Allah — The Unique Name of God
Research into the Names of God in over 150 Languages and their Meanings
by Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi
Chapter 5: Observations on the Statements of Jewish and Christian Scholars
1. The sum and substance of what the Jewish and Christian scholars have investigated is that the name of their God has since long been ‘Jehovah’, which is said to be the word of God, and which has been used in the Bible.
2. It was in the last century that, after thousands of years, this name was disputed and declared to be wrong, followed by a quest for the correct name.
3. This research has been more difficult than finding out the correct position of the north and south magnetic poles. During this research ancient annals and inscriptions, religious traditions and the oldest manuscripts of the Bible were studied and scanned. As a result many important things came to light. The net outcome of all this toilsome labour and strain was that the real name of God had since long been lost and that whatever name be proposed, it ill becomes and ill befits.
4. It was quite a new discovery that the real name of God was not known to anyone even before the time of Moses.1
5. The name is said to possess greatness and grandeur of such a high order that a mere lip-profession of it earns a man all the blessings of this world. But when asked about the name, it is said that it is not known to anyone.
6. A study of the sacred history of the Jews and the Christians disclosed the fact that in every age there had been a vain quest after the name. A new name was, therefore, proposed which, later on, turned out to be wrong and incorrect. If every word is a frozen picture and its meaning is life and charm, then the word ‘Jehovah’ is a lifeless word; it had been born and reborn in ever new garbs, it grew old and died.
7. Differences arose because of changes to its pronunciation and the matter became doubtful and dubious; as a result its true significance is not known.
8. The Jewish charge that the Christian divines have misstated and mistaught the name of God as Jehovah, is unjustifiable and baseless. When it did not exist in the Bible in its correct form, nor was it permissible to utter it correctly, it is useless to wax hot against the Christian scholars because they did the same thing as the Jews wanted and desired; it was not allowed to utter the real and correct name of God and it constituted a grave offence, liable to be punished with death in this world and damnation and disgrace in the Hereafter.
9. If the Jews knew this name in its correct form, how and why did the dispute arise as to its correct pronunciation?
10. Do the Jewish priests sincerely wish (of course against their own doctrine) that the correct name of God be known to the world and be on the lips of every person; or do they want it ever to remain a sealed secret? If its correct pronunciation were disclosed to the world, the possibility of its being uttered by the tongue will obviously become greater; its seems the Jews wished the smaller the knowledge, the better.
11. Where in the Bible has it been commanded that Adonai, or some other name, should be recited instead of the real name of God?
12. Let us suppose that the ‘Most High God’ has two names, ‘Jehovah’ and ‘Adonai’. Since both the names are His, there seems to be no reason why He should be pleased by one and so much displeased on hearing the other that He should command the utterer thereof to be executed.
13. When God has a dislike for His own name and wants not be invoked by it, then why should He reveal it at all? A man having an aversion for a name does not even care to mention it. If God too, had likewise not disclosed His name, or only whispered it in the ear of Moses forbidding him to divulge it to anyone, the question whether or not it should be uttered by the tongue would not have arisen.
14. The Jews called it a sealed secret; the most exalted personal name, etc., but it is of no earthly use, for the reason that its utterer has to lay down and lose his life.
15. To repeat the name of one’s dear one over and over again has a charm of its own, and the more a lover will recite and remember the name of his beloved, the more proved will be his love and adoration. It is written in the Book of Numbers:
“So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them”2;
and in the Psalms:
“that men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.”3
16. The value and worth of a name are according to its meaning and significance; and if its meaning is not known, its value and worth are nothing. It is, therefore, unreasonable to look upon and regard Jehovah as the Mighty, Sacred and Blessed Name.
17. A personal name is that which encompasses all the attributes of the named one. It is thus incorrect to define Jehovah as a personal name. At the most, it expresses only one attribute of the Divine Being, that He is, as the Jews themselves say in commentaries. Jehovah, therefore, is an attributive, not a personal name.
