Why is Allah ‘He’ Rather than ‘She’? (2)

IN PART 1 we looked at biological gender as associated with male vs. female, with ‘masculine’ vs. ‘feminine,’ and with ‘he’ vs. ‘she’—and how this intersects with our understanding of Allah. Here we focus on gender as a feature of language and how this insight clears away the concerns of feminists regarding an inferred connection of biological gender in association with Allah.

LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTIC CONSIDERATIONS

So, if it is true that there is no biological gender bias detectible on the part of Allah, then why would ‘Allah’ be referred to in the Quran as ‘He,’ ‘Him,’ ‘His,’ and ‘Himself’ –using masculine gender words and never using words denoting the feminine gender:  ‘She,’ ‘Her,’ ‘Herself’?

Some would reason: Doesn’t that usage of the masculine pronoun ‘He’ (Arabic: huwa) PROVE that Allah is more male than female? Or that He leans more favorably to men than to women? Or that the primacy of men is intended in the family or in society because the man is more like Allah in His universal domain than are women? After all, Allah is quite flexible in the Quran, with self-references sometimes also employing the pronouns ‘I,’ ‘Me,’ ‘Mine,’ or the plural forms ‘We,’  ‘Us,’  ‘Our. ‘

Verily, I am Allah: There is no god but Me; so serve Me (only)…  [Sûrat Ṭâ Hâ, 20: 14]

But this flexibility does not extend to using a feminine pronoun, ‘She’ (Arabic: hiya). In fact, the Quran is perfectly clear: None of us, men or women, are at all ‘like’ Allah in any sense:

Say, ‘He, God, is One, God, the Eternally Sufficient unto HimselfHe begets not; nor was He begotten. And none is like unto Him.’ [Sûrat Al- Ikhlâṣ, 112: 1-4]

So why the common use of ‘He’ and never the use of ‘She’?

LANGUAGE AS CULTURAL HERITAGE

If the Arabs who first heard the new revelation were no longer to give credence to their presumed gods and goddesses—male and female deities—how was the one God to be categorized if He is neither male nor female in the sense that each individual human being—biologically and socially—belongs to one category or the other? Well, for one thing, the Arabic noun ilâh, ‘god’/’goddess,’ has what looks like a grammatically ‘feminine’ noun ending {-ah}.

Perhaps the one true God, Allah, needed to be maximally differentiated from ilâh, a false god or idol, by which I mean that the NOUN Allah should be grammatically masculine rather than grammatically feminine. Was this a deliberate choice in order to reject, or to avoid confirming, the cultural favoritism to female-ness in deity? Even the name ‘Allah’ has what looks like a ‘feminine’ grammatical ending {-ah}, which one could presume to indicate female associations. How to disassociate the name Allah from the Arabian goddesses (Al-Lât, AlCUzzâ and Manât in Sûrat Al-Najm, 53:19-21 and Sûrat Al-Nisâ’, 4:117)? Perhaps by referring to Allah using the grammatically ‘masculine’ PRONOUNS, ‘He’, ‘His,’ ‘Him,’ ‘Himself.’

Could it be that the grammatically ‘masculine’ pronoun, ‘He,’ is a calculated choice (or possibly a purposeful displacement of “She”) in order to avoid some of the implications of female-ness in traditional Middle East religion? Not only was there the Mother Goddess (see Part 1), commonly found more widely throughout polytheistic religions around the world, but polytheistic forces were commonly associated with female persons (a prophetess, an oracle) and processes (an oracular delving into the unseen world – ‘divination‘)—to be addressed elsewhere.

Of course, the impetus for this avoidance in the Qur’anic scheme of things is merely my speculation—suggested by the fact that it was notably females who were employed as prophetic oracles and as the major deity in many pagan cultures. Maybe one of our readers can speak to this point more authoritatively in regard to ancient Arabian society.

