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Using the Word ‘God’ for Allah

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 11/23/04

Q. Since we earn reward for merely mentioning the name Allah, why do some of us replace it with God? I have been taught by my father that the name Allah is not in any language other than Arabic and its meaning is known only to Allah. Therefore, we must not even use the pronouns He and Him in reference to Him, since Allah has no gender. Please comment.

Fatima Kazi

A. To say that the name Allah has a meaning known only to Allah Himself is wrong, because you have to understand what the name means before you believe in Him. Otherwise, you are believing in what you do not understand. This is not acceptable in a religion that repeatedly calls on us to use our minds and to think about life, the universe, creation, etc. Allah is the Arabic name that refers to the Supreme Being who created all that exists. He has certain attributes of perfection which are due to Him, and we acknowledge all these as we learn them from the Qur’an and the Prophet (peace be upon him).

To say that we cannot use the pronouns ‘He’ and ‘Him’ in reference to Allah is again wrong, because He has used these in referring to Himself in the Qur’an. He says for example: “All that is in the heavens and the earth extol God’s limitless glory. He is Almighty, Wise. To Him belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He gives life and causes death, and He has power over all things.” (57: 1-2). In Arabic we often use these pronouns to refer to Him, as we would use them in reference to any person. The Prophet did, which shows that using them is perfectly appropriate.

The word ‘God’ is the English name for Allah, and there is no harm in using it. In fact it is better to use it because if you use the Arabic name, people tend to think that this is a different being whom only Muslims worship. But when you use ‘God’ they realize that you are referring to the Almighty.

On Insurance

Q. You have given a ruling that insurance is permissible. But the ruling is stated in general terms. Could you please provide evidence from the Qur’an and the Sunnah in support of this view? As far as I know all insurance companies depend on interest in running their business.


A. Some readers demand a direct quotation from the Qur’an when they put a question, but they overlook the fact that the question is concerned with a modern situation or transaction that was not operative at the time when the Qur’an was revealed. While the Qur’an and the Sunnah contain guidance that covers all human situations, sometimes we cannot find a quotation that relates directly to the question in hand. In such a situation we rely on rules that are established by Qur’anic and Hadith statements. For example, we say that smoking tobacco is forbidden. Needless to say, there is no direct text to say this. We arrive at this verdict on the basis that it is now known for certain that tobacco smoking has very serious adverse effects on the health of the smokers and those who are in close proximity to them. This allows the application to tobacco smoking of the rule stated by the Prophet (peace be upon him): “There shall be no infliction of harm on oneself or others.”

In the answer referred to, we mentioned that cooperative insurance is agreed by all scholars to be permissible. We said that all insurance is of cooperative nature. The rule that applies here is “help one another in furthering righteousness and piety, and do not help one another in furthering evil and aggression.” (5: 2).

The Arabic word in the Qur’anic text translated here as “righteousness” has far wider significance than religious righteousness. It includes every good thing. To cooperate in reducing the effects of a misfortune is certainly covered by it. This is the purpose of insurance.

As for insurance companies depending on interest, this is a separate issue. To start with, it may or may not be true. It needs to be looked into. If you determine that a particular insurance company relies on usurious transactions, then you must not take out a policy with that company. But to my knowledge, if insurance companies depend solely or largely on interest, they would not be able to conduct their business. They have other, and more important business outlets.

Earth, a planet hungry for peace

 Apartheid Wall

The Israeli Land-Grab Apartheid Wall built inside the Palestinian territories, here separating Abu Dis from occupied East Jerusalem. (IPC, 7/4/04).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

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