Joined: 18 January 2006
Joined: 24 September 2007
Is Allah the Name of God?
Allah is the name of the only God in Islam. Allah is a pre-Islamic name coming from the compound Arabic word Al-ilah which means the God, which is derived from al (the) ilah (deity).
The Arabic name for "God" is the word "Al-ilah." It is a generic title for whatever god was considered the highest god. Different Arab tribes used "Allah" to refer to its personal high god. "Allah" was being worshipped at the Kaa'ba in Mecca by Arabs prior to the time of Mohammed. It was formerly the name of the chief god among the numerous idols (360) in the Kaaba in Mecca before Mohammed made them into monotheists. Historians have shown that the moon god called "Hubal" was the god to whom Arabs prayed at the Kaa'ba and they used the name "Allah" when they prayed.
Today a Muslim is one who submits to the God Allah.
Islam means submission to (Allah), but originally it meant that strength which characterized a desert warrior who, even when faced with impossible odds, would fight to the death for his tribe. (Dr. M. Baravmann, The Spiritual Background of Early Islam, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1972)
Many believe the word "Allah" was derived from the mid- eastern word "el" which in Ugaritic, Caananite and Hebrew can mean a true or false God. This is not the case, "The source of this (Allah) goes back to pre-Muslim times. Allah is not a common name meaning "God" (or a "god"), and the Muslim must use another word or form if he wishes to indicate any other than his own peculiar deity." (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (ed. Hastings), I:326.)
According to the Encyclopedia of Religion, Allah corresponded to the Babylonian god Baal, and Arabs knew of him long before Mohammed worshipped him as the supreme God. Before Islam the Arabs recognized many gods and goddesses, each tribe had their own deity. There were also nature deities. Allah was the god of the local Quarish tribe, which was Mohammed's tribe before he invented Islam to lead his people out of their polytheism. Allah was then known as the Moon God, who had 3 daughters who were viewed as intercessors for the people into Allah. Their names were Al-at, Al-uzza, and Al-Manat, which were three goddesses; the first two daughters of Allah had names which were feminine forms of Allah. Hubal was the chief God of the Kaaba among the other 360 deities. Hubal was the chief God of the Kaaba among the other 360 deities. Hubal was a statue likeness of a man whose body was made of red precious stones whose arms were made of gold. (Reference Islam George Braswell Jr.)
"Historians like Vaqqidi have said Allah was actually the chief of the 360 gods being worshipped in Arabia at the time Mohammed rose to prominence. Ibn Al-Kalbi gave 27 names of pre-Islamic deities...Interestingly, not many Muslims want to accept that Allah was already being worshipped at the Ka'ba in Mecca by Arab pagans before Mohammed came. Some Muslims become angry when they are confronted with this fact. But history is not on their side. Pre-Islamic literature has proved this." (G. J. O. Moshay, Who Is This Allah? (Dorchester House, Bucks, UK, 1994), pg. 138).
History has shown Mecca and the holy stone al-Kaaba were holy sites for pre-Islamic pagan Arabs. The Kaaba in Mecca was formerly named Beit-Allah meaning House of Allah. We are told it was first built in heaven. This is in contradistinction to what Moses was instructed to build, something overlooked by the Muslims in their reading of the Bible.
The Koran tells us that Mohammed drove the other idols away; he made one God now the only god and he was its messenger. He kept the Kaaba as a holy, sacred place and confirmed that the black stone had the power to take away man's sins. He obligated every believer to make a pilgrimage to the stone at least once in his lifetime. (Sura 22:26-37) No Old Testament saint ever had a pilgrimage to the Kaaba and kissed its black stone despite stories that Abraham and Ishmael restored it.
Joined: 03 December 2005
Joined: 07 August 2010
Joined: 24 September 2007
Joined: 24 September 2007
Joined: 24 September 2007
Joined: 07 August 2010
How is the concept of "Religion" is perceived today? The following definitions explains some of the fundamental attributes that are associated with the term 'Religion' and explains how it is differs from dharma:
There is a preconceived idea that is imposed or expected when a religion is defined based on the characteristics of Abrahamic religions. It is based on four main connotation such as, it should have:
This over simplistic and crude definition undermines the reality when it comes to defining a profound, diverse and sophisticated tradition such as Hinduism. The Hindu tradition neither has a single founder, a single holy book, an unified method of worship or a centralized hierarchy therefore it defies to meet the same criterion as it is with the Abrahamic religions. It is unfortunate that many times, attempts are made to fit the Hindu Dharma into this model, without considering the fact that the Hindu reality is fundamentally in contrast to these characteristics.
The word religion as used in the standard form carries three connotations as reflected in the Abrahamic religions:
These three notions of religion are not a universal idea and by and large do not express the reality of what are called Eastern religions. For instance, the conclusive and separative notion of religion implies that one can only be a member of one religion or another. In both Eastern and many indigenous societies, this does not hold true. In each of these three ways the notion of dharma, which is the original Indian concept, is very different from the notion of religion.
These three notions of religion – conclusive, exclusionary and separative, give Abrahamic religions a hard-edged identity. In Abrahamic religions there has been a strong emphasis on the separation of "believer" and "non-believer" and a religious imperative to move as many people from the latter category to the former. "Truth" has been conclusively and unquestionably revealed and captured in a book, and those that follow it are the only ones that are on the right path. Quite literally, this means that you are "with us or against us" – that the believers are right and represent the good who are "with God"; and all the others are misguided and are part of the darkness and deprived of any direct access to what is the ultimate good.
