Hamblin & Peterson: 'Allah' is not pagan term — it means 'God'

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  • Alex 1 Tucson, AZ
    April 27, 2016 3:42 p.m.

    Whether or not we believe we worship the same God (Allah) is of little consequence to someone at the receiving end of Islamic Extremism. It is folly to think that the reason for Islamic Terrorism is that we weren't ecumenical enough.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Jan. 16, 2013 6:16 p.m.

    OK, let's think this through a bit.

    When Islamic Fundamentalists go on suicide terrorist attacks, they almost always shout "Allah Akbar!"

    If what these LDS professors are saying is true, we should be able to directly substitute the Mormon God in that same expression without losing meaning at all:

    "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the Greatest!"

    Is that really what they mean? Is that god they are praising and in whose name they are killing innocents really the same god as the Mormon god?

    Let's continue the substitution. According to LDS doctrine, the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" in the Old Testament is Jehovah, who is the premortal Jesus Christ. So, we should be able to substitute:

    "Jehovah is the Greatest!"
    "Jesus Christ is the Greatest!"

    So Peterson is not playing such word games as to try and convince us that these Islamic Terrorists are actually (knowingly?) committing suicidal acts of terror in the name of Jesus Christ?!

    Are you serious?

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Jan. 16, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    I talk with Saudi Arabs all the time about religion. Allah is the same god in the Bible. They don't understand why God would have let his son die as Christianity believes. (Actually, their doctrine most consistent with the belief that God is omnipotent -- if he wants to forgive sins, he can just by choosing. Christianity only permits God to forgive sins if and only if there is an atonement. )The cool thing is I can bring up New Testament parables and they have not heard them. "You know," I said to a friend, "God is happier with one man who repents than 99 good men who stayed good."

    One Islamic scholar told me Jesus was conceived because God said to Mary, "Be." The "be" means to exist. So when John says that Jesus was the Word, the word might in fact be "Be". Just a thought.

    Allah is a moral god. He wants us to be moral.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 15, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    "....Dr. Petersen is the one who is ignorant of what evangelical pastors mean when they refer to "no salvation in Allah....."

    I don’t know how Daniel Peterson interprets the evangelical view and neither do you. But insisting on strictly measuring Islam and other faiths by Baptist religious dogma does nothing to promote understanding between diverse faiths. That’s the dark side of religion that turns so many off to religion in general. What a pity.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    Jan. 15, 2013 11:58 a.m.

    Evangelical preachers who claim there's no salvation in Allah obviously refer to the Muslim God. I have sat in many such sermons in evangelical Arab-Christian services. Our closest friends in the Arab Baptist congregation of our church are the Jordanian pastor and his family. I have taken his Arabic and religion courses; he has shared about Jordanian and Palestinian culture in my Hebrew classes. When he uses the term 'Allah', we know how he intends it based on the context.

    My Syrian Greek Orthodox mother-in-law will use only 'Elohim' because culturally her childhood in Damascus rendered Allah not as "God/Elohim", but with the strict Muslim definition. She and many other Trinitarian Christians choose not to use Allah in their prayers.

    You must know the meaning of the terms used even in an English discourse. When sitting in LDS, JW, Unitarian or Christian Science services I know all four are worshipping different Gods.

    Dr. Petersen is the one who is ignorant of what evangelical pastors mean when they refer to "no salvation in Allah". Neither do those who deny the implicit triune nature of Elohim understand its meaning.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 15, 2013 9:48 a.m.


    "Dr. Petersen should know that salvation does not come from all Gods."

    That wasn't the point of his article. He didn't even imply that.

  • DangerMike Saint Geeorge, UT
    Jan. 15, 2013 1:09 a.m.

    It appears that the authors are intent to draw parallels that don't exist between Christianity and Islam by pointing out linguistic similarities between the semitic languages and forcing illogical conclusions. As a native Hebrew and Arabic speaker I can tell you the teachings of Muhammed (The Quran, the Hadith and Sirat al-Rasul) are antithetical to the western Judeo-Christian ethic. Look around the world; any country governed by sharia is a human rights disaster. In Islam women are property not human beings.

    Rather than writing puff pieces maligning "evangelical preachers" as "ignorant", guide your readers to research "Taqiyya" and "Kitman". Learn what abrogation means and how the Quran is organized. Google "Holy Land Foundation Trial", learn why CAIR and HAMMAS are both Muslim Brotherhood front groups.

    In short, educate yourselves.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    Jan. 14, 2013 8:55 p.m.

    'Scuze the type-O, please. Make that "the etymogy of the linguistics". (See last sentence in my previous post). :-)

    How a misplaced letter can render a sentence into jibberish! So will an incorrect belief in God, or a belief in the wrong God take you to an eternal dwelling other than The Father's Kingdom. Jesus said that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. "No one comes to the Father except by Me." (John 14: 6). You don't have to believe it, but you can't add your own specifications and remain true to the original.

