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Thursday, March 23, 2006

SPEAKING HIS OWN LANGUAGE: Utilizing etymology, connotation and word history in the selection of appropriate Arabic terminology


Rakim
Originally uploaded by ALifeAllah.
SPEAKING HIS OWN LANGUAGE
Utilizing etymology, connotation and word history in the selection of appropriate Arabic terminology
By C’BS ALife Allah

The question has been asked by many why does the Nation of Gods and Earths use terminology that has traditionally been identified with orthodox Islam? There are several methods that can be used to approach this question. One method is the historical heritage method (the heritage of the Nation of Gods and Earths in the Nation of Islam Temple). Another method is the sociological method that looks at the relationship of various societies, their root influences and subsequent developments. A combination of both of the above methodologies were utilized by I Majestic Allah who answered the above query in a simple form by stating "The primary reason that many accuse the NGE of being Quasi and Proto Islamic is the use of the terms Allah and Islam. Although the terms are indeed used by both groups, the meanings and context in which they are used are strikingly dissimilar."[i] In this essay I will be using word critique that will involve etymology, word connotation, word context, and word history. In employing this method I will expand on the above question and the work already laid down by other writers. My purpose will be to illustrate why the orthodox religion of Al-Islam does not hold sole ownership over various Arabic terms.

Origination vs. Connotation

When one states that the meaning of a word is ______, it appears to be an innocent enough statement that appears to require no further investigation. In actuality word usage and "meaning" are dependent on various factors. There are primarily two paths to determine word meaning.

The first path is origination or word origin. This involves tracing the etymological history of a word all the way to its root in a particular language. For example; the root origin of the word etymology is from two Greek words; etymos (true) + logos (word). Thus the combinations of these two Greek words form our present day word, etymology, in English.[ii]

The second path is connotation. Connotation deals with how the usage of a word is affected by context, culture, religion, and time period. For example, the etymological root of the word hit is the Old Norse word hitta which means, "to meet". The modern day connotation can MEAN various things according to context, peer group, etc. It can mean to strike to some. To others it may mean having sex.

Particular groups give more weight to a particular path. It is my contention that the over all Understanding to any word involves referencing both paths and being clear as to which path one is emphasizing. I see it as necessary that one acknowledges word origin, the development that a word has taken overtime AND realize that one has to power to define the present day connotation of a word based on one's awareness of the word's origin.

In some cases a study of the present day connotation of a word will lead one to insights dealing with word origin. Take for example the word funky. In the "common" present day usage of the word it has the meaning of foul odor. In the "slang" usage of the word it describes a quality of Black music that is derives from the rhythm and blues. At first glance that seems simple enough yet when one researches the etymology of funky it will take them to the Ki-Kong word lu-fuki which means, "to work up a sweat".[iii] Therefore a modern day meaning and "slang" meaning which appears to have no type of connection is revealed to have a connection when one takes it to the root.

The language of Arabic is not owned by religion of orthodox Al-Islam. Arabic words should not be restricted by ideological concepts that appeared hundreds of years later. The source material of much of the language of Arabic compounds the confusion for defining in English. Many Arabic scholars are followers of the orthodox religion of Al-Islam. Even if they aren't, many Arabic scholars utilize Theo centric sources. Most people are unaware that there is a whole body of work by secular Arab scholars that needs to be utilized for a non-religious examination of Arabic language (as well as a host of artifacts that predate the Orthodox Al Islam culture in the Middle East). For the purposes of this essay we will examine the words Islam, Muslim and Allah. Though the Nation of Gods and Earths also utilize other terms such as Mecca and Medina they will not be under review in this particular essay.

Islam

The term Islam is a word which is presented with various different "meanings" (remember how a meaning is derived) depending on whom one speaks to. The current dominant theory is that the word islam means submission or to submit. It is acknowledged by those whom hold fast to the above theory that the word islam, in part, is derived from the root word salaam (slm). Salaam means peace in Arabic. There are a number of problems that are inherent in this theory.

The etymology of the word islam does not contain any portion of it that is rooted in the word submission. As stated above it is derived from the word salaam. The word islam literally means peaceful state, in peace, or within peace. Basically it means being in a state of peace or tranquility. There is no pre-Muhammad ibn Abdullah (circa 1400 A.D.) reference to the word islam being used in conjunction with the concept of submission. That concept developed from the orthodox religion of islam describing how they saw their religion. They gave a CONNOTATION to the word islam, giving a symbolic veil to the word so that to them it meant that "submission to Allah will give you the root (peace)". Also, in all actuality, the proper name for the religion of Muslims is referred to as AL-Islam (AL is the proper noun marker), which would translate as THE Islam or THE peaceful state. As you can see, once again, there is no reference to submission or Allah in the etymology of the word.

