A Child of Two Worlds has stirred up a bit of controversy.

In a good way. In a way that I love, because it gets people talking about fascinating and vital issues.

I have heard from readers. Some assume I am a moderate, open-minded Muslim. Some think I am a confused, misguided Christian. Most simply enjoyed the story. I am thankful to everyone who has contacted me, your comments are treasured.

As to the controversy, people have been intrigued by the use of the word ‘Allah.’

There are two things at the heart of their questions. One is a theological issue relating to the very nature of God. The second is a linguistic issue.

I’m sorry, but I’m not going to address the theological issue here. At least not today.

As to the linguistic question, the word Allah is simply Arabic for God. Like dieu in French, or dios in Spanish. Or eebe in Somali. Arabic-speakers use the word Allah no matter which religion they adhere to. They used it before Islam was established. They used it before Jesus was born.

Interestingly, Jesus spoke Aramaic and probably said, “El” when referring to God. Or maybe even “El-lah” which sounds an awful lot like Allah to me.

The origin of the English word for God isn’t agreed upon by all linguists, but most believe it stems from words meaning, ‘one to whom libations, or sacrifices, are poured,’ or, ‘idol.’

These are words, languages, sounds. The meaning of a word can’t be found by simply looking at the letters. The meaning of God or Allah is filled up by what a person believes and holds to be true. This is an extremely important issue. But starting with arguments over what word to use for the Ultimate, the Truth, the Way, isn’t helpful.

As to who I am and what I believe, you can use whatever label you are comfortable with. I love and follow Jesus. I love and follow the Bible, which I have read in its entirety over a dozen times. Both Jesus and the Bible have come alive for me in precious and unique ways by living in a Muslim country. For an example, see this post about whether or not I am in love with Africa. I am fascinated by and respect the Quran, which I have read in its entirety in three different languages (unfortunately, none of them Arabic) and I love talking about faith with people from all backgrounds.