    You can deny the validity of the original, as Joseph and many others have, but you cannot pretend a 19th-century rewrite is the original.

    So choose your definition of God carefully, Professors. He might be more than just a word. He claims to be The Word.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Jan. 14, 2013 4:46 p.m.

    RE: Joseph Smith "retired to the woods to make the attempt (to pray)" (Joseph Smith-History 1:13). Arabic-speaking Latter-day Saints, reciting the first Article of Faith, testify that "We believe in Allah, the Eternal Father." Readers of the Arabic Book of Mormon are encouraged to "ask Allah, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true" (Moroni 10:4).
    Elijah(YHWH is God), In(D&C 110: 1-16) Elias and Elijah appear to JS, but in the Bible they are the same person. The KJV translators attempted to transliterate Elijah to Elias because there isn’t a Greek character for the English letter J.
    To avoid confusion, modern translations: NIV, NJKV, NASB and the Catholic Bible have Elijah instead of Elias in(Mt 11:14,; Luke 1:17

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    Jan. 14, 2013 4:41 p.m.

    Which God are you claiming salvation in, Professors? The God of Mohammed, Joseph Smith, or the Bible? Joseph's God is a polygamous exalted man; Mohammed's God had no Begotten Son. The God of the Bible "is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.

    That is the issue: "Who do you say I am?"

    I have taught Hebrew for over 20 years. Every student knows that El, Elohim,Ya and Yaweh are just words. Lower case and upper case in English are inserted exactly to differentiate between false gods and the Triune God, both rendered ELOHIM in an ancient language that has no lower case...

    I first learned my Hebrew at BYU. It hasn't changed from the different synagogues or colleges where I further studied the language. But each religion puts different meanings, salvation power and requirements into that "God", rendering Him different in essence, power and message..

    That is the issue, not the entymology of the liguistics.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    Jan. 14, 2013 4:24 p.m.

    Exactly, brokenclay. Thank you for correctly clarifying what Prof. Petersen knows. It isn't the translation of a word; it's the definition of the characteristics that signify the differences.

    The Arab Baptists in my church refuse to use Allah, preferring Al Rab, The Lord, where possible. That is their cultural preference, because they know the differences between the attributes given to Allah by non-Christian theology. The God of Islam is as foreign to The God of the Bible as the Mormon God is. It is the attributes and description of "God" that defines and separates those who seek salvation "in any other than who we have declared to you", said the apostle Paul.

    In whatever language the word for "God" is, He/She/It needs defining. This IS the reason those who come to the Biblical Messiah/Christ/Savior become "born-again" as "new creatures in Christ", with an indwelling of the promised Holy Spirit: That is the Biblical promise. Those who alter Christ's power, promises and profession receive a totally different outcome.

    Dr. Petersen should know that salvation does not come from all Gods...

  • brokenclay Chandler, AZ
    Jan. 14, 2013 1:27 p.m.

    It seems to me that the controversy over whether to use the term Allah in Arabic translations of the Bible occurs as well WITHIN Arabic Christian circles, and this is why it becomes an issue for evangelical translators. It is recognized that Allah is the generic term for God. But it's still an issue for Muslims who convert to Christianity. In their minds, the term Allah subjectively has strong Islamic overtones, and as sensitive Christians, they don't want to violate their consciences. This is certainly understandable-- "Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves" (Rom 14:22b).

    Now, just because Allah is the generic term for God doesn't mean that the Allah of Islam and the Allah of Christianity are one and the same God. Despite the fact that they are both Abrahamic, there are still irreconcilable differences. Christians and the LDS have the same issue. Mormons say, "We are Christians, because we worship someone named Jesus Christ." But they neglect the substantial differences between the two views in order to make this semantic judgment. As an orthodox Christian, I find such comparisons to be highly offensive.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 14, 2013 9:52 a.m.

    Jesus called on God from the cross crying out Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me) as reported in Mark. In Matthew, the name is Eli. As I understand it, Eloi (Aramaic), Eli (Hebrew), and Allah (Arabic) are all three linguistic derivatives of El, the common ancestral Semitic name for God in the time of Abraham.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Jan. 14, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    Rather than seeking for similarities --

    Extremeists and Radicals take issue with anything not precisely the same as being "evil" or "wicked".

    This is the perfect example of it.

    Thanks for the clarity,
    but alas, the deft and ignorant - the one's who need it the most -
    still won't get it.

  • donn layton, UT
    Jan. 14, 2013 8:03 a.m.

    RE: Evangelical Protestants, though, some are under the misimpression that the term "Allah" refers to a pagan moon deity from pre-Islamic Arabian mythology???

