ʾIlāh (Arabic: إله; plural: آلهة ʾālihah) is an Arabic term meaning "deity" or "god". The feminine is ʾilāhah (إلاهة, meaning "goddess"); with the article, it appears as al-ʾilāhah الإلاهة. The Arabic word for God (al-Lāh) is thought to be derived from it. ʾIlāh is cognate to Northwest Semitic ʾēl and Akkadian ilum. The word is from a Proto-Semitic archaic biliteral ʔ-L meaning "god" (possibly with a wider meaning of "strong"), which was extended to a regular triliteral by the addition of a h (as in Hebrew ʾelōah, ʾelōhim). The word is spelled either إله with an optional diacritic alif to mark the ā only in Qur'anic texts or (more rarely) with a full alif, إلاه.
Gilded statuette of El from Megiddo
The term is used throughout the Quran in passages discussing the existence of God or the beliefs in other divinities by non-Muslims. Notably, the first statement of the šahādah (the Muslim confession of faith) is "There is no god (ʾilāh) except God (al-Lāh)."
- Georgii Wilhelmi Freytagii, Lexicon Arabico-Latinum. Librairie du Liban, Beirut, 1975.
- J. Milton Cowan, The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. 4th edn. Spoken Language Services, Ithaca (NY), 1979.
- Zeki Saritoprak (2006). "Allah". In Oliver Leaman (ed.). The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 34.
- Vincent J. Cornell (2005). "God: God in Islam". In Lindsay Jones (ed.). Encyclopedia of Religion. 5 (2nd ed.). MacMillan Reference USA. p. 724.