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Offline Ocyid

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The "Names" of God in Ancient Texts
« on: August 13, 2018, 02:43:26 AM »
The “Name” of God in Ancient Texts[/b]

In the Name of Most Gracious, Most Merciful

This is actually my third writing in this forum, a continuation from my previous post: In this writing I basically criticize about Mr. Joseph article: “‘ALLAH’ IS NOT AN EXCLUSIVE NAME FOR GOD” ( This article by Mr. Joseph is actually a very important discussion within Islam itself. However, maybe not many people either aware or care about how important this discussion is. In my critics, I do agree that “Allah” is not an exclusive name of God, it is simply a “linguistic element” used in Arabic to represent the “God” itself in spoken or written language. Nonetheless, we may want to remember that “Allah” might unconsciously have been understood as an “exclusive name” of God by the Islamic people for a very long time. Thus, it is actually very natural for the misunderstanding of many moslems/muslims to think that "Allah" is the “name” of God. Since this might have been a very long time embedded mentality, it would be quite difficult to be “changed” by simply giving an argument the way Mr. Joseph does in his article. Therefore, there might be a better way to deduce whether Allah is the “name” of God or simply a “linguistic element” used to represent The God Himself in Arabic spoken/written language. Now, the question is: how?

If we think about it carefully, Ibrahim (14) verse 4 actually gives a very basic hypothetical question to resolve this problem:

Can we find the name “Allah” in ancient texts/scriptures or can we not?

Ibrahim (14) verse 4 actually already explains that every messengers was sent “in the language of his people”. Thus, there is a big chance we won’t find the name “Allah” in ancient texts/scriptures, since ancient people who far predating the Quran might not have used Arabic as their language. Allah as the “name of God” might have been used only as long as the Arabic language as it is known now started to be used. So, how about the “names of God” before Arabic itself? Did the previous Holy Books use the same Arabic term "Allah" to refer to the Almighty Himself? Or, did they use different "names" to refer to Him?

In the following article, I provide explanation that if we see beyond the language as merely tools in delivering meanings, we will see similar underlying concepts about God found in Quran within some ancient texts that might have not been even considered before. However, before we enter to the main discussion, it would be better for us to understand how “name” itself works in the first place. Therefore, I will begin this long article with the understanding of “name” itself and hope you won’t get bored along the way.

“Name” As A Label for “Thing”

I actually have given a lengthy explanation about how verses in Quran actually give us very basic nature of language itself in my previous writing. Here, I’m just going to repeat it briefly and add a little bit.

The act of “naming” might seem like a simple act. However, if we try to understand the nature of language or look deeper to the underlying principle of how language works, we will find that “naming” is actually the most fundamental aspect of language itself. This makes the narration of Al Baqarah (2) verses 30-33 are actually very important verses in understanding language itself; the beginning, the nature, the development, and such. Even though so, my writing is actually an initial research towards this Quranic methods. Therefore, I invite you -the people of Quran- to develop this method together with me, so we can study deeper how Quran actually tells us the very basic fundamental nature of many things.

We, humans, give names to anything or everything, either abstracts or concretes. This, apparently, is the basic idea of language itself: to represent an object/objects in "real life" (concrete or abstract) with spoken or written linguistic elements. This is also why “words” are closely related with “meaning”.

A group, line, cluster, etc. of letters can be called a “word” when it has meaning. Even two letters like “oh!”, as long as it has meaning, could be called as “word”. You may google it yourself, if you don’t believe me. This shows that “words” are nothing but a representative of the real-life objects; or in simple understanding, the “words” actually only “linguistic representative” of the “definition” itself. This is the nature of language. Therefore, if we think and look deeper about it, language might have started by the act of “naming” itself, as it is explained in Al Baqarah (2) verses 30-33. As it is humans that give "names" to "objects", “name” is actually -borrowing Saeed in Semantics (Blackwell, 1998)- only a “label” we attach to the real-life object.

