Who or what is Allah?
Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D

The word “God” does not give us much information. It merely refers to some kind of being who is greater than man. It does not tell us whether this being is good or evil. We need more than a mere word like Allah, or Vishnu, or Brama. In Islam the word “Allah” is used to describe a being who allegedly revealed something to a man named Mohammed in the seventh century in Arabia.

The idea of revelation is an important focal point. For example, some religions do not have the idea of revelation. Siddhartha Gautama, the founding person of Buddhism, did not claim to believe in gods or goddesses. The important issue for Buddha was intuitive insight into one’s self and one’s nature. You are your own deliverer from karma, or bad deeds. There is no forgiveness. There is no one to offer forgiveness since God did not exist in original Buddhism. Intuitive insight is important for many in the Hindu culture also, especially in the higher forms of the religion. Lower forms still relate to gods and goddess but there is no revelation to humans.

Islam makes a claim of revelation from Allah. Still the question is: who is Allah? To claim that this being is God does not give any information. Islam seeks to relate itself to the Old Testament character of Abraham. There is information from the past about Abraham and his experience with God. However, the character that God expressed toward Abraham and the character that Allah expressed toward Mohammed is absolutely and radically different.

We have a problem in dealing with this. In the tradition that flows from Abraham, humans are allowed to question and reason with this God, named Yahweh. The story below relates to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were about to be destroyed. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, lives in one of the cities. Abraham is concerned for his safety. Here are the verses:

“One hot summer afternoon Abraham was sitting by the entrance to his tent near the sacred trees of Mamre, when the LORD appeared to him. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. He quickly ran to meet them, bowed with his face to the ground, and said, "Please come to my home where I can serve you.” I'll have some water brought, so you can wash your feet, then you can rest under the tree. Let me get you some food to give you strength before you leave. I would be honored to serve you." "Thank you very much," they answered. "We accept your offer." Abraham quickly went to his tent and said to Sarah, "Hurry! Get a large sack of flour and make some bread." After saying this, he rushed off to his herd of cattle and picked out one of the best calves, which his servant quickly prepared. He then served his guests some yogurt and milk together with the meat. While they were eating, he stood near them under the trees, and they asked, "Where is your wife Sarah?" "She is right there in the tent," Abraham answered. One of the guests was the LORD, and he said, "I'll come back about this time next year, and when I do, Sarah will already have a son." Sarah was behind Abraham, listening at the entrance to the tent. Abraham and Sarah were very old, and Sarah was well past the age for having children. So she laughed and said to herself, "Now that I am worn out and my husband is old, will I really know such happiness?" The LORD asked Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh? Does she doubt that she can have a child in her old age? I am the LORD! There is nothing too difficult for me. I'll come back next year at the time I promised, and Sarah will already have a son." Sarah was so frightened that she lied and said, "I didn't laugh." "Yes, you did!" he answered. When the three men got ready to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked part of the way with them.

“The LORD said to himself, "I should tell Abraham what I am going to do, since his family will become a great and powerful nation that will be a blessing to all other nations on earth. I have chosen him to teach his family to obey me forever and to do what is right and fair. Then I will give Abraham many descendants, just as I promised." The LORD said, "Abraham, I have heard that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are doing all kinds of evil things. Now I am going down to see for myself if those people really are that bad. If they aren't, I want to know about it."

(Keep in mind that Abraham did not have a degree in theology in which he knew that God knew everything about the world. If God had not appeared to Abraham in human form as a man, Abraham would not have survived. There is a verse that no man shall see God and live. (Exodus 33:20) God appeared to Abraham in a manner to safe guard his life.)

