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Arabic For The Not-Smart Conservative

A writer named Rick Wells at the website GOPTheDailyDose is outraged that a Colorado high school had students recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. Why? Because the phrase “one nation under God” came out, naturally, as “one nation under Allah.” From the Wells report:

One cultural club member, professing to not understand the controversy is Skyler Bowden. Bowden simplistically told The Coloradoan, “No matter what language it’s said in, pledging your allegiance to the United States is the same in every language.”

Given their youth, the high school students might understandably not recognize the problems with proclaiming America as “one nation under Allah.” The grownups should and they ought to be controlling the activity.

The Muslim Brotherhood front group CAIR chimed in saying, “Obviously in Arabic, you would use the word Allah, but Christian Arabs would use the word Allah.” Their spokesperson, Ibrahim Hooper, claimed use of the word Allah is “not necessarily specific to Islam and Muslims.” From an American point of view, it is, whether he is technically correct or not, to Americans, in America, it’s a specific Muslim and Islamic reference.

As if to reinforce the idiocy of reciting the pledge in another language, Clark said she did not hear the pledge and does not speak Arabic so she could not confirm exactly what words were used.

Lopez said he has been getting a variety of accusations leveled at him, including being called a traitor. He said, “They claim they are outraged, that this is blaspheming a real major tenet of our patriotism – which in their mind the Pledge of Allegiance is only in English.”

He said he’s also been accused of “pushing a Muslim Brotherhood agenda – to push Islam into the school.” He denies that was behind the decision.

CAIR representative Hooper told Fox News he was dumbfounded by complaints about the Arabic version of the pledge.

“How on earth is it un-American to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in another language,” Hooper asked. “It doesn’t make sense unless the people complaining are anti-Muslim or anti-middle eastern bigots.”

I hate you, GOPDailyDose, for making me agree, for once in my lifetime, with Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR. This is idiotic.

The word “Allah” means “God” in Arabic. It means “God” in Arabic spoken by Arab Muslims, and it means “God” in Arabic spoken by Arab Christians. There are many Arab Christians, including Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Copts, and others. When I was Catholic and living in Brooklyn, I worshiped at a Maronite (Lebanese Catholic) parish. When we prayed in Arabic, we prayed to “Allah,” and we meant the God of the Bible. In Antiochian Orthodox churches, when they pray in Arabic, same deal. More information on that is here. 

Here’s an Arabic Christian hymn honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. The first line, and the name of the hymn, is “Ya Oum Allah” — in English, “Hail, Mother of God,” which is what Orthodox and Catholics call Jesus’s mother.

There are a million things to complain about regarding radical Islam. This is not one of them. In fact, this complaint ought to embarrass those making it. Think about it: when the Christian hostages being held in Syria by radical Muslims pray to their Lord for their freedom, they speak to Allah.

UPDATE: A reader sends this helpful PDF paper from the International Journal of Frontier Missions, explaining the use of the word “Allah” in Arabic translations of the Bible.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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