A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

God is News.

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 8, 2007

Argh. I just saw it again – my most, and least, favorite mis-spelled Arabic word.

As I wrote in Takbir: Praising God,”Allahu Akbar” has several possible translations:

God is great

(which though linguistically incorrect removes the troubling suggestion of comparison between God and other gods)

God is greater

God is greatest

All are acceptable, except when described as “the Muslim war cry”. The point of saying that God is great/er/est is the same as Christians’ saying “Thy Will be done” or “The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away; Blessed be the Lord”: that whatever God wills for us in life, good or ill, it is still our duty as His creatures to praise Him.

What the phrase is not is

Allahu Akhbar.

This phrase does not mean “God is great”, “God is greater”, or even “God is greatest”.

It means:

God is news.

Christians refer to the coming of Christ and the Gospels as the Good News. There is nothing similar in the Muslim tradition.

Spelling akbar with an extra h is poor journalism, poor scholarship, poor fact-checking, and poor editing.

It does, however, make for some funny mental images.


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