The men turned and started toward Sodom. But the LORD stayed with Abraham, who asked, "LORD, when you destroy the evil people, are you also going to destroy those who are good?
Wouldn't you spare the city if there are only fifty good people in it? You surely wouldn't let them be killed when you destroy the evil ones. You are the judge of all the earth, and you do what is right." The LORD replied, "If I find fifty good people in Sodom, I will save the city to keep them from being killed." Abraham answered, "I am nothing more than the dust of the earth. Please forgive me, LORD, for daring to speak to you like this. But suppose there are only forty-five good people in Sodom. Would you still wipe out the whole city?" "If I find forty-five good people," the LORD replied, "I won't destroy the city." "Suppose there are just forty good people?" Abraham asked. "Even for them," the LORD replied, "I won't destroy the city." Abraham said, "Please don't be angry, LORD, if I ask you what you will do if there are only thirty good people in the city." "If I find thirty," the LORD replied, "I still won't destroy it." Then Abraham said, "I don't have any right to ask you, LORD, but what would you do if you find only twenty?" "Because of them, I won't destroy the city," was the LORD's answer. Finally, Abraham said, "Please don't get angry, LORD, if I speak just once more. Suppose you find only ten good people there." "For the sake of ten good people," the LORD told him, "I still won't destroy the city." After speaking with Abraham, the LORD left, and Abraham went back home. “
(Genesis 18:1-33 CEV)

There are several important observations to be found in this passage.

1. This passage points up the closeness of Yahweh to Abraham. The LORD (Yahweh in Hebrew) appeared to Abraham in the form of a human. The two others who appeared as men were angels who came with Yahweh. The appearance of Yahweh in human form is in contrast to the silence of the Islamic Allah who does not appear in human form and allegedly communicates only with Mohammed. This appearance of Yahweh is a pre-cursor example of what ultimately took place in God becoming embodied in Jesus, the Son of God. These appearances are called theophanies, an appearance of God in human form which is a temporary way of Yahweh’s communicating with certain people. However, the appearance of Jesus, the Son of God is not temporary. The risen Christ will always be visible and he shall come again and all eyes will see Him and he shall reign as King forever and ever.

Many times in the Old Testament there are appearances of Yahweh to various people. He is not limited. Muslims may react in saying that it is not possible for Yahweh to do this. But the passage affirms the power of Yahweh in verse 14, “I am the LORD! There is nothing too difficult for me.”

The Incarnation of God in Christ does not occur without advanced prophecy before the event. One such example is in Isaiah 9:6: “A child has been born for us. We have been given a son who will be our ruler. His names will be Wonderful Advisor and Mighty God, Eternal Father and Prince of Peace.”

The role of a Wonderful Advisor may be seen in the teachings of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5-7)

The acclamation of “Mighty God” can be seen in John 1:1-4, “In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone. “

Reference to the everlasting Father can be seen in John 14: 9-11:” Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need." Jesus replied: Philip, I have been with you for a long time. Don't you know who I am? If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. How can you ask me to show you the Father? Don't you believe that I am one with the Father and that the Father is one with me? What I say isn't said on my own. The Father who lives in me does these things. Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. “

In John 14:27 Jesus speaks of the most unusual peace which the world cannot give: “I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn't like the peace that this world can give. So don't be worried or afraid.”

2. The second issue to notice is that Yahweh does miracles. Sarah was past child bearing age. Her biological clock for child bearing ran out 50 years before. Yahweh declares that she will have a child when He returns next year. She laughs to herself. The Lord asked why did you laugh? She lied and said she did not laugh, but he replied in his knowledge of her, “Yes, you did.” Not only does Yahweh know our inner thoughts, but he does what we think is impossible. Sarah had a son and she named him Isaac.

Yahweh is still doing miracles today. There are miracles recorded when Jesus appeared. After his crucifixion and resurrection he gave power to his disciples to do great things in his name. Yahweh is still doing miracles in the name of Jesus today. People are being healed from sicknesses, demons are being cast out of people’s lives, and all this is done in the name of Jesus.

3. Yahweh allowed Abraham to question his action. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Abraham presented his case and Yahweh listened and granted the receding requests. The bottom line was that not ten righteous people could be found in the cities. It was a decadent culture.
There is also an example in the book of Isaiah in which humans are welcome to come to Yahweh to talk things over. “Wash yourselves clean! I am disgusted with your filthy deeds. Stop doing wrong and learn to live right. See that justice is done. Defend widows and orphans and help those in need." I, the LORD, invite you to come and talk it over. Your sins are scarlet red, but they will be whiter than snow or wool. (Isaiah 1:16-18 CEV)

In Islam there is no questioning of right or wrong. Obey or else. Is it possible that jihad against non-Muslims is a terrible sin? Is it possible that treating women as second class citizens is a crime against Yahweh? It is certainly not a sin against Allah? But it is a sin against Yahweh.

