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“Allah”: The PR’s failure

alkitabIT’S not hard at all to be disappointed and distressed by the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government over the way the “Allah” issue has developed and been handled. And there is no doubt in my mind that the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) would not have occurred if not for Putrajaya’s pivotal role in banning the word among non-Muslims.

It was the BN federal government that first banned the Al-Kitab, or the Malay-language Bible, nationwide in 1981. And then, in 1986, the BN government banned the use of “Allah” and three other words – “solat”, “Kaabah” and “Baitullah” – by non-Muslims.

Malay-speaking Christians in Malaysia have been using “Allah” and Malay translations of the Bible have existed since the 16th century. This neither created “confusion” among Muslims nor posed any “threat” to Islam before the ban in the 1980s.

And while all of that is true, it is equally disappointing and distressing to see how poorly the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)-led Selangor government and the coalition’s leadership are currently responding to the 2 Jan 2014 Jais raid. Even more troubling is the PR leadership’s failure in demonstrating that it will and can uphold the constitutional rights of minority non-Muslims in the state.

Worse than silence

Peace-loving Malaysians are justifiably outraged at Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s silence over the Jais raid. Najib has remained silent and invisible for far too long over numerous instances when bigoted voices have caused unnecessary tensions between Malaysians of different faiths. Is Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim’s response to the Jais raid any less disappointing?

It took Khalid, who is from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), six days to make a statement about the unconstitutional and illegal raid on BSM. This was despite Jais having no jurisdiction over non-Muslims. There was also no evidence that the over 300 Malay and Iban-language Bibles confiscated from a storeroom were being used to proselytise to Muslims, which is a crime according to Malaysian laws.

Shouldn’t Khalid have instantly spoken out against the use of force and aggression by a state apparatus against an entity that had not broken the law and was not threatening the peace? According to BSM president Lee Min Choon, Jais officers acted like “thugs”, repeatedly threatening to break down the door, causing him to fear for his staff’s safety. Lee added that the five Jais officers who were eventually allowed to enter the BSM office started ransacking and throwing around boxes that contained Bibles with no regard for the Christian holy book.

Bible Society of Malaysia president Lee Min Choon. (© The Malaysian Insider)

Bible Society of Malaysia president Lee Min Choon. (© The Malaysian Insider)

Instead, Khalid’s administration first claimed ignorance of Jais’s actions, saying the religious department had not given the Selangor government prior notice. Then, two days after the raid, the Selangor exco responsible for religious affairs, Sallehen Mukhyi, urged the public to abide by the Selangor sultan’s decree: “The state government takes the same position as the Selangor sultan that all parties must respect Islam as the official religion while non-Muslims may practise their respective beliefs according to the federal constitution.”

Will Selangor uphold rights?

Sallehen, on behalf of the Selangor government, shied away from stating whether non-Muslims could use “Allah” in Selangor. Neither did the Selangor government condemn Jais’s actions. Indeed, Sallehen has since come out to say that Jais’s actions, thuggish as they were, “was correct in terms of SOP (standard operating procedure)”. The only concession is that the state government has asked the religious department to revise its SOP. However, no time frame was given for this to happen. Additionally, the Selangor Islamic Religious Coun­cil is now at odds with the state government over the government’s authority to review Jais’s SOP.

This is vexing considering that this is the second time Jais has raided premises belonging to Christians. In 2011, Jais also illegally raided Damansara Utama Methodist Church during a fund-raising dinner.

These statements from the Selangor government demonstrate just how emasculated and unclear the PR seems to be over the issue. The Selangor sultan had decreed that non-Muslims in the state are barred from using “Allah”. As has been pointed out, this decree is not legally binding and is, thereby, unconstitutional. It is also problematic since the state anthem contains the word “Allah”.

And while the ruler may be head of Islam in the state, he is not above the constitution and does not have jurisdiction over non-Islamic matters such as how Malay-speaking Christians choose to worship. And yet, when asked about the Selangor government’s stand on the sultan’s decree, Khalid was reported to have said: “… We continue the Sultan’s decree.”

Click on the image to read Najib’s 10-point letter on Malay-language Bibles

Additionally, it surely cannot have escaped the Selangor government that BSM had abided by the Cabinet’s 10-point agreement over Malay-language Bibles. Not only that, BSM’s storage and distribution of Malay and Iban-language Bibles for Christian use was neither illegal nor a sign of disrespect to Islam as the official religion.

And yet, Khalid, who is a second-term menteri besar, said the state government would advise non-Muslim religious leaders to abide by a flawed Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988, which Jais used to raid BSM. It is this enactment that bans the use of 35 words by non-Muslims in Selangor including “Allah”.

“… We will advise maybe to not use these Bibles in Selangor, but to be used elsewhere,” Khalid was quoted as saying. This provides yet another dilemma. When it is proven that the confiscated Bibles have abided by the cabinet’s 10-point agreement with Christians, will Khalid still insist that these holy books cannot be used in the state?

How are minority faith groups supposed to “practise their respective beliefs according to the federal constitution” if their very constitutional right to do so is being threatened and forcibly snatched away by a department under the Selangor government? And how can Christians in Selangor trust the PR government when the menteri besar is advising them not to use their Malay-language Bible in the state?

None of these remarks thus far illustrate that that the current Selangor government will have the courage to uphold non-Muslim rights to “practise their respective beliefs”. Instead, the state’s official response has demonstrated a lack of understanding about what that constitutional right means. It has also shown a clear lack of commitment to speaking out against any decree or action that may threaten that constitutional right.

What’s the difference?

The PR keeps promising citizens it’s different from the BN, and that’s why we should vote for them. And yet in this particular instance, is the PR really any different from the BN?

First, the Selangor government has displayed a lacking in both clarity and courage. And then, PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim poured cold water on a proposal by three DAP assemblypersons to amend the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment. The trio suggested a win-win situation – amending the enactment so that it could not be used to restrict anyone from practising their faith while ensuring that Muslims are protected from proselytisation.

Khalid Samad

Khalid Samad

Instead of supporting the trio’s initiative and leadership, Anwar was more interested in ticking the trio off. Not only that, he received PAS’s support for doing so. Furthermore, PAS Shah Alam Member of Parliament Khalid Samad told the three assemblypersons not to “interfere in Islamic affairs”.

We already know that the Najib administration will only act in Umno’s narrow ethnocentric interest. And that means continuing to suffer Najib’s silence and inaction when clear leadership is most needed. The recent Jais raid proves that it’s not much different with the PR, especially with PKR and PAS.

These politicians, who want us to vote them into federal government, aren’t ready to be courageous, principled leaders when it is their turn to demonstrate leadership. Apparently, like the BN, we can expect them to act in ways that are politically expedient. How disappointing when what is most needed now is clear, courageous and committed leadership in the public’s interest. The Nut Graph


Jacqueline Ann Surin thinks it’s disingenuous of the PR to blame the “Allah” issue on the BN. Why? Because the current Selangor government isn’t willing to oppose an enactment and a royal edict that expands on and supports the BN’s banning of the use of certain Arabic words by non-Muslims. She regards the Muslims who turned up to support Christians at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Klang on 5 Jan 2014 as having more courage and integrity than either BN or PR politicians.

Datin Seri Marina Mahathir with Muslims  Muslims who turned up to support Christians at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Klang on 5 Jan 2014 (Courtesy of Norhayati Kaprawi)

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir with Muslims who showed up to support Christians at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Klang on 5 Jan 2014 (Courtesy of Norhayati Kaprawi)

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88 Responses to ““Allah”: The PR’s failure”

  1. Sunna Sutta says:

    Jacqueline, I couldn’t agree with you more. As I have always maintained, while a few Malays may speak up against the 1988 Selangor enactment that gave JAIS the excuse to raid BSM, seize the 300+ Malay- and Iban-language Bibles and arrest two BSM members, you will never find a single Malay leader (whether in the Selangor state government or federal opposition) who will attest to the unconstitutionality of the said enactment. The reason is, the one part of the Malay psyche that is incapable of change is adat – absolute obedience to the Malay rulers in regard to matters of Islam. Khalid behaved exactly as expected of an obedient feudal serf and Anwar meekly toed the royal line because the 1988 enactment was backed by the royal ‘Allah fatwa’.

    Even in Penang, the Penang mufti recently reiterated the state fatwa of 29th April 2010 that banned non-Muslims from using 40 Arabic words. Yes, the Penang decree actually outdid Selangor’s ‘Allah fatwa’ (only 35 words)! Additional words that non-Muslim Penangites are forbidden to write or publish include innocuous words like “masjid” and “surau” that non-Muslims will find hard to avoid using. Non-Muslims found violating the decree could be charged under Section 3 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment (Penang) 1996 and if found guilty are liable to a fine not exceeding RM3,000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both. Apparently, the offence can be tried in the High Court. I believe non-Muslim Penangites (including Sikhs) are just itching to test the resolve of JAIPP.

    The bottom line is, this ridiculous tragicomic constitutional impasse is likely to spread all over the nation and drag on indefinitely.

    • kamaruzzaman says:

      Salam,

      The controversy with the word Allah can be narrowed down to two fundamental questions. Firstly, who do the Christians address as God and secondly is the word Allah, a proper translation for god or lord in Christianity.

      For the first one the answer can be found in the Bahasa Melayu version of the Bible called the Alkitab Berita Baik, edisi kedua,2001, published by the Bible Society of Malaysia (ISBN 9830300129BSM 10;MALAY;TMALAY-062P TI;38.2M-2011).

      It is written in the preface (Pendahuluan) of the book at the last paragraph line 2 and 3 this statement:

      ” …Akhirnya Alkitab dalam Bahasa Melayu in dipersembahkan demi kemuliaan Kristus, Tuhan kita……”

      So, who is the God of the Christian faith. The answer is KRISTUS. Go and check it up yourself. I challenge any Christian to prove me wrong. So when they pray, no matter what word they used to called God, it’s always praying to Kristus because he is their God.

      Secondly, with the first issue laid to rest we come to the word Allah used as a translation for the word god or lord. Keeping in mind the conclusion of the first question, the answer to the usage of the word Allah is definitely NO. The Arabic word Allah had been used by the Muslims all over the world regardless of race as the proper name of the One And Only God, worthy of worship for all this while. It is not a common name or a title.

      The word Allah is alien to the great majority of the Christian people of different denominations. So out of respect, the Christians should ask the Muslims before using the word. Every language has its rules of grammar. If the Christians still insist on using the word Allah, then use it in its proper Arabic context. If you can’t do that, then back off, because you’ll only create confusion among the people.

      So to conclude, the Christian God is KRISTUS @ CHRIST and the usage of the word Allah as a translation of god or lord by the Christian is null and void. It is a lie.

      • Adam says:

        Salam,

        You wrote: “The word Allah is alien to the great majority of the Christian people of different denominations. So out of respect, the Christians should ask the Muslims before using the word.” Your logic appears to be a little warped. How did the early Arab Christians ask the Muslims for the use of the word when Muslims did not exist then? And when your Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) first started using the word, obviously he and his group would be the minority group using the word. Did they ask the Christians and pagans at that time for the use of the word?

        Even if only one fellow wants to use the word to refer to his God, you cannot ban him from using the word. At most, you could appeal to that fellow not to use the word as it would cause confusion but you cannot ban the word. It is entirely up to that fellow to consider your appeal.

