Many Christians reject the idea that the term "Allah" could ever possibly refer to the God we love and serve. Although there is linguistic commonality between Allah and the Hebrew word "EL," it is hard for us to imagine anything good associated with the word.
And the fact is, American Christians have good reasons for a strong emotional reaction. The news has burned this word into our consciousness on the lips of angry crowds shouting "Allah Akbar!"
But this week I was reminded that we are not the only ones whose feelings are evoked by this ancient Semitic word.
During a seminar about reaching Muslims in Russia, a dispute arose about using the word Allah. Some church leaders said they could not believe that any Christian would want to use the term Allah as they spoke to their heavenly father.
Then a brother stood up. He is from a small tribe in the Caucasus mountains who have been Christian for over 800 years. He said, "All my life I have read a Bible that tells me about Allah who created the world. All my life I have prayed to Allah, our father in heaven. When I hear this name I have a warm and safe feeling because this is the One who sent his Son to save us."
Perspective is everything. Of course, it would be bizarre for someone in an American church to refer to the father of Jesus as Allah. But can we also see that it would be a sad twist of Christian truth to deny the same word to brothers who have all their lives known Allah as the name for the true and living God? To what word would we have them turn?