Does God have a gender?
According to the Islam, God has no gender. God is not like His creations and neither does He resemble His creations. Muslims believe that God is utterly unique and He cannot be compared with His creations in any manner. Therefore, attributing gender to God is incorrect.
Why do we use “He”?
In Islam, the word “God” is a translation of the Arabic word “Allah”. The word “He”, which is used to refer to God, is a translation of the Arabic word “Huwa”.
In Arabic, only the male pronoun “He” is used for the word Allah. To know the reason, we must understand how genders for words are determined in the Arabic language.
Arabic has no neutral gender
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.
Since there is no neutral gender in Arabic, the word Allah can be represented in either masculine or feminine gender. Question is: Which gender should be used for the word “Allah”? To know that, we must understand the grammatical rules for determining genders for Arabic words.
Grammatical rules for determining genders for words
In Arabic, the default gender for any word is masculine. A word will be considered as feminine only when it meets one of the following six conditions:
- The word refers to a biologically female entity. Example: Mother, Daughter, Cow etc.
- The word refers to body parts that are in pairs. Example: Eyes, ears, legs, ankles etc.
- The word is used for plurals of non-living and non-intellect entities. Example: Names, Chairs, Schools etc.
- The word is a specific name of a place. Example: America, Egypt, Delhi etc.
- The words that end with the letter “Tha” or “Shortened Alif” or “Big Alif”. Example: Rahmatha, Kubara, Sawdaah etc.
- Arabs deemed that certain words are “Feminine”.
Any word in Arabic, if it does not meet one of the six conditions mentioned above, it would automatically be considered as masculine gender.
Does the word “Allah” meet any of the six conditions for feminine gender?
Let’s now see if the word “Allah” meets any of the conditions for feminine gender.
- Allah by nature is not feminine.
- The word Allah does not refer to any body part that is in pairs.
- The word Allah is not a plural.
- The word Allah does not refer to a specific name of a place.
- The word Allah does not end with “Tha” or “Shortened Alif” or “Big Alif”.
- The word Allah is not in the list of words that Arabs consider “Feminine”.
As we can see, the word “Allah” does not meet any of the six conditions required for a word to be feminine in the Arabic language. Therefore, the only option we are left with is to represent the word “Allah” in masculine form. Thus, we end up with the pronoun “He” for the word Allah / God.
This is why in the Quran, we see that the Arabic masculine pronoun “Huwa”, which is “He” in English, is used to refer to the word “Allah”. For example:
1. God has no gender. The pronoun “He” is not used to identify the gender of God.
2. The Arabic language does not have a neutral gender. So every word in Arabic is either represented in masculine or feminine form.
3. The word “Allah” does not meet any of the grammatical conditions required for feminine gender.
4. The only option we are left with is to represent the word “Allah” in masculine form.
5. So the masculine pronoun “He” is used for God.