabes en Syrie avant l’Islam (Paris, Ernest Leroux, 1907), pp. 141f., and Hitti, loc. cit., pp. 100f., citing the work of F. V. Winnett, A Study of the Lihyanite and Thamudic Inscriptions (Toronto: 1937), p. 30.
In the old days when I was able to read Gothic German, I found citations of pre-Islamic references in Julius Wellhausen’s book Reste arabischen Heidenthums (Berlin, 1897)
3. Christians have used the word Allah from pre-Islamic times, and Allah has been used continuously in Arabic translations of the Bible from the earliest known versions in the eighth century to this day. One Arabic translation of the New Testament using the word may even be pre-Islamic.
One existing manuscript may be pre-Islamic. See A. Baumstark, “Das problem eines vorislamischen christlichen-kirchlichen Schrifttums in Arabischer Sprache,” Islamica 4 (1929/1930): 562-567, in Kenneth Bailey, “Early Arabic New Testaments of Mt. Sinai and the Task of Exegesis (with special focus on Sinai Ar.72 and Luke 15),” Theological Review, XII/2 (1991): 49. See also Meira Polliack, The Karaite Tradition of Arabic Bible Translation (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997), p. 6.
The field is open to further research. Let’s demonstrate academic integrity by offering historical evidence rather than pronouncing dogmatic assertions and threatening legal sanctions over alleged violation of proprietary rights to the word allah
Postscript – Beware of people who comment boldly behind pseudo-names:
A quick technical check shows that Cosmic Boy and Ego Eimi is the same person – how interesting.
By the way, anyone who uses the name ego eimi as a self-designation commits blasphemy. Exodus 3:14 and some verses from Isaiah, like 45:22 show how stupendous Jesus Christ’s claim was in John 8:58. The hostile Jews would not believe that Jesus was God. For them, Jesus was committing blasphemy when he used the word ego eimi. They naturally sought to stone Jesus. You can see the connection clearly from the Greek text of the Septuagint. Is Cosmic Boy etc acting out of sheer ignorance or deliberate blasphemy? I can tolerate provocative rudeness, but blasphemy?…