In a recent message to my email list subscribers I touched on the fact that we need a new strategy for interactions between Muslims and Christians, whether in America or in other countries throughout the world. I suggested Jesus of Nazareth as a model for our interactions. He demonstrated how to respect and strengthen relationships with those who were like him and those who were very different from him. He pointed people to God and painted a picture of what God’s Kingdom is really like.
One of the ways we begin to be able to connect to others different from ourselves is to understand them; eliminating barriers or unnecessary misunderstandings between us. An issue I hear over and over from Christians who struggle to understand Muslims is the belief that we worship two different Gods and that Allah is a false god.
This is one of the most painful misunderstandings. Many Christian laymen and leaders feel that Allah is not the same God as the God of the Hebrews, or Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Ishmael. In fact, they will often argue Allah is a moon-god. Televangelist Benny Hinn has commented, “This is not a war between Arabs and Jews. It’s a war between God and the devil.”
It would be wonderful if Christians and Muslims could get beyond the basics of respecting another’s name for God and reach a consensus. It would open doors to desperately needed dialogue and communication, allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal common ground as to the nature of God. Let us make sure this “feeling” towards Allah is not merely a trained cultural response and/or an emotional one, but instead cultivate a view founded on fact and linguistics, seated in an understanding of the history and culture surrounding the origins of the names for God. Let us also approach this issue asking God to reveal the truth to us, as much as we are able to understand.
Seminary Students Consider: Is Allah a moon-god?
I recall speaking to an assembly of seminary students in Lancaster, PA a few years ago. When questioned, their view was unanimous that Allah was a false god and in fact, derived from a moon-god of ancient times. They were ready and had a prepared statement to read:
During the nineteenth century, then later in the 1940’s, and finally during the 1950’s, archeologists’ digs gathered from both North and South Arabia depict evidence of a moon-god (called Hubal during pre-Islamic times). This deity was worshiped even in the Prophet Muhammad’s day. According to inscriptions, while the name of the moon-god was not Allah, his title was al-ilah, i.e. “the deity,” meaning that he was the chief or high god among the gods.
The moon-god was called al-ilah, “the god.” However, this name (Arabic: Il or Ilah) did not originate as a title for the moon-god. Thousands of years before that, Semites used variations of Il/El and Alah to refer to their high gods.
Noted Christian historian Philip Hitti also feels the designation of Allah as a moon-god is not correct.  The Islamic symbol of the crescent moon is often raised as evidence reflecting a moon god. However, history reveals that the Ottoman invaders of the Byzantine Empire simply adopted their defeated Christian foe’s symbol of the crescent moon and continued using it.
Muhammad viewed monotheists in history such as Abraham and those in his time as haneef, believers in the One Supreme God, creator of the heavens and universe, inspirer of the prophets through the Rouh Qudus, the “Holy Spirit.”And the word he used for this God was Allah.
I shared with the seminary students,
“If Allah was indeed one of the 360 gods represented in the Kabba in Mecca prior to Muhammad, it does not preclude one of them being the One True God of the Old and New Testament. It could be considered similar to Paul on Mars Hill in Acts 17, identifying the true God from all the false idols. Muhammad did the same by destroying all the other idols in the Kabba, leaving the one ilah. The Apostle Paul faced similar push back with the Greek pagans as Muhammad did with the Arab pagans. After gaining their attention by quoting various Greek philosophers, Paul announced that he knew the name of this ‘unknown god’ and proceeded to teach of the one true God. The scripture says that while ‘some mocked…many followed and surrendered’ to God. The point being, that the origins of a name do not always reflect on the later application.”
The seminary students were listening, but I could tell they were not with me yet.
To further emphasize and explain this topic, I will delve further into the origins of the name “God” from a linguistic viewpoint on this blog in the coming weeks. Please feel free to follow along with us in exploring this issue.
Shalom, Shlama, and Salaam,
 Amaud, Halevy and Glaser went to Southern Arabia and dug up thousands of Sabean, Minaean, and Qatabanian documents that depict Allah as a moon god. Robert Morey, The Islamic Invasion: Confronting The World’s Fastest-Growing Religion (Harvest House Publishers, 1992)
 Archeologists G. Caton Thompson and Carleton S. Coon made discoveries in Arabia. Morey.
 Wendell Phillips, W.F. Albright, Richard Bower made similar discoveries as they excavated sites at Qataban, Timna, and Marib. Morey.
 Tracing the origins of ancient gods is often tenuous. If the name Hubal is related to an Aramaic word for spirit, as suggested by Hitti, then Hubal may have come from the north of Arabia. Philip K. Hitti, History Of The Arabs (1937), 96-101.
 Welllhausen indicates that Hubal was regarded as the son of al-Lat and the brother of Wadd. Wellhausen (1926), 717, as quoted by Hans Krause, Hans Krause’s Research Reports, http://hanskrause.de/HKHPE/hkhpe_32_01.htm.
 Attempts to identify Hubal with Allah have been notably popular among evangelical Christians, but even they acknowledge that this hypothesis is speculative, and it is contradicted by the Islamic-period texts from which most knowledge of pre-Islamic Arab religion derives. Answering Islam, Moon God, http://www.answering-islam.org/Index/M/moongod.html (Jul. 29, 2009).
 Rick Brown, “Who is ‘Allah’?” International Journal of Frontier Missions, 23:2 (Summer 2006), 80 (http://www.commonpathalliance.org).