By “naming”, we are actually giving labels to things, concretes or abstracts. We label the act of “move at a regular and fairly slow pace by lifting and setting down each foot in turn” as “walk”. We label “the move at a speed faster than a walk” with “run”. We label the action of “run at full speed over a short distance” with “sprint” and etc. The same thing is applied with verbs. In English for instance, the label for verb that indicates past action is the suffix “-ed”. That is why verbs end with “-ed”, surely with some variants in use, represent “action that has been done in the past”. “Walk” for instance, if it is added with “-ed” at the end, it represents “move at a regular and fairly slow pace by lifting and setting down each foot in turn in the past”. This is actually how language works. Therefore, a group, line, cluster, etc. of letters can be called a “word” when it has meaning, since “words” are supposed to represent something. This is why although Al Baqarah (2) verses 30-33 seem like a simple narration, it is actually very important! All verses in Quran is important! Often, people or we are the ones that do not understand how important they actually are.

In reality, there is no specific rules in this act of “naming” or giving “labels” to things. If we consider how God has endowed us with our linguistic capability as He taught language to the first human (Al Baqarah [2] verses 30-33), there is almost no limitation to this act of “naming”. The limitation is simply our own creativity. This might be how there are so many languages in the world, because the humans have this “basic” ability to create their own language. This explains the arbitrary nature of language; the differences or varieties of various languages never come from the languages themselves, but rather from the creativity of the users of the languages in producing, inventing, developing, and choosing their own languages (note: this is not a rigid and final definition. Further development is needed. This definition is made to make you easier in understanding the “arbitrary” concept.) For you who are interested more in the arbitrary of language, you may want to visit this website page:

You actually can see the evidence of this in every-day life. In reality, we can create our own “words” with those who are close to us. In other words, you can choose specific “labels” for things or act and so on. The only requirement needed for that “labels” to work in an act of communication is simply to be understood by the participants in which that “labels/words” are used. Isn’t this how we create “codes” to signal some particular “information” or “action” and such that is only known by some particular people (or here, the participants)? You can create these special codes with your children that only you and your children understand for instance, like “poo-poo” for time to go to restroom or “gram-gram” for grandmother and such. Surely, higher level of participants, like an underground community or government organization, will require more complicated “codes” or “labelling” and may even need to have their own “rules” in using this “special languages”. Only when the participants are getting larger, a “convention” is needed.

The “convention” within a language is the final stage required because the “participants” or the “users” of the language are growing wider and larger. This “agreement” between “users or participants” of a language is needed to make “the flow” within an act of communication effective and efficient. Yet, it does not mean this is a very basic requirement. This “convention” is simply needed for the purpose of effectiveness and efficiency of a communication itself. If someone who does not know the convention of a language participate in that language, it is likely that this particular person will have some trouble to adjust in using that language. This often happens to us when we learn foreign language. There is actually a long and deeper discussion for this, but for now, let’s go back to the fundamental problem of “name” itself.

Since name is merely a label “attached” by humans to every objects, either concrete or abstracts, “name” can be varied, unique, or seem like it has no relation with the object itself. Again, this shows the arbitrary nature of language itself. This is also the reason why there are so many and/or various languages in the world. The same with the “name” or more precisely the “reference” of God, various people in various ages or places could have their own “label” for God. It could be anything. For example, in English, the Entity that is worshiped by the believers is labeled as “God”, in Arabic as “Allah”, in ancient Egypt as “Aten”, in Indonesia as “Tuhan”, and so on. The “label” could be anything, but it simply represents the Entity that is worshiped by their believers. Therefore, although the “labels” could be varied, the “general concept” that underlying these “labels” actually remains the same. This is how translations works!

