Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another mistake by Ergun Caner

خدا (Khoda) or الله (Allah) ??

Ergun Caner and Emir Caner’s Unveiling Islam, in the chapter on Allah (chapter 6 – “Allah: Names of Terror and Names of Glory” pp. 102-119, Kregel Publishers, 1st edition 2002), on page 106 they wrote:

“Many Arabic speaking Christians use the Persian term khudu for God, rather than cause confusion by calling Allah by the name God.”

This is wrong, Arabic speaking Christians do not use the Farsi/Persian word for God, “Khoda”. (or “Khuda”)

See the Wikipedia article on Khoda/Khuda:

Ergun Caner, also said in an interview documented below:

“Muslims who become Christians who speak Arabic, they don't even use the word Allah. When they speak of God, they call him 'Khoda,' a Persian word, because we are so terrified of confusing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with Allah, the false god that we served as Muslims.”

See the documentation below at Dr. White’s website:

This is just not true, Arabs or Arabic speaking former Muslims, who become Christians, have no problem with the word “Allah” for Elohim in OT and Theos in the NT. (There may be individual exceptions to this; but generally; they still love their own language.) In fact the Bible in Arabic has translated Elohim in the OT and Theos in the NT as “Allah”. The word means “The God”, meaning, the one true creator, Sovereign, Almighty, Invisible God who is eternal. The word is related to the Aramaic and Hebrew words El, Eloha, alaha, etc. In refuting the controversial "Moon-god" theory of Allah, some excellent scholarship has been done in showing that the Arabic word Allah came from Aramaic and the Peshitta (Syriac) translation of the Bible. (see - and

The El, Elohim, Eloha, alaha, Allah word-group denotes Power, Sovereignty, and Monotheism; these are the emphases of this word. Now, I agree with the Caners that the doctrine of who Allah is in Islam is wrong, incomplete, and not the God of the Bible, because Allah is defined as “not Trinitarian”, and cannot have within the Trinity ( Latin: Tri-Unitas, "three in one"), an eternal, Spiritual Father and Son relationship. (see Surah 112 of the Qur’an) When Christians speak of The Father and the Son, we are referring to a spiritual relationship from all eternity, not physical. Muslims understand the word "Father" and "Son" to automatically mean that there was a mother and a physical, sexual relationship. (Qur'an 6:101/102) The Roman Catholics and Orthodox churches who call Mary, "The Mother of the God" and pray to her and have statues of her in worship contexts also confirm this misunderstanding in their minds. Jesus had no human father. Mary, His mother, was a virgin. Muslims also believe this. This is why giving a Muslim the gospels of Matthew and Luke are a good place to start, because they believe in the virgin birth of Al Masih. (Qur'an, Surah 19:19-21; 3:45-48) Luke 1:34-35 tells us "for this reason" He will be called the Son of God - because of the power of the Most High, and the work of the Holy Spirit. Christians always understood the Father and Son relationship within the Trinity as spiritual, not physical. Islam rejects the Deity of Christ, and for Muslims “Holy Spirit” means an angel; so the god of Islam is not the God of the Bible doctrinally. However, linguistically, the best word in Arabic for “the one true creator God who is eternal and Sovereign and invisible”; is Allah.

What Caner is confusing is the fact that Persians (Iranians) are not Arabs, and they have their own language which is not Arabic, and their language is called Farsi or Persian. The Persians, from the word “Pars” are a Jephethite (Europeans, Indians (India), Kurds and Iranians are from Japheth) people, not Semitic. Farsi in its pure form, is actually closer to Latin, German, and English, than Arabic. But after the Islamic conquests of Persia, today Farsi has 40 % Arabic words and phrases in it, and the Arabs changed their script to the Arabic script, although Iranians had to add letters because there are four sounds that Iranians have that Arabs do not have. ( P, G, jh, ch ) [The Arabs also have sounds/letters that the Iranians don't make either, so it works both ways.] The Arabs could not pronounce “p” when they attacked Persia (Iran) in Jihad and conquered and converted the Iranians to Islam. That is why “Pars” became “Fars” and “Parsi” became “Farsi”. It took about 3 centuries to fully subjugate them and change their Zoroastrian religion to Islam. Most of the Zoroastrians who kept their religion fled to India. Today Mumbai has more Zoroastrians than their original homeland, Iran (Persia).

Iranians don’t like the Arabs. Remember the Iran – Iraq war from 1980-1988? Deep historical and ethnic tensions were underlying that conflict. Sadaam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini exchanged curses at one another. Khomeini considered Sadaam not a true Muslim [which is true, Saddam Hussein was a very secular/Stalinist Muslim; the Baath party has that as its basic philosophy of mixing Stalinism and Islam] and eventually S. Hussein attacked Iran. Remember even centuries before that the Babylonian vs. Persia history? Iranians, Farsi speakers use “Khoda” for God, even Iranian Muslims use “Khoda” mostly because that is their language.

Iranians who have turned from Islam and repented of their sin and trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord use the word “Khoda” and they do indeed have a problem with “Allah”, but Arabs do not have a problem with the word, “Allah”. Arabic speaking Christians use the word “Allah”.

