On a discussion I am dealing with someone who believes that

(1) "Allah" was not a generic name for God before the birth of Muhammad

(2) "Allah" was derived from a deity in pre-Islamic Kaabah

Which primary sources either corroborate or disprove these twin facts?


Question: What is the origin of the word “Allah” and in which context was it originally used?

from Etymology Online

In Arabic Allah literally means "The God".

  • "Al" = Arabic for "the"
  • "Ilah" = "God" which is derived from the hebrew "Eloh"-(singular), "Elohim"- (pleural). (Hebrew: אֱלֹהִים from the Hebrew Bible.

Pleural Usage:
1. Samuel 28:13,ESV The witch of Endor told Saul that she saw elohim ascending (olim עֹלִים, plural verb) out of the earth.

Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch page 138
Many commentators take Genesis 1-2 as depicting a dark, storm-tossed sea. This depends on translating rush elohim as "a mighty wind" also on assuming a similarity to other cosmogonies that begin with a state of "active chaos." However it seems unlikely in this chapter where elohim is used so often to denote God. that it is used simple as a superlative. It is more likely that the reference is to some positive manifestation of divine activity. the "wind/ breath of God."

  1. Genesis 20:13,ESV Abraham, before king Abimelech, says that "Elohim" Gods caused me to wander".

  2. Genesis 35:7,ESV And there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother.


  1. Genesis 1:26, ESV, Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”


  • 1
    In addition to Elah (אלה) in Hebrew, there is 'Ĕlāhā (ܐܠܗܐ) in Biblical Aramaic and 'Alâhâ (ܐܲܠܵܗܵܐ) in Syriac as used by the Assyrian Church, both meaning simply "God", alongside the Arabic ilāh "deity, god". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allah#Etymology – Denis de Bernardy Dec 1 '19 at 20:20

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