GRAMMAR:  SPECIAL USE OF THE FEMININE GENDER

We do know that Arabic has special categories of usage involving the feminine form—for example, in Arabic grammar: collectives of irrational living beings—and [those] from which nouns of unity ending in { ة } (Arabic: tâ marbûṭa) cannot be formed—are feminine [in grammatical ‘gender’] e.g.,  khailun,’horses ‘; ibilun,  ‘camels. ‘  [1]

So, perhaps the masculine category, by default, would have to be the correct choice for anything not in the special [feminine] grammatical category, in the case of wanting to avoid negative associations with nouns belonging to the basic feminine grammatical gender. (I’m credentialed as a linguist, not as an Arabist, so I can only make a linguistically reasonable extrapolation…) This assignment of the name ‘Allah’ to the masculine grammatical gender would thus constitute a case of avoiding overuse of the special-use ‘feminine’ grammatical category. Again, I am hazarding an ‘educated guess.’

THE ‘ROYAL WE.’

The Semitic languages (most prominently Arabic and Hebrew) have a grammatical category called the Royal We, or the Plural of Majesty. ‘We’ indicates a dignity that is deserved of the [singular] speaker by reason of some unique characteristic. This grammatically plural form ‘We’ is used for a restricted category of speakers speaking in reference, each to himself alone: persons in power, like kings, or in management positions. In the case of Allah, of course, He is maximally unique in every way when compared with His creation—something which we can never afford to minimize. This plural form is sometimes used in the Quran—as in the Bible—for Allah / God to refer to Himself. There is sometimes even a shift within the same verse or passage among forms of ‘He,’ ‘We,’ and ‘I.’

Quran:

And indeed, [O Prophet,] even before thy time did We send [Our apostles] unto communities of old — and never yet came an apostle to them without their deriding him… [Sûrat Al-Ḥijr, 15:10-15]

And God has said:  ‘Do not take to worshipping two [or more] deities.  He is the One and Only God:  hence, of Me, of Me alone stand in awe!’  And His is all that is in the heavens and on earth, and to Him [alone] obedience is always due:  will you, then, pay reverence to aught but Him? [Sûrat Al-Naḥl, 16:51-52]

Thus, indeed, have We given in this Quran many facets to every kind of lesson [designed] for [the benefit of] mankind. [Sûrat Al-Kahf, 18:54]

Verily, We create man in the best conformation… [Sûrat Al-Tîn, 95:4]

Bible:

Then God said, ‘and now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. … He created them male and female…  [Genesis 1:26-27]

‘We’ is an alternative to using the singular ‘He’ or ‘I.’ The royal ‘We’ represents dignity and power, not ‘distribution’ of deity (as Trinitarian Christians sometimes argue out of grammatical ignorance).

For those who are put off by the use of huwa (‘He’) in Arabic because of what they assume to be God’s preference for his male creatures, perhaps this use of ‘We’ and ‘I’ can serve to reassure them –if still not convinced—that Allah is neither a biological ‘He’ nor a male-favoring ‘He.’

NOT ‘HE’ AND NOT ‘SHE’

In the light of the slack in grammatical gender categories, would it be appropriate in English to refer to God as ‘It,’ and thus to avoid the unwanted association with biological gender? Probably not, since we feel that the ‘neuter’ pronoun ‘it’ is appropriate generally for inanimate items; thus, using ‘It ‘ for the unique, Living and Life-Giving Creator would have the effect of lowering the regard given to a Being like Allah, Whom we experience as having the dignity much above and beyond that owed to a human ‘person.’

In any case, Arabic has no third gender category as an option for ‘Allah’; English does have a third grammatical gender category (‘It ‘), but considers it demeaning and inappropriate to use in reference to ‘God’/ ‘Allah.’ Modern feminists who refer to God as ‘She’ are likely implying that men have made a mess of the world and women would do a better job at fixing` it—and that therefore God is better honored with the ‘feminine’ pronoun to identify with their personal concerns.  Even feminists are not likely to opt for ‘It’ as opposed to ‘He’ in reference to Deity.

HUWA

As for inventing a new pronoun for talking exclusively about Allah—so as to avoid cultural  implications of biological gender, both male and female—how would we deal with the fact that the Quran has used the grammatically ‘masculine’ pronoun  huwa—given that the Quranic Text is not open to change?!

