Some of the names used for God (Allah) in Somali

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Amongst Somalis, God is universally known by the names of Allah and Rabb. In addition to the Arabic names, however, there are a considerable number of purely Somali titles for Allah. The majority of those recorded here will be seen to be praise-names referring to God’s attributes and in many cases direct equivalents in Somali to the corresponding titles in Arabic. The following list compiled by Yuusuf Maygaag, an authority on Somali culture and language, does not pretend to be exhaustive.

  1. Baahilaawe ‘He who is without need or want’, who is self-sufficient; from baahi-da ‘need’ or ‘want’ and laawe ‘without’. Arabic; Al-Ghaniyy الغنى
  2. Bogsiiye ‘The curer, the Healer’; from bogsii (v.) ‘cure, make better, deliver from misfortune’. Arabic; Al-Shaafi الشافي 
  3. Dile ‘the killer, He who causes death’: from dil (v.) ‘kill, cause the death of’- used of man as an agent as well as God. Arabic; Al-mumiit المميت
  4. Eebbe ‘Master, Lord’. The direct Somali correspondence to the Arabic; Allah الله
  5. Guulle ‘The victor, He who gives victory’: from guulsha ‘victory. Arabic; Al-Naasir الناصر 
  6. Hagaaje or Hagaajiye ‘the amender, the corrector, he who leads to the right path’; from hagaag-ga ‘ the right, the straightened’, hagaagi (v.) ‘straighten, amend, put right’. Arabic; Al-Haadi الهادي
  7. Hanuunshe ‘He who leads to the right way; from hanuun-ka ‘the correct path, the right way’, opposite of stray. Arabic; Al-Haadi الهادي
  8. Hidije or (in North-West) Kare ‘The bestower of bounties, He who has power to bestow; from hidis-ka or hidin-ta ‘the ability to do or bestow’; and karti-da ‘power to do. Arabic; Al-Qaadir القادر
  9. Hodmiye or Badaadshe ‘the enricher, creator of wealth’; from hodmi (v.) ‘enrich, satisfy’, and badaadi (V.) ‘enrich, satisfy’.Arabic; Al-Mughni المغنى
  10. Kaalmeeye or Gargaare ‘the helper’; from kaalmo-ha, gargaar-ka, ‘help’ or ‘assistance’. Arabic; Al-mu’in المعين
  11. Koobe ‘the accounter, the numberer’; koob (v.) ‘count, enumerate, know number of. Arabic; Al-Muhsi المحصى
  12. Korreeye or Sarreeye ‘He who is on high’; from kor-ka ‘top’, sare ‘on top of’. Arabic; Al-‘Aliyy العلى
  13. Madinte ‘the everlasting, he who does not die’; from dimo (v.) ‘die’, ma ‘not’.Arabic: Al-Hayy الحي
  14. Mahaadaale or Galladaale ‘He to whom thanks must be given’; from mahad-da or gallad-da ‘thanks’ Arabic: Al-Shakur الشكور
  15. Nooleye ‘ creator, the giver of life, the reviver’; from nolol-sha ‘life’.Arabic; Al-Muhyi المحيى
  16. Roone ‘the generous, the most beneficent’; from roone (adj.)’generous, beneficent, strong (in the sense of numerous)’,as e.g. Wuu ka roonyahay ‘he is better,greater, stronger,etc.’ hoogroone, ‘stronger'(as e.g. of the two parties).Arabic: Al-Karim الكريم
  17. Sameeye or Abuure ‘Maker, creator’; from samee (v.) ‘do, make (from something)’, abuur (v.) ‘create’.Samee has the sense of to fashion from already existing material, while abuur is to create from nothing and is only applied to God. Thus for example ‘I begot (children) but God created (or gabe me) them’ is in Somali, anigaa dalay Ilaahay baase abuuray. In this sense the verb abuur describes God’s precedence in all creative acts or growth; all ultimately spring only from him. Arabic: Al-Khaaliq الخالق
  18. Siiye ‘Giver’, He who grants; sii (v.) ‘give’. Arabic: Al-Wahab الوهاب
  19. Ururiye or Ururshe ‘the gatherer’, he who summons the dead to account; from urur (v.) ‘collect’ or ‘gather’, inanimate or animate objects. Arabic: Al-Jaami’ الجامع
  20. Waare or Jire ‘the Eternal’, “he who lives forever’; from waar (v.) ‘to be eternal’, applied only to God, and jir (v.) ‘be’, or ‘live’, applied equally to persons and things and only in a special sense to god. Arabic Al-Baaqi الباقي
  21. Weyne ;the Great, Immense’; from weyn ‘big’ or ‘large’, etc. Arabic: Al-Kabiir الكبير, Al-Azim العظيم
  22. Waaq or Waaqa ‘God’, equivalent to Eebbe corresponding to the Arabic: Allah الله. This term is interesting and some sources have indicated that Waaq is the name of the pre-Islamic God worshipped by Cushitic people.Waaq is no longer venerated by Somalis who are almost exclusively Muslim. Although Somalis do not refer to Allah by using the term Waaq, this word has still survived and is generally regarded by Somalis as an ancient pre-Islamic word for God.

The usage of the word Waaqa by the non-muslim Oromo is well known to Somalis but is not considered by them to have been introduced from Oromo. What is also interesting is that the name appears in several compound words such as; Waaqsuge (Waassuge equivalent to Allaahsuge) ‘he who waits for God’, Dardaar Waaq ‘adherent of God’, Gacal Waaq‘ God’s love’, Other clan-names including Waaq are; Jidwaaq ‘the path of God’, TagaalWaaq ‘follower of God’, CabduWaaq ‘he who worships God’.

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