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Allahu Akbar! God is the Greatest!

Allahu Akbar 1

“Allahu Akbar!” two very beautiful words 

Leaving the evening prayer service at Taqwa Mosque here in Jeddah last evening, a friend walked up to me and said, “Allahu akbar! It’s great to see you, Uncle Sam!”

Many in the West might find it hard to believe that this beautiful greeting Allahu akbar, often referred to as the takbir, could be anything other than a frightening war cry!

These glorious words have been regularly usurped by members of ISIS and other terrorist groups who claim that Islam justifies their vicious attacks on innocent civilians in the name of God.

Fear of the unknown

The Arabic language has been made to be feared by many unknowledgeable individuals in the West. The language itself can become a barrier.

Last year, for example, a Berkeley student was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after a fellow passenger heard him on the phone telling his uncle he would call him when they landed, “inshallah.” Peoples of other faiths, including Christians, often invoke that same phrase “God willing” when proposing their plans to others.

In 1999, when an EgyptAir jetliner inexplicably plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean, American investigators concluded that it had been downed intentionally because the voice recorder captured a crew member saying, “Tawakkalt ala Allah” — “I put my trust in God.”

To the investigators’ ears, the phrase suggested terrorism, but to many Muslims, it was simply a man accepting his fate.

Knowledge and understanding lead to peace

But the history and meaning of Allahu akbar (God is greatest!) is powerful and beautiful. The phrase Allahu akbar is commonly used by Muslims to remind themselves of God’s vastness and power. It literally means “God is the greatest of all.”

Constantly throughout the day, and especially in prayer, Muslims say “Allahu akbar!” They say it many times each day to remind themselves that God is greater than both the beauty and ugliness of this present world.

Christian and Jewish perspectives

Arab Christians throughout the Middle East refer to God as Allah. And in Christian churches throughout the world congregants are often led in singing the glorious Swedish hymn “How Great Thou Art.” The name and chorus of this hymn echo those same powerful words!

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

Judaism does not have an exact equivalent to “Allahu akbar,” but just as “Allahu akbar” is uttered in everyday situations by Arabs to express surprise, justice in addition to other beautiful feelings. In the same way, many Jewish families frequently throughout every day say “Baruch HaShem” (Blessed is the Name!”).

As a daily affirmation of God’s power, the Muslim takbir is also similar to the Jewish Shema, which also amounts to a public proclamation of a monotheistic reverence: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”

The following video was produced by Princess Ameerah Al Taweel to help the world better understand Islamic love and reference for God.

Sources: Wikipedia, The New York Times, Huffington Post

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Interfaith, Islam, The Quran, Uncategorized | Leave a comment