  2. Martin Jalleh says:

    Brilliant piece, Jacqueline Ann Surin! You hit the nut on its head!

  3. Ellese says:

    The Nut Graph is funny. A dog wagging its tail but after a while forgot that its tail is causing it. They and others spin false and untrue positions from day one and suddenly forgot it’s not the truth. Now pretentiously questioning why PR is acting like this?

    From day one, this is not an UMNO issue. It’s an overwhelming Malay/Muslim issue. They know this but to create support for their liberal cause, The Nut Graph and the left falsely created an impression that this is an UMNO issue. So non-Muslims and liberals will think that it’s only those supporting UMNO fighting for this. Time and again, like the article above, they intentionally omitted to mention that PAS’s official position is against the use of kalimah Allah. Even when Hadi made a statement on the usage, they purposely spun that he agreed with it without qualification though he never agreed to it in absolute terms and qualified that the meaning shouldn’t be changed. They deceitfully omitted that study after study show it’s an overwhelming Muslim issue like the UM study. Instead they incessantly portray to the non-Muslims the false view [that] the Muslims are represented by Khalid Samad and Mujahid. They repeated fabricated stories that Christians used BM for hundreds of years in Sabah and Sarawak even though Christianity was only introduced in both states at a much later period. They purposely dismiss and omitted to even mention there is a conflicting practice here by all Muslims hundreds of years longer (tracing even to Kanun Melaka.)

    As a result of that our country is diverging with untruth and false premises. Now it’s beyond return. [...]

  4. DP says:

    No ‘Yahweh’ in songs, prayers at Catholic Masses, Vatican rules
    Catholic News Service – Aug 12, 2008
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the not-too-distant future, songs such as “You Are Near,” “I Will Bless Yahweh” and “Rise, O Yahweh” will no longer be part of the Catholic worship experience in the United States.

    At the very least, the songs will be edited to remove the word “Yahweh” — a name of God that the Vatican has ruled must not “be used or pronounced” in songs and prayers during Catholic Masses.

    • Sunna Sutta says:

      Isn’t it interesting that according to a recent Malaysiakini report, Zulkifli Noordin appears to be more knowledgeable and authoritative than even the Pope when he insisted that Malay-speaking Christians got it wrong in translating the name of their God to ‘Allah’ and that they should stick to either ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Tuhan’? He seems to be highly in favour of Christians using the term ‘Tuhan’ as it is the word used in the Rukunegara.

      He blithely ignores the fact that for Malay-speaking Christians, ‘TUHAN’ is the title, NOT the name of the Divine One. ‘TUHAN’ means ‘LORD’. In fact the Malay word, ‘tuan’ is a truncated form of the word ‘tuhan’. As you pointed out, the Vatican has banned Catholics from using the name ‘Yahweh’ as the name for the Christian God and Protestants (with the exception of Jehovah’s Witnesses) use only one name for the Divine One in the English language – ‘God’. In fact, in the KJV Bible (King James Version of the Bible), the Divine One is usually addressed in the binary form of [TITLE] [Name] as the ‘LORD God’. The title, ‘LORD’ is invariably written in capitalised small caps (which I cannot replicate in the TNG comment box). In the KJV Bible, the term ‘LORD God’ appears a total of 530 times beginning with Genesis 2:4.

      In the al-Kitab, ‘LORD God’ is correctly translated as ‘TUHAN Allah’, with the ‘TUHAN’ written in capitalised small caps. Do people realise how ridiculous it would be if Christians bow to the loud voices of bigotry among Muslim extremists? If that happens, Malay-speaking Christians would be forced to use the term ‘TUHAN Tuhan’ to refer to God! It is as ridiculous as insisting that in the royal title, the prefix ‘Seri Paduka Baginda’ is the same as that of ‘Sultan’ and therefore we should address the Malay Ruler as ‘Seri Paduka Baginda Seri Paduka Baginda’!

      • The point here is lost in a sea of confusion and ignorance. It is not about the “right” to use the word Allah in the Christian liturgy or to use the word at all. It is about a disturbance precipitated by the unlawful and provocative use of the word Allah by non-Muslims (read Christians).

        That disturbance is one that has caused and continues to cause dangerous divisions in the fabric of Malaysia’s volatile mix of races and religions. And the constitution does make provisions for the government to intervene in such situations because of its potential for violent conflict that could well lead to disintegration of law and order.

        The Catholics had for centuries used Latin as the lingua franca of their church. It compelled its faithful to worship in no other language save for two on the pain of ex-communication. Special dispensation was required to avoid a holy sanction in breach.

        There is the age-old use of “God Save the Queen” when the eastern Malaysian states in Borneo belonged to Rajah Brooke (later absorbed as a British colony). It was embedded into Church ceremonies, hymns at the end of their masses and at official functions. No one was allowed to disrespect the “National Anthem”, the final hymn in Protestant and Church of England churches in Malaysia.

        Why not then argue that there are historical reasons to allow for continuity of the old hymn of “God Save the King/Queen” even though Malaysians are independent from them? There are those Anglophiles within (and many of them I might add) who will gladly welcome that old hymn and return to the anthem and their subservience to the UK.

        This issue is about majority decisions in a democracy, their will and the rule of law. It has nothing to do with what Pope Benedict said in the Middle East [...]

        The law has spoken: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

        • Sunna Sutta says:

          @Gopal

          Your long argument (parts of which are irrelevant to the topic under discussion e.g. the “God Save the King/Queen” bit) boils down to your last statement:

          “The law has spoken: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

          While the law (in this case, Selangor’s 1988 Enactment) may have spoken, it does not mean that it is necessarily consistent with the constitution. Laws may be passed by Parliament or state assemblies but a number of such laws had to be repealed because they were judged to violate our Federal Constitution. If the two BSM members who were arrested by the JAIS-led police raid are charged in court, it can only happen in the High Court, not the Syariah Court. If that happens, the constitutionality of Selangor’s 1988 Enactment will be challenged and if found to be in violation of the constitution, it will have to be repealed no matter how strongly MAIS, JAIS or any Muslim NGO objects.

          I am not a Christian but I know for certain that “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” were the actual words uttered by Jesus Christ in Matthew 22:21. This was as an exhortation to all Christians to obey Roman laws (and the laws of any country) even if they are oppressive as long as they are not in violation of God’s laws.

          However, Jesus did warn Christians that those who choose to save their (mortal) lives by not standing fast to God’s laws will lose their (immortal) lives (in Heaven):

          “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

          It will be a tragedy if Malay-speaking Christians choose to fight the ‘Allah’ ban even if it means dying for the cause! This is what is called the concept of martyrdom.

          • The church argues that its historical use of the word Allah justifies its continued use of the word in defiance of a court decision that validates the government’s prohibition on its use. The King as sovereign also supports the courts view. [...]

            The fact remains that the Federal Constitution makes adequate provisions for government (at the Federal and not state level) to intervene which it has and done so according to the Constitution.

            Repealing a law requires the sanction of parliament and government and not selectively which you and the Catholics seem to think is the case. Where a conflict arises the Federal constitution prevails.

            None of Selangor’s constitutional provisions or amendments apply to this case.

          • Sunna Sutta says:

            @Gopal

            “The church argues that its historical use of the word Allah justifies its continued use of the word in defiance of a court decision that validates the government’s prohibition on its use.”

            You are obviously confusing the case of the Herald with that of the BSM. There is no court decision in regard to BSM with respect to the use of the ‘Allah’ word in the al-Kitab because the case has not even been brought to court. The two BSM members have not been charged in court because JAIS is still investigating whether the 1988 Enactment has been violated and whether to press charges. Thus, once again you are preempting a court trial which at this stage we are not even certain will actually happen.

            As for the court decision on the Herald, take note all we have at the moment is the Court of Appeal’s decision which overturned the High Court’s decision in favour of the Herald. The Court of Appeal ruled that the ‘Allah’ word is not permitted in the Herald; there is no mention of banning the said word in the al-Kitab. We are still awaiting the forthcoming decider “rubber set” in the Federal Court in regard to whether the Herald may or may not use the ‘Allah’ word in the Herald, not the al-Kitab.

            “Repealing a law requires the sanction of parliament” – I never once disputed that.

            “and not selectively which you and the Catholics seem to think is the case”. I never said that my views or those of the Catholics supersede that of the parliamentary process.[...] I have, without any exception, upheld the sovereignty of the Constitution and the rule of law. On the other hand, you make judgments even before the judge has even heard the case!

    • Flag of Truth says:

      Pope Benedict XVI in his speech in Vatican City (after coming back from his visit to the Middle East), [was quoted] (in Arabic): “May ‘Al Rabb’ bless you”. One reporter after hearing the speech thought that the pope actually acknowledged Allah in the Vatican and decided to publish this issue in a newspaper. The Vatican office responded [with a clear denial] and they published the full transcription of the Pope’s speech on that day. For those who don’t understand Arabic, Al Rabb means God. :)

      In my opinion (with regard to the JAIS raid incident), JAIS has strong justification to investigate any attempt that has been made to compromise the law. I want to remind us all, this offense will be tried as a civil offence. Our court of law has decided that the word “Allah” shall not be used in the bible. When the BSM decided to continue its action by distributing this publication (even claiming that the federal government actually gave consent to let them use the word in their publication and that this was done before the court’s ruling on the Allah issue), they actually committed an offence.

      This was all done in order to cause further confusion in Malaysia. Why on earth distribute this bible in Selangor? Do the Christians in Selangor converse in Bahasa Melayu or even Iban? This was clearly an attempt to give a negative impression to the people in East Malaysia so that certain parties can finally gain influence there.

      • Sunna Sutta says:

        @Flag of Truth, Al Rabb is actually a very specific name for the Islamic God; it carries the notion that the Islamic God is the Master or Owner of Judgment of the affairs of His human servants. Clearly the reporter concerned heard wrongly; in journalism the primary source of information should be the written, not oral form. It is a different matter with the term, ‘Allah’ as Arab Christians had been using it for hundreds of years before Islam existed as an organised religion. Malay Muslims are the only Muslims in the world who seem to have this kind of extreme sensitivity regarding the ‘Allah’ word.

        There is a misconception that the primary source of reference for the Old Testament was the Hebrew text of Judaism. However, the Hebrew holy scripture was translated to Greek, especially after the early Church fled to Greece and Asia Minor (Turkey) to escape Roman and Jewish persecution. It is the Greek Bible that is the authoritative source of reference for translation into other languages, not the Tanakh (the “Jewish Bible”). The Greek Bible was then translated to Latin. Initially the Catholic Church forbade the translation of the Latin Bible into other languages but the Reformation changed all that. Now, both Catholics and Protestants accept the validity of other languages. Once a certain language Bible is accepted by a specific Christian community, it becomes its inviolable holy scripture. In other words, Malay-speaking Christians accept the al-Kitab and thus, the possibility of bowing to the demands to change the name of the Christian God is just unthinkable!

        As for the distribution of the al-Kitab in Selangor, they were meant for the large Iban community residing and working in Selangor. As the Court of Appeal judgment does not apply to East Malaysians and the 1988 Enactment only prohibits the use of the 35 Arabic words with regard to prohibiting the PROPAGATION of Christianity among Muslims, there is no doubt that JAIS had no legal basis for its actions.

