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 6: Allah — the All-embracing Compendium of all the Names of God

Ponder over the names of God in the different languages and you will realise that most of them are mysterious and wrapped in camouflage. The Babylonians, the Chinese, the Ancient Egyptians, the Cretans, the French, the Italians, the Celts, the Greeks, the Irish, the Japanese, the Romans,1 the Portuguese, the Spaniards, all of them name God ‘Heaven’, and we hear in England and America, “Heaven knows (this and that).” Heaven is not an attribute of God. It is symbolically an abode of God. As we read in the Bible:

“(may You) … Hear in heaven Your dwelling place”2

“He who sits in the heavens shall laugh”3

“But our God is in heaven”4

“O You who dwell in the heavens”5

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name”.6

‘Heaven’ in Anglo-Saxon is heofon, meaning the sky, firmament, expanse of space surrounding the earth.7 There are seven heavens and above all is the heaven of heavens in which God abides. All these nations name God by His residence. They have, it seems, no proper name for Him. The Chinese say:

“It is not lawful to use the name Shang-ti lightly. Therefore, we name Him by His residence, which is Tien or heaven.”

They say:

“Heaven is most high, yet listens to the lowliest.”

Heaven is man’s origin and, when oppressed by poverty, he recalls his origin. For when men are overwrought and worn out, who is there that does not cry to Heaven? The Japanese say His name is Kami, which is an abbreviation of kangami, meaning to look at, to judge. Others say it is a form of kimi, ‘lord’, while still others give kabi as its origin, modern kamui, ‘who or that which covers or shades’. In reality, the name of God in Japanese is Kami which means ‘above’, as they say heaven is Kami, earth is shimo.8

In the Slavonic languages the word for God is Bog. Bogaty means ‘rich’ and ubog signifies ‘poor’. Compare it with Sanskrit bhaga and bhagwan.9

Out of the 155 names of God stated above, God (with slight variations), the most popular name, is in the Dutch, Danish, German, Norwegian,10 Swedish, Icelandic and English languages. It is an Anglo-Saxon word. Germans pronounce it Gott, Icelanders Godh, Goth and Guth. Lexicographers say its root11 appears in Sanskrit hū, ‘call upon’ or ‘invoke’. Its verb is ‘godded’ and ‘godding’, i.e., to make into a god, deify, idolise. ‘Godchild’, ‘goddaughter’ are also used. ‘Goddess’ is a female god or deity, hence a woman of extraordinary or stately beauty. ‘Godfather’, ‘godmother’, etc. — all these phrases are used. ‘Godling’ is a little god, a minor or petty deity. So, having its root, plural form, feminine gender, sons, daughters and wives, it is not the proper name of the Divine Being. A proper name is a particular person’s name, written with capitals and usually without ‘the’ or ‘a’. Every religious scripture, no doubt, has a pre-eminent name of God, but really an attributive name of Almighty God. Though the language may be unfamiliar, the reality is not ambiguous to us. If we know the meanings of these names, we shall realise that most of them are the best attributes of our God. The names are at variance in various languages, but it is just like flowers of fine distinct colours. It seems to me that God may be better glorified by the very variety of flowers that blossom in the garden. Honen, the Japanese teacher (1132–1212), taught the worship of Amida and the Persian Zoroaster named God as Mazda. Both words are synonyms and with a very slight difference homonyms also. Both mean ‘The Light’. The Holy Quran says:

اَللّٰہُ نُوۡرُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ مَثَلُ نُوۡرِہٖ کَمِشۡکٰوۃٍ فِیۡہَا مِصۡبَاحٌ ؕ اَلۡمِصۡبَاحُ فِیۡ زُجَاجَۃٍ ؕ اَلزُّجَاجَۃُ کَاَنَّہَا کَوۡکَبٌ دُرِّیٌّ یُّوۡقَدُ مِنۡ شَجَرَۃٍ مُّبٰرَکَۃٍ زَیۡتُوۡنَۃٍ لَّا شَرۡقِیَّۃٍ وَّ لَا غَرۡبِیَّۃٍ ۙ یَّکَادُ زَیۡتُہَا یُضِیۡٓءُ وَ لَوۡ لَمۡ تَمۡسَسۡہُ نَارٌ ؕ نُوۡرٌ عَلٰی نُوۡرٍ ؕ یَہۡدِی اللّٰہُ لِنُوۡرِہٖ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ ؕ وَ یَضۡرِبُ اللّٰہُ الۡاَمۡثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ بِکُلِّ شَیۡءٍ عَلِیۡمٌ

“Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. A likeness of His light is as a pillar on which is a lamp — the lamp is in a glass, the glass is, as it were, a brightly shining star — lit from a blessed olive tree, neither eastern nor western, the oil whereof gives light, though fire touches it not, light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He pleases, and sets forth parables for men, and Allah is Knower of all the things.”12

This parable declares that the Divine Name in every nation, language and scripture is a lamp of subtle distinct colour, but light is the same. It comes from beyond and shines through it. If you keep looking at the lamp you are lost, for thence arises disparity. Jehovah is the Lord God of the Israelites, Om is the deity of the Hindus, Yazdan is the god of the Zoroastrians, Shang-ti is the heaven of the Chinese, Kamui or Amida is the saviour of the Japanese, and so on and so forth for the rest. But peep into the light (Allah) which shines through all those distinct lamps of distinct colours and you will be delivered from henotheism to the monotheism of Islam, the religion of no particular race, tribe, colour, caste or country but of all humanity.

