A Dutch Catholic bishop who once said the hungry were entitled to steal bread and advocated condom use to prevent AIDS has made headlines again, this time by saying God should be called Allah.
"Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will call God Allah?" Bishop Tiny Muskens said in an interview broadcast this week. "God doesn't care what we call him."
In this nation where religious tolerance has been eroded in recent years by a rise in radical Islam, the comments drew little support.
Muskens, bishop of the southern Diocese of Breda, previously created a stir by suggesting the hungry could steal bread to feed themselves. He also supported the use of condoms as a way of reining in the spread of AIDS and suggested popes have term limits of 10-15 years and an age limit of 85.
In an interview broadcast on Monday's edition of current affairs show "Netwerk," Muskens said he had worked in Indonesia where God is referred to as Allah in Christian services.
A survey in the Netherlands' biggest-selling newspaper De Telegraaf on Wednesday found 92 percent of the more than 4,000 people polled disagreed with the bishop's view, which also drew ridicule.
"Sure. Lets call God Allah. Lets then call a church a mosque and pray five times a day. Ramadan sounds like fun," Welmoet Koppenhol (a Protestant) wrote in a letter to the newspaper.
Well Bishop Tiny, before we jump wildly to conclusions, let's take a long look at some facts. Some may support your proclamation and some may be cause for deep thought.
Allah (Arabic: اللّٰه, Allāh) is the standard Arabic word for "God". The term is best known in the West for its use by Muslims as a reference to God. Arabic-speakers of all faiths, including Christians and Jews, use the word "Allah" to mean "God".
The Muslim and Christian Arabs of today have no other word for 'God' than 'Allah'.
In pre-Islamic Arabia, Allah was used by pagan Meccans as a reference to the creator-god, possibly the supreme deity.
In Islam, Allah is the only deity, transcendent creator of the universe, and the judge of humankind.
Some Islamic scholars believe that the term "Allāh" should not be translated, arguing that "Allāh" as used in Islam is a special and glorified term whose use should be preserved, while God can also be used in reference to deities worshiped by polytheists. Curiously, Jews take this same position and declare G-d's Name to be too sacred to be spoken.
The pre-Islamic Arabs believed in a host of other terms to signify gods, such as Hubal and al-Lāt, al-`Uzzah, and Manah.
Pre-Islamic Jews referred to their supreme creator as Yahweh (Jehovah) or Elohim.
This view of Allāh by the pre-Islamic pagans is viewed by Muslims as a later development having arisen as a result of moving away from Abrahamic monotheism over time since the building of the Kaaba. (Kaaba is a large structure built inside Islam's most holy mosque in Mecca.)
The Muslims claim that Allah in pre-Islamic times was the biblical God of the Patriarchs, prophets, and apostles. However evidence demonstrates that the god Allah was a pagan deity.
In fact, he was the Moon-god who was married to the sun goddess and the stars were his daughters.
During the 1950's, Wendell Phillips, W.F. Albright, Richard Bower and others excavated sites at Qataban, Timna, and Marib (the ancient capital of Sheba). Thousands of inscriptions from walls and rocks in Northern Arabia have also been collected. Reliefs and votive bowls used in worship of the "daughters of Allah" have also been discovered.
The three daughters, al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat are sometimes depicted together with Allah the Moon-god represented by a crescent moon above them. The archeological evidence demonstrates that the dominant religion of Arabia was the cult of the Moon-god.
In ancient Syria and Canna, the Moon-god Sin was usually represented by the moon in its crescent phase. At times the full moon was placed inside the crescent moon to emphasize all the phases of the moon. The sun-goddess was the wife of Sin and the stars were their daughters. For example, Istar was a daughter of Sin.
When Israel fell into idolatry, it was usually the cult of the Moon-god. As a matter of fact, everywhere in the ancient world, the symbol of the crescent moon can be found on seal impressions, steles, pottery, amulets, clay tablets, cylinders, weights, earrings, necklaces, wall murals.
In Old Testament times, Nabonidus (555-539 BC), the last king of Babylon, built Tayma, Arabia as a center of Moon-god worship. In fact, South Arabia's stellar religion has always been dominated by the Moon-god in various variations.