        • Sunna Sutta says:

          I forgot to mention that the Hebrew [Tanakh] only covers the Old Testament. The Jews reject the New Testament because they reject Jesus as the Messiah whom they have been waiting (and are still waiting) for and thus Judaism and Christianity are separate faiths. As the Greek Bible is the first Bible that contains all the books of the Old Testament and New Testament, one can conclude that it is indeed the most authoritative source and reference for translation. Incidentally, ‘Yahweh’ is not the term for the Christian God in the Greek Bible. The Greek words for ‘LORD’ is ‘Kyrios’ and for ‘God’ is ‘Theos’. Arab Christians later translated ‘Theos’ to ‘Allah’.

          Indonesian Christians used the original Greek source as well as Dutch sources (including Dutch versions of the KJV Bible) to translate the Bible into the al-Kitab.

  5. Flag of Truth says:

    The court of law has decided on the “Allah” issue. It is a bit strange to see why the BSM [...] still insists on this issue up until today. My advice to these people, respect the law and do your best to uphold it. :) .

  6. ellese says:

    Dear Sunna,

    [...]

    Kindly be informed, at least 77%, if not more, if you include the undecided Muslims here, are against the use of Allah (by UM research but my account is 90%++). It’s an overwhelming Muslim issue. Our past records have shown a major tolerance for many things and we did not resort to violence unless it’s really core as you pointed out in Hertogh’s case. This Allah issue is a core issue as it’s a very dear term for us which we use countless and countless times in a day if not in an hour. When we speak and refer to Allah it has always been used to refer to the Muslim god. [...]

    [...] Please check the definition of Allah. Allah has always referred to the Muslim god, Tuhan maha esa who is one and not of the trinity. It carries the same meaning in English language as opposed to the generic word God. All our official records from anthems and even reference in our constitution, Allah has always referred to the Muslim god. (Not only Allah, the words kiblat, solat, syariah, kaabah have always been accepted by non-Muslims all the while to refer exclusively to elements in Islam.) You cannot change the meaning of the specific name used by many to a meaning totally against its meaning and worse make it offensive. It’s ridiculous and downright wrong. [...]

    [..]

    We can resolve this. Allah is not an article of faith to the Christians but as you mention it’s a function of translation. The usage of Allah is for missionary purposes. [...]

    Please note also, there are many names for God in BM which can be used. Like Yang Maha Kuasa. In the Quran, it’s the same too. The Quran has Lord also. You can always use yang maha kuasa TUHAN or yang maha kuasa JESUS. Or pakai Lah Ilahi or Rab which are already recognised as Malay words by Dewan. All carry the meaning tuhan. Or any other specific names in the Bible. Macam2 boleh. This translation issue argument is untenable and ridiculous. If we are sincere we can work this out. Calling others names just won’t work. The Malay/Muslims can sacrifice any other words like Rab or Ilahi but not Allah. We have been most tolerant.

    • Sunna Sutta says:

      @ellese

      1. “77%, if not more… here, are against the use of Allah”. True, but it does not deflect at all from the fact that the overwhelming majority of the international ummah are horrified by the intolerance and extremism of [some] Malaysian Muslims. Naturally, you will respond by saying that it is none of their business but arguments should not be made on the basis of ‘I’ or the smaller “we” or “kami” in Malaysia. Definitely, you cannot say “kita umat di seluruh dunia”.

      2. “Allah is not an article of faith to the Christians but… a function of translation. The usage of Allah is for missionary purposes.” Wrong on both counts! ‘Allah’ as vehemently voiced by the Malay-speaking Christian community is a fundamental article of faith in Christianity. It may be a function of translation but as I have clearly pointed out, once a certain translated holy word is adopted by a certain language community, it is immutable and cannot be frivolously changed at the demands of a non-Christian community. Also, once again, all the holy text of the Al-Kitab is used within the Christian community and it is slanderous to say that it has ever been used for proselytism purposes with respect to the Muslim community. The Al-Kitab is even marked with a huge cross so that Muslims will not “accidentally” read it.

      3. “You can always use yang maha kuasa TUHAN or yang maha kuasa JESUS. Or pakai Lah Ilahi or Rab…” You failed to grasp the point that ‘TUHAN’ is the title of the Christian God. ‘LORD Jesus’ may be translated as ‘TUHAN Jesus’ but you do not understand that ‘LORD God’ refers to the unified Trinity of God the Father, Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. Thus, there is no other possible Malay term for ‘LORD God’ in the Al-Kitab apart from “TUHAN Allah”. As for terms like “Illahi”, are you not aware that it is one of the 35 words that is banned in Selangor and among the 40 words banned in Penang by Muslim authorities whose demands are both unjust and unjustified?

      • Adam says:

        Sunna Sutta,

        I must commend you on your knowledge of the issues surrounding the Allah controversy. Many Christians are not even aware of such information.

        Your sense of justice and fairness is indeed exemplary and there is no hidden agenda in your views other than to see justice done.

        Some people just do not realise that it is impossible to ban any word in spoken or written form without serious repercussions. Even if all the Muslims in the whole wide world were to agree that the word is exclusive to Islam, you still could not ban it. It is as simple as that.

        • Sunna Sutta says:

          @Adam

          Thank you very much but I do not think that I deserve such effusive praise. I was merely honing my parleying skills in the ideal civil society that I envisage.

          A person who is most deserving of such praise is Marina Mahathir. She epitomises the ideal citizen of civil society who is a member of the ethnic majority but fearlessly defends the rights of minorities when their civil and constitutional liberties are trampled upon. So taken aback by the peaceful assembly that Marina led in support of Christians who were threatened with loud protests outside their church (which did not materialise), Perkasa sort of insinuated that she was an ‘anak derhaka’ of an illustrious ex-prime minister for supporting the cause of Malay-speaking Christians with regard to their constitutional right to use ‘Allah’ as the name of the Christian God.

          I mentioned sometime back in another TNG column that democracy is in a certain sense and to a certain extent a form of tyranny of the majority over the minority. This should not be taken as an absolute statement; the solution lies in living up to the ideal of the civil society. With regard to the ‘Allah’ controversy, nobody should blindly point to federal or state laws/enactments; instead everybody should question whether or not such laws are constitutional in the first place.

          TNG also deserves praise for providing a ‘level-playing field’ for antagonists (in a civil sense) on both sides of the divide to engage each other in reasoned discussion over societal issues. Of course, TNG occasionally has lapses in moderating/editing user comments/responses that are too personal or ugly but on the whole TNG provides an excellent forum for rational discourse. I dislike forums like TMI with the vote-up and vote-down system where one gets massively voted down and attracts angry and even derogatory responses for posting comments that are not necessarily pro-establishment but merely even-handed.

  7. ellese says:

    Dear Sunna,

    Your argument is terbalik/the opposite. Rabb is used as a generic term rather than Allah being more specific. Just like in the English dictionary. If you use Allah, it carries the notion that the Islamic God is the Master or Owner of Judgment of the affairs of His human servants. But if you use Rabb, it’s not. What’s your authority that Rabb is only used for the Islamic God? I just met a Coptic Christian in a very cordial meeting. When asked what they call their God in their Bible, he said “Rabb”. This is the first time I ever read people interpreting Rabb to refer exclusively to the Muslim God.

    I did a cursory check on their usage on lord and God in the Coptic Arabic Bible. A good example is in Joshua : in Arabic it says إِنَّمَا الرَّبُّ إِلَهُكَ يَكُونُ مَعَكَ. See Rabb and Ilah are used. The English translation is “Only the Lord your God be with you”. See how the words lord and God are used. (Please note I’m not saying they don’t use Allah at all. We have never said they don’t.) But to argue that Rabb refers to the Islamic God exclusively is something unheard of. It’s a first time argument. I’ll wait for your explanation.

    Our case is simply a translation issue in BM. How it’s used here and not in an Arab country ke or Indonesia. It’s how our people have been using it. Your reading and translation does not consider the definition used here. To Malay Muslims, it’s not only a ridiculous interpretation but an offensive one.

    • Sunna Sutta says:

      @ellese

      1. “Rabb is used as a generic term rather than Allah being more specific.” Even if I concede to you that ‘al-Rabb’ is a generic term, do not forget that at most it can stand for the Divine title, not the Divine name of the Christian God in Arabic. You continue to confuse between the Title and the Name.

      2. You pointed out that in the book of Joshua, “the Lord my God” in the Arabic verse, إِنَّمَا الرَّبُّ إِلَهُكَ يَكُونُ مَعَكَ in romanised form is ‘al-Rabb Ilahi’. There are two problems here. Firstly, you ignore yet again the fact that ‘Ilahi’ is one of the 35 words banned in Selangor and among the 40 words banned in Penang. Secondly, ‘Ilahi’ is the Arabic equivalent for the Aramaic ‘Elah’ or ‘Elahi’. In Arabic grammar, ‘Ilahi’ can also be used as “Allahu”, “Allaha” or “Allahi”. In other words, ‘Ilahi’ means ‘My God, Allah’. Therefore, there is simply no escape from the conundrum of ‘Allah’ because the Arabic-speaking Christians who predate Islam as an organised faith did (and still do) use the term ‘Allah’ for the Christian God in the Bible.

      3. “[It] is simply a translation issue in BM. How it’s used here and not in an Arab country ke or Indonesia.” I repeat once again that the Malay-speaking Christian community has adopted the al-Kitab as its holy text. Once a certain language version of the Bible is adopted, it is immutable and inviolable. If the Church or rather Churches in Malaysia do not choose to have a BM version translated from the Indonesian version, no one can force them.

      4. Hebrew-speaking Christians argue that ‘Allah’ is derived from ‘Eloah’ (http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/Eloha/eloha.html). I am not sure how valid the argument is. However, the major prophets of Judaism like Noah and Moses are also recognised as the early prophets of Islam. Even granted that the Jews may have lied about many things and were finally rejected by God, it makes sense that Nabi Musa may have used a Divine name that sounds like ‘Eloah’.

  8. Flag of Truth says:

    # Gopal Raj

    What the Pope says is important [in order] to understand the strategic thinking of the Catholic church. When the ex-pope said “My al Rabb bless you” he was questioned [for] acknowledging Allah in the Vatican, the centre of the Christian world. What is interesting to see here is the Christians will not let their followers use Allah in Europe and America but it is considered strategic for Christian missionaries to use this issue in Malaysia and Indonesia.

    # Sunna Sutta

    The act of distributing the bibles is unlawful according to law. Don’t mislead people by saying that this action can be tolerated just because there are Iban or Malay-speaking Christians. By the way, who is the Malay-speaking Christian actually? Maybe you can elaborate on this. I would like to stay with them since they [use] Bahasa Melayu in their day-to-day conversation :) .

    • Sunna Sutta says:

      @Flag of Truth

      The question of the lawfulness of BSM distributing the 300+ copies of the Al-Kitab and Bup Kudus has yet to be decided. In that regard, there is also another question of whether or not the action of JAIS in seizing the said copies of the Bible was lawful. The two questions can only be decided if the two BSM members who were arrested are charged and tried in the High Court. It is for the judge to decide, not you or I or any layperson. The fundamental question that the judge will have to consider is whether BSM distributed the said copies of the Bible to PROPAGATE Christianity to the Muslim community.

