Should we pray to Allah? A solution.
The horrific Christchurch Mosque killing of March 2019, where 50 people were gunned down in their house of prayer, has many kiwis in discussion. What is best for our country? What is the right thing to do? Our national radio talk back shows are debating the controversy together with fears of future Muslim takeover.
In my own circle, our Churches are on hot debate as the local Anglican Church invited all the Church leaders to pray in unity for the people in Christchurch. However, only a few were aware that a Muslim leader was also invited to that prayer meeting. Obviously surprised with the non-transparency of the invitation, some struggled whether they should be praying with the Muslims, while others were publicly adamant that they would not.
So I guess a question is “should, we pray to Allah?
Most Christians today say they are “praying to God”… which is fine and dandy and all, because if the Muslims were to also say that they too were “praying to God”… then we probably would not have a problem. But it’s the word “Allah” that throws people. Muslims of course, are being specific in giving God a name, contrasted to the Christians and Jews who ‘occasionally’ call their God Jehovah and/or Yahweh… which are considered one of many names for their God. And if God has many synonymous names, then what about the name “Allah”?
BRIEF LANGUAGE STUDY:
Language has historically changed over the centuries. Depending who is in ‘global power’ dictates the prominent language to be spoken and written. Even today we have multiple empires, where the national tongues reflect the culture/society/government in charge (e.g. Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, French, Dutch, Russian, English, Aramaic, etc.). Thus in a global world, generic “God” seems to be the easiest for people.
But if we consider the first five books of biblical literature (the Torah is revered by all Muslims, Jews and Christians), these are the unshakeable historical texts that are foundation to these religions… where the culture/language of the day (when these books were written) was Hebrew. And if one studies this ancient language, the word for God is “Elohiym” (pronounced “El-o-heem”). Thus if one was to speak this language, and use the word “Elohiym” in their vocabulary, this may mean that one associates as a Hebrew.
And if we consider when the Persian Empire came into world power in 536 BC, this subsequently meant that any writings of the day would then be in the national Aramaic language. Thus, the editor(s) of the books of Daniel and Ezra are both written in Aramaic (Daniel is 80% Aramaic). Furthermore, what’s interesting to observe is that when Daniel prayed to the Hebrew God, he calls him “Elahh” (pronounced “El-aw”) (Daniel 4:2, 3:28, 6:5-26)... compared to Ezra, who has the “wisdom of Elahh”… and is a “scribe of the law of Elahh” (Ezra 7:21-24).
Do Christians say “El-aw” today? I don’t think so!!! But now please say this word aloud: “El-aw!!!” Historically over time, it is possible that “El-aw” has phonetically developed to become “Al-lah”
Did you know that the word “Jehovah” is said to come from Exodus 6:3… but if you examine the Hebrew text, God actually names himself as “Yahovah” (pronounced “Yeh-ho-vaw”)… but for some reason our modern translators have changed the “Ya” to a “Je”… and as we know there are no “J” in the Hebrew language… So how this came to be in our English language is anybody’s guess: maybe the King of the day had issues with “Ya”!!??
And look at the word “Yahweh”, which was developed from the consonants of “Yahovah” forming “YHWH”… where we can obviously see that there is no “W” in “Yahovah” (What’s with that!!??). But then over time, the popular acronym further morphed into the word “YaHWeH” in the 19th century. In other words, these words that we use today are not biblical!!!
So, yeah, even the Christians have it wrong!!!
So, bottom line, should the Christian say they are “praying to Allah”? The answer is yes and no!!
Yes, but quietly and privately…. because the name is another name for the same Father Spirit (John 17). But will I confess this publicly? No!!! Because the term “Allah” is associated with the Muslim religiosity… where like any religion, there are practices that I don’t agree with. Practices that tend to creep into any institution that has absolutely nothing to do with God. And if the Christians vocally assert that they are “praying to Allah”, one will perceive that the ‘Christian’ is associated with the Muslim faith, reinforcing Muslim practices.
With this in mind, I am reminded when Daniel was subject to persecution for not honouring the Persians law of ‘Ramadan’ (Daniel 6:7). Even though the decree was made by King Darius to not pray to “Elahh” for 30 days (an interesting law indeed), Daniel continued to kneel three times a day in his own home praising “Elahh” (this behaviour could even be seen as Muslim). And although King Darius had no personal issue with Daniel, the orthodox legislators hated Daniel for not following their Aramaic ways, and used the ‘law’ to have him killed. The point being is that the institution prefers their legalistic doctrines over and above Daniel’s love for God.
So therefore should we pray with the Muslims? Or any other philosophical religion/faith for that matter? Should we pray with the Jews? Of course, if a man seriously loves God, then we are all brothers.
But are we brothers in Christ? No!!
Then are we brothers in Mohammed? No!!
Are we brothers in Abraham? Yes
It’s the old saying “Agree where you agree, and disagree where you disagree!!”
Thus if all parties used the term “Elohiym”… I wonder what kind of response we would get!?? Because in essence there should not be a problem if ONLY praying to the FATHER… at least we would all be on the same page using the same terminologies that the ancients used, unpacking the same five foundational books.
The difficulty (or temptation) for each party is the ‘expansion of prayer’ towards their retrospective prophets. That is, the Christians would find it difficult if the name Mohammed was mentioned during that prayer… contrasted to the Muslims may be offended if the Christians prayed to Jesus in their holy meetings. Because, although from the same tree, they are in essence different fruiting branches.
And this should not surprise us as we have multiple ‘Christian’ denominations with diverse doctrines… but yet somehow, we commune together… united where we agree.
Overall, I say communing with Muslims (and even Jews) is a good thing. God is God!!!
The difference of course lies in who is really is the Saviour of mankind… but that’s another argument.