Many scholars have also noticed that the Moon-god's name "Sin" is a part of such Arabic words as "Sinai," the "wilderness of Sin," etc. When the popularity of the Moon-god waned elsewhere, the Arabs remained true to their conviction that the Moon-god was the greatest of all gods.
While they worshipped 360 gods at the Kabaa in Mecca, the Moon-god was the chief deity. Mecca was in fact built as a shrine for the Moon-god. This is what made it the most sacred site of Arabian paganism.
In 1944, G. Caton Thompson revealed in her book, The Tombs and Moon Temple of Hureidha, that she had uncovered a temple of the Moon-god in southern Arabia. The symbols of the crescent moon and no less than twenty-one inscriptions with the name Sin were found in this temple. An idol which may be the Moon-god himself was also discovered. This was later confirmed by other well-known archeologists.
The evidence reveals that the temple of the Moon-god was active even in the Christian era. Evidence gathered from both North and South Arabia demonstrate that Moon-god worship was clearly active even in Muhammad's day and was still the dominant cult. According to numerous inscriptions, while the name of the Moon-god was Sin, his title was al- ilah, i.e. "the deity," meaning that he was the chief or high god among the gods.
As Coon pointed out, "The god Il or Ilah was originally a phase of the Moon God." The Moon-god was called al- ilah, i.e. the god, which was shortened to Allah in pre-Islamic times. The pagan Arabs even used Allah in the names they gave to their children. For example, both Muhammad's father and uncle had Allah as part of their names.The fact that they were given such names by their pagan parents proves that Allah was the title for the Moon-god even in Muhammad's day.
Prof. Coon goes on to say, "Similarly, under Mohammed's tutelage, the relatively anonymous Ilah, became Al-Ilah, The God, or Allah, the Supreme Being." This fact answers the questions, "Why is Allah never defined in the Qur'an? Why did Muhammad assume that the pagan Arabs already knew who Allah was?"
Al-Kindi, one of the early Christian apologists against Islam, pointed out that Islam and its god Allah did not come from the Bible but from the paganism of the Sabeans. They did not worship the God of the Bible but the Moon-god and his daughters al-Uzza, al-Lat and Manat.
Dr. Newman concludes his study of the early Christian-Muslim debates by stating, "Islam proved itself to be...a separate and antagonistic religion which had sprung up from idolatry." Islamic scholar Caesar Farah concluded "There is no reason, therefore, to accept the idea that Allah passed to the Muslims from the Christians and Jews."
After providing scholarly information about the origin of Allah, allow me to vent my own feelings.
As I have said many paragraphs earlier, when Muslims pray they are praying toward Kaaba. Perhaps the focal point of Kaaba is The Black Stone.
Some say The Black Stone is a meteorite. Some claim that the stone fell from heaven when Adam and Eve were in The Garden. Others claim that Abraham/Ibirahim found it with his son Ishmael/Ismail to use as a cornerstone for The Kaaba. While other contest that it was given to Abraham/Ibirahim bye the Archangel Gabriel. Whatever your view there is no question that The Black Stone is within the walls of The Kaaba, the site that Muslims pray to five times a day.
Western society and Hebrew society for years found a basis in morality within The Ten Commandments. And though the numbering of them differs within sects of Judaism and Christianity, the message remains the same.
The Ten Commandments are rooted in Noahide law, which predated Judaism and Islam. Noahide law are seven rules given to Moses by God. They are laws that God intended all mankind to follow.
The first of The Ten Commandments is "I AM THE LORD, THY GOD" and depending upon your faith it could continue "THOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME".
The Second of The Ten is "THOU SHALL NOT MAKE FOR THYSELF AN IDOL".
And though the Quran does not contain The Ten Commandments it does state in different sections, ""There is no other god beside God."(47:19) and "My Lord, make this a peaceful land, and protect me and my children from worshiping idols." (14:35).
I cannot speak for anyone other than myself and my family. But I believe that if I am praying to a building that contains a stone that would constitute worshipping an idol. I also contend that praying to anyone other than The Lord God Almighty would be in violation of the first Commandment.