In fact, in Arabic, there is a word that was utilized pre-Muhammad ibn Abdullah and well after in Hadith, Koranic sources, and other Arabic writings that is used for the word submission. The word that is used for submission in Arabic is khudwa, which means submission to authority or to a higher power. Islam in Arabic is not utilized as a synonym for khudwa (submission) and also there are times where one will use the word islam in a sentence where it is impossible for it to even be implied that it "means" submission.

For example:
Tariqatul islaam heya al siratil mustoquiym

Translation:
The way of islam is the straight path

In the above example it is impossible for islam to mean submission for the context does not allow for it. So, in summation, regarding the word islam the etymological root only implies it being related to the word peace (not submission) and there is no pre-orthodox religion of Al-Islam connotation for it, which implies submission. The definition of islam meaning "to submit to the will of Allah" is a later invention of religious theists.


Muslim

The term Muslim is another Arabic term which carries with it subtle nuances in meaning and application. In the religious world it is said to mean "one who submits to the will of Allah". As mentioned previously, the definition is often times taken on face value for people assume that those who are followers of the religion of Al-Islam "own" certain terms so "of course" they would be the best knower. Upon further examination several facts become evident.

Taking muslim to the etymological root one will find that it is derived from salaam (slm). By expanding to the word to muslim (mslm) you will get "one of peace". Therefore, from the etymological root, this appears to be the full meaning of the word. A curious fact appears upon deeper research of the term muslim which has been addressed in the writings of Supreme Scientist Allah.

The pattern mu--i-, along with the triconsonatal root pattern, s-l-m, denote "one of Peace." Again, the Muslim Community's interpretation of this word deviates quite a bit. This is because they adopt the fourth verb meaning of the roots s-l-m which, in its fullest linguistic and etymologic translation, signifies one arriving at "peace" by handing over, giving over, yielding, succumbing or surrendering to. That is the fullest translation, where were we can recognize the popular rendition of "submission.[iv]


Supreme Scientist Allah points out that the word muslim can be translated, from its etymological foundation, to mean one who is at peace by "submitting" when dealing with a specific verb meaning. In addition to the etymological Understanding of the word muslim there is also record of it's usage in pre-Al-Islamic so that a pre-religious context and connotation can be drawn up.

“With this initial understanding, we shall take up as our first example the conceptual pair formed by the words muslim "Muslim" and kafir "infidel" which stand, as is obvious, in opposition to one another. If we trace these two Koranic key -terms back to the earlier pre-Islamic stage, we notice that originally they did not even form a pair. Both words were there certainly, but there was no essential connection between them. Moreover, neither of them had any religious connotation, muslim means "a man who hands over something precious to another who demands it of him" and kafir "a man who does not show gratitude to his benefactor". It is only at the second stage of development, that is within the Koranic system, that the two are put in opposition to one another...."[v]

So what you have within the context of the religion of Al-Islam is the development of the word muslim that is in line with the etymological root and pre-Al-Islamic usage.[vi] The rejection of this term by the Nation of Gods and Earths is due to conflicting ideological concepts between the Nation of Gods and Earths and religious followers of Al-Islam. It is perfectly all right to be classified as a muslim if you perceive that you must "submit" or "be in debt" to an astral abstract Supreme Being. The worldview of the Nation of Gods and Earths define the Supreme Being as the Blackman whom has Knowledge of himself and has actualized his potential. Thus the Supreme Being being a muslim is a contradiction (it is also a contradiction in theological worldviews also i.e.. God doesn’t submit to himself).



Allah

The term Allah has an expansive history in terms of the meaning of the word. It should be mentioned at this point that Arabic is related to the whole family of Semitic languages. Therefore words that appear in Arabic often times appear in Hebrew or Aramaic. Allah is one of those words.

In fact, the name given to the God of the Torah is a manifestation of the word Allah. Every time that you see God in the English bible it is a place marker for the word El/Eloah or Elohiem. In actuality the E should be an A (Aleph in Hebrew) making Al or Alohiem. The reason that it was changed was due to the Masoretic Jewish scholars transforming the essential text. Al is a contraction of the word Allah. Where Alohiem is a plural manifestation of said word.[vii]

Many, mistakenly, have translated Allah to be a contraction of al (proper noun marker in Arabic) and ilah (one of the forms of the phoneme of Allah) so that it means “the god”. The problem inherent from casual observation is that the word God is of Gothic origin. Gothic is a much younger language complex then Arabic. Therefore it is impossible for the son to give birth to the father. Allah actually is a word in and of its self and is not a contraction.

