Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Allah, why refer to him in masculine terms..

I knew since some time now that the Holy Koran that Allah is refered to in masculine terms "His," "Him," "He."

I never thought of this issue thoroughly, but today somehow the conversation came up with my work colleagues and I asked the question why masculine. Why all references to Allah in the Koran are presupposing or prescribing him a rather very human gender. For that matter, one might also imagine the few references to "Hand of Allah" in the Koran, which thus tacitly presupposes that Allah has a hand or a semblance of it, or at least such is our perceptions, least it were to be described otherwise.

Our discussion on "gender" of Allah went quite far without finding any even approximately exhaustive answer. Admittedly, it is impossible by any means to prove, disprove or to describe in a final manner whether Allah has or doesnt have any or at all human characeristics. It is beyond doubt that Allah transcends all such description and even trying to encompass any charactereistic of Allah in mere human terms or words will be less than satisfactory. The question therefore begged as to why describe by or ascribe any such human "feature" - human gender - to Allah. Furthermore, while in the case of the Bible this and other such occurences might be explained away by saying firstly that Bible was put on paper by humans who were inspired by God. The words however came from humans themselves - Marc, Mathew, John, Luke, Jerome, etc.

In case of the Koran this explanation will not suffise, as the Koran is purpotedly Allah's word directly dictated and trasmitted by Allah's Prophet Muhammad - he himself was illiterate and therefore unable to write anything himself.

The only explanation, which to my view was not satisfactory, of references of Allah in masculine terms was that it was easy for use of language to refer to Allah by masculine terms and that would facilitate comprehension. But this implies that the Koran might have been written by humans keeping in mind human percpetional and other subtleties. But then what about the claim that the Koran is the direct - and this means wihtout any human biases, prejudices and stereotypes, word of Allah and this would mean that Allah described Himself in masculine terms, or...?

Anyhow, the discussion had an end - an end where more knowledgable and versed (in Islam) colleagues of mine suggested to ask their acquantaces, one of whom is very knowledgable in Islamic studies and used to debate precisely on such matters.

Let's wait and see...

One last thing, which I told them was my reason of asking about the "gender" of Allah in the Koran. The reason was that most of ancient civilizations, including Egyptian, Hindi, Greek, Roman and other, initially worshipped Great Goddess and the Bull. This happened independently in many such ancient, prehistoric societies.

However, the advent of monotheistic religions brought forth, first time in the human history, the concept of God unrelated to any natural phenomena, God as an abstract entity, the ubiquitous, all-seeing, almighty.

Even Judaism, a monotheistic religion as it is now, had many Gods and Yahweh, the sole God in modern Judaism, was one among the pantheon of Gods. Yahweh was God of War for Jews during the Age of Israeli Prophets. For political as well as economic and other consideration, Yahweh "gained" ascendancy over others and with time emerged as the unique and most powerful of all other Gods.

This is history. There are facts. This thus shows that the first of monotheistic religions was not "born" as such but was transformed later.

As I said, let's wait and see what the more knowledgable would say about Allah, bearing in mind that Judaism in its cores and therefore Christiniaty, which drew heavily of precepts and ideas of Judaism, were not monotheistic originally and that almost all ancient civilizaiton predating 900BC worshipped women Gods along with male Gods.

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