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Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

Allah is the proper or personal name (ism dhat) of the Divine Being, as distinguished from all other names which are called asma' al-sifat or names denoting attributes. The word Allah occurs 2702 times in the Koran, such as Allahu 980 times, Allaha 592 times, Allahi 1125 times and Allahumma 5 times. It is also known as the greatest name of God (ism a'zam). Being a proper name it does not carry any significance, but as being the proper name of the Divine Being it comprises all the attributes which are contained separately in the attributive names. Hence, the name Allah is said to gather together in itself all the perfect attributes of God. The word Allah being a proper name is jamid, that is to say, it is not derived from other word. Nor has it any connection with the word ilah (god or object of worship), which is either derived from the root aliha meaning tahayyara or he became astonished, or it is a changed form of wilah from the root waliha, which means he became infatuated. It is sometimes said that Allah is a contracted form of al ilah, but that is a mistake, for if al in Allah were an additional prefix, the form ya Allah, which is correct, would not have been permitted, since ya al-ilah or ya al-Rahman are not permissible. Moreover, this supposition would mean that there were different gods (aliha, pl. of ilah), one of which became gradually known as al-ilah and was then contracted into Allah. This is against facts, since Allah has never been the name of the Eternal Being. Nor has the word Allah ever been applied to any but the Divine Being, according to all authorities on Arabic lexicology. The Arabs had numerous ilahs or gods but none of them was ever called Allah, while a Supreme Being called Allah was recognized above them all as the Creator of the universe (29:61), and no other deity, however great, was so regarded.

When asked by Abdul Rahman bin Abi Najran, whether it was proper to imagine God as something, Imam Muhammad al-Bakir replied, "Yes, but not as something bound by reason or any limitation." He added, "God is completely different to whatever you imagine. He neither resembles anything nor can imagination ever attain Him, for how could imagination ever attain Him while He is totally different to what is bound by reason and also different from what can be pictured in imagination? He can be imagined only as an entity beyond reason and beyond any limitation" (al-Kafi, 1:82). Once the Imam replied to a question of a Kharji that, "Although eyes do not see Him, yet the heart can see Him with the reality of faith. He is neither known by analogy, nor is He felt by the senses, nor can He be likened to human beings. He is described by signs or the verses (of the Koran) and known by symbols; He is not unjust in His judgments, that (verily) is Allah, there is no God but He" (Ibid. 1:99).

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