In this answer, it is mentioned that (emphasis mine),

Also, in Arabic, all words derive from their root verbs; so you can tell something about the meaning based on the letters used. In the case of "Allah," there is difference of opinion about which root word is the main one.

In any case, one of the stronger opinions is that it comes from the same root as "Al-Elah."

As there is a difference of opinion, that suggests that there are other strong scholarly interpretations as to what the root word for "Allah" could be. I was wondering what these other possible roots are, and what their literal meaning would be.

  • 1
    I am a Jew and know little Arabic, but I had assumed that the word "Allah" is cognate with "Elohim", our word for the same entity. In Hebrew we spell Elohim with an Aleph just like Allah (אלוהים | אללה), in fact they seem to be two forms of the same word other than the double Lamed. Googling it now, the interwebs agree that the words are cognate.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 18:47
  • Before Islam, the word both meant "god" in general (i.e., any of the many gods) and was also the name of a specific god. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_%28deity%29 .
    – Lev
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 6:51

3 Answers 3


Good question!

There are seven to eight different opinions on the origin of the Divine Name - the lafDh al-Jalalah - الله. Note that this should not be confused with the "meaning" of the word or anything like that. We do not use such a phrase. We will mention 4 of the stronger opinions here:

  1. The name is not derived from anything at all. It is simply a proper noun. Many classical scholars hold this opinion.

  2. The name is derived from اَلِهَ (aliha) - which means to astound or to astonish. So Allah is the One who bedazzles and bewilders.

  3. The name is derived from وِلاه (wilah) - which means to turn to protection, refuge, solace, or comfort. The derivation is via ilah, then Allah.

  4. The strongest position, including the position taken by the famous Persian grammarian Sibawayh (the "father" of Arabic grammar), is that it is derived from اَلَهَ (alaha) - which means to worship or to show servitude. The name الله then, is a grammatical shortening of الإلاه (Al-Ilah) - the deity who is worshipped.

And Allah knows better!


Source: Light Upon Light taught by Dr. Yasir Qadhi.


In reply to Ali, Hebrew did not merely seem to be restricted to the Jews at some point in history, but is the language of the Jews, or rather the Israelites (Jews refers to member of the tribe of Judea who returned from the Babylionian exile).

As read in the Old Testament, by far the oldest surviving Semitic text, the root word was a word applied to god/gods in general. The Arabic "Allah", which include the definite particle, refers to the uniqueness and sanctity of one God. Whether the relationship between the Hebrew and Arabic words is that of being cognates or being derived from one another is immaterial and impossible of being researched.

I believe that the Islam, Judaism and Christinatity share the same basic concepts of a unique, single God. Recognizing that can lead to more mutual understanding and recognition of commonality.

What is being done in Malaysia has nothing to do with religion or faith. It is simply the politics of ethnic identity, were ethnic Malays work to exclude Chinese and other minorities. Since the Chinese bring a rich cultural heritage, the Malays feel the need to erect barriers by boosting Islamic cultursl credentials.

The third commandment (which Muslims recognize too) says not to bear God's name in vain. The usage of God's or Allah's name in ethnic politics is a sad case of using it in vain. It is in fact not according to the spirit of Islam, but rather counter to it. But when did politicians truly cared about such things.

It is reminiscent of Muslim scholar Razal's interview on Fox New in the US, where he was admonished for talking about or mentioning Jesus Christ because he was a Muslim.

Islam is a great religion with a great legacy of culture and faith. It stands in no need of Malaysians politician protecting it for their own benefit. Allah as the only God and creator is referred to with lack of proper reverence when thus used for the politics of hate.


All of Ansari's points are valid.

Allah is An Arabic Personal Name for the God of the Jews and Christians(as early as 3rd Cen CE) and the pagans(8 Cen BCE). It is personal, because it cannot be made Feminine, Pluralized, or derivated in any way or form. It is more like Yahweh than Elohim, because Yahweh is never changed in root forms.

The root word Appears to be Ilah(God), cognate of Hebrew Eloh. Plural is AliHa(This is actually cognate of Elohim, because -IM is usually plural suffix in Hebrew.)

There is no Hebrew equivalent to Allah. Aramaic Elaha may have the same concept as the Arabic word does, because both Jews and Pagans reffered to god with this Name. Hebrew appeared to be restricted to the Jews at some point in history.

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