St. Anselm - Allah - God
a simplified manner, St. Anselm’s (1033-1109) proof of the existence of God is
such: Because God is the highest being we can conceive of, he necessarily exists
in the understanding and in reality. For would he not exist in reality, there
would be one quality, i.e. existence, he was lacking. But then he would not be
the superior being. “Therefore, if that, than which nothing greater can be
conceived, exists in the understanding alone, the very being, than which nothing
greater can be conceived, is one, than which a greater can be conceived.”
is not my aim here to prove the existence or non-existence of God. Instead, I
want to make a very simple suggestion: In many countries there is a cultural
divide that lies in the fact that Muslims and Christians address one and the
same deity with different words. We should not accept this as a given fact.
While Christians in England, France, Sweden or Germany use words from their own
language – God, Dieu, Gud or Gott – Muslims in these countries almost
unanimously use the Arabic word ALLAH. As many, if not most, English, French,
Swedish or German citizens do not know that in Arabic Allah is the word for God,
they take Allah for a different God. By the same token they mistake their Muslim
neighbours for more alien than they really are. Now, if there is only one
superior being, and if Muslims as well as Christians claim to revere this
superior being, God and Allah can be nothing more than two different words in
order to address this superior being. Just as God, Gott or Jehova are simply
different names for the same being.
everybody who lives in a city has a mosque in his neighbourhood. Let’s stop
talking about mosques as places where “they”, revere Allah. They worship
this one superior being, God. Mosques can contribute to bridging cultural gaps
of mutual misunderstanding and alienation once they start to replace the word
Allah by God on their walls. This is not a question of cultural identity. Rather
it is a question of the identity of the God of the three monotheistic religions.
The superior being will always be one and the same. The words with which we
address it are different. As different as God’s major revelations that lead to
the rise of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. However, sticking to a God for
Christians that is allegedly different from the Muslim’s superior being boils
down to an act of heresy: Any faithful Christian who claims the existence of a
Muslim-God besides the Christian God is a polytheist. Any Muslim who proclaims:
“The God of the Christians is not our God”, is a polytheist. Inasmuch as
polytheism is heretical, those Christians and Muslims are heretics.
As from today the media should refrain from talking about Allah and substitute this word by the proper word in the corresponding language. This would be a decisive step towards overcoming mutual suspicion and would create a bedrock for the often imagined but still inadequate cross cultural exchange.