Until this point, we are actually seeing that basically humans are the ones that produce, “invent”, develop, and use language by organs that has been endowed to us and the teaching of God as it has been mentioned in Al Baqarah [2] verses 30-33. So, language basically is our own product. We use our linguistic ability to “represent” real-life objects, either abstract or concrete. English people use the word “God” to represent the concept of “Entity” worshiped by Its believers. Arabic people use the word “Allah” to represent the same concept. And since linguistic ability is endowed to humans by God, every societies or every cultures that has existed or still exists might have their own “label” or linguistic element to represent the concept of God itself. God uses these “linguistic elements” to make us understand about Him and His messages. Surely, since every societies or every cultures might have their own versions of “linguistic elements”, God sent every messengers with the knowledge of these “linguistic elements” so they can deliver His messages clearly. This is actually what is being implied in Ibrahim (14) verse 4. Sure anyone can understand this verse clearly for it is actually quite easy to understand. But, then again, have we ever thought to use this understanding in Ibrahim (14) verse 4 to find His ancient names in ancient texts?

Unfortunately enough, understanding the underlying concept of the “name” of God is not enough in finding other “names” of God in the past. As you can see, every civilizations might have their own “label” for God, either in time or space. The easiest way to see this is by using Google Translate. Just put the English word “God” and start to translate it into another language. You will see that each nations or languages might have their own “label” for God. Similar things might also happen for every cultures within the timeline of history.

Every nations, kingdoms, cultures, tribes, etc. that have ever existed in history might have their own “labels” for God. I agree with Mr. Joseph that, in his own words, “Allah” is actually only a linguistic element that represent the concept of God in Arabic language. Therefore, it is actually equivalent with “God” in our language. God is far too great to be represented by our linguistic capability; He is far beyond any humans can ever think of or even imagine. However, Quran also mentions that there are people who literally invented “name” to their self-created Gods in at least these verses: Al A’raf (7) 71, Yusuf (12) 40, and An Najm (53) 23. Therefore, it would be wiser if we use the Quran itself as a reference point for “Beautiful Names” of God, not out of it, to avoid including false “names” of God among the “real” ones. These “names” being mentioned in Quran has meanings and, in these meanings, there are many lessons that we actually could learn. Furthermore, not only extremely meaningful, these “Beautiful Names” of God can actually be used to find the other “names” of God in ancient time. We just have to follow or see the “characteristics” of God (or “names” if you prefer) as it has been mentioned in multiple verses of Quran. Therefore, the real question here is actually not the name itself, but rather “the characteristics of God”.

This is actually why the discussion of “Exclusive Name of God” is quite important to discuss. Yet, apparently not many people are aware of, understand, or even care to discuss this. Thus, here I am trying to make you understand how important this matter actually is - of course with my own limitation. In the next discussion, I will show you the evidences of Ibrahim (14) verse 4 and also Al A’raf (7) 71, Yusuf (12) 40, and An Najm (53) 23 within the course of history itself.

Salamun Alaikum,

"I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda.…I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." - Malcolm X (Chapter Nineteen, 1965)

Offline Hamzeh

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Re: The "Names" of God in Ancient Texts
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2018, 02:55:45 PM »
Asalamu 3alykum

Dear Ocyid welcome to the forum

I feel you have been impressed by the way language has developed and how amazing communication has been made possible for humans with words and letters. I too am amazed and I find that it definitely is a great sign of how great the Good Lord is.

How we are able to communicate and adapt to words and voices from young children and describe emotions and things is very amazing. How are eyes can capture letters and words and take them into understanding in microseconds is stunning. This is definitely a system God has created for us and in us.

Its hard to put it into words for me but I just feel that these abilities God has given us are wondrous and show His limitless knowledge and wisdom and how He can use any medium He wills to manifest whatever He wills. Masha'Allah.

30:22 And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colours. Lo! herein indeed are portents for men of knowledge.

2:31 And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the angels, saying: Inform Me of the names of these, if ye are truthful.

I feel you seem concerned about the identity of the Lord by how we all recognize Him(correct me if I am wrong).

I agree that in this world we need names, words and sounds to point to identities and objects etc. This is a system of this world. It possibly is important to make sure when referencing God the Creator of the heavens and the Earth we are all referring to the same One.