18. It appears from Deuteronomy that it is a “fearful” name.4
And Jacob said:
“For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved”;5
“Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the Lord thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.”;6
“For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible”;7
“And I said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God”.8
The conception of the fearful and terrible Lord Jehovah cannot be called the most exalted name. If He had had more of love and kindness in him, He would not have prescribed the penalty of death for uttering His name.
19. The rabbis of the Jews, who claim to know the Hebrew language and to have the best understanding of the Bible, propose Adonai as a substitute for Jehovah. They must have considered Adonai better than Jehovah; otherwise there could be no sense in replacing a superior name by an inferior one.
20. There are three kinds of signposts on the roads in cities: (1) road closed; (2) a red signal to warn that the road is dangerous, and (3) a green light, indicating peace and safety. In the Book of Genesis, one comes across this sign of danger at 156 places, and there are as many as 6,823 points in the whole of the Bible according to the careful computation of scholars. The reader is confronted with two kinds of dangers: (1) that the name of God is doubtful and dubious, and (2) what should be read and what not. In other words, the road is closed, and positive danger of life lies ahead; that is to say, even if you pronounce it correctly, your life will not be spared. On the other side of it, there is the green light of Adonai directing:
“Give up the upper road and adopt the lower one.”
It is, therefore, obviously clear that safety lies in abstaining from reciting the name Jehovah. But it is not understood why these four letters y‑h‑w‑h or the four-lettered word, which is so deadly and dangerous that a mere repetition of it throws one into grave peril in this world and, according to Philo, into the flames of hell in the next, should have been recorded in the Bible as many as 6,000 times. Why should not a conference of the Jewish priests and the Christian padres be convened to expurgate it from the Bible?
21. In the Ten Commandments of the Bible the Third Commandment strictly forbids the recitation of this name. Should one suggest that it be obliterated from the Bible and replaced with ‘Allah’ in order to save people from the penalty of death in this world and the fire in the Hereafter?
22. It is written in the Book of Numbers:
“So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”9
But when the name of God itself got lost, all the blessing and grace must have vanished and gone from the nation. Why not, therefore, put the name of Allah upon the Children of Israel? He will bless them.
23. The attributive quality of God’s name ‘Jehovah’ is said to be that it expresses His existence in all the three tenses, in Hebrew yihweh is in the future tense, howeh the present and hawah the past. It was by the fusion and coalescence of one letter from each of the four letters y‑h‑w‑h, that ‘Jehovah’ came to be formed. It is indeed a childish hotchpotch; and it suffers from a grave defect. Even if this arrangement be altered and changed, the meaning will remain the same, although ‘Jehovah’ will be shattered to pieces and broken. For example h‑y‑w‑h, h‑w‑h‑y, w‑h‑h‑y, h‑h‑y‑w, w‑y‑h‑h, etc., etc., will all have the same meaning which Yehowah has, for the letters are the same. The meaning will be same, because it is said:
“Every letter of Yehowah has individual sense.”
24. That the name Yehowah is wrong according to grammatical rules of the language has now been accepted unanimously by both the Jewish and Christian scholars. It is now stated to be Yahweh, which is the future tense, that means ‘The coming One’.
25. In this connection our Christian friends may well be asked a question. When both the Jews and Christians are agreed on this point that God’s name should not be uttered by human mouth, why should not this interdiction be imposed on the name of Jesus, whom the Christians believe to be one of the Trinity? It is really strange that whereas the taking of the name of God the Father is strictly forbidden, the name of God the Son has not been placed under this ban, especially in view of the fact that the Gospels prohibit the taking of the name of the Messiah. Read Luke, 9:20–21 and Matthew, 16:15–20:
“He [Jesus] said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered and said, ‘The Christ of God.’ And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one …”10
It is indeed a matter of great surprise that the Christians do not obey the explicit command of their Lord. They do not enunciate the name of the Father, but bow their heads at the name of the son.
