الله / الاه

K.Venugopal

New Member
ENGLISH
I wish to know the etymology of the words "Illah" and "Allah" as used in the Kalima. I particularly wish to know if "lah" part of the words has any etymological link to the word "la", also used in the Kalima. Please explain in English as I do not know Arabic.
 
  • Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    I particularly wish to know if "lah" part of the words has any etymological link to the word "la", also used in the Kalima
    Since they only share one common letter, and one is only a fragment of one word, I very highly doubt it.
    I wish to know the etymology of the words "Illah" and "Allah" as used in the Kalima.
    I don't think you'll get an etymology of such an ancient word, but I do know pretty much every Semitic language has a cognate. Hebrew for instance has eloh (plural Elohim is probably the most used word in the Bible for God), Aramaic uses the personal name Allaha for God.
     

    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    ilaah الاه (s) aalihah آلهة (pl), where ilaah (deity / god) is said to be related to eloah.

    Occording to a suggestion Allah اللّة is made of Al ال + ilaah الاه = The God / Deity.

    In the jahiliyyah period, Al-ilaah = Allah supposedly did exist and although was just one of more than 300 gods centred in the Meccan shrine, at least had pride of place by being placed at the top in this pantheon.
     

    dkarjala

    Senior Member
    English - America
    Aramaic uses the personal name Allaha for God.
    You're right, but it's not really a personal name. Aramaic (depending on the dialect/period) uses alaaha, in which alaah is cognate with Arabic 'ilaah and the final 'a' is originally the Aramaic 'status emphaticus' roughly equivalent to the definite article in Arabic.

    In other words, Alaah-a is equivalent in meaning to the etymology of the derivation: al-ilaahu > al-(i)laahu > allaahu for Allah, which I also do not think is a personal name. (I fully support this derivation not least of all because Allah is both triptotic and non-nunated.)
     

    dkarjala

    Senior Member
    English - America
    I wish to know the etymology of the words "Illah" and "Allah" as used in the Kalima. I particularly wish to know if "lah" part of the words has any etymological link to the word "la", also used in the Kalima. Please explain in English as I do not know Arabic.
    The word 'laa' is an ancient particle used in Arabic for absolute negations of the kind in the Kalima. The word Allah and 'ilaah (careful, only one 'l' in the latter) are based on a three-letter root probably itself derived ultimately from a two-letter root associated with 'strong' or 'mighty'. But all this conjecture aside, the point is there is no meaning without the hamza and laam together, and the laam by itself has about as much to do with the laam in 'ilaah and Allah as the 'b' in 'be' and 'about' do; i.e., nothing.
     

    origumi

    Senior Member
    N/A
    Aramaic (depending on the dialect/period) uses alaaha, in which alaah is cognate with Arabic 'ilaah and the final 'a' is originally the Aramaic 'status emphaticus' roughly equivalent to the definite article in Arabic.
    AFAIK in Aramaic it's Elaah (Elaaha with the definite article), very similar to Arabic Ilaah in the absence of "e" sound, also very similar to Hebrew Eloah taking into account the Canaanite vowel shift (long "a" to "o") and the tendency in Hebrew to add a short "a" before final non-voweled not-mute "h" preceded by "o" or "u".
     

    dkarjala

    Senior Member
    English - America
    Well, trying to transliterate Aramaic vowels is a bit daunting, and also depends on the dialect, etc. so yes, you're right, the word is the same as 'ilaah and Hebrew 'eloah. And I don't think that "Hebrew" inserts an 'a' before he and chet, I think the Masoretes inserted it to make sure it was pronounced correctly...it is hard to pronounce a final he or chet (the ancient pharyngeal version) or an 'ayn for that matter, without hearing what sounds like a short patach.

    And actually, it's Aramaic and Hebrew that changed the short 'i' sound and not Arabic that lacks the 'e' - it has to do with the alif/hamza.
     
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    origumi

    Senior Member
    N/A
    And actually, it's Aramaic and Hebrew that changed the short 'i' sound and not Arabic that lacks the 'e' - it has to do with the alif/hamza.
    Can you elaborate please? Is there really a phenomenon of Proto Semitic (or Proto Western-Semitic if such language ever existed) "i" shifted into Aramaic/Hebrew "e" while preserved in Arabic?
     

    dkarjala

    Senior Member
    English - America
    Comparative data suggest, strongly, that Semitic originally possessed 3 vowel qualities: a, i, u and the long versions of each. Over time, different letters and vowels had different effects in different dialects and languages.

    Keep in mind that a Proto-Language is not necessarily a single language, but rather a group of dialects that share the same features. So all Proto-West-Semitic means is all the dialects of Semitic that began using the suffix conjugation more often for the past tense at some point, together or simultaneously or what have you.

    In any case, one reason e is probably not original is that Akkadian has it corresponding only to a. In Hebrew and Aramaic it corresponds only to i. Secondly, in Hebrew, there is no short version of i:, there is only hireq/hireq-yod and all the short i's from the other languages are tsere or seghol, etc. Obviously there was once a short version of i: just as there is a short version of u:/o: a:.

    In Hebrew the long a: has also universally become an o-sound, which was something common to all Canaanite languages. Note that in some dialects of Arabic, as well, the short i sound also always sounds like e. It is something that simply happens, but the consensus is that the original situation is that of Standard Arabic with it's three vowels.
     

    Fractal7

    Member
    Turkish
    I wish to know the etymology of the words "Illah" and "Allah" as used in the Kalima. I particularly wish to know if "lah" part of the words has any etymological link to the word "la", also used in the Kalima. Please explain in English as I do not know Arabic.
    Isn't the pronunciation of the second lam different for الله (as colour) while the first lam is the usual arabic lam (as clear)? That is "lah" and "la" have different letters of "L" ?
     