4. Yahweh told Abraham what he was going to do. This is stressed throughout the Old Testament in preparation for the coming of the messiah. The judgement on the cities was an act that Yahweh carried out. Although Abraham had been victorious in a previous battle to rescue his nephew and his family he was not called to kill the citizens of these wicked cities. Judgement belongs only and solely to Yahweh. Killing of anyone is still a great crime against Yahweh and his commandments.

5. Judgement was delayed for quite a while. There is always the possibility that people may repent of their sins and seek the Lord and he waits in patience. But there comes a time when He will bring judgement and it is not left up to blood-thirsty evil people to do it.

The encounter that Abraham had with Yahweh is based on something that related to creation. Man was created a rational being, the specie being male and female. “Whatever interpretation the latest scholarship may give to the story of woman's formation from the rib of man (Gen_2:21-24), the passage indicates, most profoundly, the inseparable unity and fellowship of her life with his. Far more than being a mere assistant, “helper” (עזר, ‛ēzer “help” “helper” Gen_2:18), she is man's complement, essential to the perfection of his being. Without her he is not man in the generic fullness of that term.” (Woman, ISBE) Females are important in the story of creation and in the life of Israel. There are a number of females in important leadership roles and contributions in the Bible.

One may think of Mariam, sister of Moses, Debra, the prophetess who freed her people from slavery to invaders, Ruth, an ancestor of King David, Esther who helped deliver her people from annihation. Mary, the mother of the Messiah, is mentioned along with Elizabeth who had more faith than her husband at the time. Very signficant is the place of women in the New Testament. There were a number of women who helped Jesus as described in Luke 8.

“ Soon after this, Jesus was going through towns and villages, telling the good news about God's kingdom. His twelve apostles were with him, and so were some women who had been healed of evil spirits and all sorts of diseases. One of the women was Mary Magdalene, who once had seven demons in her. Joanna, Susanna, and many others had also used what they owned to help Jesus and his disciples. Joanna's husband Chuza was one of Herod's officials.” (Luke 8:1-3)

One of the more significant stories about Jesus and the place of women relates to the resurrection morning. Luke wrote: “Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices that they had prepared. When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus, and they did not know what to think. Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. The women were afraid and bowed to the ground. But the men said, "Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? Jesus isn't here! He has been raised from death. Remember that while he was still in Galilee, he told you, 'The Son of Man will be handed over to sinners who will nail him to a cross. But three days later he will rise to life.' " Then they remembered what Jesus had said. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women were the ones who had gone to the tomb. When they returned, they told the eleven apostles and the others what had happened. “ Luke 24:1-9)

The fact that Jesus appeared to the women first indicates not only their faith but his elevation of their position. In the Genesis story the woman, Eve, was the first to doubt God’s command, but in the resurrection story women are the first to believe.

It is fundamentally irrational to reject the equality of women with men. The Taliban who burned down schools for girls, throw acid in the faces of girls who want an education, and other vile acts that they do are dooming themselves to ignorant, unhealthy lives, and they are depriving themselves of the benefit of a helper who is not a slave, but a complement that helps fill in the blindness of the male. Moreover, they are rejecting the Creator’s design for the home. If a Muslim man is educated why would he want to marry a woman who is uneducated? An ignorant wife is a liability to begin with.

There are hadiths in which Mohammed is saying that women have half the intelligence that men have. The women in the hadith are said to agree with him. I cannot help but think that the hadith was composed by some disgruntled male who was probably rejected by his wife for his ignorance. The agreement of the women with Mohammed that women are deficient in intelligence is too easy and one would never know what is going on in the mind of the women. They may have been agreeing verbally but disagreeing violently inside their mind. Women were subject creatures in Islam and the real impact of the hadith is to criticize women for not being more submissive to their husbands. Mohammed’s vision of hell involved mostly unappreciative women who were not submissive.

