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Who is Allah?

Bruce B. Lawrence

Hardback i (Printed to Order)
eBook (PDF) i

Allah is the most common and contested name in the Islamic tradition – but who is he?

Engaging with the age old question of who is the God of Islam, Bruce B. Lawrence stakes out the historical nuance of Allah throughout the past 1500 years, from the earliest mention of his name to his appropriation by cyberspace. It introduces a broad range of perspectives, practices and problems linked to Allah, including debates that are intra-religious as well as inter-religious, concerning differences among Muslims as well as between Muslims and non-Muslim others. Chapters cover the range of Muslim perspectives on Allah and tackle such topics as war in the name of Allah and controversies about the use of the name Allah/ God. Throughout the author highlights the need to look at Islam with fresh eyes and to understand Allah/ God with dispassionate insight.

Key Features

  • Mixes historical overview with contemporary analysis
  • Includes a guide to further reading and a glossary of technical terms
  • Considers the future of Allah in cyberspace
  • Includes sidebars to illustrate key terms and a glossary of Arabic/ Islamic words, persons and practices


1. Allah Invoked, Practice of the Tongue
2. Allah Defined, Practice of the Mind
3. Allah Remembered, Practice of the Heart
4. Allah Debated, Practice of the Ear
5. Allah Online, Practices in Cyberspace

About the Author

Bruce Lawrence is the Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Professor and Emeritus at the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University.


'In his masterfully concise book, Bruce B. Lawrence navigates vast epochs of history and traverses a multitude of cultures, weaving threads of traditions and disciplines into a guide for a brief yet intimate encounter with the infinity of the Divine. This labor of love is an eloquent and erudite inquiry that is compassionate yet candid and keenly probing. The mystery of this fast and vast quest for Allah is that it manages to say so much with superb clarity and wit.' – Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, author of What Is an American Muslim?

- Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, author of What Is an American Muslim?