Together with a Muslim scholar I am working on a “Muslim-Christian Comparative Dictionary of Religious Terms”. We recently had an interesting debate on the word “Allah”, which I wanted to translate as “God”.  My co-writer wouldn’t let me, maintaining that Allah is meant to refer uniquely to the concept of God as communicated by/through Muhammed in the Qur’an.  I maintained that, from an etymological perspective, that doesn’t hold, inasmuch as Muhammed’s own father was named Abdullah, or Servant of Allah.

Nevertheless my Muslim friend is right in maintaining that the Muslim concept of God is radically different from the Christian concept of God as a triune, self-sacrificing being who revealed Himself in the Jesus Christ. If the joint use of the word “Allah” leads to the general misconception that the two religions worship the same God, then Christians speaking languages that use the word might want to seek a different term!  There is much anecdotal evidence that increasing numbers of Muslims on the receiving end of Islamic extremism (or should we call it “the consistent application of certain teachings in the Qur’an”?) are questioning their own concept of Allah–and we certainly don’t want them to assume that the Christian concept of God is the same as the one which is ruining their lives!