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“Christians won’t stop using Allah”

THE attacks on Malaysian churches were a shocking way to start 2010. The unprecedented violence made headlines internationally as the foreign media pulled apart Malaysia’s carefully constructed image as a moderate Muslim nation. Following the attacks, there have been calls for Christians to drop their claim to refer to God as “Allah” for the sake of national harmony.


Metro Tabernacle Church in Kuala Lumpur was attacked on 8 Jan 2010 (Pic courtesy of Sivin Kit)

But should Christians back down on calling God “Allah” when they have been using “Allah” for centuries? How do Christians feel in the wake of the attacks? How should they respond?

Council of Churches of Malaysia Youth Moderator and executive council member Chrisanne Chin and Bangsar Lutheran Church pastor Rev Sivin Kit shared their views with The Nut Graph on 11 Jan 2010 in Petaling Jaya. Kit is also co-initiator of Christian advocacy website The Micah Mandate.

TNG: Why do Christians have to use “Allah” to refer to God in Bahasa Malaysia? Why can’t it be substituted with “Tuhan”?

Sivin Kit: It’s historically evident that Malaysian Christians have been using “Allah” to refer to God in our Bible translations and publications since before Independence. From the perspective of Bible translation, it is consistent with translation methodology and principles for “Allah” to be translated as God in Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia. For Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians, referring to God as “Allah” is part and parcel of the fabric of their faith life.

What is your response to the suggestion that “Allah” be used by Christians only in Sabah and Sarawak, but not in Peninsular Malaysia?

Chrisanne Chin: That’s not viable. East Malaysians come to Peninsular Malaysia to study and work. They ask for Bahasa Malaysia church services because that’s the language they’re comfortable with. They also use their Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia bibles which translate God as “Allah”.

Kit (Courtesy of Sivin Kit and Ong Eng Jee)

Kit: Once we go down that path, it will raise the question of what 1Malaysia really means. Christians in Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia referring to God in different ways creates an awkward situation. It does not solve the problem. In fact, it would create even more confusion.

In the light of the attacks on churches, do you think Christians should compromise on using “Allah”?

Chin: I don’t think churches are intimidated, I don’t think they’re going to stop using “Allah”. It’s just part of language. Ibans call God “Allah Taala”, it’s part of the Iban language. You can’t say it’s Indonesian. It’s not. How can you tell an indigenous Malaysian not to use his [or her] own language? It’s a little bit ridiculous.

Kit: I think that the Christian community, and specifically the Catholic Church, is under a lot of pressure to back down. If the attacks are indeed linked, and if Christians stopped using “Allah” because of them, we would be legitimising these attacks. We would be saying this method is the right way to resolve problems. This would be sending the wrong signal. The threat of violence is not the way to pressure any particular group. We need to rise above this and intensify our efforts to sit down together and work towards a solution.

How would you advise Christians to respond to these attacks?

Chin: No need to panic, don’t be intimidated … We need to pursue what’s right. If we talk about justice, mercy and righteousness — this is the path we have to take. This opens a path to dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Christians have to rise above violence and show leadership on how to pursue this issue.

Kit: For Christians, this is an opportunity to draw spiritual resources from their faith traditions. That will help us to be firm and yet gentle in our engagement, even with those who disagree with us. This is a very important opportunity for us to really engage at a deeper level, of really respecting and understanding where each of us is coming from.

Syed Hamid Albar

What would you like or expect from the government?

Chin: Go back to the status quo [when Christians used "Allah" freely]. We didn’t start this. It was (then Home Minister Tan Sri) Syed Hamid Albar who made that ruling in 2007 to give Herald a tough time, which has [escalated] to what it is now. He also flip-flopped on the issue.

We need good, strong leadership from the government. Be firm, don’t politicise “Allah” for the sake of Umno. Set up an interfaith commission. Allow scholars, mufti, pastors and priests to talk. It will be a good way to help educate people about how to think through and solve problems.

Kit: The government must go beyond superficial band-aid approaches. I would expect the prime minister to immediately meet church leaders and also other [religious] leaders. I also expect the government to initiate dialogues where the facts of this matter can be presented to those who have strong opinions against it.

There have been groups that were involved in the [8 Jan 2010] protests that say they want to help to protect churches. We would prefer that zeal to be transferred towards coming and sitting down at the same table to talk about this. So that they hear from us directly and understand our point of view, and not depend on misinformation from Utusan Malaysia, for example.

A private interfaith dialogue has been mooted by the government to resolve the issue. Will that work?