The question is do we need to have a specific name or word when referencing the Creator that no other identity can acquire? One can argue yes so that it does not mix with other names. But again once you choose a name for the Creator, in time people can try to make themselves or idols that name. So it would always keep going in circles.

I believe that its not that name thats only important so much but who you believe God is.

You cannot be mistaken about the true God when you say you believe in Him and His Angels and His scriptures and His messengers. This clearly points to a well known God who has been communicating His messages and so on.

I feel it is also important to understand the Creator of this universe when we speak of Him. He is One.

Those who believe in the Quran recognize Him as the God who always been communicating the same message. The God of Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and all the prophets and messengers(pbut).

We don't say that the God who communicated the message to Abraham is different than the One who communicated the message to Jesus or Muhammad.

We recognize its the same true Lord. As long as we understand that the identity is the same I find thats important.

Some others might believe in one God, but might not be the same God of Abraham. They might believe that there is one God but they don't believe in the Scriptures that we have today and would say they don't know him. That would be a reference to another God, another identity. One may argue that even if they were to refer to Him as "Allah" "God" or any other name in other languages that would not be referring to the same Lord as they don't believe in what He sent and His messages or Angels etc.

I do agree that "Allah"(swt) is not an exclusive name for God as He can be referred or called to by any beautiful name(17:110), but at the same time it could be an enlightenment to refer to the Almighty by how we recognize Him. By the messages He sent us and what He wants us to believe in.

You may see that along the path of time some called Him the God of Abraham or the God of Moses and Haroon(20:70), or the God of whom the Children of Israel believe in (10:90), so that they are pointing out that they believe in that One true God and not any other one God.

It maybe that the first recipients of the Quran could of wanted to be recognized with the saying "La Ilaha Illa Allah Muhammad rasuul Allah" as they may of felt it would be important to be distinguished from others who believe in God but not that same God. God knows best.

Believers are those who believe in the One True God, The Creator and they believe in His Angels and His scriptures and His messengers( and they make no distinctions between any of the messengers) and believe in the final day of judgement.(2:285)

When referring to the one true God you would have to believe in the above. The Christians and the Jewish and the Muslims do not have different Gods. Thats why it is important to understand the messages as it always has been One. You cannot believe in One scripture while denying the rest. You cannot believe in some messengers and denying the rest. It would go against the truth of what has been happening.

When speaking of God in the consideration of the above verse a person or group cannot be mistaken of the Identity of the Lord. They would be in common terms of who they believe in. There is a connection and bridge that can be seen. I cannot put it into words but I hope you understand where I am getting at.

So yes I agree that "Allah"(swt) is not an exclusive name for God and at the same time at certain circumstances(not always as the general definition is taken to be the Creator of all we see and not see) it could be very important to understand who we are referring to when referencing God and who He is. Also not forgetting all the beautiful names that should and only be referred to Him.

Like the Perfect, The All-Powerful, The Creator, The Most-Merciful, The Most Forgiving, etc.

One can also argue how important the traditional 99 names of God are.

Thanks for sharing and May God bless you Insha'Allah


Offline Ocyid

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Re: The "Names" of God in Ancient Texts
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2018, 04:35:05 AM »
Salamun Alaikum Mr. Hamzeh,

First of all, I am happy someone actually read my writing, since not many people do so. I really am appreciate it so much  :D

I do understand what you are trying to say Mr. Hamzeh and I think it is a good critic for my own improvement. I thank you for that. Here, I do not put it into the state of right or wrong, but rather a point of view that comes from my own mistake of posting a half-done article. I apologize for any inconvenience. Yet, if I post the whole article it would be quite long and possibly nobody wants to read it.

I will start this discussion with the first verse of your article to answer our own wonder about language itself:

30:22 And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colours. Lo! herein indeed are portents for men of knowledge.

The verse above indeed states that among His signs are "the differences of our language and colours". It is true. However, it does not show us how we can be differed in languages and colours. Therefore, there are almost unlimited possibilities to answer: how come there are so many languages and colours in the world?