So then, what about pursuing an Allah-unique pronoun in other languages, to be used in translations of the Quran?  It would be gratifying to find a ready-made Allah-specific pronoun, maybe in ancient ‘Proto-Semitic’ language forms, or in any other language. But until then we might just want to stick with the Arabic pattern or with whatever pattern each target-language of translation already has in place.

After all, is there any longer a problem here with huwa—now that we know that languages have word classes and that the noun class (grammatical ‘gender’) representing the biological male gender happens to overlap with the grammatical word class chosen for thousands of other words, including the name ‘Allah’ (when Allah, Himself, has no biological gender)?

The key information here is that the two functions—biological gender and grammatical gender— are neither identical nor co-extensive.  We simply have a choice of two sets of pronouns—(a) ‘he – his – him – himself’’ and (b) ‘she – her – herself’— doing double-duty, meaning that they are used ambiguously—used both grammatically and biologically. Can’t we live with that, now that we understand something of linguistic structure?

IN SUM: Grammatical Gender vs. Biological Gender

So, now to summarize in answer to our main question, Why is Allah a ‘He’ and not a ‘She’? Allah is not—as we first presumed—to be identified as ‘a He.’ He is not a biologically-male Being, nor is He closer to male human beings than He is to female persons.

‘He’ when applied to Allah is not about matching biological gender: For Allah begets not; nor was He begotten—and beyond that, ‘He’/ ‘Allah’ is unlike any being in ‘His’ creation (Sûrat Al-Ikhâṣ 112:3-4), whether male or female. The use of ‘He / His / Him’ is about the fact that the name ‘Allah’ in Arabic, as in many other human languages —by necessity— must belong to one particular noun/pronoun class and not to another. In Arabic, the name ‘Allah’ belongs to the grammatical gender category labeled ‘masculine’—and not to the other, the one labeled ‘feminine.’

We have looked at possible grammatical reasons for the choice of the pronoun huwa (‘He’) over hiya ( ‘She’) to stand in for the noun ‘Allah’ in Arabic. We explored the special usages of the ‘feminine’ class and found that the special uses of the feminine noun class in Arabic did not include any language categories appropriate for the name Allah. Thus there was lack of reason to assign ‘Allah’ to the feminine class based on special usage.

On the other hand, there were cultural reasons to avoid assignment to the regular feminine grammatical class in which pagan female religious figures have been associated — female humans in the role of ‘prophetess’ or ‘seer’ or ‘oracle’ (inshâ’Allah, to be addressed elsewhere)—as well as the associations  of the ‘feminine’ grammatical class with a pagan [female] goddess.

These factors may have counted in terms of pressure away from the assignment of the noun ‘Allah’ to the regular ‘feminine’ grammatical gender—even though the noun ‘Allah’ ends in {-ah} and thus looks like a feminine noun. Accordingly, the noun ‘Allah’ would be left, by default, to be assigned to the regular, ‘masculine’ noun grammatical class (= “masculine gender”).

Recall that in Arabian society, people thought of the alleged goddesses like Al-Lât, AlCUzzâ and Manât, as ‘daughters’ of Allah (Sûrat Al-Naḥl, 16:51-57). With Al-Lât being the Arab equivalence of the Mother Goddess, one could imagine an urgency for distancing the concept of true Deity away from the awe-inspiring female reproductive force in nature. Allah creates—He does not beget (Sûrat Al-Ikhlâṣ, 112: 3); thus, He has neither ‘sons’ nor ‘daughters,’ contrary to Arabian concerns.

It is not Allah who belongs to a ‘masculine’ gender—meaning association with a human biological gender. It is His name, the noun word ‘Allah,’ that belongs to the grammatical gender labeled ‘masculine’—rather than to the grammatical gender labeled ‘feminine.’

This grammatical gender of the name of Allah should not be a red flag for those self-identified ‘feminists’ among us, or for anyone else, once we understand how language works: The existence of noun grammatical categories (‘genders ‘) has forced choice from among a set of predetermined categories, which are often not as logically structured as the analytical descriptions we try to make for them—due to the ongoing development of language over the centuries and due to its uneven change.

