By Singa Terhormat
First of all, let me declare that I am a Muslim.
I am no scholar of Islam but I have been given some measure of intellect by Almighty God, and it is in gratitude for that gift that this is written.
This is about Islam and its teachings with regard to the issue of whether non-Muslims can use the word “Allah”.
Invariably in doing so, it is unavoidable to relate some theological aspects of Islam that may or may not offend the teachings of other religions.
If it does so, please understand that it is not my intention to do so but merely to illustrate and substantiate the content of this article.
Islam teaches that the highest legislative authority on Earth is God.
After that comes the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
No legislation passed by Man can override or conflict with what God and/or the Holy Prophet (pbuh) has decided.
Surah Al-Ahzab verses 33: 36 of the Holy Qur’an has been interpreted to read:
“It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.”
Where a matter has been decided by God and the Prophet therefore, Muslims have no choice but to obey.
God in the Holy Qur’an warns Mankind against simply declaring this or that to be lawful or unlawful where it goes against what God and/or the Prophet have decided.
Surah Al Tawba verse 31 of the Holy Qur’an has been interpreted to read:
“ They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. There is no god save Him. Be He glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!”
The Prophet (pbuh) explained this verse by saying:
”It was not that they (Jews and Christians) worshipped these people, but rather whatever they made permissible for them, they believed it to be permissible and whatever they forbade, they believed to be unlawful. ” (Tirmidhi)
Hence if a Muslim is to take as lawful what God and His Prophet have made unlawful or if a Muslim is to take as unlawful what God and His Prophet have made lawful, then that Muslim has committed the one unforgivable sin of having lords besides God.
Having established thus that it is not open for a Muslim to go against any decision of God and His Prophet and that if he does so he then commits the most unforgivable of sins of giving partners to God, let us then examine whether God and the Prophet had anything to say or whether they had decided on the matter of non-Muslims using the word “Allah”.
Surah Az Zukhruf verse 87 of the Holy Qur’an has been interpreted to read :
“And if thou ask them who created them, they will surely say: Allah. How then are they turned away?”
In this verse “them” refers to the unbelievers or, in the context of the Holy Qur’an, the non-Muslims. Hence here God is saying that when the non-Muslims ask who created them they will use the word “Allah” in reply.
Likewise Surah An Ankabut verse 63 of the Holy Qur’an has been interpreted to read:
“And if thou wert to ask them: Who causeth water to come down from the sky, and therewith reviveth the earth after its death? They verily would say: Allah.”
Again “them” here refers to the unbelievers or, in the context of the Holy Qur’an, the non-Muslims.
In Surah Al Hajj verse 40 of the Holy Qur’an, its interpretation is even more interesting. It reads:
“For had it not been for Allah’s repelling some men by means of others, cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down.”
There you have it.
The name of Allah mentioned in churches.
Who tells the Muslims this?
Why, God Himself.
What is the Prophet’s attitude towards Christians? It is exemplified in what is known as the Treaty Of Najran made in 631 AD and also known as the Charter of Rights made to the Christians of Najran. (The original document is preserved in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul)
In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery came to Prophet Muhammed and requested his protection. He responded by granting them a charter of rights, extracts of which read as follows:
”This is a message from [Prophet] Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
No compulsion [in religion] is to be on them.
No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.
Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
Their Churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.
No one of the nation (of Muslims) is to disobey this covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”
Note that this charter of rights is to last “till the Last Day.” Note also that it imposes no conditions on Christians to alter their beliefs. It is enough that they are Christians.
Note too the Prophet’s father’s name—“Abdullah”—meaning the servant or slave of Allah.
He was given this name and it establishes that Allah was in use before the Holy Qur’an was revealed.
There is some basis for claims too that other religions use “Allah”.
In Sikhism one of the names by which Guru Nanak Sahib refers to God is “Allah”.
In Hindu Scripture, in Rig Veda Book 2 Hymn 1 Verse 2 “Ila” is used, which is the same as the Arabic “Illah” or “Allah”.
Further, the Arab Christians and Jews use “Allah” freely without hindrance.
Can something in the religious context be haram in one area and halal in another?
Here we have so-called Muslims insisting that non-Muslims cannot use “Allah”.
Do they not know the Holy Qur’an then?
Do they not know Islam?
Do they then take partners besides God and commit the one unforgivable sin?
Do they not know that the Prophet has warned:
“Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawud)