Allahu Akbar

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Revision as of 20:09, 22 April 2013 by (talk) (Why Muslims and Apologists insist 'Allah' means 'God')
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This article discusses the meaning of the Islamic phrase, "Allahu Akbar", and its translation into English.

Malaysia Allah for Muslims only.jpg


Although the phrase "Allahu Akbar" (الله أكبر) is a common phrase used by all Muslims in various situations, including the Salah (obligatory five prayers a day) and has even been used by some non-Muslims, as a show of support for the protesting Iranians; it is widely associated with the "radical" (fundamental) Muslims who shout it while engaged in Jihad - which usually entails the murder of innocent non-Muslims. Many 'moderates' and apologists claim it's simply the Arabic translation of a common English phrase meaning "God is great!"

However, this is untrue. "Allahu Akbar" does not mean "God is great" as claimed. It actually means "Allah is greater." Greater than what? You may ask. The fact that it's a 'war cry' for the Jihadis (more recently including Major Nidal Malik Hasan) should give you a clue to this. Let's examine the use of this phrase in scripture, and the use of these words in their original Arabic.


Islamic claim:

'Allah' is simply the Arab word for 'God.'


'God' in Arabic is translated 'ilah,' not 'Allah.'

Allah = الله (alif ا, lam ل, lam ل, ha ه)

ilah = اله (alif ا, lam ل, ha ه)

How do we know this? The Shahadah is one of the five pillars of Islam, and is recited by all Muslims:

Arabic: أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمد رسول الله

Transliteration: ašhadu ʾanla ilāha illal-Lāh, wa ʾašhadu ʾanna muḥammadan rasūlul-Lāh

Literal: There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

As you can see, even though many English speaking Muslims falsely claim it states "there is no god but God", this is clearly not the case. Muslims view the name Allah as a proper noun, as opposed to a common noun descriptive applicable to any deity. Allah is not the generic word for 'god' in Arabic, but the name of Islam's deity.

[1.1a] The belief that Allah is One is the fundamental basis of Islam, and when Divine Unity is expressed, the name "Allah" must be used. It is not permissible to say, "There is no god but the Almighty" or use any other names except Allah for the shahada. Nothing at all resembles Him or is equal to Him.
The Risala of 'Abdullah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani
A Treatise on Maliki Fiqh (Including commentary from ath-Thamr ad-Dani by al-Azhari)(310/922 - 386/996)

Why Muslims and Apologists insist 'Allah' means 'God'

what christians call God Muslims call Allah, they believe God and Allah are the same. god has spoken to the world through jesus, the world was not yet ready to fully understand it. Muhammad is the final messenger according to muslims, so this time the word of Allah came AGAIN to man and this time it was the final word. that is why you can find so many contradictions in the bible but not one in the quran. because it is the same message from the same God/Allah, only the quran is the word sent down the final time


Islamic claim:

'Akbar' means 'great.'


'Akbar' in English is translated 'greater,' not 'great.'

كبير (kebir) = Great

أكبر (Akbar) = Greater

They are not interchangeable words. For evidence, we only need look to the Qur'an. Both kebir (great) and akbar (greater) are used in the following verse:

Original Arabic script:

يسالونك عن الخمر والميسر قل فيها اثمتتفكرون كبير ومنافع للناس واثمهما اكبر من نفعهما ويسالونك ماذا ينفقون قل العفو كذلك يبين الله لكم الايات لعلكم


Yas-aloonaka AAani alkhamri waalmaysiriqul feehima ithmun kabeerun wamanafiAAu lilnnasiwa-ithmuhuma akbaru min nafAAihima wayas-aloonaka mathayunfiqoona quli alAAafwa kathalika yubayyinu Allahulakumu al-ayati laAAallakum tatafakkaroona

Yusuf Ali:

They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: "In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit." They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: "What is beyond your needs." Thus doth Allah Make clear to you His Signs: In order that ye may consider- [1]

Used in Context by Muhammad

In the following sahih hadith, you can see the phrase has been translated correctly into English by Muslims.

Narrated Anas: The Prophet set out for Khaibar and reached it at night. He used not to attack if he reached the people at night, till the day broke. So, when the day dawned, the Jews came out with their bags and spades. When they saw the Prophet; they said, "Muhammad and his army!" The Prophet said, Allahu--Akbar! (Allah is Greater) and Khaibar is ruined, for whenever we approach a nation (i.e. enemy to fight) then it will be a miserable morning for those who have been warned."

One must also note that if the word "Allah" meant "God", why then would he be telling the Jews of Khaibar (who supposedly worship the same god) that Islam's Allah is greater?

Here are a few more quotes which use the phrase "Allahu Akbar".

Yahya related to me from Malik from Abu Ubayd, the mawla of Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik, from Ata ibn Yazid al-Laythi that Abu Hurayra said, "Whoever says 'Glory be to Allah' (Subhana'llah) thirty-three times and 'Allah is Greater' (Allahu akbar) thirty-three times and 'Praise be to Allah' (al-hamdu lillah) thirty-three times, and seals the hundred with 'There is no god but Allah, alone without any partner. The Kingdom and praise belong to Him and He has power over everything' (La ilaha illa'llah, wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu'l mulku wa lahu'l hamd, wa huwa ala kulli shay'in qadir) after every prayer will have his wrong actions forgiven him even if they are abundant as the foam on the sea."
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa that his father never brought food or drink, nor even a remedy which he ate or drank but that he said, "Praise be to Allah who has guided us and fed us and given us to drink and blessed us. Allah is greater. O Allah! We have found Your blessing with every evil, give us every good in the morning and evening. We ask You for its completion and its gratitude. There is no good except Your good. There is no god other than You, the God of the salihun and the Lord of the Worlds. Praise be to Allah. There is no god but Allah. What Allah wills. There is no power except in Allah. O Allah! Bless us in what You have provided us with and protect us from the punishment of the Fire!"

Al-hamdu lillahi-lladhi hadana wa at amana wa saqana wa naamana. Allahu akbar. Allahumma'l fatna nimatik bi-kulli sharr. Fa asbahna minha wa amsayna bi-kulli khayr. Nasaluka tamamaha wa shukraha. La khayr illa khayruk. Wa la ilaha ghayruk. Ilaha'-saliheen wa rabba'l-alameen. Al-hamdu lillah. Wa la ilaha illa'llah. Ma sha'Allah. Wa la quwwata illa billah. Allahumma barik lana fima razaqtana. Waqina adhaba'n-na


'Allah' is not simply the Arabic word for 'God,' but the name of Islam's chosen deity (i.e. the pre-Islamic moon god located in the Ka'aba.) and 'Akbar' does not mean 'great,' but 'greater.' Greater than what? The answer is - Allah is greater...than whatever god you happen to believe in.

See Also

  • Lying - A hub page that leads to other articles related to lying
  • Islamic Terms - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Islamic Terms


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External Links

  • Allahu Akbar - Muslim Arabic speaker, commenting on this page, confirms "Allahu Akbar" means "Allah is greater" (not "God is great)"