Many Westerners are told and believe that God's name in Arabic is translated as “Allah". However, most of these people have no idea of the significance that a name holds. The importance of names, unfortunately, has been lost in Western culture down through the years, but can still be subtly detected. The German family name of “Schumacher" literally translates to “shoemaker", and once identified the profession of a maker of shoes and his family. The significance of names still endures in many non-Western cultures.
Names Are Titles
The Old Testament of the Holy Bible is replete with passages speaking of the significance of names of people and even of God Himself. Names are actually titles that identify a person, revealing information about his character, role in life, essence, personality, and attributes. According to Genesis, “Adam called his wife's name Eve because she was the mother of all living" (King James Bible, Gen. 3.20). Adam didn't name her Eve because that name sounded good to him, but, because of who she was to be-the mother of all living. Essentially, he titled her. Later in Genesis 17.5, God is recorded having said to Abraham, “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham, for a father of many nations have I made thee. " The Old Testament also says that God changed Abraham's wife, Sarai's name to “Sarah", to title her as the “mother of nations" (Gen. 17.15-16). In addition, God changed Jacob's name to “Israel" so his offspring from generation to generation, would be the “children of Israel" (Gen. 35.10). King David once declared that he wouldn't even take up the names of idol gods into his lips (Ps. 16.4).
The importance of names is just as evident in the New Testament as well. When speaking to a crowd, the apostle Peter maintained, in reference to the name of Jesus, “Neither is salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4.12).
The Names Of God
What have these facts to do with the translation of God's name into Arabic? Everything, because translation involves communicating ideas and concepts accurately and not just simply word for word translation. Again, considering the importance of names, God's names in every language must correctly describe His character, essence, personality, and attributes.
Most people don't want to hear religious teachings involving complicated references to unknown ancient Greek, Hebrew, or Latin words. In fact, such ineffective theological “techniques" are rarely necessary and therefore omitted in this article in favor of explanations in plain English.
Islam, like Christianity, affirms that there is only one God. Followers of both doctrines should be familiar enough with the various names and titles of God to be able to identify His attributes, ways, and relationship to man.
The Similar Names
The names of the god of Islam bare similarities to some of the names of the God of the Bible. Among some of Allah's titles are “Almighty", “Giver of Life", “First", “Last", “Judge", and “Wise". Christians must agree that similar titles are in the names of the God of the Bible who is also called “All-Wise God", “Almighty", “Alpha and Omega", and “Righteous Judge". Why then would anyone state that Allah is not the name or title of the God of the Bible? Remember, if the God of the Bible, commonly referred to as “Yahweh", or “Jehovah" in the Old Testament, is called “Allah" in the Qu'ran, both He and Allah should bare the exact same names. After all, if they are one and the same being, they should possess the exact same personality, characteristics, personality, mind, and attributes.
The Sharply Different Names
It should be very interesting to observe that there are names and titles of the God of the Bible that Allah does not, will not, and cannot bare. This would not be so were he the very same entity, with the same attributes. Everyone has the freedom to choose to serve or reject any of the gods, or the Lord God. But, usually good choices depend on having accurate and thorough information to help one decides.
The God of the Bible is named with titles that cannot be found among the names of Allah. They are “The Lamb of God", “The Son of God", “The Father", “The Song of Songs", “The Lord that Healeth", “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob", “The Resurrection", and “The Holy One of Israel". “The Lamb of God" is a title that can only be worn by the one who was sacrificed on the spiritual altar at Calvary for the remission of man's sins. This is a foreign concept with Allah. The title of “Son of God" can only be borne by the God-man who had no earthly father, but was fathered by God Himself and placed in the womb of a virgin.
Again, this truth is repugnant to Allah. The title of “Father" is assigned only to a God that views His servants as dear children. Once more, this biblical affirmation is vehemently rejected by Allah. The title of “Song of Songs" speaks of the maintenance of a spiritual love affair between the God of the Bible and His servants. Islam's Allah has never taught such things to his followers. The title of “The Lord that Healeth" can only pertain to a God that boldly claims He has the power to heal, thus calling Himself the “Great Physician" of His people that heals all physical and spiritual ailments. One may reject the biblical accounts of the numerous healings performed by the Lord Jesus. However, the Qu'ran's Allah doesn't even make such claims. It would be logical for a god that cannot heal to avoid assuming the title of “Healer".
On the other hand, the bold title of “Healer" and “Physician" is a title that God repeatedly uses to refer to Himself in the Old and New Testaments. This would not be wise if He had no power to heal because He would eventually be rejected by all, revealed as a fraud, and His word would have died ages ago. The fact is that in spite of hideous persecution, scores of men, women, and children are steadily entering into a personal relationship with God. They are receiving medically verifiable healing, physically and mentally. The title of “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob", can only be carried by the one in which these deceased men believed in life and in death.
What is more is that this very title cannot be separated from the title of “The Resurrection". In the New Testament book of St. Mark 12.26-27, Jesus said, “Have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. " This is only one of the numerous passages of the Bible in which God directly titles Himself as “Resurrection Power". Allah speaks of a paradise in the afterlife, but God speaks of death not having eternal power to hold any of His servants in an afterlife. It's interesting to note that God's power of resurrection from the dead back to life eternal has already taken place! Jesus, the man, rose from the dead to live eternally. The historically verifiable and tangible proof of the veracity of His resurrection is beyond the scope of this article.
Finally, the God of the Bible strongly and publicly associates Himself with the nation of Israel. It does not require much knowledge of Islam to know that Allah, by no means, sees Israel as the “apple of his eye".
The names of Allah reveal him as a distinct entity. Likewise, the names of the God of Israel, reveal Him as a distinct entity. The conclusion is that the two beings do not agree in their names and therefore do not agree in their personalities, purposes, character, attributes or essence.
© 2008 Hannah Henderson
Hannah Henderson is one of the principal writers for Heavenly Manna where articles and teachings may be found on a variety of questions.