Kit: The problem with closed-door dialogues is it gives people a sense of secrecy and lack of transparency in the discussions. There’s a hunger for more openness. This would also be an opportunity to be bipartisan. The dialogue should include key non-governmental organisations (NGO) and Pakatan Rakyat leaders. This is a chance for the government to show leadership that goes beyond personal politics.

We should have an open and public dialogue for awareness and education where the official representatives of faith communities can state their positions.

Chin


Chin: If they are genuine about interfaith dialogue, it shouldn’t end with just dialogue. There should be an interfaith commission or council. Make it open, clarify the purpose and objectives and what they’re trying to establish. There shouldn’t just be talk to placate people, and that’s it.

Kit: People may actually be more worried about conversion rather than the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims. There have been comments, for example, on the intent and the motivation to maintain the use of “Allah” among Christians. If this is the case, we need to be able to discuss the conversion issue, which is separate from the use of “Allah”. This goes all ways, whether it’s Muslims converting to Christianity or vice versa. If there is suspicion and unhappiness on the part of either party, we need to talk about it openly and work towards some form of relating to each other.

Are the attacks and the angry responses to the 31 Dec 2009 High Court decision an indication that the relationship between Muslims and Christians has deteriorated in Malaysia?

Chin: I don’t think so. I don’t think all Muslims share the same thinking. I think Muslims and Christians still love and respect each other and this has just been exploited by some groups to the country’s detriment. We have to see ourselves first as Malaysians and work together. After 50 years of independence, it’s about time Christians and Muslims get together to talk openly about what really bugs them.

Kit: On the surface, it may appear to be a setback. Unfortunately, many may not be aware of the good relations between Muslims and Christians and people of other faiths. There have been encouraging signs such as interfaith forums organised in universities and between different faith-based NGOs.

Many Muslims actually spoke out to reject and condemn the violence. Over 120 groups, including Muslim groups, signed a joint statement within 24 hours condemning the attacks. These incidents have shown a greater willingness to improve on our relationship. I do not want to deny that there are still certain quarters who may lack contact with each other. This is an important call to wake us up, and it applies to Muslims and Christians alike.

For related stories, see In the Spotlight: Political Islam

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44 Responses to ““Christians won’t stop using Allah””

  1. Ellese A says:

    It’s apparent that they don’t ever consider the views and feelings of Muslims. It’s apparent that they want to escalate [sic] to peninsular Malaysia. If they can’t even consider these sensitivities, Muslims should do likewise.

  2. Leithaisor says:

    If there are genuine Muslim concerns that there may be confusion, or that the use of “Allah” is an attempt to convert Muslims, perhaps the solution may be in using a form of “Allah” which clearly indicates that it is the form used by Christians and other non-Muslims.

    Without “backing down”, which may be construed as “legitimising the attacks”, it would be good for leaders from both the Muslim and non-Muslim (including the Sikh) citizens of our nation to sit down and work this out.

    If, as Chrisanne Chin pointed out, the Iban language already has “Allah Taala”, that term may be a good choice, or at least serve as a starting point for discussions.

  3. may the Force be with you says:

    Ignorance leads to fear…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate….and hate leads to the DARK side.

    Conversion, conversion, conversion…why do some Muslims feel so inferior about their religion? Why do they think that their religion is inferior? By worrying about conversions when ‘Allah’ is used IN CHURCHES, aren’t they in fact demonstrating that they have self doubt? That they doubt their own religion? By using the law, does that not show that they think they NEED the law? That the religion can’t stand on its own? If I had faith in my own strengths, I would REJOICE that Christians would be more open to ‘Allah’ as I explain my claim that although we attempt to worship the same ‘Allah’, my version of Him is the right one. [...]

  4. U-Jean says:

    “Christians have to rise above violence and show leadership on how to pursue this issue.”

    You have my respect indeed.

    The government has yet to earn mine.

  5. “If the attacks are indeed linked, and if Christians stopped using “Allah” because of them, we would be legitimising these attacks. We would be saying this method is the right way to resolve problems. This would be sending the wrong signal. ”

    Very well said!

  6. EUREKA! says:

    I finally understand … ignorance leads to fear. Feelings of inferioritiy leads to actions of trying to be superior. It’s not about love for God, it’s not about right or wrong . It’s about being superior. “My God is SUPERIOR to your God. My people is Superior to your people.”

    [...]

  7. sringangel says:

    This is stupidity to its core. Is this how you teach your kids now?

    [...]

    Are adults these days so irrational? If being an adult means doing stupid things like these, I rather stay a kid. Call me immature because I like it that way.
    I’m seriously ashamed and embarrassed of the recent events. As much as I try to shut my eyes and ears from Malaysian news that’s always been about nothing but stupidity, it still reaches me one way or another. Idiocy knows no boundaries, huh.

