Catholic Arabs and Allah


#1

I’ve recently over heard conversation and read a post that indicated that non-Arabs think Allah is just a muslim word for Islam alone. I was curious to know how many non-Arab Roman Catholics do not know that Catholic Arabs speak Arabic, AND therefore God means Allah. Jesus is Yesua, Mary is Miriam, Joseph is Yousef.

This is how we speak. In mass we would do the sign of the cross (below) and say God is one (Allahi wahid).

Bismil Abi, wa Libni, wa Ruhi Qudus.
Allah i wahid

Meaning:
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
God is One

Christian arabs (Catholic arabs) truly get the short end of the stick in the Middle East. These words are not just “muslim” words, they are Arabic words. Arabs can be any religion. I am hoping this is not news to many other brothers and sisters in the Faith. Thanks!


#2

Thank you so much for your posting. I’m certain that many people will be surprised. But it is important to understand how difficult it is to be Christian and Arab, both in the western world and in the Middle East. Blessings on you and your faith community.


#3

Well ,since I come from Indonesia this isn’t a big suprise for me.
God is frequently reffered as Allah here and no one loses their mind over it.


#4

Wow, I’m sorry to hear that most won’t know. Thank you for appreciating the post and for understanding! :slight_smile:


#5

No problem. God can be in different words in different languages. Arab speaking person would use an Arab word for it, which is Allah in your case.

The word Allah can be a contention for some Muslims, where it is specifically meant to be the Islam God.

This has been said before in CAF, where in certain Muslim country, Allah word is legislated as an Islamic god, meaning Christians of that country cannot use the word Allah in their worship and Bible translation.

Surprisingly the usage of Allah as God is more of a problem in non-Arab countries rather than Arab countries where Allah is accepted to mean God in native Arabic language.


#6

I’ve never heard this before. In which Muslim counties are Christians banned from using the word for God to refer to God? This makes no sense.

I know a number of Christians from various countries in the Middle East and we’ve had countless discussions about this very subject. They are confused and annoyed by the attitude of Americans that Allah only refers to the Muslilm God.

I’d be interested to know more about these countries that regulate the use of language in this way.


#7

I heard malaysia has a rule that said so. Not sure about the middle east though.


#8

When we say God in the West, our mind immediately turns to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, doesn’t it? For most of us, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Likewise, in the Middle East, one’s mind would likely turn to the god of Muhammad.

We can’t ignore that certain words have cultural connotations. In the English language, all who believe in a god rightly use that term, and even so in other languages- but again, we can’t ignore our culture.


#9

Apparently, there is a little more to the story. Malaysia is not an Arabic-speaking country and a law was passed banning non-Muslims from using the Arabic word for God. Instead, it was argued, they should use the Malay word for God to avoid deliberately confusing Muslims (for the purpose of conversion). The Catholic Church challenged this law in court. The Malaysian High Court ruled that it would only apply to the use of the word Allah in the Catholic Church’s newspaper. It does not apply to use during Mass, in liturgical texts, or in the Bible.

But after the Federal Court announced its verdict on Monday, the government released a statement saying that the ruling would only apply to the Church’s newspaper, which has been at the center of the court battle since Malaysian authorities ordered the publication to cease using the Arabic word in 2007.
Malaysian Christians will still be able to use the word “Allah” in church, the government’s statement said.

This was an interesting story that I hadn’t heard before. I’m glad the subject came up because I’m glad to be learning about it.


#10

The Church acknowledges that the Muslims worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

From the Catechism:

841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day."330

Likewise, in the Middle East, one’s mind would likely turn to the god of Muhammad.

Unless you happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, in which case your mind would turn to God. Christians were using the word “Allah” to describe God for centuries before Mohammad was born and continue to do so to this day. In spite of being in a majority Muslim culture, they are not confused by it.

Likewise, if I were having a conversation with a Muslim and he was saying “God” and I was saying “God”, he would understand that I was referring to God as understood by Christianity and I would understand that he was referring to God as understood by Islam.

If I heard, in this country, a non-Arabic speaker referring to Allah, I would assume that he was speaking of Islam.


#11

I’m aware of what the Catechism says. I specified that most of us think of the Trinity.


#12

I edited my post while you were replying. This is what I added:

Unless you happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, in which case your mind would turn to God. Christians were using the word “Allah” to describe God for centuries before Mohammad was born and continue to do so to this day. In spite of being in a majority Muslim culture, they are not confused by it.

Likewise, if I were having a conversation with a Muslim and he was saying “God” and I was saying “God”, he would understand that I was referring to God as understood by Christianity and I would understand that he was referring to God as understood by Islam.

If I heard, in this country, a non-Arabic speaker referring to Allah, I would assume that he was speaking of Islam.


#13

I thought there was some country around
Indonesia where Christians were not allowed to refer to God as Allah. This happened around 2 years ago.
edit:
I just read babochka’s post about Malayasia being the country. I remember
the Catholic Church challenging the law.


#14

Yea some of my cousin migrated to Indonesia because of the problem and how they were treated. If you’re not a muslim there you better keep a low profile on issues like religion.


#16

I don’t get it. Why are the bibles using the word Allah? Is it an Arabic Bible? I think not. If the bible is not in Arabic then no need to use the word Allah.


#18

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