Yahweh is the Name of the Coming Lord:
The frequency and force, together with strong incontrovertible arguments, with which the oneness and unity of God have been stated and stressed in the Holy Quran are surely not to be found with regard to this Great Truth in any other revealed book. Besides, the explicitness and clarity with which it was announced over and over again through the Prophet’s own mouth that he was only a human being is undoubtedly not to be found in respect of any other prophet in his own Scripture.
Krishna, Ramachandra, Buddha and Jesus are reported to have claimed divinity for themselves; this is on account of the fact that there is dubiousness and doubt in their books as now available. There certainly was not any doubt and ambiguity in the actual words spoken by them, but the statements which have come down to us through the centuries do contain complexity and confusion.
The Quran has worked a wonder in the matter of inducing belief in the unity of God and adducing perfect arguments in support of it, and disclosing the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s human nature to the clearest degree.
In the ancient scriptures the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad is prophesied as the advent of God Himself according to Deuteronomy, 33:2; the General Epistle of Jude, 1:14, etc. Let no one slip into the error of thinking that, like the Hindus, the Buddhists, and the Christians, we also wish to prove that the Holy Prophet Muhammad is God’s incarnation or His son or (God forbid!) even God. The Muslims earnestly cherish an utmost jealousy for the Unity of God, and can never be induced to believe their Prophet to be God or His incarnation or son.
The significance of the coming of God Himself is, according to our belief, one’s complete knowledge of His person and perfect attributes, the manifestation of His almightiness and perfect power, and the fulfilment of His promises held out to the prophets, and the coming of the victory and triumph of Truth.
It is true that God is inconceivable, but His existence is proved through His attributes and manifested by His works. All His attributes are exhibited in the creation and all natural processes: He is al-Mubdī’, the Author of life; He is al-Zāhir, the Manifest, He to Whose existence every created thing clearly points; He is Al-Qābid, the Controller, He Who keeps all things within limits; He is Al-Khāfid, the Depressor, He Who brings low the proud; He is Al-Muqīt, the Preserver, He Who preserves the faculties of all created things. These are but a few of His wonderful attributes mentioned in the Quran:
وَسِعَ کُرۡسِیُّہُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضَ
“His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth.”11
وَ مَا تَکُوۡنُ فِیۡ شَاۡنٍ وَّ مَا تَتۡلُوۡا مِنۡہُ مِنۡ قُرۡاٰنٍ وَّ لَا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ مِنۡ عَمَلٍ اِلَّا کُنَّا عَلَیۡکُمۡ شُہُوۡدًا اِذۡ تُفِیۡضُوۡنَ فِیۡہِ ؕ وَ مَا یَعۡزُبُ عَنۡ رَّبِّکَ مِنۡ مِّثۡقَالِ ذَرَّۃٍ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ وَ لَا فِی السَّمَآءِ وَ لَاۤ اَصۡغَرَ مِنۡ ذٰلِکَ وَ لَاۤ اَکۡبَرَ اِلَّا فِیۡ کِتٰبٍ مُّبِیۡنٍ
“And thou art not engaged in anything, and thou recitest not from Him any portion of the Quran, and you do no work, but We are witnesses of you when you are engrossed therein. And there is not hidden from thy Lord even an atom’s weight in the earth or in heaven. And there is nothing smaller than that or greater, but it is recorded in a clear Book.”12
By personal name, a person, place or thing is recognised and distinguished from others. Pondering over the 150 names of God or personal names found in the basic languages of different nations of the world, it appears that all of them with only one exception, are attributive names.
It is a matter of fact that the pre-Islamic religions, as we have found them, are not universal in their principles. They were undoubtedly enough to meet the needs of their respective times. All the same they were true. The personal name of God was not revealed to the Jews. Only a hint was thrown at it; that He or His perfect manifestation would appear at some future time. So the Jews kept on calling the attributive name as His personal name; and later on threw it also into oblivion. When the Holy Prophet Muhammad came, he disclosed the personal name of God, threw perfect light on it, and taught the ways of its knowledge and wisdom. It was for this reason that the Holy Prophet’s coming had been foretold as the Coming of God Himself, meaning thereby that the world will get Divine knowledge and wisdom through his intermediation.