  8. mike says:

    This issue is clearly politically motivated and is distracting Malaysians from issues that require more attention like Teoh Beng Hock’s death, [missing] jet engines, corruption, and etc. It’s like ‘buying time’ for something else. Asking the Christians in Sabah & Sarawak not to use “Allah” is like asking a child who has been calling their father ‘Abba’ for generations [to stop because] someone using a strong arm comes along and tells them that [...] someone else wants to make it exclusive [...]. This [shows] the [lack of humanity], narrow-mindedness, and selfishness of these people.

  9. hyppocrite says:

    Politics should leave religions alone ! We are already have enough political hypocrisy in every religion!

  10. Tan says:

    It looks like Malaysia lacks Home Ministers of calibre. This ex-Home Minister [created] too [many] problems [for] the whole nation. He is a lawyer but only apply the laws selectively [...] and not according to enactments by Parliament. As a result, our society has ended up with all sort of controversies. He was the first to arrest an MP & a journalist under ISA [...]. He banned the use of the word “Allah” that [has caused an atmosphere where churches are now being attacked] after [the] High Court [judgement]. Inter-faith dialogue will only result with solutions if all interested parties attend with an open mind, or else no matter how many dialogues or discussions taking place, the controversy will always exist.

  11. Azizi Khan says:

    It really bugs me to think that some Muslims have this great concern they’ll trip and fall into Christianity or any other religion. Even our leaders use this as an excuse all the time to politicize Islamic agendas.

    At the same time, who is pushing Islam into schools and government bodies ? Who is using each and every means necessary to push Islam as widely as possible ?

    So why blame people who are innocent ?

    A genuine Muslim understands Islam is about brotherhood. Not only Muslims but everyone. In Malaysia there are a lot of Muslims who are Muslims by technicality (i.e., Muslims because they happened to be born into the religion but don’t do anything.) or Muslims by fashion (i.e., do whatever Arabs do, dress like them, have a beard like them and what not ) but both groups totally miss the point of being a Muslim.

    AK

  12. Ram says:

    I don’t understand what the issue. The word “Allah” is in the Holy Scriptures for the SikhS addressing GOD before Islam. The excuse of that it will cause confusion is all rubbish. If I call my dad “PAPA” and my neighbour also calls his dad the same, does this mean we will be confused? Or that I might not be sure who my DAD is?! I wonder how stupid one can one be. FYI, the word Allah has been used thousands of years even before Islam.

  13. ??? says:

    Let’s say for argument’s sake that Christians agree to make ‘Tuhan’ the name of their God. What happens if a Muslim exclaims (as I have heard often) ” Ya Allah, ya Tuhan ku”…Oh My (Muslim)God, my (christian) God?…Another round of confusing sensitivities?

    • mike samuel says:

      Absolutely NO confusion!! First you differentiate “word” from “name”. “TUHAN” is “god” (in English) or “minamangun” (in Kadazan). Yahushuah is “Yesus” (in Indonesian/Melayu) or YAHWEH is the “I AM” in the Christian Bible. Clearly, the “TUHAN” represents the “generic” term for “god” or “deity” and can be used by the Malays, Iban, Kadazan in the generic form when referring to the deity that they worship. For Muslims to say: “Ya, Allah; Tuhan ku..”, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with it in their context. But, for Christians to utter such phrase is UTTERLY blasphemous to the Name of YAHWEH! For the Christians, it should be: “Ya, YAHWEH; Tuhan Ku..” That should distinguish between a Muslim and a Christian. However, if you ERR in the nomenclature and etymology, then for a certainty, you will get terribly confused. “GOD” is “GENERIC” whilst “YAHWEH” is “SPECIFIC”. Do NOT ever forget this….Agape Love.

  14. abu sayab says:

    All Malaysians, let’s unite!! Say “no” to this corrupted and extremist Umno government in the next general election. Kick them out for the betterment of the country and the rakyat!

  15. R.Prem Kumar says:

    The Government will call for calm after getting the top cop to say ‘take of yourselves, we don’t have enough cops if something were to happen to your houses of worship’… and whilst this has reached the crescendo, then comes to anti-climatic surprise wherein the Federal Court will rule in favour of the Court of Appeal which will will disagree with the High Court. Yawn!

  16. Edward Sp says:

    How do you think the authorities are going enforce the word “Allah” so that non-Muslims won’t use the word? The is assuming the Federal Count rules that non-Muslims can’t use the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, in Bahasa Malaysia Worship and Bahasa Malaysia literature.