      You asked about who the Malay-speaking Christians are. Malays should really make an effort to know about other bumiputera communities. FYI, slightly more than half of all East Malaysian bumiputeras are Christians. Most of them either use their mother tongues (e.g. Iban) or Malay (e.g., in the case of the Kadazan of Sabah and the Kelabit of Sarawak) for Christian worship. The copies of the al-Kitab and Bup Kudus (Iban language Bible) that were seized by JAIS were meant for East Malaysian Christians working and residing in Selangor.

      You sounded out the intention of staying with Malay-speaking Christians but did not mention the purpose. I hope there are no ulterior, ill-intentioned motives as in the case of the two Muslim spies who attended mass in a Catholic Church in Selangor back in 2009.(http://www.malaysia-today.net/muslim-men-spying-in-catholic-churches/)

      If your intentions are good, perhaps you should stay with Idris Jala, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who was one of the chief architects of the 10 point solution that permitted the al-Kitab to be imported and distributed to Christians in both East and West Malaysia. He is a Christian Kelabit with a Malay-sounding name.

      • Flag of Truth says:

        # Sunna

        I have been to various part of East Malaysia. I have been to Kuching, Bakelalan, Bareo, Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Kota Belut, Tawau and Semporna and lots of other places as well. I have mixed with the locals there. I just want to make a point here that they do not converse in Bahasa Melayu in their day to day conversation, with an exception that they only use Bahasa Melayu if they want to communicate with people from a different race or tribe.

        I am actually referring to what happened in Selangor. Taking into consideration that the majority of Christians in Selangor are either Chinese or Indian and most of them doesn’t use Bahasa Melayu at all. So hence the question on why did Bible Society of Malaysia carry out an act that they know (not only alien to the local environment) was against the law?

        • Sunna Sutta says:

          @Flag of Truth

          As you correctly observed in your travels in East Malaysia, the locals use their own indigenous languages or dialects to converse with each other within their own communities but use Malay to converse with people from outside their communities. The latter mode of communication was precisely how Christian missionaries conversed with them during colonial times. In other words, East Malaysian bumiputera Christians have been using the Malay language for Christian worship right from the beginning. Consequently, with the exception of the Ibans, bumiputera Christians in Sabah and Sarawak have always used only one version of the Bible – the al-Kitab.

          You asked why BSM distributed the al-Kitab to East Malaysians despite knowing that it was “alien” to the local environment? How else do you expect East Malaysians to worship since they do not use English language Bibles? The last time I checked, East Malaysians are citizens of Malaysia and I certainly would not regard them as “aliens” in Selangor.

          • Flag of Truth says:

            @ Sunna

            Ahah.. :) . Why did the missionaries chose to not use the tribes’ own language? It is weird to use Bahasa Melayu as a medium considering the capability of the missionaries.

            I find that you don’t have enough reasons to support the BSM’s cause. It is unlawful even if it is not yet on trial. The law has stated that the word ‘Allah’ can not be used by Christians. Please uphold the law.

          • Sunna Sutta says:

            @Flag of Truth

            “Why did the missionaries chose to not use the tribes’ own language?”

            The simple answer to your simple question is, the missionaries did not know how to speak the languages of the natives but the natives all understood Malay which was the lingua franca of not only the Malay Archipelago but also throughout Borneo (which was once dominated by the Malay Sultanate of Brunei).

            Do not twist the law into something created according to your own misinterpretation. The full title of the 1988 Enactment is: The Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988. Clearly, the said enactment bans the use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims IF it is used for the purpose of propagating Christianity to Muslims. It does not say that Malay-speaking Christians are forbidden to use ‘Allah’ within the faith itself!

    • Dear Flag of Truth

      Getting back to your point, the Pope can never be “questioned” as you put it for making any statement or for using any word. He is in the shoes of Peter as the Catholics say. It simply means he is the ultimate authority on Catholicism and has absolute power of veto over the church.

      It is important but not essentially a canonical imperative what he says. The Catholic church on which I have written extensively is a diverse political entity. There are those who support abortion, support marriage of the clergy, communism, homosexuality, ordination of women, exclusion of non whites and so on and so forth and there are those who don’t.

      This issue in Malaysia is not so much about the use of the word Allah anymore. That word having been used by the Christians to challenge the ownership of the word long and universally acknowledged as being a word that belongs to Islam and in Malaysia therefore to the Muslims exclusively.

      The Church has a desperate need for a diversion with the rabid and epidemic proportions of pedophilia within its ranks and a public inquiry now by the UN in Geneva where it is star witness and in the dock.

      The Allah issue in Malaysia (for want of a better description) is a constitutional issue, where the unlawful use of the word Allah by Christians [...] has become a lightning rod for defiance of laws and the constitution.

      By its silence the defiance is condoned by Bersih, Anwar, PKR and Kit Siang and DAP.

      The Church has not by any decree prohibited the use of the word Allah in Europe. By that same token it has not approved its use in Malaysia.

      Christians and others who defy the constitution must remember they create a precedent by which they will be judged. They discard the constitution, they cannot run to it for protection in future.

      • Sunna Sutta says:

        @Gopal

        Slanderous words indeed!

        By Church, I guess you mean the Roman Catholic Church in general, and the Vatican in particular. Yes, it is true that a number of paedophilic priests are being prosecuted but paedophilia in the Catholic priesthood is by no means in “rabid and epidemic proportions”. Where are your numbers to substantiate your allegations? You do not even seem to know what an epidemic means, let alone epidemic proportions! Also, where is your evidence that the Vatican is instigating Malay-speaking Christians in Malaysia to hang on steadfast to ‘Allah’ as the name of the Christian God because of “a desperate need for a diversion” from the public’s attention on paedophilic priests?

        You said, “Christians and others who defy the constitution must remember they create a precedent by which they will be judged. They discard the constitution, they cannot run to it for protection in future.”

        Where does it say in the Constitution that ‘Allah’ is an exclusive article of faith in Islam? There may be state enactments in a number of states like Selangor, Penang and Kelantan which ban non-Muslims from using a number of Arabic words deemed by Islamic authorities to be exclusive to Islam. However, the question that you should be asking is not whether BSM broke any laws, but whether or not the said laws are consistent with the Constitution in the first place. In other words, were the said laws lawful in the first place? As long as the BSM case is not heard in court, it remains an open question. Whether any laws were broken is for the judge to decide; it is certainly not for a biased layperson like you to pre-judge!

        • Gopal Raj Kumar says:

          There is nothing in my response to suggest the constitution says Allah is an exclusive article of faith in Islam. It has been universally acknowledged in literature, in public documents and pronouncement over the years which can’t be denied. But you will for the sake of an argument say otherwise.

          As for breaking laws, the continued use of the word Allah after the government through its various instrumentalities and departments injuncted the word is a breach of the law.

          The government’s action is supported expressly by the constitution in that respect. There is no ambiguity in that position of the government nor support for your argument anywhere in the constitution.

          A “law being lawful” requires clarification. By its existence a law is lawful in its domestic context. Whether it breaches some ‘international convention’ or law and whether that breach is a breach of local law depends on the status given that convention or law by local parliament.

          • Sunna Sutta says:

            @Gopal

            “It has been universally acknowledged in literature, in public documents and pronouncement over the years which can’t be denied.”

            This is not true at all! Hypersensitivity towards the use of the ‘Allah’ word by Malay-speaking Christians is prevalent only among Muslims in Malaysia. This is by no means universal! Renowned Muslim theologians and scholars outside Malaysia think otherwise. (http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/why-get-emotional-allah-not-exclusive-to-muslims-says-oxford-theologian)

            By “lawfulness of the law”, I mean two things. Firstly, no law (federal or state) is allowed to violate freedom of worship that is guaranteed in the Constitution. If Selangor’s 1988 Enactment impinges on a fundamental article of faith of Malay-speaking Christians (in this case, the ‘Allah’ word for the Christian God in the al-Kitab), then it is unlawful. Secondly, the 1988 Enactment was meant to prevent the propagation of non-Islamic faiths among Muslims. It was clearly misapplied on BSM because the 300+ copies of the al-Kitab that were seized were meant only for Malay-speaking East Malaysian Christians residing and working in Selangor. Thus, once again the law was unlawfully applied.

            Under the circumstances, I seriously doubt whether JAIS will succeed in getting the BSM case tried in the High Court.

  9. ellese says:

    Dear Sunna,

    1. On 1, I’ve never responded like that though I think your argument can apply likewise to the Christians. My point is that the issue is the usage of BM here and not elsewhere. It’s how it’s used locally. I had an analogy that it’s wrong to use the word with an opposite meaning but it’s been censored. If you want, please go to my blog [...] to have open uncensored debate.
    2. I have to disagree. I had numerous debates on this. The name of God has never been important. It’s not like the usage of the specific name of Allah as used here. They have various names and have lived to accept the various names. It’s not blasphemous. They use whatever name referred to God in the relevant language. God is Tuhan here. Allah is the Muslim god.
    3.On 3, I have to disagree. It’s still a translation issue. I give an example if we want to compromise. The use of Ilahi is definitely more acceptable than Allah. Question is whether we want to compromise. So long as the pro-Christians are dismissive and ridicule our position, there’s no point to compromise. [...] It’s really unfortunate. I’ve even given examples of the possibility of other words and the fact that this was not even considered has shown to the Muslims that the “no other suitable translated word in BM” argument is insincere and merely a facade to propagate and unjustifiably change our culture and tradition. Please Nut Graph don’t censor. It’s all civil dialectic discourse. Allow us to put forth our views. [...]

    • Sunna Sutta says:

      @ellese

      Your responses are just repeats of what you had said earlier. You merely reiterate your hardened position based on unsubstantiated arguments that ‘Allah’ in the al-Kitab is a mere function of translation and not a fundamental article of faith to Malay-speaking Christians. There is no point repeating my original arguments as you will just keep denying that ‘Allah’ had been used by Arabic-speaking Christians for 6 centuries before Islam emerged as an organised religion. Malay-speaking Indonesian Christians adopted ‘Allah’ from Arab Christians in the al-Kitab and Malay-speaking Christians in turn adopted the al-Kitab as the their holy Christian scripture. Once again, Malay-speaking Christians maintain that ‘Allah’ is an immutable fundamental article of faith in Christianity.

      By the way, isn’t the name of the Islamic God so sacred that it should not even be expressed in or translated into any romanised script, including Malay? In other words, the name of God in Islam should strictly be الله, not ‘Allah’ because it is forbidden to translate the Holy Quran into other languages. The Shahada is recited in the classical Arabic of the Quran, not modern Malay! Of course, it is alright to translate Quranic verses into Malay so that the umat Melayu can understand them but surely for the purposes of Kalimah الله and reciting from the Quran, only the original classical Arabic is permissible.

  10. ellese says:

    Dear Sunna,

    Thank you for the reply. Our replies seems to cross over one another. I’m replying to your 18 reply:

    1) I would appreciate if you can do your independent checking on rabb. The problem with the current translation is that for lord you need not use tuhan. The divine name of god can be TUHAN. For lord you can use yang maha kuasa, ilahi, or like the Christian bible rabb. All these words are already words accepted by Dewan Bahasa. Or we can [have different permutations] if you so wish. So yang maha kuasa TUHAN still can have the same meaning. Our difference is in which is the specific name and which is generic. Allah has become a specific name just like its usage in the English dictionary. Tuhan (small cap) rabb and ilahi are generic names.

