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The Gender of God
Dr. Shehzad Saleem


Response: In one of your answers you have said that Allah is a neutral, genderless term. How can it be when Allāt also comes from the word ilah (deity) and means ‘goddess’? The Qur’ān repeatedly refers to God as ‘He’. Not only that but there are also other patriarchal terms such as ‘king’ instead of ‘queen’.


Comment: This is not what my reply was intended to mean. But then perhaps I couldn’t explain my point of view well enough. I’ll try to explain it again:

Firstly, it should be kept in mind that we have no knowledge whatsoever about the physical being of Allah; we do not know if He is male, female, genderless or has some other gender that we are not aware of.

Secondly, in spite of not knowing what God’s gender is, since humans had to address God, some gender had to be adopted.

If these two points are clear, then one can go on to consider another fact: the concept of God was found in the very first human beings -- Adam and Eve. With their birth, languages were born. We have no knowledge about what language our progenitors spoke, nor do we know what languages were spoken by much later generations. Anyway, as time progressed various languages were born and in them was born the concept of ‘gender’. Even things were classified as either male or female. For example, in the English language, the female gender was adopted for the entity ‘country’. So we now say: ‘Nepal is a poor country; her resources are very little’. This of course does not make the country a female. Likewise, the expression ‘sister-organizations’ refer to like organizations. Similarly, in the Arabic language, the nouns Shams (sun) , Sa‘īr (Hell) and Samā (Sky) are feminine. Why? Simply because Englishmen and Arabs used to speak this way. Likewise, the male gender was adopted for God. Again not because God is ‘a male’ but because of the usage of the language. So consistent was this usage that in most languages, the male gender was reserved for God.

So you see with this history, one can safely conclude that genders of things and entities (except for men and women and other species whose gender is physically known), all genders are fixed by the usage of a language and have nothing to do with the actual gender of the thing.


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