    My wife is a Sabahan. She uses the Bahasa Indonesia Bible. My wife, children and myself, attend a Bahasa Malaysia service every Sunday where the word Allah is used. Everyone in that service will be carrying a Bahasa Indonesian Bible. Now how do you say the Islamic authorities are going to enforce the new law against non-muslims from using Allah?

    There are so many Bahasa Malaysia Churches in West Malaysia and in East Malaysia. Are the Islamic authorities planning to walk into the service? Then we will be asked to surrender our Bahasa Indonesian or Bahasa Malaysian Bibles? They will seize all literature and worship songs having the word “Allah” in it. If we resist, will they arrest us and charge us in court. Will this be a likely scene that will be playing out soon in Malaysia?

  17. Andrew says:

    Very educational and without bias. Keep it up.

  18. Merlin says:

    Dear Chris and Kit,
    I am a Christian though not Roman Catholic, and would beg you to enlighten me on the following: You mentioned that by agreeing not to use the ” A word ” one would be legitimising the desecration of the places of worship.

    Is this not a misplaced comment? We have laws here that would consider them as acts as vandalism. Whether the police acts on them is another issue. In the cow head incidence the perpetrators were taken to court and the Hindu place of worship moved. Would you still consider that incident as legitimising the actions of a few religious hooligans [?]

    You also mentioned that over 120 Muslims organizations have condemned the actions of the desecration. However, they did not endorse the “A word” did they? There is a major difference.

    It was also mentioned that the “A word” is indigenous to the Christian natives of East Malaysia and it would be ridiculous to change it. All languages undergo changes. In most instances for the better. Could you both indicate to us if the “A word” is more synonymous to Islam or more to the language of the natives of East Malaysia? If it is the former, should you not then give the word the RESPECT due to it? Now that you have the attention of many Muslims NGOs, would it not be wiser to approach them and give your views [?]

    For example, like your use of the word, could you not find a way to indicate that this word is widely used by the Muslims, like an ‘M’ in a circle, just like a trade mark would? Or, is there no way for you to also print in bold at the beginning or at the bottom “This Article is meant for Non-Muslims Only”. By doing so would you not rid the issue or confusion and conversion.

    You see, here we are not chanting about who is right or who is wrong, rather, we are DOING WHAT IS RIGHT. Dumb pride destroys: humbleness enriches.

    You know as well as I do in the event the case comes up for mention up to the Federal Court, you chances of wining is at best slim. So, will you still persist to use the “A word”? That would be inviting trouble would it not? Here lies an opportunity to accommodate, use it wisely.

  19. kamal says:

    “Christians have to rise above violence and show leadership on how to pursue this issue.”

    I beg to differ. This implies that only Christians were affected by the violence. Actually, since we don’t know who did it or why, I would think the attack affected all of us – Malaysians. In Sabah and Sarawak, it is not uncommon for a family to have family members from different faiths. Malaysia is such, we are a big family made up of many people of different faiths and cultures. Throwing molotov cocktails or stones at any religious establishment, in this context one might say is very un-Malaysian. Hiding behind anonymity is plain cowardice. So I would say, Malaysians have shown they are above the violence – for the many who offer prayers of forgiveness as well as the show of solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters in this unfortunate series of events. It is good than we have risen above the violence and shown ourselves to be a compassionate and mature society.

  20. Brian says:

    Why are Malaysian Muslims so fearful over the potential conversions to Christianity merely through confusion over a common word to refer to God in both religions?

    There is a law in this country that prohibits proselytizing Muslims. And you have the government machinery and funding of Muslim missionary & dakwah work amongst the Orang Asli as well as amongst the bumiputras of Sabah and Sarawak.

    What more is needed to make the Malaysian Muslims less fearful and more confident?

    Will them knowing that Christians in East Malaysia are being converted at a very much faster rate to Islam, than there are Muslims being converted to Christianity in whole of Malaysia, helps instill some ‘confidence’ in them?

  21. muslim says:

    Peace be upon us all.

    “If Allah has no Son by definition, Allah is NOT the God who revealed himself in the Son. How then can the use of Allah by Christians lead to anything but confusion … and worse?” [Quote by] Dr R Albert Mohler, Jr, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. See http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070823/is-calling-the-christian-god-allah-wrong/index.html

    “Allah” is not even a Malay word. Its was as foreign as “Elohim” or “Yahweh” or even “Gott” or “Dio”. A 400-year-old inaccuracy should be corrected now that the mistake has been pointed out. If they really have to translate their Holy Book, Malay-speaking Christians should choose a proper Malay word to denote their deity instead of sharing it with another completely different system of belief. Otherwise, leave the Book in its original language, and learn the language instead in order to understand it.

