by Dr. Stephen M. Davis
Frequently when speaking on the subject of Islam, I’ve encountered opposition to the idea that Arab believers use the word “Allah” in referring to God. Most of the objections stem from a misunderstanding of the Arabic language and of the historical and cultural use and development of the word “Allah.” It is understandable that to untrained Western ears and in the midst of current world crises that the word “Allah” be almost exclusively associated with radical Islam. However, it is unacceptable for American Christians to insist that Arab Christians not use “Allah” and find another word for deity. How then should we respond to the question, “Is Allah the Father of Jesus?”
From my travels to the Middle East, I have seen and heard “Allah” used by Christians in their prayers, singing, and in reading Scripture. Whatever the origin of the word, it means “God” or “god” just like the English word. It is true that “Allah” does not specifically refer to the Christian God. Neither does our English word. Do we require more precision for Arab believers than we do for ourselves? Of course, as Christians we also use Jesus, Jehovah, Lord, etc. Arab believers do the same, but in no way does that negate the use of Allah. For example, John 1:1 in an Arabic translation reads “And the word was with Allah and the word was Allah.”
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