    2. As explained before, ilahi means my god. I note the root word but in BM the usage “tuhan saya Allah” is acceptable. I’m suggesting this as a compromise and am not saying that it won’t be objected to at all. Unless of course we don’t want to compromise.

    3. There’s a major conflict between practice and usage. The Muslims here argue that there’s a much longer practice by all. Unless there’s give and take, we will never meet.

    4. Not clear of your intention and reserve my comments. Please clarify. Are you saying if we claim this then Hebrew will claim the exclusive usage of Allah not only in Arabic language but all other languages? This is a new claim. When did they make the claim?

    • Sunna Sutta says:

      @ellese

      It is no use arguing all over again over the first three points as I have explained in my reply of 19th January that you are merely repeating the same old arguments.

      Regarding 4), the word that is in fact used most frequently for the Judaic God is Yahweh; it is used a total of 6,828 times in the Hanakh. Contrary to widespread belief, Yahweh is not a word, or at least not a pronounceable word. It is a, or rather, the tetragrammaton, i.e. it is made up of 4 Hebrew letters יהוה but has no vowels. When converted into letters in the Roman alphabet, it forms YHWH, YHVH or JHWH or JHVH, the most widely accepted one being the first. No one is certain how the tetragrammaton is actually pronounced; it seems that the Jews regarded the name of God to be so holy that that no one is allowed to utter it. Instead, when they come across the tetragrammaton in the Hanakh, they usually articulate it as Adonai. Besides Adonai, there are many other alternative names used by the Jews for their God just as Muslims are said to have a total of 99 names for God in Islam. Among the many other names the Jews use for their God are Eloah and even Alah or Allah. If you are interested in the etymology of all the names of God in Judaism, visit the following forum:

      http://www.eliyah.com/forum2/Forum1/HTML/002932.html

      I have to warn you, however, that parts of the etymology of ‘Allah’ (according to the said Jewish source) are not flattering at all! On my own part, I reserve any comment or opinion in regard to the authoritativeness of the Jewish etymological analysis of ‘Allah’. It does not mean that the Jews have ownership over ‘Allah’ but it does seem reasonable, however, that that the Jews have used ‘Eloah’ and ‘Allah’ long before they were used by Muslims.

  11. BBBangi says:

    @ sutta

    The Jews never claimed that Allah is their god even though the Hebrew Old Testament contained eliah, elah elohim. It is only some non-Jews who claim that since these words have some resemblance in the pronunciation, therefore the words are the same.
    Similarly, the mainstream Christians too argue that Allah is not the same as their god which they believe in, who is best described by the Trinity doctrine. The Muslim god is best described by the AlQuran chapter 112 or surah Ikhlas. The descriptions between them are worlds apart. Therefore the mainstream Christians argue that the Christians cannot have the same name for the god that they believe in. [...]
    But if you still regard the issue as important then it is better to leave the matter to the Christians (the mainstream and the non mainstream) to decide who to call their god and then to present their arguments to you. I bet they cannot come to any consensus because they do not have a proper name for their god.

    • Sunna Sutta says:

      @BBBangi

      I never said that the Jews ever claimed Allah to be their God; in fact I clearly said that the tetragrammaton – יהוה (or YHWH in romanised form) – is the overwhelmingly-used name used for their God. However, just like Muslims, the Jews have many other names for their God, including Allah and Ilahi. You will probably jump to the conclusion, “Why don’t Malay-speaking Christians use the tetragrammaton as the name for the Christian God?” This question has already been answered by the Vatican. The Pope has forbidden Roman Catholics from using YHWH or Yahweh for the simple reason that the God of Judaism and the God of Christianity are distinct from each other.

      Etymology can be described as linguistic archaeology. There is strong etymological evidence that the Arabic الله had Sumerian and Babylonian origins and predated the three “Abrahamic” faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It may even be linked to a pagan past but it does not mean that Allah was the Sun God or Moon Goddess of the ancient Sumerians. Perhaps it makes sense that the monotheistic God revealed His name(s) to Abraham who according to the holy scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam originated from the “land of Ur” in Sumeria. It then follows that the ancient Sumerians later corrupted ‘Allah’ to one of the many gods in the Sumerian pantheon.

      My premise is, Abraham is the patriarch of all three monotheistic faiths. It would thus seem that if Allah is ONE of the many Divine names revealed to Abraham, then surely ‘Allah’ is not exclusive to Islam. The same reasoning also applies to the archangel Gabriel (Jibril). Should we argue that Gabriel first converted from Judaism to Christianity and finally to Islam or do we instead come to the conclusion that Gabriel is the common religious heritage of all three Abrahamic faiths?

      I strongly disagree with you that Malay-speaking Christians do not have a consensus on the name of God. There is no other word used in the al-Kitab apart from ‘Allah’.

      • Flag of Truth says:

        @ Sunna

        The catholic church doesn’t believe in Allah the one and only God. The [...] Trinity is the foundation of their belief.

        It is wrong to say that the Catholics today still follow the true teaching of Jesus or Abraham.

        • Sunna Sutta says:

          @Flag of Truth

          “It is wrong to say that the Catholics today still follow the true teaching of Jesus or Abraham.”

          Yes, the Trinity is indeed the foundation of the belief of all Christians (not just for the Catholics) but by what or whose authority and on what evidence do you (a non-Christian) profess to make the above judgement?

  12. BBBangi says:

    You missed the whole point of my argument. I am not discussing about exclusivity here. If you read carefully my comments, I have never mention exclusivity. My contention is: The Malaysian Christians have no concrete reasons why they want to call their god Allah.
    First, the god in which Christians believe in, is different from Allah which the Muslims understand. And the way the Malaysian Christians refer to their Allah as Triune god is an insult to the Muslims.
    Secondly, there is no concrete and clear instruction in the Christian scriptures to instruct the Christians to refer to their god as Allah. The mainstream Christians and their Church leaders do not use the word. Some even abhor it. There was no official declaration by the mainstream Christians that their god should be called Allah.
    So why do the Christians in Malaysia want to refer to a name which their scriptures does not instruct them to do so. There are words like elohim, and ela, eloah, but the authority church leaders and the Jews do not regard these names as equivalent to Allah. To me if you practice a deed which is not prescribed in your religious scriptures then either you are a deviant sect or you are trying to play a fool with your religion.
    To the Malaysian Christians they may see this as a fight for their right to religious freedom. But for the Muslims they see this as a religious provocation because there were no clear injunctions in the Biblical scriptures for the Christians to refer to god as Allah.
    Lastly, a proper name is a name which is the same in whatever language or race you speak, or whatever place and time you refer to it. And the Christians do not have one proper name for their god, which is the same in all languages, time and place. And that is the ROOT CAUSE of all this furors.

    • Sunna Sutta says:

      @BBBangi

      Muslims have only one name for their God because the Quran is written in classical Arabic and it is forbidden to translate the Quran into other languages.

      Christianity has a practice that is totally different from that of Islam. The Bible is translated into as many languages as there are Christian communities which use those languages for Christian worship. Arabic-speaking Christians first used the word, ‘Allah’ in the Arabic Bible which actually predates the Quran. Malay-speaking Christians decided to follow the practice of Christian Arabs and the result was the al-Kitab with the ‘Allah’ word for God.

      “Malaysian Christians they may see this as a fight for their right to religious freedom. But for the Muslims they see this as a religious provocation…”

      Correction: Hypersensitivity towards the use of the ‘Allah’ word by non-Muslims is prevalent only among Malaysian Muslims. Arab Christians use the ‘Allah’ word without any objections from their Arab Muslim neighbours. One would have thought that Arab Muslims would be even more sensitive than Malaysian Muslims because Islam originated within Arabia but obviously this is not the case. Renowned Muslim theologians and scholars outside Malaysia have severely criticised the emotionality of Malaysian Muslims. (http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/why-get-emotional-allah-not-exclusive-to-muslims-says-oxford-theologian)

  13. Flag of Truth says:

    @ Sunna Sutra

    “The simple answer to your simple question is, the missionaries did not know how to speak the languages of the natives but the natives all understood Malay which was the lingua franca of not only the Malay Archipelago but also throughout Borneo (which was once dominated by the Malay Sultanate of Brunei)”

    You mean the missionaries did not know how to speak in native language? :) .. to me you are either quite naïve or you just underestimate these missionaries :) . They are a very resourceful people and backed by strong financial and moral support from the Catholic church. It’s a joke to say that they do not speak in native language.

    To me the answer is simple. This is a clearly dual-prong strategy (to publish the Malay bible). The church is losing its influence in its own traditional power base (Europe and America) :)

    • Sunna Sutta says:

      @Flag of Truth

      The joke is actually on you. It was you who clearly pointed out that the natives invariably used the Malay language to communicate with outsiders. Missionaries are examples of such outsiders. So what is so difficult about understanding that if Malay is the language with which the natives communicated with the missionaries, then it naturally follows that they would use the Malay-language Bible for Christian worship? As for the last bit of your reply, it is yet another example of delusions among insecure Muslims of the existence of conspiracy against Islam.

      • Flag of Truth says:

        @ Sunna

        The joke was really on me? :) . I don’t know that. What I know is you clearly do not understand or chose to not understand how a missionary works. Of course bahasa melayu is the lingua franca of this region, but people often chose to speak to God with their own language.

        What I say is not a delusion. And furthermore you have been diverted from discussing why on earth the BSM tried to violate the law? (It is a joke when BSM still stressed on the 10 point agreement by the federal government but chose to ignore the decision of the court of law). And believing the fact that Christians in Selangor actually use Bahasa Melayu in their day to day conversation is truly the joke of the day :) .

        • Sunna Sutta says:

          @Flag of Truth

          You are merely repeating the same old things which I have already more than amply rebutted in my previous comments. I do not see any point in continuing this thread of argument unless you have something new to say.

          • Flag of Truth says:

            @ Sunna

            The simple thing that you fail to understand is the act of hypocrisy that certain people show here :) . All because of wanting to satisfy their own agenda. I have always mentioned in my previous comments that there are certain things that we Malaysians must respect. Otherwise we will venture into a situation that none of us can repair. The incident on the Catholic church in Penang for example, shows that it is easy for someone or some group to manipulate this issue. We can not afford to allow this to happen…[sowing] the seed of extremism here in Malaysia, because our multiracial society is quite fragile.

            My advice is (to everyone of you): Stop using the word Allah among the Christians.

        • Adam says:

          @Flag of Truth

          The joke is actually on you. Of course, people normally choose to speak to their God in their own language but most of the religious terms used are taken from the versions of the religious books being used. Like Malaysian Muslims reciting their prayers in Arabic although their sermons are in BM interspersed with Arabic terms. When in Mecca, I presume all Muslims will be communicating in Arabic, the language of the Quran.

          Christians would use their own language translations if available. Otherwise, they will use the one commonly used in their region. Like in Indonesia/Malay Archipelago, Christians have been using the Indonesian/Malay versions before the other dialect translations are made available. Although there are hundreds of dialects all over Indonesia, they could only managed to do translations into the major dialects as indicated at: http://sejarah.sabda.org/sejarah/#2

          In Malaysia, other than the BM Alkitab, the other versions are in Iban(Bup Kudus), Baba Malay, Kadazan Dusun and Murut as well. I have recently had the opportunity to meet a couple of Iban Christians working and living in the peninsular and we have to converse in BM. I am sure the other thousands of East Malaysians working or studying in the Peninsular who would converse in BM too.

