We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, he draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.—St. Francis of Assisi.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Rescuing Allah from Islam

Admittedly, the blog post title could be interpreted to be slightly provocative. However, no offense is intended. The title is merely an attempt to clarify that the word Allah is used by millions of non-muslims to refer to Almighty God.

The name Allah (al-ilah, "the God") has been used by Christian Arabs long before muslims employed the name.
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". The Christian Arabs of today have no other word for "God" than "Allah". (Even the Arabic-descended Maltese language of Malta, whose population is almost entirely Roman Catholic, uses Alla for "God".) Arab Christians, for example, use the terms Allāh al-ab (الله الأب) for God the Father, Allāh al-ibn (الله الابن) for God the Son, and Allāh al-rūḥ al-quds (الله الروح القدس) for God the Holy Spirit.–Wikipedia
When Christians employ the word Allah, they do so with the understanding that God is One God, a Trinity of Divine Persons. Divine Persons, are of course, are not the same as human persons. An appropriate discussion of the distinctions between human and Divine persons is a subject for another time.

Christians have a better understanding about the nature of God than muslims whose knowledge of the nature of God is, because of Muhammad's apparent adoption of his heretical christian neighbours' understanding of God, incomplete [link1; link2].
E.g., the muslim idea that Christians worship a Trinity of Father, Mother, and Son is a common misunderstanding among Muslims based in part on the Quran (5:119).
The orthodox Christian theology of God is revealed by God Himself, i.e., God the Son Who, because He is God, far greater than any mortal. Of course, a faithful muslim would disagree that Jesus is God. That difference between the muslim and Christian understanding of Jesus' identity is also a topic for another time.

For the moment, it is enough to assert that the word for God used by Arabic speaking Christians for some six centuries prior to the arrival of Muhammad is the word Allah. Attempts to prevent Christians in the Middle East, Indonesia and elsewhere from using "Allah" in ritual and everyday parlance tend to reflect one of two basic insecurities:

  1. Allah should be reserved for muslims in order to avoid confusion and to curb Christian proselytizing of muslims.
  2. Allah is not the God of Christianity.

In the case of Point #1, muslims who attempt to restrict the use of the word Allah in an attempt to preserve muslim distinctiveness have forgotten the facts of history with regards to the origin and use of Allah among Arab speaking and other Christians.

In the case of Point #2, Christians who attempt to restrict the use of the word Allah because it represents for them a fictional moon god or pagan deity have also missed the two-millennium-old precedent of the use of the word among Arab speaking Christians to refer to Almighty God.

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