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Here's a question: why do we refer to Allah as "HE"? Allah has no physical attributes - it is generally agreed that the parts of the Qur'an which mention Allah (ta'aala) seeing, hearing, or with hands or sitting on the throne ('arsh) are purely metaphorical and that Allah has no physical attributes (other than the fact that the entire physical universe is an emanation of Allah ta'aala).

In Arabic, there is no word for "it," only pronouns which roughly correspond to the English "she" and "he." So does anyone object to referring to Allah as "It"? I anticipate people being opposed to that just based on the fact that it goes against tradition, but in this case tradition is imperfectly founded. In English this seems to apply the Christian idea that God is the "father," which thereby implies that God has given birth (and as we all know, lam yalid wa-lam yuulad). But in Arabic, maybe if there had been a neuter word like "it" this would not be the case.

Also, using the word "He" obviously perpetuates male hegemony. There's no reason that there can't be total gender equality and still preserve the message of Islam, and for that reason it seems like using "It" to refer to Allah ta'aala should be welcome. And if you object to this idea, can you point to anything about Creation that is inherently masculine such that the Creator would be masculine?

asked 20116 tursun's gravatar image
closed Mar 11 '13 at 14:28 aaliya ♦ 1.1k2416 aaliya's gravatar image

In general terms, every believer must believe that every action of Allaah has great wisdom behind it, and there is no need for it to be explained in full to every person. This is a kind of test, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… that He may test you which of you is best in deed…” [al-Mulk 67:2]

The Quran refers to Allah using the masculine pronoun huwa because the word "Allah" is grammatically masculine, not because Allah is naturally masculine (Allah be our refuge). In English, using "He" for something without natural gender connotes personification, but not in Arabic. There is no implied anthropomorphism whatsoever. 

To affirm a natural gender for Allah Most High flatly contradicts the clear Quranic verse, "There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him." (Quran, 42:11) If this is plain for Muslims, it is confusing for others, not merely because purely grammatical masculinity is alien to the English mind, but also because no religion besides Islam affirms divine transcendence with such force.

If huwa here implies no anthropomorphism, then neither would hiya. Why, then, choose huwa over hiya?

By convention of the Arabic language, grammatical masculinity is the norm, and grammatical femininity is the exception. Since most words are grammatically masculine, the expected grammatical gender of the word Allah is masculinity.

Whoever ascribes any human attribute to Allah has disbelieved. Whoever understands this will take heed, refrain from speaking as the disbelievers do, and know that Allah’s attributes do not resemble those of humans.

answered 73210 Light's gravatar image
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Asked: Mar 11 '13 at 14:04

Seen: 1,411 times

Last updated: Mar 12 '13 at 10:32

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