          The COA decision is supposed to be for the Herald only but some quarters are taking it as a complete ban. All these controversial and vague situations are mainly due to the attempt to implement unjust and unfair laws and regulations. It is as simple as that.

  14. ellese says:

    I am extremely disappointed with nutgraph. Of late I have been censored unfairly. Sunna’s point can be rebutted because he does not argue with parity. He like many applies different standards for non Muslims and Muslims. Just analyse his points. But what is upsetting is nutgraph does not allow me to push my points. The first comment I have been blunt but even the toned down civil version is rejected. Nutgraph can make time and time repetitive point. I have replied for years without any rebut. Why can’t nutgraph allow me the liberty to engage with Sunna in full? I don’t understand those who profess freedom of speech but always censor me. From [other online publications] to [bloggers] to etc etc. Now even nutgraph is doing so. We are extremely offended by the use of Allah. And I can’t even show you the examples and values which Sunna has managed to condemn as extremists. I can’t even castigate Sunna on these comments but Sunna can on other commentators. Shame on you nutgraph.

    • Sunna Sutta says:

      @ellese

      I am responding to your outburst only because I was implicated in your highly suggestive insinuations that TNG unfairly censors your comments but prints mine in full. For your information, I too have had certain parts of my comments censored and replaced with [...] in the past. You only need to check some of my comments in all columns to verify that. Whenever that happens, I graciously accept that I may have crossed the line and violated TNG’s Comments Policy in certain instances and do not gripe about it.

      I take exception to your charge that I use different standards to judge Muslims and non-Muslims. On the contrary, I always base my arguments on the Federal Constitution as my framework of reference. Consequently, I argued passionately against non-Muslims speaking out in the interests of the Shia in ‘Beyond the Shia Threat’ but defended the civil rights of Malay-speaking Christians with respect to the ‘Allah’ controversy. The fact that I am neither a Muslim nor a Christian speaks volumes for my unbiasedness. I have never wavered from my standard that non-Muslims should not interfere with the faith of Muslims and Muslims should not interfere with non-Islamic faiths under the constitutionally-guaranteed right of freedom of worship for all Malaysians. As far as possible, I have always referred to neutral third party news and information sources of evidence and have never made any attempt to promote my own blog; it is abundantly clear that you did attempt to do the latter at one time or another.

    • Adam says:

      @ Ellese,

      Are you defending race and religion or are you defending human values? We cannot blame you for defending your race and religion but when you go overboard with your persistent and uncivil ad hominem comments, you will be censored for sure.

      I usually write from the viewpoint of universal human values and I hardly get censored. I personally feel that you purposely write in your provocative style for reasons best known to yourself. If you continue to do so, you could expect more blogs and online publications to censor your comments.

  15. BBBangi says:

    @ sutta
    You miss my point again. I am not discussing exclusivity of the word Allah here. It is the ascribing of the attributes of Allah that is the cause of provocation to the Muslims. No Muslims in the world whatever his position, scholar or non-scholar, will agree that Allah can be described by the way which the Christian did. If there is any Muslim scholar who agrees to that, his faith and his understanding of Islam is questioned.

    The Prohet Muhammad said: if you see a bad deed(mungkar) you should correct it with your hand. If you are not capable of that, do it with your tongue. Else do it with your heart (that is to despise the bad deed). And that is the least of faith.

    Ascribing Allah with false attributes is one of the highest degree of mungkar in Islam. If an Islamic scholar agrees or his heart is non-commital to the mungkar that is going on around him, then his faith is questionable.

    Another thing to correct your understanding of Islam is that the Quran can be translated in any languages. It is not forbidden. However, it will not be 100% accurate as the original text in Arabic. But for God’s name Allah, it is the same in all languages and translation.

    Lastly, you still haven’t addressed the issue which I raised: why do the Malaysian Christians would want to use a word, when there is no specific injunction to do so in their religious scriptures, especially when it causes provocations to the followers of another religion? To me, any follower of a religion who does not follow what their religious scriptures tell them is a deviant follower. That is simple logic.

    • Adam says:

      @ BBBangi

      Sunna may have missed reading your response or he may feel that his response was sufficient to explain your points.

      Anyway, for a better understanding on all the reasons why the Malay-speaking Christians have been using the word and the justifications with respect to the Christian doctrine, you could read all the articles at this website: http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2013/01/collated-resources-christians-from-pre-islam-arab-christians-to-bumiputera-christians-have-the-right-to-use-allah/

      Hope you could then understand the issue better from the Christians’ viewpoint. Cheers.

      • Sunna Sutta says:

        Well observed, Adam! I do not see the need to continue the thread of discussion with another user if he/she continues to deny that Malay Muslims (not including East Malaysian bumiputera Muslims) [seem to be] the only Muslims in the world who find the use of ‘Allah’ by Malay-speaking Christians to refer to the Christian God to be offensive and provocative. Such people cannot differentiate between their personal interpretations/beliefs and actual Quranic teachings; they reify and elevate the former to the level of inalienable God-given truth. No amount of evidence that proves the use of ‘Allah’ by Arab Christians predates Islam itself or that native Christians in Southeast Asia have been using ‘Allah’ – unmolested by their Muslim neighbours – as the name of the Christian God for more than 300 years will convince them either.

  16. BBBangi says:

    @ adam and sutta

    You came with all the lengthy arguments to justify that Allah is the Christian god. If that is so why didn’t the mainstream Christians use Allah as the name of their god? It is not me you should convince, it is the Pope or the priests of those mainstream Christians that you should present all your arguments.
    This is just a simple sensible question from me. Hope you can clarify.

    • Adam says:

      @ BBBangi,

      I thought Sunna has already put it quite clearly in his responses to you and to others. And I wonder if you have read through the articles posted at the website I gave you. The Christians have given all the reasons and justifications for using the word in the Malay/Indonesian translations.

      In short, the Christians use any word to mean God in their individual languages such as God in English, Dios in Spanish, Dieu in French, ShangDi in Chinese, Allah in Arabic/Maltese/Indonesian/Malay/Iban, etc. If you can accept that Allah is the Arabic word for God, then you can also accept the word in Malay which was heavily influenced by Arabic. They even had an 1856 translation written in Arabic Jawi script and I am quite sure the word would be exactly the same as in the Quran. To them, it is not the name of God. If Muslims use the word as a proper name, it is their right too but others cannot be prevented from using the same word.

      And the Pope surely knows how his flock all over the world has been worshipping God. Most of the popes could speak many languages and I am sure he could justify the use of the word in certain languages. Remember that, some time ago, the Vatican representative here in Malaysia supported the use of the word locally. Hope this clarifies.

  17. Flag of Truth says:

    @ BBBangi.

    To me it is very clear. Jacqueline, Adam or sunna’s argument about this issue is quite shallow. I have over and over again stressed that not only this issue is quite alien to the Christians in Selangor and Semenanjung but it is also considered a bit peculiar for the mainstream Christians to use the word “Allah” in their prayers.

    I am confident that the court of law and the government will make a decision that will not compromise the harmony that our people have up until now. :)

    • Adam says:

      @ FoT,

      To you, it is alien and peculiar because you [seem] ignorant of the fact that the Malay/Iban/Baba-speaking Christians have been using the word for generations. Before the ban, I was also not aware of this but I have since searched for the facts and have accepted the situation while you still keep on harping that it is the Muslims’ right to have the word banned which is downright unreasonable and irrational.

      No court of law would make a decision on the issue such as ours. The COA judgement has really brought down the reputation of our judiciary by a few notches both locally and internationally. Let us see if the Federal court will make amends or bring it down a few more notches.

      • Flag of Truth says:

        @ Adam

        The court has the responsibility to make the ruling based on the constitution and also to maintain peace and harmony within society. To me, the judiciary made the right decision by rejecting the appeal made by the Catholic Church on this issue. If they accepted the appeal then it would violate the constitution and also will jeopardise the stability that we have up until now.

        [...] It is a lie to say that there are groups that call themselves Malay-speaking Christians. Can you tell what race are they belong to? Last time I checked, each race has their own language :) .

        • Adam says:

          @ FoT,

          In fact, with the COA judgement, it is a violation of the constitutional rights of Christians and others to practise their religion. Let us see how the Federal Court argues the case and let the whole world judge our judges. As a matter of interest, I would like to hear from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on this matter.

          As for the term “Malay-speaking Christians”, it just refers to those Christians who use the Alkitab Melayu in their worship. The Malay language does not just belong to the Malays in Malaya only. It is the language of the Southeast Asian region and through historical times, it has so much foreign influence from early Sanskrit/Hindi/Tamil to Arabic and later, to a host of other language influences. In fact, the language could have originated from Western Borneo, meaning Sarawak, Brunei and Kalimantan. Please refer to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malay_language

          So, any race who is proficient in the Malay language could use the Alkitab as their Holy Book. Most Indonesian Christians irrespective of race would be using it other than those having their own language translations. Likewise, East Malaysian Christians of the various races would be using it other than the Ibans and Kadazans who have their own language Bibles. Of course, most of the Chinese and Indian Christians there and over in the peninsula, would use English, Chinese or Tamil Bibles depending on the proficiency of their language.

          Hope you can now understand the difference between race and language. Cheers for now.

  18. BBBangi says:

    @ Adam

    You are right, God in Spanish is Dios, in French it is Dieu , and in Chinese Shangdi. But in the Malay language you got it wrong.

    Allah is never a Malay word. The word for god in Malay is Tuhan. You can ask all the Malay language scholars in Malaysia and all of them will say Allah is not a Malay word. Those translations in history you mentioned, were done by those who did not consult the Malay language experts. They have erred and it is no excuse for you to say Allah is a Malay word.

    So my question remains: none of the Christians in Malaysia use Arabic as their mother tongue. If according to you the name of the Christian God is language dependent, how do you justify the word Allah?

    • Adam says:

      @ BBBangi,

      “Allah” is a loaned word among so many adopted and the Christians have already used Tuhan to denote Lord as in Lord God (Tuhan Allah). Please read those articles with “Tuhan” and “Allah” in that website that I have indicated at: http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2013/01/collated-resources-christians-from-pre-islam-arab-christians-to-bumiputera-christians-have-the-right-to-use-allah/

      As for the Malay language, it has developed over more than a millennium in the region. According to Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malay_language,”Malay historical linguists agree on the likelihood of the Malay homeland being in western Borneo”. So, our East Malaysians have also historically used and developed the language as well. The Iban language is a variation of Malay and they have their own language Bible “Bup Kudus” where the term used is “Allah Taala”.

      Regarding translations, if you consider our own “Father of Modern Malay literature” Abdullah Munshi as a Malay scholar and expert, then he in fact helped to translate the Bible to Malay in the 1850s in Singapore for regional use. The Wikipedia article on him can be read at: http://ms.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdullah_Abdul_Kadir_Munshi His translation work has also been acknowledged by the Christians at: http://sejarah.sabda.org/sejarah/ver_keasberry.htm

      Let me know if you have any further doubts and questions.

