Question: A philosopher claims, “There is no such thing as ilâh. The meaning of ‘Lâ ilâha ill-Allah’ is that ilâh is nonexistent but Allah exists.” Is it proper to say so?
It is not proper because Allahu ta’âlâ is Ilâh. Ilâh means the One who has created everything out of nonexistence and who keeps them in existence every moment. (Shawâhud-un-Nubuwwa)
The meaning of Lâ ilâha ill-Allah is not that ilah is nonexistent. It means there is no ilâh except Allah.
It causes misunderstanding if the sentence is divided as in the following:
Lâ ilâha = Ilâh is nonexistent. ill-Allah = Only Allah exists.
Therefore, it must not be treated word for word but as a whole sentence.
Certainly, there is Ilâh. It is purported in the Qur’ân al-karîm:
(Jews took their rabbis and Christians took their priests and ‘Îsâ, the son of Mary, as their lords instead of Allah, while they were commanded to serve the One Ilâh only. There is no ilâh except Him.) [Sûrat-ut-Tawba, 31]
(Do not take another ilâh besides Allah.) [Sûrat-ul-Isrâ’, 22]
(Say: It has been revealed to me that your ilâh is only Allah.) [Sûrat-ul-Anbiyâ’, 108]
In the above-mentioned verses, it is stated that Allahu ta’âlâ is the one Ilâh.
In addition to them, at the end of the prayer Subhânaka, which we recite in every namâz, the phrase “wa lâ ilâha ghayruka” is said. The ghayruka herein means “other than You.” As for the statement Lâ ilâha ghayruka, it means “There is no ilâh other than You.” That is, it means “You are the only Ilâh.” Saying that ilâh is nonexistent comes to mean that the Creator, Allah, is nonexistent.