Questioner: You asked us not to say ‘Olohun’ but Allaah. Is there one of the names of Allaah that can be interpreted as ‘Olohun’?
Dr Sharof: This is from the traits of those Takfeeriyyah boys. Their sign is on their faces. The Takfeeriyyah boys are those who brought such assertion to you. Allaah is from the names of Allaah; Ar-Rahmaan is from the names of Allaah; Ar-Raheem is from the names of Allaah. As-Salaam, Al-Muhmin, Al-Muhaymeen; all these are from the names from Allaah. However, Allaah says regarding these names, ‘And to Allaah belong the Most beautiful names, so call Him by them…’ [Soorah al-A’roof (7):180] These names won’t be beautiful if they have no meaning. I hope you understand.
For example, in the Yoruba language if the words akoda, apata, oriire (and so on) are mentioned, do they mean the same thing? From what did the Yorubas derive the word ‘apata’? We do not know. The Yorubas did not coin the word ‘apata’ (for example) from three separate syllables like ‘a’, ‘pa’ and ‘ta’; rather…(unclear words)…. As for Oriire, it is derived from two separate words that were joined together, Ori and rere, (while) Oriibu is Ori and buruku. I hope you get it. This illustration is similar to that of the Arabic language whereby there are static words and derived words. Examples of static words which are not derived from other words (in Yoruba language) include: ‘eti’ (ear); what is this word derived from? What is the word ‘imu’ (nose) derived from? What is the word ‘ori’ (head) derived from? What is the word ‘oju’ (eye) derived from? These are static words. However, if you say ‘irunmu’ (the hairs in the nostrils), this is a combination of ‘irun’ (hair) and ‘imu’ (nose). ‘Irun agbon’ (beard) is derived from ‘irun’ (hair) and ‘agbon’ (jaw). In the Arabic language there are some words that are Jaamid (static), which are not derived from other words, while there are those that are (mushtaqqa) derived from other words.
Are the names of Allaah static or derived? Al-Imaam Seebawayh, rohimohuLlaah, said the names of Allaah are derived. That is why they are the Most beautiful names…(unclear words)….For this reason the names of Allaah are meaningful and there is none of it without meaning.
…The meaning of Allaah is the One who must be truly worshipped. Ar-Rahmaan is derived from Ar-Rahmah; As-Salaam is derived from As-Salaamun; Al-‘Azeez is derived from Al-‘Izzah; …each of the names of Allaah comes from an attribute. That is why they have meanings because if they have no meaning they would not be …(unclear words)…. This is the explanation of the Ahlus-Sunnah; we are not concerned about the take of the Ahlul-bid’ah. I hope you understand.
Anyone who says the names of Allaah have no meaning becomes a Mu’tazili; he becomes a Jahmee. That is, he becomes one of the Jahmiyyah; he becomes one of the Mu’tazilah. This is because they say Allaah should not have names because if He has names, the names will be many, and as such He will also be many as well. (According to them), He is with mercy, but He has no mercy. A’uudhubiLlaahi mina Sshaytoonir-rojeem (I seek refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytoon)! He is with knowledge, but He has no knowledge. A’uudhubiLlaahi mina Sshaytoonir-rojeem (I seek refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytoon)! (And so on). For this reason if you say the names of Allaah has no meaning you become a Jahmee or a Mu’talizili. That is the evil in such statement.
Having understood this, the Yoruba (Muslims) who use the word ‘Olohun’ do not take it as the direct name of Allaah, but it was derived from the meaning of the name “Allaah”. That is the meaning of ‘Olohun’. The meaning of the name ‘Allaah’ is what is evident in ‘Olohun’, and we have said that the names of Allaah come with their meanings. For this reason the meaning of the name “Allaah” is ‘Olohun’. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF ‘OLOHUN’? The One who has ‘ohun’-the right of being worshipped alone without partners-on his slaves. The One who has the right of being worshipped alone without partners, which is the meaning (of the word ‘Olohun’). So we call him with the meaning of his name.
Having understood the meaning (of the word ‘Olohun’), if a person says he can’t call Allaah ‘Olohun’, ask him if the word ‘Allaah’ has meaning or not. …(Unclear words)…such person is an ignoramus, ask him to go to Madrasah…Allaah did not say in anywhere that we should not call him by the meanings of his names. I hope you understand. Still and all, we have to continue to make people understand that Allaah is to be worshipped alone. However, if your own understanding of the word ‘Olohun’ is different from this, then you should refrain from using the word. (As for those who agree with the word), this is just like saying ‘I swear by the One who deserves to be worshipped alone without partners’; you know this is the meaning of Allaah. That is it. So if there is anyone who is used to saying ‘Allaah says this’ ‘Allaah says that’, that’s not our concern, but he should not controvert the person who says ‘Olohun’ because he is also speaking with meaning of the word ‘Allaah’. I hope it is understood.
However, the Yoruba Muslims should refrain from using the word ‘Olorun’. Do not say ‘Olorun’; it is a word of the Christians. I hope it is understood. The Christians are the ones who use the word ‘Olorun’, this is because he owns the heavens alone and not the earth (in their own reasoning). I hope you understand.
As for ‘Oluwa’, it does not interpret the word ‘Allaah’. It means ‘Ar-Rabb’. ‘Ar-Rabb’ is to be interpreted as ‘Oluwa’. It has no other interpretation in the Yoruba language. ‘Oluwa’ means the One who owns us and what we own. You will notice that the Yorubas will not use the word for other than Allaah except that they single it out. In the Arabic language too, the word ‘Rabb’ is not used for other than Allaah except that it is particularized/specialized. Allaah is the One deserving to be called ‘Ar-Rabb’ without any specialization…
As for the Yorubas who say ‘Oluwa mi’ (referring to a person like them), this is wrong. The term ‘Oluwaa mi’, used by some wives when talking to their husbands, and just like some people would say when discussing with the Kings (amongst them) is wrong… ‘Oluwaare’ in the Yoruba language means ‘Huwa’ (in the Arabic language). There is no problem about it. Oje botiseje n beun! ‘Oluwa’ should be used for ‘Rubb’ and ‘Olohun’ for ‘Allaah’. What is being used here is the interpretation of those words…There need not deceive yourselves…Allaah in meaning is ‘Olohun’ while the interpretation of ‘Ar-Rabb’ is Oluwa.
[End Quote from the question and answer session]
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Translated by Aboo Aaishah Al Odeomeey