Islamic concepts

Allāh ﷲ‎ — the Divine, the unique God, the Real, Fate

اللّٰه
proper noun
ALA-LC allāh
IPA ‏‎ʔɑlˤˈlˤɑɑh

Literal meaning

The word Allāh combines two roots:

al-
the, the unique, the one and only
ilāh
thing that is worshipped

Tawḥīd — Oneness

Tawḥīd

to believe and act upon the fact that Allāh (swt) is the sole
belief that

Tawḥīd is the absolute unity of Allāh , the oneness and uniqueness of Allāh . The pinnacle of Islam is to act upon the fact that Allāh is the sole:

Allāh is therefore the One Thing we direct our worship to, we devote our humblest state of mind to.

SWT

As a way to show respect, Muslims often add ‘subḥānahu wa taʿālá’ after the name of the Divine. It means ‘may He be Glorified and Exalted’.

Muslims often use the expression ‘subḥānahu wa-taʿālá’ (‘swt’ for short) to show respect after the name of Allāh. This means ‘may He be glorified and exalted’.

God

From the point of view of Muslims, Allāh is the same one God (swt) worshipped by Christians and Jews. In this light, it is totally possible to translate the word Allāh as ‘God’.

What Allāh looks like

Allāh is however not ‘an invisible man in the sky’ as often depicted in Western pop culture or described by atheists.

“Allāh is not like anything you can imagine.” (Qurʾan 42:11, 29:41). However you try to depict or represent Allāh, that’s not Allāh. Allāh is greater.

In fact, the greatest error that a Muslim can commit is Shirk, which means to worship something else as if it were Allāh, to confuse a mere image or symbol for the real meaning it tries to point to.

Concept of Allāh

The best definition of Allāh comes from chapter 112 of the Qurʾān. The Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ said these four lines are worth one third of the entire Qurʾān in terms of importance.

  1. Say: It’s Allāh, One Whole.
  2. Allāh, Independent and Absolute.
  3. Allāh has no children, no parents.
  4. Allāh is beyond comparison.

Muḥammad ﷺ also said that the single greatest verse in the Qurʾān is 2:255, which is equivalent to one fourth of the entire book.

Understand those two, and you’ve already got 7/12 or 58% of the Qurʾān.

Beautiful names of Allāh (swt)

Allāh (swt) is the Divine, the Unified Force that regulates and sustains us and the worlds.

Although the Divine (swt) is greater than anything we could imagine, the Divine (swt) has a number of beautiful names or characteristics by which we may recognize it.

Gender

Allāh is neither male nor female. Islam is very clear on this.

Like French and Spanish, Quranic Arabic does use grammatical noun classes (traditionally called feminine and masculine) to hold a sentence together. This language feature is very alien to the English mind.

In Arabic, the grammatically masculine pronoun huwa is used for Allāh. This has traditionally been translated as ‘He’ in English, perhaps also biased by the Christian concept of Jesus (literally a man) being God.

In modern English, the pronouns ‘she’ and ’he’ are loaded with strong assumptions about gender and personhood. The word ‘it’ is considered demeaning when describing a conscious being. The concept of Allāh in Islam is beyond all categories.

To avoid giving any misleading ideas to a modern English-speaking reader, I have chosen to not use any pronouns for Allāh on this site. For example, instead of ‘His’, I say ‘of Allāh’.

Number

In the Qurʾān, Allāh sometimes uses the Arabic equivalent of the majestic plural or ‘royal we’. Again, this is grammatical only. In Islam, there is no question about the fact that Allāh is absolutely one.