Sunday, February 17, 2008

COMMENT: Archbishop of Allah?

According to his profile on OnlineOpinion, Jonathan Ariel is ...

... an economist and financial analyst. He holds a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management.
He also enjoys dabbling in political polemics. Heck, so do I. Who doesn't?

But after reading his take on the pseudo-controversy surrounding a recent academic speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury, it seems clear to me that Ariel should stick to financial analysis.

Ariel makes his position clear with this quote ...

Sharia law is simultaneously undemocratic and unChristian.
In a sense, any religious law is unChristian. This is because Christianity (at least in its protestant format) is a faith which has rejected any role for law within religion. Unlike Jews, Christians have rejected the laws of Moses as espoused in the Torah and explained in the various Jewish scholarly commentaries.

In this sense, both Judaism and Islam are similar. They both regard religious life as being governed not merely by prayer and minimal liturgy but also by a sacred law revealed by God that explains to us how we should live, both as individuals and as communities.

But apart from this sense, I'm not sure in what way the sacred law of Islam is unChristian. Then again, I'm not entirely sure which version of Christianity Ariel follows.

I don't want to waste too much of my time on Ariel's rant. It seems to me he isn't too fond of non-white and non-Christian migrants in general. But what intrigues me is the headline to his article.

Of course, it is quite likely that Ariel did not actually choose this headline. It may have been chosen by the sub-editors of the website.

Yet regardless of who picked the headline, the fact is that the term "Allah" is a title give to God by Arabic-speakers of all faiths. Arab Christians across the Middle East (indeed, across the world) use the word "Allah" when addressing God in prayer. In that respect, if the next Pope were to be Palestinian or Lebanese, One could safely say he would be the "Pope of Allah".

So the term "Allah" is not one limited to any particular faith. Indeed, many Muslims don't use the term "Allah". In Farsi and Urdu, other words and phrases are used e.g. "Khuda" and "Parvar Digaar".

© Irfan Yusuf 2008

1 comment:

Edip Yuksel said...

Unfortunately this simple fact is hidden to many Western Christians. Arabic Bibles use the word Allah (the god) and elah (god). The few original Aramaic words attributed to Jesus that still exist in modern Gospels is "Eli, Eli lema sabaqtani?" (God, God, why have you forsaken me?"). The word Eli shares the same etymological root with al-ilah, that is allah (the god)

PS: I would like to invite brother Irfan to our coming conference in Atlanta. (See: or

Edip Yuksel