    Then again, it would not be the Christian style, would it? Christian missionaries have almost always tried to sneak in the local culture wherever they landed. Check out how the Catholic church of India had included verses from the Bhagavad Gita and references to Ramayana and Mahabharata in their recently published version there, and you would see how far they would go.

    “Christ” can be translated into “Kristus” and Jesus into “Yesus”. How come “God” cannot be translated into… I don’t know, you go figure.

    Check out:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_God_in_Christianity
    http://christian.families.com/blog/the-names-of-our-god

    There are plenty of protests (ill-informed or stubborn at best) against using the more appropriate “Elohim” instead of “Allah”. Visit http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/121781

    Modern Bibles have all appeared to avoid (except, perhaps, the Hebrew version, if any) using the original names (Elohim, El-Shaddai, Adonai, Yahweh, Jehovah or even YHWH).

    French > Dieu
    Portuguese > Deus
    Spanish > Dios
    Italian > Dio
    German > Gott
    English > God
    Chinese > ?
    Indian > ?

    Why? Why is there no PROPER name for one (or three) Almighty Being(s), no matter in what language He(They) is(are) referred to? If only the Christian god had a proper name, all these would not have happened, kan? Kan?

  22. Ex-convent girl says:

    I remember the times when I studied at the main convent school (Convent Light Street) in Penang in the 1960s. We enjoyed friendship with students from different religions. I remember having good friends who were Muslims. They never went to church on Friday mornings when other students went with the nuns. My Muslim friends understood then even at that young age that we should respect each other’s religions. And as young girls, we referred to each other’s god as “Allah”. They would say, “Today is Friday, you are going to church to pray to your Allah.” And the non-Muslim girls would say, “Yes lah we pray in the morning in church to our Allah and you all pray in the afternoon to your Allah when you go home.” We were young and so pure and innocent when we mentioned each other’s religions and used the word “Allah” for our God. Over the years I never once thought that this spiritual word of “Allah” would bring such immature controversy fanned by our immature politicians.

    • mike samuel says:

      Not “immature”; ask Dr. Mahathir and Nik Aziz who their Allah really is. Why don’t you read these two articles “ALLAH IS NOT THE GOD OF THE BIBLE (by Pst Brutus Balan) and “INVESTIGATING ALLAH” (by Al Gharib)?? Then perhaps you will write something different.For a truth, you have NO idea that “god” in Arabic is “Ilah” and that “Allah” in Arabic is till “Allah” in other languages of the world. Why?? Because according to Islam, the name “ALLAH” is NEVER translated into other languages. I agree. How do you translate the name of YAHUSHUA into the Malayalam language?? How do you traslate “Mike” into Russian?? Differentiate between TRANSLATION and TRANSLITERATION. They are NOT the same. Mike in American may be transliterated into “Mikhail’ in Russian but that is done thro’ transliteration and not vide translation. So is Allah. It is not translated into “god” in English. The word for “god” in Arabic is “Ilah” whilst Allah represents the name or SPECIFIC name / proper noun unlike the word “Ilah” which is a word just like “god”. In the Muslim kalimah: “La Ilahi Al-alah”, you don’t translate that as “No god but God..”, do you? What’s “god” and “God”?? Two different entities or they are the SAME – ie both are “words”?? That Muslim kalimah could only be translated as “THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH”. Now, that’s absolutely clear to any one that “ALLAH” is a proper name of the Muslim deity (ilah) just like YAHUSHUAH is the name of the Christian elohim. YAHWEH is a NAME, but ELOHIM is a WORD. Hope you will not ERR again on this subject-matter. Agape Love.

  23. Jerry says:

    The article is to the point and sums up what many of us Christians think: that we cannot capitulate to this sort of intimidation and thuggery. In a way, these are terrorist attacks on the Christian and now Sikh communities. The real issue has been examined from a legal [perspective] — the High Court decision — and a Islamic point of view, by the PAS leadership.

    PAS has given a very clear interpretation of what the Qur’an says in reference to the people of the Abrahamic faiths and how they address God. If this is a matter of faith, should not the Qur’an and explanations/interpretations of it by religious scholars prevail, rather than the perceived sensitivities, views and feelings? Should not God’s voice shine through the murk?

  24. Ted Seeber says:

    Seeing as how Christianity is a good 600 years older than Islam, I’d suggest the truth is that Muslims use the term “Allah” in an effort to convert Christians, not the other way around. Christians were here long before the Prophet Mohammad lead armies into Mecca.