It is unfortunate that the same term, “gender” is employed in both a biological sense and a grammatical sense, thus suggesting that the two have some innate sameness or connection. It is true that male human beings are referred to as he – his – him -himself.’ And it is also true that maleness goes with masculinity, and that “Masculine” is the name of the grammatical category that normally includes biological males and excludes biological females. Here is what is not true: Not all grammatically masculine nouns refer to biologically masculine objects. This should become crystal clear in Part 3.

There could well be other, relevant historical-linguistic factors that Arabists and Qur’anic scholars could bring to bear on this subject, other than what I have come up with here. There might also be interesting implications of huwa as applied to Allah that would be of interest to our community. Perhaps some of our readers would be willing to take up this challenge.

—-To be continued, inshâ’Allah, in Part 3…

———————————-

[1]    Thatcher, G. W., Arabic Grammar of the Written Language, n.d., Frederick Ungar Publishing Co: New York, p. 253.

Linda Thayer

Growing up Christian, Dr. Linda Thayer came to realize in her teens, that Jesus as 'divinity' and Jesus as the second 'person' of a 'Godhead' (the doctrine of the 'Trinity') were philosophical constructs, evolved later and not part of the New Testament Gospel books' portrait of the Son of Mary. In her 30's, when working as Bible translations consultant and linguistic advisor in West Africa, she had already added all things Islamic to her reading list, along with Biblical Studies. She has three university degrees in linguistic science (BA, MA, PhD), with a minor in anthropology. She believes that her fellow Muslims need to be current with the thinking and findings of modern Biblical Studies in order to meet Christians halfway in understanding the prophetic mission and personal nature of Jesus. To this end, she writes of the historical phenomenon of the Jesus movement from an interfaith perspective that dovetails with the Quran and ahâdîth.

84 Comments

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Craig Richardson

    April 13, 2016 - - 8:04 pm

    Same linguistic explanation for man in English Human, fireman, postman…..feminists didn’t buy it. Good luck.;-)

    • Theresa Corbin

      April 14, 2016 - - 8:17 am

      I didn’t write this one. But the point is God is not in need of gender or a sex. Our language fails at having an apt pronoun.

    • Craig Richardson

      April 14, 2016 - - 9:51 am

      Yup

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Brian Binney

    April 14, 2016 - - 12:41 am

    I listen to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’ every morning on my way to work. Recently a speaker, a Christian(the speakers are drawn from every faith), related his experience of a trip to Iran. In the airport a group of young students were meeting and talking to new arrivals. One of a young woman during their discussion of her faith and his, asked him if God was male. His
    reply was, in his opinion, God embodies the best and noblest characteristics of both male and female.
    ‘Thought for the Day’ is aptly named.

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Omar Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 4:57 am

    I was thinking about this again and I realized something interesting that makes the matter pretty simple.. the idea that linguistic gender is different from biological gender is a little strange for English speakers I think.. but here is something I always noticed as an child.. when it comes to Arab music, and especially traditional Arab music the female gender is not referred to at all.. I’ve not really gotten much of a response when I ask first generation Arabs why this is the case, but to me it totally supports the idea that the male gender is simply the default gender, similarly to how the neuter gender can act as the default in English.. in a lot of classical Arabic songs, regardless of whether the singer is male or female, the addressed is always male.. as there is no neuter “you” in Arabic, a male singer will say “ya habibi” meaning “o lover” in the masculine, for example instead of “habibti” which would be the feminine.. even outside of lyrical music you will find Arabs will still refer to females at times in the masculine when showing affection or using terms of endearment.. at least as an Egyptian it’s what I’ve noticed.. not too sure about other dialects/regions… wallahua’alam

  • Yusuf Ibrahim

    April 14, 2016 - - 9:44 am

    Beautifully written, glad to have a greater knowledge on this subject.
    Personally in English, I just avoid pronoun all together when referring to Allah. Allah’s name serves it’s purpose well enough in most cases. When it feels redundant I’ll use any of the synonymous names, context dependent, to emphasize a point.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

  • Sass A Frass

    April 19, 2016 - - 10:28 pm

    Kachina… part 1. :) This is a great series, and she is amazing and open.

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