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Click to Expand/Collapse OptionEtymArab
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allāh الله
ID 032 • Sw – • BP 12 • APD ... • Aut SG
ʔLH
n.
Allah, God (as the One and Only) – WehrCowan1979.
From *al‑ʔilāhthe god, God’. Qurʔānic usage of the old Ar word may be influenced by Syr ʔalāhā .
eC7 Q passim.
See →ʔilāh .
▪ Jeffery1938: »One gathers from al-Rāzī, Mafātīḥ , i, 84 (so Abū Ḥayyān, Baḥr , i, 15), that certain early Muslim authorities hold that the word was of Syr or Hbr origin. The majority, however, claimed that it was pure Ar, though they set forth various theories as to its derivation.1 – Some held that it has no derivation, being murtaǧal : the Kūfans in general derived it from al-ʔilāhu , while the Baṣrans derived it from al-lāhu , taking lāhun as a vn. from √LYH ‘to be high’ or ‘to be veiled’. The suggested origins for a ʔilāh were even more varied, some taking it from ʔalaha ‘to worship’, some from ʔaliha ‘to be perplexed’, some from ʔaliha ʔilà ‘to turn to for protection’, and others from waliha ‘to be perplexed’. – Western scholars are fairly unanimous that the source of the word must be found in one of the older religions. In the Sem area ʔLH was a widely used word for ‘deity’, cf. Hbr ʔᵆlōᵃh , Aram ʔᵆlāh , Syr ʔalāhā , Sab ʔlh ; and so Ar ʔilāh is doubtless a genuine old Sem form. The form allāh , however, is different, and there can be little doubt that this, like the Mandaean ʔlʔhʔ and the Pahlavi ideogram,2 goes back to the Syr ʔalāhā (cf. Grünbaum, ZDMG , 39: 571; Sprenger, Leben , i, 287-9; Ahrens, Muhammad , 15; Rudolph, Abhängigkeit , 26; Bell, Origin , 54; Cheikho, Naṣrāniya , 159; Mingana, Syriac Influence , 86). The word, however, came into use in Arabian heathenism long before Muḥammad’s time (Wellhausen, Reste , 217; Nielsen in HAA , i, 218 ff.). It occurs frequently in the NArabian inscriptions,3 and also in those from SArabia, as, e.g., ʕmn kl ʔlʔltm ‘with all the Gods’ (in Glaser, Abessinien , 50),4 as well as in the pre-Islamic oath forms, such as that of Qays b. Ḫaṭīm given by Horovitz, KU , 140, and many in al-Šanqīṭī’s introduction to the Muʕallaqāt . It is possible that the expression ʔallāhu taʕāla is of SAr origin, as the name tʕlw occurs in a Qat inscription.5 «
▪ Kiltz2003, however, showed that »there is no reason to assume a loan from Syr into Ar, as allāh is perfectly motivated, i.e. phonetically regular, in (some dialects of) Ar and its development within Ar is safely accounted for [...]. There is, however, a good possibility that the prominence of Syriac allāhā and its near homophony positively influenced the use of allāh in the Qurʔān. That is to say, we find allāh in the Qurʔān not only because it was the most ‘fitting’ word to be used, in spite of or because of allah’s prominent position within pre-islamic religion, but perhaps because pre-islamic connotations were more easily superseded taking into consideration that its near homophone Syr allāhā was already prominently used in a monotheistic context.«
1. They are discussed in detail by al-Rāzī on pp. 81-4, of the first volume of his Tafsīr . 2. Herzfeld, Paikuli , Glossary, 135. 3. Cf. Littmann, Entzifferung der thamudenischen Inschriften , p. 63 ff.; Sem. Inscr , p. 113 ff.; and Ryckmans, Noms propres , i, 2; RES, iii, 441. 4. Derenbourg in JA , viiiᵉ ser., xx, 157 ff., wants to find the word in the ʔlhn of a Minacan inscription, but this is usually taken as a reference to a tribal god ʔlhān , vide Halevy, ibid, p. 325, 326. 5. Rhodokanakis, “Die Inschriften an der Mauer von Koḥlān Timnaʕ,” in SBAW , Wien, 1924.
▪ As a matter of course, Engl Allah (1702) is from Ar aḷḷāh . – The title Ayatollah is the Pers āyatollāh, which is from Ar ʔāyatu ’ḷḷāh ‘sign of God’, < ʔāyaẗ ‘sign; Koranic verse’ (→ʔWY) + (a)llāh , and the name Bahaullah < Ar bahāʔu ḷḷāh , is composed of Ar bahāʔ ‘splendor’ (→BHW) + (a)llāh ‘God’. – Hezbollah, the name of an extremist Shiite group active in Lebanon, founded c. 1982, entered Engl via Pers ḥezbollāh , which is from Ar ḥizbu ’llāh , lit. ‘Party of God’ (→ḥizb ); »[t]he name of various Islamic groups in modern times, the name itself is attested in English by 1960 in reference to an Indonesian guerilla battalion of 1945 that “grew out of a similarly named organization formed by the Japanese to give training in military drill to young Moslems.”1 « – EtymOnline. – Other compositions with (a)ḷḷāh include inshallah (1857), phonetic spelling of Ar ʔin šāʔa ’ḷḷ̣āh ‘if God wills (it)’, and bismillah (first attested in Byron), from Ar bismi ’llāh(i) ‘in the name of God’.
▪ Less obviously related to Ar (a)ḷḷāh is Engl olé (1922). This is the Span expression of admiration olé ‘bravo!’, which—perhaps—is from Ar wa-llāh ‘by God!’ – Osman2002, Huehnergard2011.
1. Clifford Geertz, The Religion of Java , Chicago 1960.
wa-ḷḷāhi , excl., by God!
bi-llāhi (ʕalayk) , excl., for God’s sake, I implore you, I beg of you.
li-llāhi darruka , exclamation of admiration and praise, see →darr .

BP#784aḷḷāhumma, excl., O God!: see →s.v. | ~ ʔillā , conj., unless, were it not that, except that, or at best (after a negative statement); ~ ʔiḏā , conj., at least if or when; if only; ~ naʕam , excl., by God, yes! most certainly!.
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