When Muslims confront the Christian missionaries with the etymological evidence that the word Allah is indeed related to the word Elohim, the missionaries are very quick to point out that (YHWH) is the “Divine Name” for The Deity that they worship and that since Muslims are not taught about this “Divine Name” of God, it therefore follows that Muslims are calling upon God wrongly.
This is not a new argument from the missionary.
When the Prophet Muhammad(P) was in Madinah, the Jews of Madinah offered a similar objection, claiming that Muslims should not refer to The Deity by merely calling Him Allah.
Thus, the following Qur’anic verse was revealed to reply to the objection:
“Say: Call upon “Allah or call upon “Rahman”; By whatever name ye call upon Him (it is well): for to Him belong the most beautiful names.” (Qur’an, 17:110)
We should also note the following observations regarding the claim:
1. First of all, the very first word in Genesis 1:1 is “Elohim”, not ‘Yahweh’. The word YHWH only started appearing in Genesis 2:4, and even then, it was almost always accompanied with the word “Elohim”, as in “Yahweh Elohim”.
2. According to The New Strong’s Exhausive Concordance of the Bible, the word Yahweh is “…the Jewish national name of God”. In short, this is the name that only the Jews themselves use. Compare this with the entry for Elohim, in the same reference: “…specially used of the supreme God”
3. The final point is that according to the Christian belief itself, the name Yahweh is only used for the old covenant context, and not valid for Christians, who believe that they are in a new covenant. This is evident when nowhere in the New Testament does the word Yahweh appear.
As John Gilchrist says:
… While the name Yahweh appears throughout the Old Testament in the original Hebrew text, it appears nowhere in the books of the New Testament, not even in the original Greek texts. In 0ld Testament times Yahweh was the name of the covenant God of Israel (Exodus 3.15), but the Lord has never used this name in a new covenant context. The coming of Jesus Christ brought about a major change in God’s relationship with his people. Now he is projected solely as the Father of all true believers, Jew and Gentile alike, without any distinction being made between them (Romans 10.12). The name Yahweh was used solely in an old covenant context and the New Testament plainly states that the old covenant has become “obsolete” (Hebrews 8.13) and that it has been entirely “abolished” (Hebrews 10.9). For this reason one never finds the name Yahweh in the New Testament – it was relevant only to the people of Israel in old covenant times….The New Testament deliberately avoids the use of the name Yahweh and the only possible translation of theos into Arabic is Allah
On a side note, we refer to Mark 15:34 where Jesus(P) is reported to have cried out in Aramaic:
- ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?
Which is translated into English as:
My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?
According to The New Strong’s Exhausive Concordance of the Bible, the defination of eloi is as follows:
eloi [ELWI] of Aramaic origin, 0426 with pronominal stuff.; n m AV – Eloi 2; 2; Eloi = “my-God”; 1) Aramaic for the phrase “my-God”
If the claim is that Yahweh is the so-called “true” name of God, then why instead of calling out:
ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?
Jesus(P) could have instead just cried out:
YAHWEH, YAHWEH, LAMA SABACHTHANI?
This shows that the claim that Yahweh is the “only true name” for God certainly does not hold water. Jesus(P) did refer to God as “Eloi”, or “Eli” (according to Matthew 27:46).
So are we expected to believe that Jesus(P) was ignorant of this “true name” of God when he called upon Him as “Eli” (of which its trilateral root-word is related to the root of the Arabic word Allah) instead of Yahweh, and Christians who only exist 2000 years later are “aware” of the “true name” of God?
We think not!
It seems that the missionaries have created more problems than they think they had solved. And certainly, only God knows best!