Iranian former Muslims still use “Allah” in compound phrases like “Inshallah” ("If God wills"; which means “I hope so”, in every day speech) and “Al Hamdolellah” (Praise God) and “Allah O Akbar” (God is great).

Modern Turks also do not like the word “Allah” as much, either, as they have their own Turkish word for God, “Tanri”. The letter “i” should be without a dot over it, as it is a special letter sound in Turkish, but my key board won’t let me do that right now. (I don’t have Turkish software.) The Turks are not Arabs either. So, Iranians, Turks, Kurds, Arabs are mostly Muslims religiously, however, they each have their own ethnicity and language that is different from one another.

Many Iranians today are disillusioned with Islam. But, strong Iranian Muslims use "Allah", but usually they are those that are very, very strong. (Those that follow the philosophy and Twelver Shiite Islam of Ayatollah Khomeini (the founder of the Islamic Regime in Iran and who died in 1989) and the current Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i and President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad.) Most Iranians I know do not like the term "Allah" because it reminds them of the Arab invasions and force and Jihad under Khalif Omar, starting around 633-651 AD and beyond and the current Islamic Regime, started by Khomeini in 1979.

The Caners seem to be confusing their facts. What I think they mean is that Persian Iranian Muslims who come to Christ do not use Allah anymore at all, or very rarely, but they use Khoda. But even non-Christian (nominal Muslims) Persians prefer “Khoda” to “Allah” anyway. Even strong Iranian Muslims probably use “Khoda” more than Allah, just because it is their language. It is an ethnic, language issue.

“Allah” reminds Iranians of Omar, the Arabs, Jihad, force, and the harsh Khomeini regime. Some Iranians have a celebration where they make a puppet (effigy) of Omar and stick fire crackers in his mouth and blow him up and cut him up into pieces. They hate Omar because he attacked Iran in Islamic Jihad and forced the Iranian people to become Muslims. This is also part of the Shiite vs. Sunni hatred from the Iranian side. A Persian Shah by decree decided the Iranians would be Shiites (around the time of the Reformation in Europe) because they did not want to be like the Sunni Arabs and Ottoman Turks. But Southern Iraqi Shiites are ethnic Arabs.

In conclusion, in witnessing to Muslims, we have to start at a place that they can understand us. As Dr. White says in his debates with Muslims, “We both believe that God can communicate.” We both believe in Monotheism, that there is only one Sovereign, Invisible, Creator, eternal God. The Almighty has communicated through prophets, apostles, books; that is, revelation. Also, language is very important, Bible translation is necessary, and communicating the gospel into the heart languages of Muslims, so that they can understand what we are saying, is part of the missionary task. It is ok to use “Allah” for God for Arab Muslims, and other Muslims for whom that is the best word that communicates the one eternal creator, Sovereign God. Other Muslims, prefer their own language, and they prefer the word for God in their mother tongue. From there, we must give the Muslims the Gospel (Injeel) in their own language and encourage them to read the gospels first and let the Holy Spirit work on their hearts to see Al Masih (The Messiah) in the Scriptures.


Mark | hereiblog said...

Ken, I tweeted this post. There was one reaction.

He questioned your use of wikipedia and I briefly shared your background, but would you mind sharing why you pointed to those sources?

People who don't follow your writings regularly probably don't know your vocation and background in this area.


Ken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken said...

This is John 1:1-6 in Arabic. Notice how many times "Allah" اللَّهِ is used. See website below. Arab Christians do not use the Persian word "Khoda".

فِي الْبَدْءِ كَانَ الْكَلِمَةُ وَالْكَلِمَةُ كَانَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَكَانَ الْكَلِمَةُ اللَّهَ. 2هَذَا كَانَ فِي الْبَدْءِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ. 3كُلُّ شَيْءٍ بِهِ كَانَ وَبِغَيْرِهِ لَمْ يَكُنْ شَيْءٌ مِمَّا كَانَ. 4فِيهِ كَانَتِ الْحَيَاةُ وَالْحَيَاةُ كَانَتْ نُورَ النَّاسِ 5وَالنُّورُ يُضِيءُ فِي الظُّلْمَةِ وَالظُّلْمَةُ لَمْ تُدْرِكْهُ. 6كَانَ إِنْسَانٌ مُرْسَلٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ اسْمُهُ يُوحَنَّا.

Genesis 1:1 in Arabic:

فِي اَلْبَدْءِ خَلَقَ اَللهُ اَلسَّمَاوَاتِ وَاَلأَرْضَ

Some of these words we also have in Farsi. You can see "Allah" (الله)is the fourth word here.

I invite anyone to look at these many Arabic speaking ministries and see that they do not have a problem with their own language and do not have a problem with using the word "Allah" for God, for Elohim in the OT and for Theos in the NT.

Mark | hereiblog said...

Ken, thanks for answering. I did pass those answers along.

Do you have any thoughts on this article about Dr. Caner and the Camel method?

Ken said...

I will try to answer that issue tomorrow. It's too late now and I'm sleepy. 12:30am

Ken said...

See my new post
"The Balance of Apologetics and Agape Love"