Sure, not all of that question can be answered for sure - it can be only answered with assumptions and hypotheses without certainty. Yet, concerning language, the answer is actually given in the next verse that you provide:

2:31 And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the angels, saying: Inform Me of the names of these, if ye are truthful.

I gave full explanation about this in my two previous writings that might be too long and (maybe) boring if I include it here. Thus, I will use your statement to show this so-called method:

How we are able to communicate and adapt to words and voices from young children and describe emotions and things is very amazing.

If we truly want to know "how", Quran actually already answers this through its verse above: by teaching  :D

If we want to pay attention to how we actually "teach" our children how to speak, we are actually simply "naming" things for him/her to repeat. We simply "point out" the thing and "pronounce" the linguistic element that represent the object itself. If the baby is facing towards us as his/her father, we will pronounce or say "daddy". If the mother is present, we will "point to her" and say "mommy". If a cute little creature with heavy fur and four legs that we make as a pet appear, we point the "thing" out and say "cat" and so on. As well as action, when the baby starts to walk and able to jump, we also repeat the same process. When he/she starts to move forward with his/her feet, we repeatedly and often unconsciously say "walk", for instance. When he/she pushes his/her body with his/her tiny leg upward, we call it "jump" and so on. I personally is still single, so this is what I observe. Those who have children might have even better examples.

This method is actually the implementation and development of foreign language learning in early years of children's development, which turns out to be the nature of language itself: to use linguistic elements, or words, to represent the real-life object or action either concrete or abstract. It is the same thing in which pictures are used to describe the "objects" or "actions" represent by the "linguistic elements" or words for preschool or elementary children. Surely, the more we know about the world, the more we desire to know the "names" of "objects" we found in the world and pictures either cannot comply the demands or too complicated in representing the real-life objects or actions. Hence, those pictures are replaced by "definitions" just like in Thesaurus.

"Naming" might seem like a simple action, yet it actually underlying the nature of language itself. Language teaching through the means of "naming" things also might seem simple. But in reality, this is how we teach language to our children. Anybody can observe or try this. Remember, that this is actually the method of teaching foreign language for children in their early development. Try to use foreign language when you teach your children how to speak, they might have a better chance in developing the foreign language as you desire them to be fluent in - of course, in exchange of their own native language. Or, simply try to observe how people teach their babies to talk, and you will see that they actually simply use "words" to represent the object/action itself - often, unconsciously.

Based on my explanation above, both "naming" and the teaching of language through the act of "naming" itself are actually the very nature within language itself. Hence, although it seems simple, Al Baqarah (2) verse 32 actually tells us this very basic understanding of language. There is actually another discussion of how language can only be acquired through "teaching". Yet, since this writing is quite long enough and I am concerned you will get bored, maybe you can browse for "feral children" to understand my point. Or, maybe I can write about it in another article. The thing I must remind you is that how God taught Adam to speak would be "beyond" our limitations.

This is actually why I think the discussion of "Exclusive Name of God" written by Mr. Joseph is extremely important - not because the identity of God in the first place, but in how these verses of Quran actually explain the nature of language itself. Imagine; Quran that has been around for more than 1000 years actually gives us the nature of language in the easiest way possible. Many language experts would be so much interested in this. But, since I want us, the Quranic people here, to work this together, I place it here to be a lesson for us and to be developed further together as one community under the Quran.

I don't think you are wrong that I seem concerned with the "identity" of God. The mistake is apparently mine. Maybe I should have not used the word "true" or "false" in my article that can mislead others to different understanding than it is intended to. I apologize for this.

Let us put it this way: you are right that there were ancient people that already worshiped the same One God with the God mentioned in Quran as it has been informed in this verses:

the God of Abraham or the God of Moses and Haroon(20:70), or the God of whom the Children of Israel believe in (10:90)

Now, the question is: if these ancient people spoke in other language than Arabic as it has been mentioned in Ibrahim (14) verse 4, would they still use the same "name" or "Allah" as it is used in Quran?   Or, did they use different "reference"?