In digging deeper into the history of said phoneme you will find it appearing in Mdw Ntr (Ancient Egyptian) as Rh/Ra (La), ar (al), and Heru/Hr (Ala)[viii]. Amongst the Akkad you will find it written as iluh. Amongst the Canaanites it is written as il. There is no mystery as to the proliferation of this term in that area as Egypt gave Phoenicia their alphabet system. From that point you have a proto-Semitic script dividing into it's various offshoots. In viewing the whole scope of the word Allah what you begin to have is an etymology that goes beyond Arabic into proto-Arabic. All of these manifestations of the word Allah mean roughly the same thing, which is powerful, strong, light, or mighty.[ix] The only difference in this phoneme is it’s spelling from language to language. In actuality when one lines up ilu, ilah, ala, allah, al, etc…one can realize that it is no more then a regional pronunciation. This is similar to the regional intonations of someone from Boston vs. someone from the Deep South.

The term at no time was historically exclusive only to the concept of a formless astral deity. In fact in many cases it was used as a title for a person who performed great things. In this case etymology does not denote usage because the phoneme is not that inclusive. It is a little "vague". This is because, despite what the Western religious, anthropologic, or historic scholars tell you, just because a word is used by some now to mean an anthropomorphic abstract deity does not mean that is the way a specific cultures in the past originally utilized the word. The current Western thought is that all societies start out personifying natural forces and then evolve to develop an abstract deity that is inclusive of all of these forces (monotheism). They actually present this as gospel. There is another direction by which a deity may just be a deified ancestor. In this case it is only later that the people dealt with abstractions. In fact there is many examples of God as man and man as God.[x] Interpretation of a word according to a worldview plays a huge part in attributing a particular connotation to words and names.[xi] We do know that early amongst many of the societies that have this phoneme that it became a proper name (Canaan, Middle East, etc.).[xii]

So in summation of the word Allah the etymology is modified by the usage during various times and in specific societies. The meaning is totally dependent on the one who is utilizing the word. Therefore, once again, it does not necessarily have a religious meaning as given by the followers of Al-Islam. Nor does it have an origin that begins with the religion of orthodox Al-Islam as brought by Muhammad Ibn Abdullah.



Conclusion

The study of language can direct one to an origin point. This point is the best area to begin one’s research. It becomes a reference point to measure, compare and contrast extensive change and transformation. The intent and purpose of this writing is to show that when one gets to the foundation of many languages one can express the same concept within all of those languages without being constrained by Theo centric thought patterns. Religion, as an institution, has a strong hold over the mentality of religious and non-religious scholars. It is important for us not to hand over power to religion for self-definition.


[i] Is the Nation of Gods and Earths a Muslim Community, Unpublished manuscript
[ii] English, as various other languages, is formed on the backs of older languages. Thus many words in the English aren't ENGLISH or don't have English roots at all.
[iii] Flash of the Spirit, Robert Farris Thompson, 1984
[iv] Out of Doors, unpublished manuscript
[v] God and Man in the Koran, Toshihiko Izutsu, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan, pg 52
[vi] Another theory supposes that the original term utilized by the movement was mumin (one who observes the doctrines of the faith. Spenta Mainya, BAKKAH / BAKKA/ BAQA / BAKA FOUND: THE NEW STORY OF ISLAM. http://www.geocities.com/spenta_mainyu/Bakka-1.htm.
[vii] It is worth mentioning here that the rendering of the phoneme “Allah” in a plural cognate is something that isn’t shared in all other Semitic languages as it is in Hebrew. In fact one cannot render Allah plural in Arabic
[viii] Ra is the Egyptian neter of the sun. Heru is the grandson of Ra whom is also a sun neter. Ar is Egyptian for eye. The relationship of these words and names to Allah is due to transliteration and soft/liquid vowels. The ‘L’ and ‘R’ letters are pronounced with a soft/liquid vowel. Thus when pronouncing ‘L’ you are softly pronouncing an ‘A’ before it. When pronouncing an ‘R’ you are pronouncing an ‘A’ after the R. Due to transliteration H is pronounced as an ‘L’ when translating ancient Egyptian to other languages. Divine Ruler Equality Allah elaborated on the above in an essay, The Name Allah in Ancient Forms of Language (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NationofGodsandEarths/message/14231). It is also touched on in Gerald Massey’s ‘Book of Beginnings’ and Godfrey Higgins’s ‘Anacalypis’. For more information on soft/liquid vowels check http://www.e-paranoids.com/l/li/liquid_consonant.html
[ix] The phoneme “allah” as Ra or Heru refers to light, radiation, sun (star), enlightenment, center of attention, all aware (seeing). The phoneme as Ar refers to eye yet there is a whole wealth of stories about the ‘solar eye’ in Ancient Egyptian literature. The ‘allah’ phoneme in the Semitic languages (El/Al) means mighty, strong, prominent, lofty (elevation). The phoneme ‘allah’ amongst Mesopotamian (Chaldean, Akkad, Sumerian, Canaanite, etc.) civilizations is Ilu/El which means ‘shinning one’. Even the ‘sons of God’ were also called ‘the morning stars’: “The morning stars, the sons of God….the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy…” (Job 38:7 KJV). Ugaritic text: “The sons of El, the assembly of the stars…that the sons of El may know and assembly of the stars may understand.” The Chaldean term for Sun as well as the primary deity was El or Al. In the modern Arabic religion of orthodox al-islam some of the attributes of Allah are Al-basir (all seeing), Al Raqeeb (Ever Watchful), An-Nur (The Light). Their attributes are the same as Rh (Ra) the All Eye Seeing, The Shinning One, the Illuminated or Englightened One. All of the above information was gathered from Divine Ruler Equality Allah in his essay, The Name Allah in Ancient Forms of Language (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NationofGodsandEarths/message/14231). It is also worthy to note that the phoneme ‘allah’ appears in ancient Hindi as the word “ala” which means great man. It appears in Spanish as ‘ole’ being derived from the name Allah during the Moorish occupation of Andalusia/Spain. Finally it appears in the Anglo-Saxon Germanic language groups as ‘Ellyl’ or the more common phoneme/word Elf.
[x] Scholastic Arguments for the Existence of God as Man, S.U. Allah, Unpublished manuscript
[xi] For instance the names Gabriel and Daniel are often translated as “strength of El (Al)” and “Judge of El (Al)”. They could just as easily be translated as Strong El (Al/Allah) and Judge El (Al/Allah) ie.proper names rather then worshipers depending on one’s world view.
[xii] The pre-Islamic Arab cultures (notably the Nabteans) were constructing personal names by incorporating the name of their deity, incorporating ‘al-Lah’ as a suffix (Garm’allah (‘God decided’), Aush’allah (God’s covenant), Shalm’allah (God’s peace), Halaf’allah (God’s successor), Vahab’allah (gift of Allah), Abd’allah (Allah’s slave/servant), Hubal Allah (Hubal is the Arabic version of the Semitic ha-Baal, ha-Bel) ). Spenta Mainya, BAKKAH / BAKKA/ BAQA / BAKA FOUND: THE NEW STORY OF ISLAM. http://www.geocities.com/spenta_mainyu/Bakka-1.htm. Please refer to endnote 10 in reference to worldview in constructing names.