The real up-to-date truth is that women are very bright, intelligent, and have great analyitcal minds. Women are intellectually capable of doing anything a man can do, and many do it better. Islam has created a dark side of its culture by its treatment and distrust of women. The talents and capabilities of a half billion women have been lost. The arrogance of the men of Islam has caused terrible damage to women and it is done in the name of Allah.

The cloistering of women in the home, not allowing them outside without a male, involves a severe stereotype that the male imposes on the female. It also relates to an insecurity of the male about himself. Can you not trust your wife? Consider the fact that many Muslim marriages are not based on love and commitment, but arranged without involvement of the girl, there may not be a basis for trust. The other side of the coin is that boys and girls want to talk to each other. The reason for conversation is that we are rational people who want to communicate. We are made for each other. The supposition that every conversation will lead to infidelity and adultery is false. One more ingredient to the issue is that it takes two to commit adultery. Is the husband any more trustworthy than the woman. The attitude of the Muslim youth in many countries is that women are for raping. This is especially true in non-Muslim countries where Muslim youth feel entitled to rape non-muslim women. This is a rejection of the equality of women in the Creation story.

6. Judgement belongs only and solely to Yahweh. In reading the Old Testament there is much about Yahweh’s judgement on the Hebrews for their sins. This judgement often comes in the form of calling the Assyrians to invade the northern kingdom and carry the people into captivity. It occurred again when the Babylonians were brought to invade the southern kingdom and carry the people to Babylon. But the judgement was temporary. They were also brought back by the command of Yahweh beginning in 539 BC. This was not jihad on the part of the invaders. Yes, some people were killed but most of them were carried captive to the foreign country. After judgement they would return and did.

Islamic judgement gives people three options: submit to Islam, or death, or pay the jizya and become dhimmis, the position of having to pay a special high tax for protection as well as having limited freedom as a non-Muslim.

The current goal of Islam is to conquer the world and create the Caliphate. All these goals are to be brought about by force. There are some severe problems with this goal of conquering the world. The Shia will have to kill off the Sunnis or the Sunnis will have to kill off the Shia. They are doing it slowly right now.

7. The question must be raised concerning the differences of what Yahweh commanded and what Allah is commanding. Why the difference? This question becomes critical since the Qur’an confirms the truth of the Torah in many places;
“He hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel.” (3.003 Pickthall)

In the time Mohammed is said to have lived, the Arabic word Allah was used by in Arabia for what we use the word “God” for, a being beyond humans. There were 360 gods worshiped in Mecca. Mohammed is supposed to have said that hence forth there would be the worship of only one god. But he did not identify who that was. Since there is so much in Islam that is contrary to the Revelation of Yahweh in the Old and New Testaments it is not possible to think that Yahweh has changed his mind in such a drastic way. The prophet Malachi speaks the Word of the Lord to his generation: “Descendants of Jacob, I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I never change. That's why you haven't been wiped out,” (Malachi, 3:6) The Jews were judged for their sins and Yahweh was yet merciful. Isaiah the prophet declared the word of Yahweh about sins: “But I wipe away your sins because of who I am. And so, I will forget the wrongs you have done” (Isa_43:25)

As one views Islam there are obvious huge deviations away from the original revelation of Yahweh. Yahweh never commanded jihad against the world. The only wars of Israel relate to the promise of Yahweh that the promised land would be theirs when the judgement of Yahweh was to be delivered to the Canaanites. There are no commands in the Gospels or the rest of the New Testament that Christians are to take up arms against non-believers. Jihad is entirely new.

God is no mere human! He doesn't tell lies or change his mind. God always keeps his promises.” (Numbers 23:19) If Yahweh does not change, then what are we to make about the claims of Islam? The rational logical conclusion is that Islam is a new religion that has no relationship to the original revelation of Yahweh and is false. It has changed the great revelation of the Bible into an un-historical movement that developed sometime after Mohammed. The main body of hadiths that give alleged information are fabrications that came about 125 years after the time Mohammed was supposed to have lived.

The words of Jesus still stand true: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one goes to the Father except by me.”