The worldview of the dharmic traditions is that while scriptures can
be very helpful, Truth cannot be found by scripture alone but by a path
of experiential realization and Self-discovery – and in that sense
religion is not conclusive. It is also not separative and exclusive
in the sense of dividing the world into believers and non-believers.
The dharmic worldview is that there are many tribes throughout the
world, and many teachers and teachings. Each tribe has good and bad
people in a continuum; people that have a greater degree of access to
truth and "goodness" are worthy of respect; and others less so. Since
there is a continuum of "goodness" among individuals of each tribe, the
need for converting other tribes to a particular conception of God as a
religious imperative is not really there. A teacher can share his or her
understanding of the truth; and means and ways for others to access
this; but there is no underlying belief that only one such way exists.
These ideas find clear expression as far back as the Rig Veda, with its
Ekam sad; vipra bahudha vadanti
while Truth is One, the wise describe it in different ways
— I.164.46 of the Rig Veda
So dharma itself does not create a religious identity. One's worldly self-identity in the dharmic model derives from one's local community, profession or ancestry, jati or kul, but that identity is not a religious identity, fundamentally opposed to the existence of the identity of the "other" as a manifestation of falsehood.
Some definitions are so broadly written that they include beliefs and areas of study that most people do not regard as religious. For example, David Edward's definition would seem to include cosmology and ecology within his definition of religion — fields of investigation that most people regard to be a scientific studies and non-religious in nature.
From a dharmic view, in principle there is no conflict between science and religion. In fact, the two fields are complementary. This is because of the understanding that the domain of each realm is well-defined.
In Hinduism there are two categories of knowledge, para vidya (the spiritual knowledge) and apara vidya (material knowledge). Scientific knowledge is the realm of apara vidya. Spiritual knowledge — knowledge of God and life — belongs to para vidya. Hinduism points out that scientific knowledge can lead to spiritual knowledge.
Religion is generally associated with a belief in something unseen, miraculous or irrational. For many, religion is something removed from day to day life, and it is outside of our known world and also something supernatural. The God is sitting outside of the creation and watching us all the time with the balance of judgement! The fruits of the religious practice are often promised to be gained after death and sometimes based on some kind of fear for the unknown and unseen, and associated with the helplessness of human being. Occasionally believers are exploited by the religious heads or those forces, which use religion for social or political gains.
Belief is the basis of many religious traditions, especially the non-eastern ones. The dictionary meaning of the word "belief" is 'a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing' and not necessarily there exists a proof. As a matter of fact religion in the western world is neatly and simply defined as a "belief system" and the belief is called "truth". There is a "belief" in one God, one prophet and one book of revelation. This is true especially in Christianity and Islam. The right "belief" is said to bring about salvation and the wrong "belief" is supposed to bring about damnation. Such religions are trying to convert the entire world to their "belief". By doing so they hope to bring about salvation for the entire humanity!
These kinds of belief systems can state their beliefs in clear and uncomplicated terms and they often sound more like slogans or stereotypes. These are often appealing to an emotional need for certainty and security.
Life is not so simple and eight or ten formulas are too inadequate to solve life's problems! Why should belief be asserted? Why should any truth have to be imposed as it is done by religions of the world? Does not the truth of things speak for itself if we are open to it? We know that if we protect the earth it will remain as our place for living - we don't have to 'believe' it.
Do we have to 'believe' that Ahimsha or non-violence is a great virtue? Do we have to 'believe' that vegetarianism is good for our health, environment and economy or we know these for fact by experience?
We also frequently use another word: Faith. In the dictionary faith has several meanings: 'allegiance to duty or person', 'belief and trust in the loyalty of God', 'belief in the traditional doctrines of religion', 'firm belief in something in which there is no proof' and 'complete confidence'. If faith means an openness of the heart to truth, which looks beyond belief and the aspiration to the truth then it is appropriate. The word faith in many cases is also associated with blind faith. If by faith we mean "complete confidence" then it is fine to use. Faith and truth are not the same.
Most religions around us contain three aspects. Within all religions can be found moral principles, which reflect universal ethic and truth. Religion tells us not to be selfish, do good, not to harm others, not to steal, lie or cheat; common human values that all societies require to some degree in order to continue to exist at all.
Dogmatism is the second aspect of religion under which certain actions as said to be wrong which may not reflect any ethical or moral values, but only the bias of a particular belief, particularly the belief of the founder or few followers of the founder. For example, if a religion tells us that it is a sin not to perform certain rituals, or only the book of a particular religion has the so-called revelation of God is not a statement of truth but purely a belief, which cannot but lead us to ignorance. The dogma may even tell us that if we did not follow the scriptures or a prophet, one has to go to a place called hell after death and has to suffer eternal punishment. Based on the ethics, beliefs, experiences and the dogma, each such "institutionalized system" or religion introduces of rituals and practices. It may be simply praying in a church, performing "namaj" or doing meditation. Sometimes the rituals may have good value and sometimes meaningless.
Religions are said to mix the nectar of ethics with the poison of exclusive beliefs. They add hundreds of do's and don'ts, and bar logical or rational questioning. These dogmas create disharmony through both the "believers" and the "non-believers". The believers avoid logic and the non-believers stamp the believers as outdated or unscientific or even fanatics. Do we really need such religions? Should we discard religion altogether and follow secular and universal ethics only?
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