      • Sunna Sutta says:

        @Adam

        The history of the translation of the Bible into the Malay language is most fascinating. It was the Portuguese who first brought Christianity into Southeast Asia but they were more interested in trade than proselytisation. The work of translating the Bible into Malay was taken up by Dutch and British missionary and Bible societies. The effort was described by Robert A. Hunt in 1989 in a JMBRAS (Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society) publication in 1989. TNG users who are interested may access it at the following link:
        https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=2E98A96E601FF42E!122&ithint=file%2c.pdf&app=WordPdf&wdo=2&authkey=!AFb1QH9RYoOv3g0

        Munshi Abdullah’s advice was sought by Keasberry because Malay words used in early translations were contaminated by foreign elements, thus rendering them incoherent to indigenous Malay-speaking people. Unknown to many people, Munshi Abdullah himself translated the New Testament into Malay. The title – Kitab Injil al-Kudus daripada Tuhan Esa al-Masihi – is a direct translation from “The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”, thus proving that the word ‘Tuhan’ means ‘Lord’. As pointed out by Farish A. Noor, the role played by Munshi Abdullah, a devout Muslim, in translating the Bible has never been acknowledged (http://www.malaysia-today.net/abdullahs-bible/). A copy of “Abdullah’s Bible” can be found at the School of Oriental Studies Library, Uni of London but cannot be found in Malaysia.

        The crux of the matter is the translation of the Bible into Malay was undertaken on a colonial government-to-colonial government basis between Britain and Holland. The cooperation ceased after Merdeka but the Indonesian government continued to support the efforts that finally resulted in the Al-Kitab in the 1980s. I wonder if another word for God instead of ‘Allah’ could have been used had the Malaysian government cooperated with the Indonesian government to sponsor the translation efforts!

        • Adam says:

          @ Sunna Sutra

          Thank you for the references. The article by Robert Hunt is an interesting read, narrating the trials and tribulations of the early Christian missionaries, given the many different denominations and nationalities present during those times and circumstances. I would say that the most difficult part of translation was the existence of the many associated dialects in the region and the constant language development. Cheers.

          • Flag of Truth says:

            @ Adam and Sunna

            Whatever references that you gave doesn’t carry any weightage on this issue. The Court of Appeal has given its jurisdiction and I have to agree with their explanation. Allah has never been an important part of Christian prayer. Not now and not since Nicean Creed. It is purely the missionaries strategy in Southeast Asia. So when you want to put this into a debate you have to take into consideration the Vatican opinion about this matter. If not, I suggest the Malaysian Catholic Church separates itself from the Vatican and create their own church. That is the only reasonable thing to do.

            • It doesn’t matter what you think. You can have all the opinions in the world about the Catholic Church and missionary strategies and yet Muslims still don’t have exclusive right over the word “Allah”. “Allah” is not like “Nike” or “Coca Cola” where Muslims have a trademark registration of the word. You don’t. And because you don’t, the word belongs to no one and everyone. And that means, it matters squat what you think about how Christians should conduct their affairs and how they should worship. You, and the Court of Appeal, have no constitutional nor legal right to dictate whether Christians can use “Allah” in their worship. Even if the Court of Appeal decision is upheld at the Federal Court, that doesn’t negate the fact that only Christians have a right to determine how they should worship and what to call God. Nobody else does.

          • Adam says:

            @FoT,

            The Court of Appeal judgement has been criticised far and wide as it has too many holes in it. As Malaysians, we should be ashamed of such quality of judgement as it reflects badly on our judiciary. Even John Malott, the former US ambassador to Malaysia, has recently written his comment on the issue and he has also criticised the judgement as well. His full comment can be read at: http://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/57490/

            And the Vatican has already given its support on the issue last year through their envoy to Malaysia. The Vatican deals with Catholics of all races speaking all languages and they know the issue very well. Muslims all over the world are also clear on this issue. Only some Muslims in Malaysia are so adamant that they cannot fathom the futility and impracticality of such a ban. Sad really.

  19. BBBangi says:

    @ adam & sutta
    None of the references you provided argue convincingly that Allah is a Malay word. So my statement earlier that Allah was never a Malay word, still stands.
    However, the references you provided seem to justify that Allah is also the Christian and Jewish god. But you failed to provide any references that the mainstream Christians are happy and endorse Allah as their official god and is widely used as the name to refer to their god.
    Therefore the references are just theoretical, academic and have no practical value as they do not match the current practice of mainstream Christians.

    • Adam says:

      @ BBBangi,

      I cannot understand why you cannot accept that Allah is a loan-word for God in Indonesian/Malay. There is a comprehensive book on loan-words in Indonesian and Malay compiled by the Indonesian etymological project. An extract can be read at: http://www.kitlv.nl/pdf_documents/asia-loan.pdf

      In case you still contend that Indonesian is not Malay, please bear in mind that the Malay language has its origins in Sumatra and possibly Borneo, and Indonesia is the centre of Alkitab translations which are being used by Malaysian Christians.

      And it is my personal opinion that the God/Allah of the Bible/Alkitab is the same as the Allah of the Quran. All the prophets of the Old Testament are the same as those in the Quran. How could the God of both be different? Only when it comes to Jesus/Isa and Prophet Mohammed, that there are disagreements. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son/Word of God who was crucified for the sins of mankind while Muslims believe Jesus was just a prophet and Prophet Mohammad was the last prophet. This divergence in doctrine must not be the reason to conclude that the Christian and Muslim God are now different. This does not make much sense.

      At most, we should rationalise that we are like the blind men and the elephant with the men having their own idea of the elephant depending on which parts they touch and feel. Although none of them would be totally right, all of them would at least be partially right. So, we should respect the beliefs of one another and strive to seek and learn more about our Almighty.

      As reported at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/churches-worldwide-lend-support-to-catholics-over-allah-row-as-a, more churches worldwide are giving their support to the local churches on the Allah issue just as they would also support the Arab/Maltese/Indonesian Christians in using the word. Just as they would support all minority Christian groups using any foreign language words to denote God. There is no confusion.

      • Flag of Truth says:

        @ Adam

        Your previous comments that claimed that Allah is indeed the same God that the Muslims worship is pretty much arguable. First of all, if you want to claim this then you should see whether the the mainstream Christian’s belief which is pretty much controlled by the Vatican agrees with your opinion or not. The problem now is the Vatican is not willing to acknowledge Allah because it will change the very basis of Christian theology. It is very peculiar why they are willing to be selective about this issue in Malaysia. To me it is quite simple, Allah has never been mentioned in the Bible before and putting the word in the Bible just seems strange. But there is certainly no dispute that it is clearly mentioned in the Quran about Allah, the one and only God.

        If Christianity is indeed the true religion :) , then there shouldn’t be any confusion on which God Christians should worship. Of course we can expect the variety of differences in terms of execution of certain religious practice but to have confusion on which God Christians should worship will shake the very foundation of the religious beliefs itself. Christians should be able to differentiate this confusion and if it is indeed some technical error were made by the missionaries during their work in the past, then it should be rectified because it is the only ethical and reasonable thing to do.

        Allah has never been part of Christian belief, but we Muslims pray to Allah 5 times a day, and we pray to Allah, the one and only God.

      • kamaruzzaman says:

        You said: “……This divergence in doctrine must not be the reason to conclude that the Christian and Muslim God are now different. This does not make much sense. ….”

        [...] Ini komen saya:

        Bukti yang tidak dapat disangkal bahawa Allah SWT bukan nama Tuhan orang Kristian:

        Rujukkan saya ialah kepada Alkitab Berita Baik dalam Bahasa Melayu terbitan The Bible Society Of Malaysia, Edisi Kedua, 2001.

        Didalam Alkitab Berita Baik, iaitu di mukasurat Pendahuluan, kenyataan ini ditulis:-

        “…………Akhirnya Alkitab dalam Bahasa Melayu ini dipersembahkan demi kemuliaan Kristus, Tuhan kita, semoga dengan berkat-Nya……….”

        Perhatikan nama tuhan orang Kristian itu:

        ””….. KRISTUS, Tuhan kita, semoga dengan berkat-Nya…..”

        Siapa nama tuhan orang Kristian?
        Jawabnya: Kristus.

        Siapa Kristus itu?
        Jawabnya: Kristus ialah satu gelaran – Christos (Yunani), Meshiach atau Messiah (Ibrani), Christ (Inggeris), Al Masih (Arabic) yang diberi kepada seorang manusia.

        Siapa manusia itu?
        Jawabnya: dia ialah Yesus Kristus (Jesus Christ) Si Anak Tuhan, yang juga dianggap Tuhan didalam kesatuan fahaman Triniti.

        Bukti nyata yang tertera didalam kitab mereka secara hitam putih ini menunjukkan kepada kita bahawa polemik Allah yang dicetuskan oleh umat [...] (Kristian) hanyalah untuk tujuan pendakyahan dikalangan umat Islam/Melayu.

        Maka jika ada pertanyaan isu Allah ini dari kalangan orang Kristian, tak perlu kita menghabiskan wang dan masa berdebat atau berforum atau berdiskusi. Kita hanya perlukan 1 minit sahaja untuk memusnahkan argumentasi mereka. Benar satu minit sahaja dan saya telah cuba dan ianya berkesan. Tunjukkan bukti dari kitab mereka sendiri. Habis cerita.

        Rumusannya: Allah SWT bukan Tuhan orang Kristian. [...]

      • Adam says:

        My opinion that the God of the 3 Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is the same one is based on the logical point of view. When all 3 faiths have the same prophets from Noah/Nuh to Abraham/Ibrahim to Moses/Musa, the sensible conclusion is that they worship the same God.

        These prophets were Jews and as prophesized by their Holy Book, Jews are waiting for their Messiah to come. Many Messianic Jews have accepted Jesus as their Messiah while most of the Jews are still waiting. The Christians believe that Jesus was the messiah who was crucified for the sins of mankind. Christians do not believe that there would be another prophet after Jesus. Muslims believe Isa to be the messiah and prophet but He was not crucified but raised alive and would come back at the end-times to judge mankind. These differences in belief doctrines should not be the reason to say there are different gods especially for the Christians and Muslims.

        The point of contention of the Muslims hinges on the Trinity doctrine of the Christians. According to the Quran (Surah 5:116), it implies that the Trinity seems to consist of God the Father, Jesus the Son and Mary the Mother. Of course, no Christian would believe that too. If the 3rd person of the Trinity is changed to the Holy Spirit, would Muslims find it acceptable? And if Jesus is considered as the Word of God, would it be more acceptable then? There are many articles explaining the Trinity concept and it is up to the individual to search for and ponder on the issue.

  20. Flag of Truth says:

    @ Adam

    The court’s actions actually reflect our constitution. The judiciary has the responsibility to preserve the constitution and also maintain peace and harmony in Malaysia. No foreigners should dictate what we Malaysian should do. Let me remind you that our constitution was drafted by the Reid Commission and approved by the British Government and the United Nations.

    You really think that we should listen to the Vatican’s envoy who actually knows that the Pope can only pretend to give support to this issue while refusing to admit to worship Allah in the Vatican itself? What hypocrisy. Try asking the envoy yourself whether he prays to Allah or not before taking his comments seriously :) .

    I am still waiting for anyone to answer my previous question. To which church do the people who want to pursue this issue belong?

    • kamaruzzaman says:

      They’re Catholics. This is their “aqeedah”.

      The Athanasian Creed:

      Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord…..”

      Can you understand it?

    • Adam says:

      @ FoT,

      On the contrary, the COA judgement was against the constitution which guarantees the rights of all citizens the freedom to practise the religion of their choice and not to curb or place obstacles to that freedom. If we compare the High Court judgement with that of the COA’s, there is a world of difference and anyone with a little sense of justice and fairness will be able to tell which the right one is.