“ ‘Allah’ occurs in tow South Arabic inscriptions, one a Minaean found at al Ula and the other a Sabaean, but abounds in the form HLH in the Lihyanite inscriptions of the 5th century B.C. Lihyan, which evidently got the God from Syria, was the first Centre of the worship of this deity in Arabia. The name occurs as Hallah in the safa inscriptions five centuries before Islam and also in a pre-Islamic Christian Arabic inscription found in umm-al Cimal, Syria, and ascribed to the 6th century.” Phillip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs.

4 comments:

Divine Culture Allah said...

Great Mind!!! Good, factual article!!! Jewels received.

Educationally yours,


Divine Culture Allah

Justice said...

Peace Almighty, I just got to read this in full today. You dropped like a 6plate deadlift. Heavy.

Peace God

EL said...

Great article. Good read, as well.

One part made me think, especially:

"There is no reference to submission or Allah"

Definitely is no reference to Allah, there is no "ila" or "ilah" any where near the word.

B.u.t, some of them Do also relate "Islam" to the term, "Aslama," which 'means', "To Be In Agreement With." It is THIS word that many of Them interpret as the Etymological root of "Islam". "To be in a agreement with" -- one Good connotation being: in agreement Ones own nature, which still would 'mean', "to be at peace with oneself." Aslama is then Interpreted or given the 'meaning', "To Be In Submission To" something -- connotation being: "Allah's" own will. So, by this orientation, Aslama would be their Etymological root and Salaam -- more precisely: Shin (S) Lam (L) Mim (M) -- would be the Linguistic root. Just as S.L.M would be the root of Salim or Sulaiman.

Even that goes deeper, because the Modification of Hebrew and Arabic made A and E separate, and then made a form of A, that is taken as a vowel. Though, those languages had no vowels, so, Alif could not have been a vowel. But, by implementing the "Dot" system, creating Modern Hebrew and Modern Arabic, adds even more confusion.

Also, veils other words, for, if there was no "E," then the only untranslated words of 'Jesus' in the Bible, "Eloah, eloah, lama sabachthani" should have been written "Alah, Alah," the same as "ilah," as in "la ilaha il ilah"

EL said...

"There is another direction by which a deity may just be a deified ancestor. In this case it is only later that the people dealt with abstractions. In fact there is many examples of God as man and man as God"

This made me think of Antar the Lion, of Arabia. A deified warrior, similar to Memnon, Heru, Mahdi, Sundiata, Ndjinga or Nyabinghi.