Shahid Batalvi Speaks

with apology to Black Elk for he speaks first

The word “Allah” predates Islam

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In pre-islamic arab culture any natural phenomenon unexplainable by human intellect, not through stupidity but through knowledge was termed ALLAH.

Many names (pre-islam) such as abdullah (abd-allah) refer to this etymology. Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) father was Abdullah ibn Abdul Muttalib.

The pre-islamic word for god was Rb (also used in urdu and punjabi). There were so many gods in pre-islamic arab culture that there was perhaps a god for every day of the year. Just as people today with their infantile passions have favourite cricket teams, best soccer players, idolized basketball players, american football MVPs and so on, people in the ancient arab culture had their preferred god or gods. There was a god for everything; a god for a season, a god for rain, a god for fear, a god for love, a god for luck, a god for misery, a god for wealth, a god for death. Everyone had their own special god.

Imagine an after hours brawl outside a bar on the spice route beyond the outskirts of Medina in 400 Anno Domini. Once the cursing has gone beyond mother and father and seven generations, one of the guys says to the other, “la’ana rabi rabbak”. This translates into “god damn your god”.

This curse actually exists and was taught to me by a Palestinian friend. I remember him today since it was almost 27 years to the day. The massacre of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians carried out between September 16 and 18 in 1982 at Sabra and Shatila by the Lebanese Forces Christian militia group, following the assassination of Phalangist leader and president-elect Bachir Gemayel had occured the previous week. We were sitting in our university cafeteria having lunch and he stood up and said, “I have to go and fight. My nation is dying.” He left everything right there and walked away. He never came back.

Your gods are dying and so are your nations.

Allah is still a natural phenomenon unexplainable by human intellect, but stupidity has prevailed.

September 24, 2009

Footnote to the story:
This idea that the term Allāh is derived from a contraction of the Arabic definite article al- “the” and ʼilāh “deity, god” to al-lāh meaning “the [sole] deity, God” (ho theos monos) is but the same challange.
It stems from an underlying confusion in understanding that there was always a difference between deity and nature. A deity is one of many manifestations of nature. An idol is a manmade representation of a deity. What is unexplainable has no manifestation.
Ignorance feeds ignorance feeds ignorance feeds ignorance.
This is how all societal and cultural truths are born.
January 30, 2010

Written by Shahid Batalvi

September 24, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Posted in Analysis

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