Aren't you interested to find out? This is actually my main point: to find out the "reference" used by these ancient people to refer to "The God" Himself. Is this possible? Sure, if we use Quran as a point of reference.

By the way, pardon the use of bold and underline here. Since, there is no space between line, I might need some methods to emphasis the main point. I do not intend to speak in impolite manner. Please, pardon me.

There are actually methods that could be used by simply comparing the underlying concept of verses in Quran (mostly Oneness of God) with ancient texts and we will find out that ancient people actually have already known or at least had similar concept of Oneness of God written in their texts/scriptures. One of the example that I already mentioned here is "The Great Hymn to The Aten" ( The people who really know Quran will know how this ancient text mentioned some similar concept stated in Quran. By finding His Holy Ancient Names, we could expect to enlighten others about "Allah is NOT an Exclusive Name of God" without mere arguments, but evidences. And, most importantly, we could expect others to go back to Quran. This is why I wrote the long article. :)

Is it going to be easy to convince others that "Allah" is only a linguistic elements or the "Arabic word" to represent the God itself?

I do believe you and many people in this forum already understand how difficult that would be ;) On the other hand, many people in this forum actually are the ones with advantage by understanding that "Allah is NOT an Exclusive Name of God". Thus, I wrote my article here. I wouldn't dare to write my article somewhere else, for not many people understand this. Hopefully, by providing proofs, it would be easier for you or anyone to understand the Quran itself and to explain it to others. Here, I am only your humble servant - although I do have my own limitations too, especially in resources.

I do believe the misunderstanding left here would be in this statement of mine:

Therefore, it would be wiser if we use the Quran itself as a reference point for “Beautiful Names” of God, not out of it, to avoid including false “names” of God among the “real” ones.

As I have already mentioned above, maybe I shouldn't put the words "true" and "false" that may mislead others in different understanding than intended. I apologize for this. I do not try to make this whole matter into "right" or "wrong", but rather as consideration for us in understanding the verses in Quran itself. The point is actually; Quran is already mentioned that there are people who literally invented “name” to their self-created Gods in at least these verses: Al A’raf (7) 71, Yusuf (12) 40, and An Najm (53) 23.

It is true that God is far too great to be represented by linguistic elements: 
if whatever trees upon the earth were pens and the sea [was ink], replenished thereafter by seven [more] seas, the words of Allah would not be exhausted
Luqman (31) 27. Yet, because God is far too great to be represented by linguistic elements itself, whatever mentioned in Quran must be very important, including His Beautiful Names.

I do not say Mr, Joseph is wrong in his article, All the Beautiful Names belong to God indeed. However, when he started to mention a specific reference as it has been mentioned in other sacred texts/scriptures, he or "we" may want to take a precaution because those specific references are bonded with historical background. This historical background is what actually influence religious understanding for the religion itself. The way hadists and cultural background influence "Islamic" people understanding about Islam itself. There are actually lessons that we can learn from history about this. In my future article, you will see the full discussion and an example of it. Right now, I just need to make some preparations.

I do feel bad to remind Mr. Joseph, since it is impolite for me to remind my senior in my culture. Yet, I do think this is quite important to mention. Thus, for any misunderstanding that may come from it or any impolite impressions, I am truly sorry.

In the end, I am so much grateful for your comment Mr. Hamzeh. In the time of darkness and despair, your comment is like a gentle tap and a dim light for me: something that makes me want to keep writing... though I do not know whether I keep writing is something good or it is not. Just, please remember that my writing is an initial research, not necessarily a conclusion. Thus, I expect to work with you and everybody else in this forum to understand even more about Quran and the world itself.

At last, all my mistakes are mine as nothing more but a limited human being, but whatever good in this writing must be coming from Quran.

Once again, I thank you for your comment, you might never now how important that is for me at this moment. May peace always be with you.

Salamun Alaikum
"I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda.…I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." - Malcolm X (Chapter Nineteen, 1965)