  25. jiminy qrikert says:

    Ellese A, you are absolutely wrong. Christians and Sikhs do consider the views and feeling of Muslims. It just that we need to also take into account the worldview and global perspective on this issue. Arab Christians use Allah, they have no other word. All other Muslims in the world have no issue. There are 260mil Muslims in Indonesia who have no problem with printing Bibles with Allah in them. Sikhism exists beyond Malaysia. Allah is used in their Holy Book. So, those who oppose use of Allah by non-Muslims is only a fraction of 1% of all Muslims in the world. Against this bigoted view is arrayed all Islam, all Arab Christians, the E.Msian Christians, all Sikhs and the majority of fair-minded Malays. These bigots are losing out so they resort to violence. Criminal intimidation.

  26. Tiger YK says:

    A lot of patience is needed when dealing with uncivilised … people. They have been brainwashed from birth. The NEP has permanently damaged their brains. They are not aware that Umno is taking advantage of their weakness. To them, the world is very small. They are still living inside a coconut shell. Very pitiful indeed.

  27. Darren Ching says:

    The word “Allah” predates Islam. Further, I cannot comprehend how the word “Allah” can confuse the people. Islam is Islam and Christianity is Christianity. Both are descendants of ABRAHAM before Islam branched out. So Christianity predates Islam.

  28. albet says:

    It’s not the issue of winning or losing, but all of us now realise there is an urgency for dialogue, even though the need [was denied] just a few years ago. Take this as challenge to help us truly grow as multireligious nation which has a higher level of understanding. Among the non-Muslims, there is a group called the Malaysian Consultative Counsel of Buddhism Hinduism Christianity and Sikhism. Clearly the Muslims have not joined this group. But it would be good to be with one another, where we have an avenue for dialogue in order to achieve mutual understanding.

  29. good news! says:

    The Christian god is “Tuhan” in Malay. The Rukunegara says “Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan”. I’m okay. Are you okay? Kids won’t be confused, I’m sure. But maybe the adults will.

  30. Abu Bakar says:

    The present Umno leadership is a disgrace, not only to the Malays, but to all Malaysians.

  31. Peter says:

    When the race card fails, play the religious card. The Allah issue is politics, with politicians adopting the British adage “divide and rule”: namely to break the PKR alliance, causing disunity in PAS, and in the meantime proclaim that they are defending Muslim rights and that their brand of Islam is better. This has been the practice in BTN (Biro Tatanegara) courses when racist doctrines were propagated, and is still being supported by some of our leaders. So why not religion as a propaganda tool?

    The Allah issue is not sudden; some of the discriminatory practices implemented by the then ruling government and still are being practised. It started when the then Home Minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar arbitrarily decided to make ruling in 2007 to give the Herald a tough time. This was the height of Umno arrogance, ketuanan Melayu, keris waving etc., to give the impression that they are protecting and defending Malay rights and privileges.

    In the meantime, other practices that are intended to intimidate were and are being used. Our East Malaysian brothers ask what is problem; why this fuss about wanting to use the word “Allah”? It is a culmination of many issues, and I am rather relieved that the Catholic church has been brave enough to see this issue through legally and transparently, unlike some quarters that wish it be discussed behind closed doors.

    Perhaps our East Malaysians have not been denied the right hold their religious services. But permits to build churches and temples are denied because of petty issues like church bells not being allowed, buildings cannot be taller than a mosque, not enough people of the same faith in the area, etc. Accuse the authorities of these things, and it is easy for them to deny it as they are discussed behind closed doors.

    Churches and other religious places have places of worships have been torn down because they have been built without permits and are thus illegal. As a result, many churches are forced to rent shop lots, which only accommodate a limited number of people. Those wishing to hold larger services rent halls, which could have also been rented out for an event where a drunken party could have occurred and lewd jokes spoken. Places of worship are forced to be build in factory areas far from their congregation, forced to look like factories.

    How can our leaders stand up at international conferences and protest that Palestinians are intimidated and deprived of their rights when intimidation is practised and encouraged in Malaysia? I pray that that everyone and the whole world can see these lies and pray for peace and harmony, with each religion seeing the good in each other.

  32. Kamal says:

    Merlin,

    Wow…cleverly deceptive. At a glance it sounds rational and persuasive even, but upon closer reading and it becomes evidently clear [...] :-)

    Whatever the outcome, the word Allah has it roots in a region and culture that over time has been successively and successfully introduced to many other regions in the world. Today the Sikh community uses the term Allah, the Iban as we are told use Allah as well and various terms like Firman, Jibrail and Ta’ala (if I am not mistaken) have been adapted to local indigenous beliefs. To me the debate particularly between Muslims and Christians, is about the Doctrine of God (what constitutes God) – both believe in God as monotheistic. Christianity hold to the doctrine of God as the Trinity and Islam to the Doctrine of God as Oneness. Since both are monotheistic religions – it should make no sense to say ‘your God and my God’…both fundamentally agree there is only one God. It is perhaps more accurate perhaps to say your religion and my religion. But let’s agree that one’s choice in faith is personal and not a demonstration of right or wrong. Since each one who has faith in a religion will always claim theirs to be the truth. Hence it is a pointless argument.