Name and Concept of the Divine Being in Islam:
Prior to the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, stones and trees, cows and calves, the sun and the moon, the planets and the stars, were worshipped and adored as Divine Beings.
Against the children of Israel the prophets had to complain that they always began to worship the idols of other nations. Even mortal men, born of humble and helpless mothers, who stood in need of eating and drinking, who slept and had to be awakened, who wept and cried, had been raised to Divine heights by the people and worshipped. But it was the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) who taught that the personal name of the Most High God is Allah and that He is neither born, nor eats nor drinks, nor sleeps nor stands in need of rest on the seventh day, being tired; He takes no walk in the cool of the garden, nor is He afraid of the people who began to build the tower in Babylon; He climbed not down from the clouds to wrestle with Jacob nor did He ever feel aggrieved at His own deeds; into the mother’s womb He never entered, nor was He ever an infant in swaddling clothes, neither a young man full of hot blood. On hearing His name uttered He falls not into a rage; nor ever killed a man for touching his cup or utensils.13 He is the Lord, not only of the children of Israel but of all the nations of the world. His holy name is Allah, for he is the possessor of all the perfect attributes; any kind of imperfection whatsoever is not to be found in Him; He is the Almighty, All-Powerful, the All-Wise, and the All-Knowing. He created not the world to fulfil the ends of His justice, but for the purpose of manifesting His Love and Benevolence to His creatures. In his Arabic-English Lexicon, E.W. Lane thus gives the meaning of the name Allah: ‘Comprising all the attributes of perfection’.
- There is in Him not only one excellent quality, but all the sublime attributes to the most perfect degree. If Yehowah was the name of the particular God of Israel, then Hari, Om, was the name of the Hindu God and Yazdan that of the Parsees. God, Lord, Theos, Shang-ti and Kamui are all His names. But Allah exclusively is one such name which encloses and includes all other names and expresses and indicates all the excellent attributes.
- The Holy Quran has thrown a challenge to all the nations and religions of the world, saying: bring forth as against this name Allah another name or term, if you can, which has the comprehensive meaning: ‘Comprising all the attributes of perfection’.
- It contains all power and beauties and negates all evil and weakness as we see in human beings.
- Allah has neither any dual nor any plural number, for He is neither two nor three, but the one true God.
- His Unity is not the number one’s unity, because one has its fractions, ½, ⅓, ¼, and so on to the unlimited number. Allah’s unity, or unity in Islamic theology, means His uniqueness in all his attributes.
- Unlike Yehowah, Om, Deus and Theos, etc., God’s name has not been derived from any root, for God Himself has not been born.
- Unlike Yehowah and Om, this name Allah is not an amalgam or compound of fractions and fragments, for the Most High God Himself is unsullied from fragments.
- There is no feminine gender of Allah in Arabic like ‘goddess’ or deva and devi, the reason being that it is pure and free from the hotchpotch of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost and the Mother of God.
- Not only after Islam but in the pre-Islamic time, this name had never been used for any idol, the sun or the moon, a star or a planet, nor for anything else save the one true God.
- Exodus, 6:3. ↩
- Numbers, 6:27. ↩
- Psalms, 83:18; King James Version. ↩
- Deuteronomy, 28:58; King James Version. In the New King James Version, it has “awesome” for “fearful” or “terrible” here and in the references below — Editor. ↩
- Genesis, 32:30 ; King James Version. ↩
- Deuteronomy, 7:21; King James Version. ↩
- Deuteronomy, 10:17; King James Version. ↩
- Nehemiah, 1:5; King James Version. ↩
- Numbers, 6:27. ↩
- Luke, 9:20–21. ↩
- The Holy Quran, 2:255. ↩
- The Holy Quran, 10:61. ↩
- Numbers, 4:15. ↩