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The word Allah is not specific to Islam. It's an Arabic word for God. But it is frequently used in the form of a proper-noun to describe a god specific to Islam, when in fact Arab Christians and Jews also use it since, in their language, it's the word for god.

So why does it get used in English so much?

If one were to translate Deus é misericordioso from Portuguese, for example, one would write God is merciful, and not Deus is merciful. Surely the same consistency must be applied when translating from Arabic?

What if the source were a Christian Arab? Would الله be translated as "Allah"?

There are other examples: The word madrassa means school in Arabic. Yet it is used to describe an extremist religious school. I went to a madrassa, and so did most students in Arabic speaking countries, whether they were Christian, Jews, etc...

  • islam.stackexchange.com/q/326/38 Does answers to this question help? – Abdullah Oct 10 '12 at 17:09
  • While the other question is helpful, I've edited my own title emphasise its general nature. – Mohamad Oct 10 '12 at 17:17
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    Now, that you have changed the question, I wonder if it fits Islam.SE. Might be a good fit for Arabic.SE. – Abdullah Oct 10 '12 at 17:38
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    Abdullah, I think it's relavent because the cause of transliteration in these instances is related to Islam. – Mohamad Oct 10 '12 at 17:54
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    It's more of a Muslim culture thing. Christians don't speak Latin, but most Muslims utilize Arabic in daily prayers, and view Arabic as a holy language. Many don't really dare translate it, and the non-native Arabic speakers prefer to use the Arabic form because it makes them sound smarter/holier. – Muz Oct 11 '12 at 3:23
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The word "God" is defined as:

  1. the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.
  2. the Supreme Being considered with reference to a particular attribute.

in websters.com.

It is an English word to define a supernatural/holy being but unfortunately it is not a translation for "Allah". For example, you can use god in plural or define gender like (gods of war, goddess, etc...) Thus, the name "Allah" is specific to Islam and implies singularity. Morever, "Allah" is used in all islamic countries irrespective of their language.

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    I think "God" is different than "god", we have gods but not Gods! "God" is actually "the god" if I am right and that would be an alternative for Allah, although I think it is still encouraged that Allah be used as is in all the languages around the world, like Adam is used and like most other specific names! – owari Oct 11 '12 at 23:28
  • Yeah, what owari said. And in some languages, there is a singular, reverent, all-powerful word like "Tuhan", which can't be used in the same way as "god". The name "Allah" is not specific to Islam, many Christians use it too. – Muz Oct 12 '12 at 8:01
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    Allah is used in all islamic countries it's also used by none Muslims in Arabic speaking countries. Are they referring to the Muslim god then? – Mohamad Oct 12 '12 at 13:19
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I agree with the answer by Albert partly.

  • In proper Arabic, you don't have a feminine form for Allah, unless someone purposely creates it.
  • There is no plural form for it too. This perfectly suits Islam.
  • Also, when you say Allah, you don't attach a shape over that word in mind.

So for a Muslim, Allah is the best word that refers the Almighty. So even if it is transliterated, people use the word "Allah" over "God". For a detailed comparison

  • "God" as a root word has a plural form whereas the word "Allah" doesn't.

  • "God" as a root word has a feminine form "Goddess" whereas the word "Allah" doesn't refer gender

  • "God" has other words originated from it like demi-God etc

  • A brother from a sect of Christian faith would imagine God as a shape like human, a person from a Hindu faith would say God has a shape of elephant and a human. So when you say "God", it gets ambiguous in Islam related communication.

Brothers of other faith might refer " Allah" too. It's a language, it is common for all.

Finally I would like to say, Allah sees you from within. So it's right to call the Almighty "God" provided you are genuinely referring to the Almighty who is omni present, who never begets or has been begotten, whom you cannot associate with a shape.

But I prefer "Allah" because its the best to refer Him. And as the Quran was written in Arabic, I would prefer specific Arabic words because I want to preserve its originality. Translation, might end up giving a wrong perception.

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