    The question over confusion and conversion is often paraded as synonymous but are these [really the same thing]? Do people get tricked into conversion – if one accepts that conversion requires acceptance, a voluntary action, how can a Muslim accidentally become a Christian? It is generally agreed that both religions share a common genealogy yet the way they present their narratives and structure the content are different. You will notice this if you go as far as browsing through the Bible. In Malaysia, it is forbidden to proselytize to Malay [Malaysians], so the likelihood of a Malay Muslim encountering a bible in BM diminishes.

    I would suggest, rather than continue to focus the debate on who can use what, let us work out the important things in society – after all if anyone picks up a book on the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him) you will find him to be a practical statesman with concerns about the everyday affairs in this life; and through responsible conduct in this life that we address the needs for the next. We are often told, ‘This life is like preparing for a long journey’.

    I am not a scholar on Islam or even an enlightened Muslim, but what little I know tells me we are encouraged to lead responsible lives. We are not to depend on others to decide and tell us what to do. We have all the faculties to make rational decisions. We are judged on our choices and actions. We who profess Islam as our faith should ask ourselves, is denying another faith the [freedom to practice] Islamic? Can those who strongly opposed the use of Allah by non-Muslims clearly say that to allow it is somehow endangering Muslims? But how do we explain the practice in other Muslim countries? For that matter, how can we explain the many peaceful years the term Allah has and remains to be used by Christians in their everyday lives in Malaysia? Muslims disagree with the Christian doctrine of God, but how does the belief of others impinge on us? If we are honest in our reflection, I suspect we will all come to the conclusion that it doesn’t. If there is a crisis of faith in Malay Muslims, first, let us look at our community and ourselves. To blame others is simply to deny ourselves responsibility over our actions.

    But let us also remember than in a democratic society people have a right to voice their opinion albeit peacefully. If some Muslims feel uncomfortable with the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims, they should be allowed to register their protests. But the law and government should reflect the constitution in the longterm interests of all regardless of their status as majority or minority. To appease the majority without recourse to other interests is often to lapse into a tyranny of the majority. However, I would suggest that as events are not represented accurately enough (it’s all really opinions – no one’s done an opinion survey), to assume there is a majority support for or against in this issue is premature. So let’s all take a step back and recognize this is not an issue divided by religious affiliations – not all Muslims in Malaysia oppose the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims. So I think it is a little unfair to continue to address the issue as if there already exists distinctions along religious lines. I am a Muslim who feels it is wrong for the state to intercede in the practice of one’s faith – because this is not a matter for public interest, rather it is private.

  33. gee says:

    Merlin, yo.

    The Herald and other publications has “FOR NON Muslims Only”:

    1. Bahasa Malaysia is the national language > all Malaysians must speak this > Christians not allowed to print bahasa bibles > so use Indonesian bibles > got Allah in Indonesian bibles > ban Indonesian bibles > so apa macam?

    2. The Muslims think they are absolutely right > Their God is Allah. The Christians also think they are absolutely right > their God is Allah. The point is what gives one religion the right to stop another from using a name they believe is absolutely right?

    3. The whole world believes in the oneness of God the Creator > the one God of Abraham, Moses, Noah. The One God. Only the understanding differs but [we are] talking about the SAME one God. Only WEST MALAYSIA. Do you know how that looks? Christians/Jews called Him Allah before the Muslims and they have to change His name?

    Q: In East Malaysia,is the Christian God is referred to as Allah? A: Yes

    Q: They are speaking in Bahasa Malaysia? A: Yes

    Q:The Christian God is referred to as Allah in Bahasa? A: Yes

    Q: So it is not wrong? A. No (in East Malaysia)

    Q: Bahasa Malaysia is the same in the whole of Malaysia? A:?

    Q: They all sit for the same exam? UPSR? PMR? A: Yes

    Q: One Language, One nation? A: Yes

    Q: So why can’t Allah be used in West Malaysia? A: Because we say so

    Q: Why? A: Because we say so

    Q:Why? A: There are enactments

    Q: Why? A: Because we say so

    Q: Can you qoute anything from the Quran that prohibits this? A: No

    Q: So , why do you say so? A: For harmony

    Q: Isn’t it better to educate the people that it is ok? A: No

    Q: Why? A: Because we say so

    Q:Who is this we. Do you have a consensus? A: What is that?

    ‘We say so’ is no basis for anything…that is what laws and constitutions are for….to prevent this ‘we say so’.