      Our original Federal Constitution as drafted by the Reid Commission and accepted by all citizens then, has been amended more than 40 times involving more than 650 changes to various clauses. Most may be justified involving Sabah and Sarawak joining Malaysia but many of the clause amendments were dubious in nature and require reexamination. And the state enactments banning the word and other words are against the Federal Constitution and should be null and void.

      And you still do not appear to understand the logic of why the Pope who does not use the word in the Vatican, can still support its use in certain sections of his adherents. Please read the last paragraph of my last response to BBBangi above. Most of the worldwide churches do not use the word but are still giving their support just for the simple reason that people should have the right to use their own individual language to worship.

      The Catholics are not the only ones to pursue the issue although the Herald case was given an earlier hearing. The Sidang Injil Borneo (Borneo Evangelical Church) Sabah and a Sarawakian Christian, whose materials were confiscated, brought earlier cases against the government. Until today, the cases are still pending to be heard. You can read the news at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/print/malaysia/despite-court-ruling-other-allah-legal-challenges-to-proceed

      And if you think that the case is about the Catholics and the Herald, think again. The recent raid on BSM with 300-over Alkitab and even a few Bup Kudus confiscated, was not about a publication.

      • Flag of Truth says:

        @ Adam

        The court of appeal decision is right in its decision. Because if they allow the Christians to use Allah in their publication then it will certainly disturb the balance in the society. The COA was not rejecting the appeal just based on Muslim sentiments only but also taking into consideration that Allah has never been an important form in Christian prayer before.

        The COA can see the effects of this issue in Malaysia if they choose a decision in favour of the church. Article 3 (1) of Federal Constitution clearly says that Islam is the official religion according to the constitution and since Allah has never been an important part in Christian prayer and since Muslims are quite uneasy with the current church action [...], it is wise to have a ruling that can preserve the peace and harmony in Malaysia.

        If certain people have problem with the constitution then they have to go to the parliament and change it :) . The judiciary is only doing it best to preserve the spirit of the constitution. :) .

        • kamaruzzaman says:

          Salam,

          Even without the decision of the COA, the Muslims are right in their argument. Please my Christian friends, why don’t you stick to your own Bahasa Bible which tells us that Christ is your god.Prove that I am wrong. Let’s move forward for the betterment of our beloved country. It is here we’re born and it’s here we will die. To you your religion, to me mine. Let us put to rest our disagreement and prepare the country for our children to come. Respect our founding fathers, after all what we are now is the result of their struggles and hardships.

        • Adam says:

          @ FoT,

          It is really amazing and truly incredible that the COA judges and Muslims like you could make a statement that “Allah has never been an important part in Christian prayer” when it has been proven by documents, videos and real-life examples that the word has been used by certain language Christians for centuries and some even before the advent of Islam. It has indeed caused me to sit back and ponder if I am the one who has lost my sense of reason and logic.

          • Flag of Truth says:

            @ Adam

            Well I am just pointing out the obvious, that Allah has never been an important aspect in Christian’s teaching. There is no record of Christians worshipping Allah after the Nicean Creed. So if Christians did worship Allah before Emperor Constantine embraced Christian[ity], then you should denounce the current trinity doctrine that the mainstream Christians believe up to this day. You are proving that there is something a bit peculiar about the origin of Christian[ity] as we can see today.

            Allah has mentioned this in [the] Quran (Surah Al Imran:78):

            And indeed, there is among them a party who alters the Scripture with their tongues so you may think it is from the Scripture, but it is not from the Scripture. And they say, “This is from Allah ,” but it is not from Allah . And they speak untruth about Allah while they know.

          • Adam says:

            @ FoT,

            If you start questioning the history and theology of Christianity, you are only trying to distract and divert attention from the real issue at hand. Christians have used “Allah” to refer to God in their Alkitab while Muslims call their god “Allah”. Their reasons for using the word has already been explained in detail. I quote the website again for your benefit: http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2013/01/collated-resources-christians-from-pre-islam-arab-christians-to-bumiputera-christians-have-the-right-to-use-allah/

            Please answer the questions posted by Jacqueline in the other article, “The importance of “Allah”:

            1. What right do Malaysian Muslims have to claim exclusive right over the use of “Allah”? Show us proof of your copyright over the word.
            2. Does Islam call on Muslims to deny others their rights and freedoms? Show us proof that it does.

            May I add another: Do you admit that the East Malaysian Christians have been using the word for generations, well before the formation of Malaysia?

  21. kamaruzzaman says:

    Have you checked the Bahasa Bible yet?

  22. kamaruzzaman says:

    Before the controversy of the word Allah….

    1. The Christian expunged the verse on the trinity from the Bible.

    “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the father, the word and the holy ghost; and these three are one – 1 John 5:7 (KJV)”.
    All new modern versions in the English language do not have this verse but in the vernicular eg. Chinese, Arabic, tamil, and Indonesian still has the verse.

    2. The Christian deleted the word “BEGOTTEN” from the Bible.
    ” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only BEGOTTEN son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life – John 3:16 (KJV)”.

    The new verse reads ” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only (deleted) son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life – John 3:16 (NIV, NRSV and others)

    3. The Christian took out the verses on the ascension of Jesus Christ from the text and made them only as a footnote.

    “So then after the lord has spoken unto them he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God – Mark 16:19″ (KJV),

    “And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and was carried up into heaven – Luke 24:51″ (KJV).

    But lo and behold! this particular verse was reinserted back into the text.

    So, before the controversy, the Christians have taken three steps closer to the door of Islam.

    No more Trinity, No more Begotten son and no more ascension.

    Then, whatever the outcome of the Allah controversy, it’s time to talk to the Christians about the fallacies of their religion. Go and knock at their churches, their homes and their places of work. Invite them to Islam. After all it’s them that started to infringe in our religion. They disturb the bee hives.

    • Adam says:

      Salam,

      It is good to research into all religions in the search for the so-called truth or to do a comparative study to satisfy ourselves that what we believe is the “truth”. In this modern age of the internet, we could easily let our fingers do the searching.

      According to Wikipedia sources, there are more than 500 language translations for the complete Bible while there are about 2800 partial translations. Most, if not all, Bible translations have been done with references to Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek Bible versions. And there have been constant updates due to language developments over time. New words could be used and certain words could be replaced after careful research and considerations.

      Your query on the word “begotten” has been asked by Muslims very often. There are many such queries based on Quranic verses as tabulated at: http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/tqachrist.html and the Christians have given their explanation and clarification at: http://www.answering-islam.org/Who/jesus_monogenes.html Of course, it has been discussed in other forums as well and a few clicks are all it takes to read those articles. Whether you accept the explanation is another matter.

      The usage of the word “Allah” by Christians has also been explained on many websites. In short, Christians use the word to mean God while most Muslims call their God by that name. Many Muslims also believe that their God should not have a name.

  23. kamaruzzaman says:

    The problem with the Christian and Jews is that they don’t have the original. The book in their hands are copies made from translation of the original which is now lost. So, everything in the book are from hearsay. The Quran rightly say: “So woe to those who write the “scripture” with their own hands, then say, “This is from Allah in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn.”(Holy Quran: 2:79)
    “Indeed, they who conceal what Allah has sent down of the Book and exchange it for a small price – those consume not into their bellies except the Fire. And Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them. And they will have a painful punishment.” (Holy Quran 2: 174)

  24. Adam says:

    The Christians have defended the reliability of the Bible with evidences from many sources as tabulated at: http://answering-islam.org/Bible/ and http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/Manuscript.html

    They have also refuted the Muslims’ claims of Bible corruption at: http://bibleprobe.com/corruptedquran.htm

    Muslims have also their own website at: http://www.answering-christianity.com/ac.htm to discuss such issues with the Christians. It is up to the individuals to ponder on all the points raised and discussed.

  25. Kathy says:

    Wow I’m fascinated by this site which I came upon on a friend’s FB page. I was born and raised a catholic and spent many many happy years attending SFX church where the Herald is published. In the mid nineties I think Father OC Lim started using the word Allah in church. I remember some of us being initially outraged and then changing our thinking to ‘why not, BM is our official language so it is ok to be patriotic.’ Only later did we notice that the congregation in our church had started to include a lot of East Malaysians. And we started having a lot of our services in BM. This was to allow the East Malaysians to be included in the services as they did not speak/understand english. The rest of us Indian and Chinese [Malaysians] understood BM so it was ok although I must say I used to feel a little bit annoyed at the same time as I was used to the English services.

    It’s been more than ten years now since I became a lapsed Catholic and five years since I migrated to live in Australia. All I can say from reading all the immensely interesting comments above is that I feel both sad and happy.

  26. Kathy says:

    Sad because my Muslim friends are unhappy over this issue. Happy because this kind of discussion is allowed to happen.I am now an atheist but I fervently believe in respecting ALL religions.
    When this issue started coming up years ago when I was still a practising Catholic, I used to think ‘Why cant we just stop using the word Allah and let our Muslim friends be at peace.’

    Now I see the argument for both sides. As said earlier, I’m no longer a Catholic but I support the use of Allah in the bible for the simple reasons below:

    a. The Christians who use it are not doing it to annoy Muslims
    b. Allah means God to them not the ‘name’ of God.
    c. The word Allah was used before Islam was founded so I cannot understand why Muslims in Malaysia want to claim it exclusively for themselves.

    To kamaruzzamanm, Flag of Truth and BBangi I say this:
    As a former Catholic I am sorry that you feel outraged by the use of the word Allah in the Malay Bibles. All I can suggest is that you think of it this way:

    In Malaysia the word ALLAH has two meanings
    Meaning One: The name of the Muslim God
    Meaning Two: General name for God ( for e.g in the English language when we say God we do not link it to ANY faith at all. It is just like when a person says Oh my God. We just think of a supreme being.
    Also as a Catholic (lapsed) I can quite safely say that Jesus is not considered to be ‘God’. He is Lord. As he lay dying on the cross he called out ‘My God, My God why have you forsaken me.’
    I can see how confusing all this is (especially the concept of the Trinity).
    It was very confusing for us Catholics but the beauty of it all was that we did not let it bother us. We left it to the Theologicans. I guess all we wanted was to belong to a community that had wonderful, uplifting and gloriously healing ceremonies. A togetherness which to this day I value and miss. A sense of belonging.

  27. Kathy says:

    One thing I hope my Muslim brothers and sisters will enlighten me on is this:

    If it upsets you so much it must be because you can see or hear it being used.
    As I understand it the Catholics only use it in church during services or when they discuss religious issues and it is only the East Malaysians who use it so really a very small percentage of the Catholic population (in Peninsular Malaysia).
    It is not being sung out as praise and worship over loudspeakers for the whole neighbourhood (irrespective of their religion) and
    Muslims are forbidden to attend Church. They are not allowed to handle bibles so I am really wondering when or how you heard it.

    I used to live in a kampong area and the sound of the Muslim call to prayer was comforting to me in the early hours of the morning.
    I sincerely hope our Muslim friends accept without anger the East Malaysian Catholics form of worship especially since they have been doing it for ages without any problems.

  28. Kim yap says:

    This article reflects the ideals of a true Malaysian for a better Malaysia. PKR where is your leadership? The rakyat will not be fooled twice.


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