All the names of God are good and excellent. In Greek it is Theos, in Sanskrit it is Om, in Buddhism it is ‘Buddha’, in Hebrew it is ‘Jehovah’, etc. We may say Allah is Jehovah, Allah is Adonai, Allah is Om, Allah is Elohim, Allah is Paramatma, Allah is Shang-ti, Kamui, Amida and Ahuramazda. But we cannot say Jehovah is Allah, Adonai is Allah, Om is Allah, Shang-ti, Kamui, etc., is Allah. The reason is, we may say Darwin was a good scientist but we will be wrong to say a scientist is a good Darwin. So Allah’s are all the 200 names of different languages of the world. All these names from the East and the West are attributes of Allah. His personal and proper name is only one name, that is, Allah, comprising all the attributes of perfection. Personal and proper names should not be translated, but all other names are subject to translation, just as the word ‘god’ is used for other objects, objects of honour and dignity. The reason is very simple. These names have dual and plural numbers and feminine gender and are compound words, having their roots and comparatives.

Just as spring brightens the world with flowers of distinct colours and tired eyes revel in it, so will the revelation of the Holy Quran have contracted in its blossom the blossoms of variegated (par excellence) names of God of all the scriptures of the world, and have created harmony and a salubrious air in the world of religion. It is a unique wonder of the Holy Quran that it has abridged all the excellent names of God in three short verses and that the highest name of God that every religion of the world has, is confirmed by the Quran:

ہُوَ اللّٰہُ الَّذِیۡ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَ ۚ عٰلِمُ الۡغَیۡبِ وَ الشَّہَادَۃِ ۚ ہُوَ الرَّحۡمٰنُ الرَّحِیۡمُ ﴿۲۲﴾
ہُوَ اللّٰہُ الَّذِیۡ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَ ۚ اَلۡمَلِکُ الۡقُدُّوۡسُ السَّلٰمُ الۡمُؤۡمِنُ الۡمُہَیۡمِنُ الۡعَزِیۡزُ الۡجَبَّارُ الۡمُتَکَبِّرُ ؕ سُبۡحٰنَ اللّٰہِ عَمَّا یُشۡرِکُوۡنَ ﴿۲۳﴾
ہُوَ اللّٰہُ الۡخَالِقُ الۡبَارِئُ الۡمُصَوِّرُ لَہُ الۡاَسۡمَآءُ الۡحُسۡنٰی ؕ یُسَبِّحُ لَہٗ مَا فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ۚ وَ ہُوَ الۡعَزِیۡزُ الۡحَکِیۡمُ ﴿٪۲۴﴾

“He is Allah, besides whom there is no god, the Knower of the invisible and the visible. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is Allah, besides whom there is no god. The Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, the Author of Peace, the Granter of Security, Guardian over all, the Majestic, the Supreme, the Superb. Glory be to Allah from that which they set up (alongside Him)! He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful (and excellent) names. Whatever is in the heavens and the earth (i.e., angels and all people of all religions and nations and languages) declares His glory; and He is the Mighty the Wise.”13

Turn back a few pages and you will see that Allah is the thesaurus of all the Holy Names, and contains in itself all the names of God which all the nations of the world recite in threescore basic languages, revere, glorify and bow to. Believe in it and your belief will be complete and perfect in the Lord God of all the nations. And you will be an honourable member of the religion of humanity.



  1. Latin Deus (singular), di, dei and dii (plural) is frequently found in manuscripts. Its root in Sanskrit is , div– (dyu) to gleam, as in deva, a god, dyâus, heaven (Greek, Zeus, genitive case Dios, Heaven, a deity). In Latin we say: ita me di ament, ‘so help me the gods!’; per deos immortales, ‘by the immortal gods!’; cum dis volentibus, ‘by the gods’ help’; si dis placet, ‘if it please the gods’. It is used of highly distinguished or fortunate persons. E. A. Andrews (ed.), Harper’s Latin Dictionary: a new Latin dictionary founded on the translation of Freund’s Latin-German Lexicon, revised by Charlton T. Lewis, and Charles Short, New York, American Book Company [1907].
  2. 1 Kings, 8:30.
  3. Psalms, 2:4.
  4. Psalms, 115:3.
  5. Psalms, 123:1.
  6. Matthew, 6:9.
  7. As in Genesis, 1:1, 8; Psalms, 19:6; Isaiah, 40:22. The term ‘god’ is found in all the Teutonic languages (Old High German got, Gothic guþ [i.e., ‘guth’, the letter þ standing for ‘th’ as in ‘think’ — Editor], etc.) but, as in Norse sources ‘god’ signifies the image of a deity, and as the word is connected with Götze, ‘idol’, the higher being was believed to be present in the image.
  8. The meanings of the Japanese Kami in modern dictionaries are: (1) a spirit, which is thought to exist invisibly with unlimited supernatural power of good or evil to punish crime or reward virtue in human beings, an object of trust or fear; (2) the honorific given to rulers previous to the reign of Jimmu; (3) the name applied to spirits enshrined in Shinto Shrines; (4) the Christian God. F. Brinkley, An Unabridged Japanese-English Dictionary, Tokyo, Sanseido, 1896.
  9. Hastings, vol. 6, p. 302b.
  10. Gud (God), avgud (idol), gudbarn (godchild), gudinne and gydje (goddess), guddommelig (godlike). Gyldendal’s English-Norwegian & Norwegian-English Dictionary, Oxford, Printed for the Shakespeare Head Press and sold for the Press by Basil Blackwell, 1941 (comprising Gyldendal’s Ordbøker: Engelsk-Norsk, ved B. Berulfsen, Oslo, Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 1938 and Gyldendal’s Ordbøker: Norsk-Engelsk, ved H. Scavenius, Oslo, Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 1933).
  11. i.e., the Indo-European root ǴHEDYŌ — Editor.
  12. The Holy Quran, 24:35.
  13. The Holy Quran, 59:22–24.