    Fractal7

    Member
    Turkish
    I remember that pronunciation of

    الله
    والله
    رسول الله

    and

    لله
    بسم الله

    are different. At leats that's what I hear.
    Also
    صلّى
    علّامة
    ولّى
    ألّا = أن + لا
    looks like the usual letters of "lam". I think there is no other word pronounced like الله , right?
     
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    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    AFAIK in Aramaic it's Elaah (Elaaha with the definite article), very similar to Arabic Ilaah in the absence of "e" sound, also very similar to Hebrew Eloah taking into account the Canaanite vowel shift (long "a" to "o") and the tendency in Hebrew to add a short "a" before final non-voweled not-mute "h" preceded by "o" or "u".
    Toda for that information origumi!

    I just based the transliteration on how I'd seen it transliterated in our local Aramaic language television here, which was "Allaha" I think, perhaps it was "Allaaha", but I remember it definitely started with an "A", since it reminded me so much of the Arabic word for God. If it helps, the program was for Assyrian Christians from memory, so perhaps they have a different dialect.
     

    dkarjala

    Senior Member
    English - America
    You're right, that's what he means.

    In fact, I think we can broaden the rule to say that the [l] is emphatic unless preceded by an i-vowel (kasra/yaa). Probably due to the conflicting high-front/low-back tongue positions.
    I remember that pronunciation of

    الله
    والله
    رسول الله

    and

    لله
    بسم الله

    are different. At leats that's what I hear.
    Also
    صلّى
    علّامة
    ولّى
    ألّا = أن + لا
    looks like the usual letters of "lam". I think there is no other word pronounced like الله , right?
    Yes, sorry I didn't get it at first.

    Yes, the l has the dark, emphatic sound (like Saad, Daad, Taa, THaa) after fatHa/alif or Damma/waaw but NOT after kasra/yaa.

    And yes, the word Allah is the only word now (but maybe not always) with an 'emphatic' sounding l. However, an l in the neighborhood of an emphatic letter can take on that pronunciation in some forms.
     
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    Fractal7

    Member
    Turkish
    Yes, the l has the dark, emphatic sound (like Saad, Daad, Taa, THaa) after fatHa/alif or Damma/waaw but NOT after kasra/yaa.

    And yes, the word Allah is the only word now (but maybe not always) with an 'emphatic' sounding l. However, an l in the neighborhood of an emphatic letter can take on that pronunciation in some forms.
    Thanks, at least I have learned its name in grammar: emphatic lam.

    Isn't "emphatic lam" a different letter from "lam" but it is shown with the same character in writing? Like:
    ت vs ط
    د vs ض
    ز vs ظ
    ل vs emphatic lam.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Can we really speak of only two discrete forms of [l] (emphatic and non-emphatic)? If you look at these three words:

    قلب
    صلّى
    الله

    I can perceive three different "shades" of lam, starting from "least emphatic" to "most."
     

    dkarjala

    Senior Member
    English - America
    Not exactly, in collequal in Iraq they use this laam sometimes.
    We're talking MSA here, since in many colloquials emphasis spreads throughout entire words, let alone a particular dialect having a velarized version of l.
    Can we really speak of only two discrete forms of [l] (emphatic and non-emphatic)? If you look at these three words:

    قلب
    صلّى
    الله

    I can perceive three different "shades" of lam, starting from "least emphatic" to "most."
    Of course there are nuances but the major distinction between the articulation in the first word and that in the last two words is that the first word is 'uncolored', or completely alveolar while the others have different degrees of velarization.

    If you pronounced each l you showed by itself with only a fatHa on it (i.e. لَ ) I think the difference between the first and second would be much more easy to detect.

    In any case, you are right, but I am talking here about the l in the word Allah specifically, not laam in general. In Allah, the laam is pronounced differently except after a kasra or a yaa. So here there are 2 versions, and that's what I meant.

    Some variations are physically caused, like the sound of l in صلّى or the difference between yaa in دين and طين . In these cases you can find tons of different results, especially among different dialects.
     
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    dkarjala

    Senior Member
    English - America
    Allah and l in the vicinity of an emphatic are both pronounced with the back of the tongue down and the throat activated. In speech as well...not just tajweed.
     

    Fractal7

    Member
    Turkish
    I think no one understood my silly question so I will ask it in a clear form if you don't mind. :D

    Consider the pronunciations (without the last ha)

    1) الله

    2) ألّا

    They both have the same letters to pronounce

    alef + lam + lam + alef

    There is no ط , ض , ظ around

    But first is read with emphatic lam, for both. (the lam of the article is omitted due to sun letter)
    And the second is read with usual lam, for both.

    The reason is .........?

    a) because emphatic lam is not realy a lam.
    b) because of ha.
    c) because Arabs want to call الله (swt) in different sound.
    d) because Arabs don't want to confuse both words, الله and ألّا .
    e) Nobody knows. It is just that way.

    Thanks
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    e) Nobody knows. It is just that way.:thumbsup:
    However as has been pointed out, in some dialects emphatic laam [L] is used in more words than just الله, and furthermore you can here emphasis on laam when affected by surrounding consonants which are also emphatics.

    As to the origin of the special pronunciation of لـ in الله I don't think anyone really knows, but perhaps someone can enlighten us or perhaps there is some traditional "folk" explanation.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I seem to remember from my religious classes that the Arabs felt that the name of the diety required a "grander" pronunciation (تفخيم), i.e. Fractal's explanation (c).

    We had a similar discussion here regarding the Quranic verse that read عليهُ الله even though everyone expects it to be عليهِ الله, and the explanation by the exegetists was that the Quran chose the non-Qurashi variant عليهُ in this verse so that God's name would come out مفخّم.
     
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