  34. good says:

    I bet the Pope, the number one authority in Christianity, never used that word before. I wonder how other Christians can? Maybe we start to see a new kind of blasphemy in the making, all these will undermine the Pope – what will be the future of Christianity when the Pope himself is undermined?

    • mike samuel says:

      I agree with you!! One Muslim asked sometime ago thus: “You people call your god as Allah; but show me elsewhere in the Bible and the letters and speeches of your pope the term Allah being quoted..” This was the Muslim’s challenge to so-called PROPONENTS of the Al-Kitab Allah. Until this day (4/5/2013AD), none of these so-called “nominal unregenerate” Christians (who are spiritually dead, yet to be born again) has RESPONDED! That left this Muslim guy VICTORIOUS above these lukewarm Christians if ever they can be classified as ‘Christians’ anyway….Agape Love.

  35. peace says:

    Merlin, yo.

    When will it end? If Christians say, “Okay, okay, we can call our god ‘Tuhan’”, Dewan Bahasa puts it into the dictionary: “Tuhan – the god Christians worship.” How long will it be till some extremist realises that the children of this country proclaim every week “Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan”.in the Rukunegara and get the idea that the children will be confused or are being converted? Then what?

    Already some churches are told that the crosses must not be freely visible, Christmas celebrations must be about Santa and not Jesus.

    Sensitive? Why? No concrete reason to be so except for personal ideas. Everyone is equal in law. One cannot take away the liberties of another at one’s own whim. The result is chaos. The answer is to educate. Ignorance leads to fear. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Who are we really feeding with hate? God, or…?

    btw; Kamus Dewan : Allah : Ar Tuhan (Yang Maha Esa)

    • mike samuel says:

      WRONG…!! Allah is the God of Islam. Period. Calling YAHWEH “ALLAH” transgresses (1)First Commandment and (2)Third Commandment. Period. Unnecessary for me to elaborate on the issue. Please Google these two articles: #1: “ALLAH IS NOT THE GOD OF THE BIBLE” (by Brutus Balan), and #2: “INVESTIGATING ALLAH” (by Al-Gharib). You shall know the truth and that truth shall set you FREE indeed. Agape Love.

  36. help! says:

    Just saw a banner in Selangor

    Semoga Allah melanjutkan Usia Tuanku and merahmati takhtanya.

    Is that from ALL his subjects?

  37. Merlin:

    Actually, the disclaimer that Christian material printed in the Malay language is ‘for non-Muslims only’ has been a kind of standard practice for quite a while. From what I understand, even with the disclaimer, the question that it can ‘confuse’ Muslims still arises.

    I think people fail to realise how long the East Malaysian Christian community has been dealing with this, and how it’s pretty blatantly obvious that dealing with all too many of the pro-ban side is like dealing with an unreasonable and demanding child.

  38. azreen says:

    Don’t you even care how Muslims feel or their points of view? Christians have a lot of names for God… why Allah??

  39. Let the Muslims keep their god … the name of THE Creator God as He was called by Moses is Yahweh!

  40. mike samuel says:

    Q: In East Malaysia,is the Christian God is referred to as Allah? A: Yes

    ARE YOU SAYING THAT TO THE AFFIRMATIVE?? HOW DO YOU KNOW?? HAVE YOU REALLY MADE A SURVEY?? IF YOU SAY THAT YOU HAVE, I SAY THAT YOU ARE A LIAR AND DECEITFUL.

    Read an article by Pst Brutus Balan titled: “ALLAH IS NOT THE ELOHIM OF THE BIBLE” and an article titled: “INVESTIGATING ALLAH” by Al-Gharib.

    So, if you again asked thus: “In East Malaysia, is every Christian calling on their god as ALLAH?”. I tell it straight to your face to the AFFIRMATIVE: NAY!!!! Please do CORRECT yourself and your records on the matter.

    As a genuinely BORN AGAIN follower of YAHUSHUAH HAMASHIACH, I am an OPPONENT to the Allah Al-Kitab whether in Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore or the whole universe!Period… By whose authority I speak this truth?? Answer: By the Word of YAHWEH through the medium of the HOLY SPIRIT of the Living Elohim. Period. If anyone thinks I’m wrong about it, again I advise that you READ and COMPREHEND what Pastor Balan and Al-Gharib wrote in their Holy Spirit inspired treatises titled: “ALLAH IS NOT THE ELOHIM OF THE BIBKLE” and “INVESTIGATING ALLAH”. Agape Love to all.

    Please send out an OPINION POLL to all of us in Sabah & Sarawak before you hammer your “final nail” to the COFFIN of the “Allah Debacle”.


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