Gabriel, born to Muslim parents in Upper Egypt, grew up immersed in Islamic culture. He memorized the Quran at age of 12 and graduated in 1990 with a Masters degree from the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the preeminent Sunni Muslim institution of learning.
He explained that on Obama’s ring, the declaration “There is no god except Allah” (La Ilaha Illallah) is inscribed in two sections, one above the other.
On the upper section, “There is no god” is written in Arabic letters, from right to left: Lam, Alif, Alif, Lam, Ha.
On the lower section is “except god,” written in Arabic letters from right to left: Alif, Lam, Alif, Alif, Lam, Lam, Ha.
In the lower section, the word “Allah” is written partially on top of the word “except,” noted Gabriel, the author of “Islam and Terrorism” and “Journey Inside the Mind of an Islamic Terrorist.”
It is common in Islamic art and Arabic calligraphy, especially when expressing Quranic messages on jewelry, to artfully place letters on top of each other to fit them into the allotted space.