Why do we address God as “He”?


Introduction

Many are intrigued to know why we address God as “He”. This article aims to explain the reasons behind the use of “He” when addressing God, providing proofs and explanations for it.

Does God have a gender?

According to the Islamic concept of God, God has no gender. God is not like His creation and neither does He resemble His creations. He is utterly unique and to compare Him to His creations, including giving Him a gender is completely incorrect.

Why “He”?

The word “Allah” is an Arabic word and hence it is important to have an understanding about the Arabic language in order to understand the reason we use “He”. The word “He”, which is used to refer to God, is a translation of the Arabic word “Huwa”, used in the Quran.

In English, we have three genders namely; Masculine, Feminine and Neutral (He, She and It). In the Arabic language, we have just two genders namely; Masculine and Feminine. There is no explicit neutral gender. This means that even the neutral gender is either represented as Masculine or Feminine. To really comprehend this fact, let us now have a closer look at this part of the Arabic grammatical system.

The Arabic word for Masculine gender is: Huwa. Huwa is used for both male and neutral. So Huwa = He / It.

The Arabic word for Feminine gender is: Hiya. Hiya is used for both female and neutral. So Hiya = She / It

Since the word Allah would fall under neutral gender, the word Allah has to be either addressed as Huwa (He / It) or Hiya (She / It).

Grammatical rules for feminine gender in Arabic

The grammatical rules to use a feminine gender in Arabic are:

  1. The word has to be feminine by nature. Example: Ummun (Mother)
  2. The word should end with “Tha”. Example: Mirwathun (Fan).
  3. The words that are dual (Arabic has singular, dual and plural). Example: Yadain (2 hands).
  4. The word should end with Badaa Alif (Big Alif).

So grammatically speaking, where would the word Allah fit in?

Now if you carefully observe the word “Allah”, we can conclude the following.

  1. Allah by nature is not feminine.
  2. The word Allah does not end with “Tha”.
  3. The word Allah is singular and NOT dual.
  4. The word Allah does not end with bada alif (big Alif).

Since the word Allah does not meet any criteria of the Arabic grammar to use it in a feminine form, Allah is never addressed as a Feminine gender (Hiya / It). This means that we are left with the only option, which is: Huwa (He / It).

Furthermore, Allah Himself uses Huwa when He refers to Himself. Example: Chapter 112: Verse 1

“Qul huwa Allahu Ahad” (translation: Say, “He is Allah, [who is] One,)

Summary:

  1. The term “He” is not used to identify the gender of Allah.
  2. The Arabic language does not have a separate neutral gender in its grammatical system. It only has the combination of Masculine/Neutral and Feminine/Neutral.
  3. The word “Allah” does not meet the grammatical criteria to be referred in a Feminine/Neutral form.
  4. The word Huwa (He / It) is used for Allah in the Quran and when translated to English it becomes “He”.

Posted on September 27, 2012, in Q/A Session (Question & Answer) and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I am a big fan of dr. zakir naik sahab.and I am striving to meet him.and he is a good orator.

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