Friday, August 17, 2007

Should God be called Allah by all?

A Catholic bishop in the Netherlands has suggested Christians should use the name of Allah, instead of God, as a means of relieving tensions with Muslims. Tiny Muskens says people shouldn't be worried what "God" is called, as long as people believe in a higher being. So, does God's name matter? It's certainly got people talking,

Many Islamic words have become familiar in many languages. In non-Muslim countries like UK many words are now familiar to people because Islam has become in the news. There is “imam”, “masjid”, “jihad”, “medrassa”, “hijab”, “sharia”, “fatwa” etc. The word mecca, no longer refers just to Mecca city, but also has these meanings according to the dictionary.


a. A place that is regarded as the centre of an activity or interest.

b. A goal to which adherents of a religious faith or practice fervently aspire.

2. A place visited by many people: a mecca for tourists.

Allah in Arabic has 99 other names called “al asma al husna “or “the most beautiful names”. Muslims name their sons like Abdullah, which means the servant of Allah.

For the use of Allah by Christians to refer to the creator of the world, this has to do with the convictions of the believers. Gods have names in different religions and these names refer to them. So when a Christian is using Allah is he following the teaching of the Bible or the Koran or both?

If Christians are free to use the word Allah, there can be controversies later as it will be associated with notions that won’t be to the liking of Muslims.

On Arabic channels like mbc2, the movies are subtitled. When in the dialogue there is an angry reference to God, the dialogue is paraphrased. For example when the speaker says “What god is this that inflicted on me all these pains?” in the subtitle God is referred to as fate.

In UK, there was a controversy about a pub whose owner called Mecca; the name was displayed in green colour. Some British Muslim clerics had to sue the owner to change the name arguing that Mecca is a sacred place while the pub is prohibited in Islam. For them that was an insult. Finally they lost the case. Maybe the owner used a dictionary definition of mecca and not the real Mecca!

On a wider scale, will it be possible for Muslims to exchange their worshipping places. If a Christian is allowed to use Allah instead of God, will he be allowed to pray in a mosque according to his Christian beliefs? Will it be possible to have a common prayer place where Muslims and Christians can pray together or at least in alternation?

Using a word instead of another is easier. What matters is how Christians and Muslims view one another.

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