    God 79, god 16 KJV,Strong's (Protestant concordance) Number H426 matches the Hebrew ('elahh (Aramaic)), which occurs 95 times in 78 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the KJV. (Ezr 4:24 - Ezr 7:14). A cognate from the word Allah.

  • pakundo St. George, UT
    Jan. 14, 2013 7:34 a.m.

    While the Honorable Professor Peterson is technically correct, anyone who researches the true nature and character of the 'Allah' worshiped in Islam will quickly come to understand that he is NOT at all the same as the God of Abraham. This 'misunderstanding' by most non-Muslims is a result of the Islamic practice of 'Taqiya', another Arabic word meaning 'deception'. Debating the translation of the word 'Allah' is actually missing the point, and a further example of Taqiya in practice. Anyone who researches using Islamic references written by Muslims for Muslims in English can easily distinguish the true character of 'Allah', and learn the truth for themselves. There are plenty of such references available for anyone willing to look.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Jan. 14, 2013 12:09 a.m.

    Ye believers worship ye know not who. Your best scholars obfuscate to hide the fact that none of you even know the name of your god. Titles, word etymologies, pseudo-academic dictionary games are supposed to count as "defending the faith"?

    But when you pray to "god", your petition effectively amounts to "Hey! Somebody/anybody out there, please respond!"

    You have no idea who or what is "answering", if anything at all!

    You don't even know your god's name!

  • Raeann Peck Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 13, 2013 7:46 p.m.

    The name "Allah" has always has a sacred sound and feeling about it to me. Mukkake, my feeling about taking the name of God in vain has more to do with the intent of the heart, or even the lack of honorable consideration, rather than the title, spelling, or pronounciation of His Name. He knows who we are referring to, however we say it, honor Him or dishonor Him.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Jan. 12, 2013 2:37 p.m.

    RE: We speak today of "theology," which is rational discussion ("logos") about "theos" or "god." True,
    In the beginning(Arche) was the Word(Logos), and the Word(Logos) was with God(Theos), and the Word Logos)was God(Theos).(John 1:1) In the Nicene homoousios(same being) to=(the) patri (father) is a perfect paraphrase.

    (1John 1:1) That which was from the beginning(archē ), which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word(Logos ) of life. John says he was there and touched Jesus.

    "In the very beginning the bible shows there is a plurality of Gods. Beyond the power of refutation”.(Hof C v. 6 p.476)? (Genesis 1:1 Greek XX) In the beginning God (*O Theos, Grk. 2316). Clearly God, singular. *Nominative singular article.

  • JanSan Pocatello, ID
    Jan. 12, 2013 1:12 p.m.

    Enjoyed reading this column - thank you.

  • fkratz Portland, OR
    Jan. 12, 2013 1:06 p.m.

    During the Middle Ages many were illiterate with few understanding Latin, the language of the Catholic mass. As the Eucharist was given, the priest would always turn and gaze at the cross and away from the congregation while speaking, making his words difficult to hear. While raising the host (bread), he spoke "Hoc est corpus mei (drifting off)...", or "This is my body". Most in the congregation understood that there was deep meaning and magic in these words, which turned a cracker into the actual body of Christ. To those with less than perfect hearing, the priests' words of the process of transubstantiation sounded like "hocus pocus" and voila', the words were born.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 12, 2013 12:13 p.m.

    Unfortunately, this will not persuade most.

  • Mukkake Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 12, 2013 12:02 p.m.

    The main problem is that most people don't understand the translation process and that you can rarely find a 1-to-1 match between words in different languages that will convey all meanings and contexts.

    I often try to explain the exact same examples given in this article when people talk about "not taking the Lord's name in vain." The Judeo-Christian God does have a name, and it isn't God. Its YHVH/YHWH, as Hebrew doesn't traditionally use vowels, and usually written as Jehovah or Yahweh. In the KJV, whenever you see "LORD God", usually with distinctive capitalization, what is being obscured is usually "YHWH Elohim": a name and title.

    The same goes for the "name" Christ. It isn't his name, its his title. An attempt to translate the very Jewish concept of "Messiah" to a Greco-Roman classical world. Christ comes from Christos, a pagan concept. On top of that, Jesus is a corruption of a name that would better be spelled "Yeshua", but after passing through a number of languages on its way to English it changed a bit each time.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Jan. 12, 2013 10:06 a.m.

    I'll bet that Professor Peterson is really nervous right now, trying to figure out what on earth he's done wrong in this column such that "skeptic" is voicing approval of it.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Jan. 12, 2013 8:51 a.m.

    It is refreshing to read adult educational articles from Mr. Peterson (since he is a university professor) rather than the primary school fairy tales that he too often writes. Good work professor.