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For Allah’s sake

(© Adrian Van Leen /

WHEN the Home Ministry forbids a non-Muslim group from saying “Allah”, then attempts to prevent it from publishing in Malay, the government is imposing more than a ban.

In both instances, the Barisan Nasional (BN)-led government is forcefully applying exclusivity for both the pre-Islamic name for the Almighty and the national language. The BN does not seem to see that more inclusive use of “Allah” and the national language are actually opportunities to unite Malaysians.

Divisive fear

What strikes me the most about the government’s insistence on restricting the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims is sharp, irrational fear.

Fear that Malay-Muslims in Malaysia may lose their faith and flock instead to other faiths that also have the same name for the Almighty. Fear that perchance, the state has one less area where it can control Malay-Muslim thought and experience about diversity and similarities in different cultures and faiths in Malaysia.

If the Home Ministry’s recent statements are anything to go by, this fear isn’t about to abate anytime soon. Indeed, even in the light of historical fact — that “Allah” predates Islam — the ministry sees fit to impose a ban on the use of the word in the Catholic Herald.

The matter is pending in court. But one wonders why a non-Muslim group had to resort to taking the government to court over an issue that could have provided a space for reflections on unity.

See, “Allah” doesn’t belong to Muslims alone. It never did. In fact, Muslims weren’t even the ones who originally coined the name for the Almighty.

Internationally-acknowledged religious scholar Karen Armstrong writes in A History of God that the Arabic “al-Lah” is “the supreme name for God”. Armstrong adds, “Like many of the Arabs, Muhammad had come to believe that al-Lah, the High God of the ancient Arabian pantheon, whose name simply meant ‘the God’, was identical to the God worshipped by the Jews and the Christians.”

A Muslim friend who travelled to Syria discovered that “Allah” is used by Christians, Muslims and Jews, and mass celebrated completely in Arabic. Nobody was fussed about sharing the word, she said, and neither was anyone’s faith threatened.

This is, of course, not peculiar to Syria. “Allah” is widely used by non-Muslims in other Muslim countries, such as Indonesia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. There is no doubt that “Allah” is shared by the Abrahamic faiths to refer to God.

Zam Zam Cola, unofficial cola of the
Hajj during 2002 Coca-Cola boycott in
Saudi Arabia (Barry Kent /

Not only that, Sikhs have for centuries used “Allah” extensively in their writing and prayers. “Allah” is the word for God in their main holy scripture. Indeed, “Allah” is no Islamic Nike or Coke — a brand name that only Muslims can use.

More importantly, these historical facts provide us with an opportunity to nurture mutual respect and shared values among different faith groups in Malaysia. But what does the BN-led government do instead? It chooses to uphold the 1986-gazetted Home Ministry order preventing non-Muslims from using, among others[1], “Allah”.

Since different faiths have traditionally used “Allah” in this country, the government’s edict is in fact a signal that one community’s cultural traditions must take precedence over another. Worse, it’s indicating that it is the majority’s traditions and practices which are far more legitimate than the minority’s, driving yet another wedge between Malaysians.

What kind of government would resort to this politics of exclusion? What kind of leadership would profess unity in diversity, peddling the notion that the BN is the perfect formula for racial harmony, and yet create divisions where none should exist?

Language of unity

Click image to read Home Ministry’s
letter in a new window

When the Home Ministry approved the Herald‘s publishing permit for 2009, it stipulated in a 30 Dec 2008 letter that among others, the permit was conditional on the Catholic weekly not publishing in Malay.

The ministry has since denied that such a prohibition was imposed. The fact is that there is black-and-white evidence that it did attempt to limit the use of the national language.

The Malay language, known before as Bahasa Malaysia, is a language of unity. Post-Merdeka, it was meant to unite the different ethnic communities at a time when forging national identity and unity were critical. Forging national unity is still critical and the Malay language is still a great unifier.

And yet, the government has demonstrated yet again that it is fearful of what the Malay language could do. Additionally, it has tried to deny the ownership Malaysians feel for the national language by preventing some groups from using it. Our founding leaders would have been disappointed, as today we should all be.

It is not for any government to dictate who can and cannot use the national language and in what context. What is our citizenship and nationhood about if we are not allowed to use the very language that unites us?

Clarity over confusion

Will collective Malaysian Muslim
intellect be confused by this imagery?
(© Kriss Szkurlatowski /

On 3 Jan 2008, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Abdullah Md Zin asserted that the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims would “create confusion” among Malaysian Muslims.

If that were true, isn’t it incumbent on a government intent on promoting a developed and thinking nation — through Vision 2020 and Islam Hadhari — to dispel such confusion through rational and educated discussion?

Instead, the BN government is telling us we should be held hostage by ignorance and irrational fear. And in the process, it is using the politics of exclusion to push Malaysians apart.

On the BN’s official 2008 election campaign site, the ruling coalition extols its promises and achievements. Under Agama, Perpaduan, it promises to “Membina Persefahaman, Memperkukuhkan Kepercayaan”.

If there’s any lesson that the BN can learn from the drubbing it’s received in three elections since March 2008, it’s this: Actions must match promises. More importantly, they must be grounded on rational, intelligent thinking and dialogue.

If the government’s actions don’t match up, then we can count on a disenchanted electorate finding more ways, apart from suing and voting differently, to challenge those in power.

1. ^      The other terms are “Solat”, “Kaabah” and “Baitullah”.

Jacqueline Ann Surin wants a government that is not driven by fear, ignorance and short-sightedness. She would support any leadership, either from the BN or the opposition, which is inclusive, respectful and intelligent.

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56 Responses to “For Allah’s sake”

  1. Shafiq says:

    Trying not to take sides, I agree that no one has the copyright to the word Allah which means God in ARABIC. But that is just it, a word that means God in ARABIC

    The government has NOT got its argument right when banning the Herald’s use of the word Allah because it may lead other Malay-Muslims astray. That is ignorance at the highest level.

    You see in the name of using languages properly, I feel the people at the Herald shouldn’t use the word Allah in their Bahasa Malaysia prints because Allah is the ARABIC word for God, not Bahasa Malaysia. Shouldn’t they use the word TUHAN? Do they print God’s name as Allah in their English or other language prints besides Bahasa Malaysia?

    Everyone is trying to politicise this issue and keep coming up with ridiculous arguments (that show their ignorance) in order to be able ban the use (the government’s) or to have the right to use it all in the name of rights. How about the right to use language properly?

    To the people of the Herald, if you want to use the word Allah so much in your prints, write it in Arabic.

  2. hibou says:

    Thank you Jacqueline, spot-on!

  3. hairul says:

    I agreed with you with the use of the word Allah by all but come to think of it, the majority of Christians are English-speaking and why would they use Bahasa Malaysia as the medium? The reason for using the national language among a majority of English-speaking readers is questionable unless the intention is to reach the Malays in order to propagate Christianity. Then again, who can read the real intention as intention resides in the mind and heart.

  4. Petra says:

    Hairul : In fact, the majority of Christians in Malaysia are not English-speaking. The majority of Christians in Malaysia are made up of the indigenous people such as the Iban, Kadazan, etc of Sabah & Sarawak. Thus, if they speak Bahasa Melayu in their everyday life, should they not be allowed to use Bahasa Melayu in worship? Furthermore, I do no see how, a Christian using the word Allah in worship can confuse a devout Muslim. Saying that this will happen, only implies that the person is not learned in his very own religion.

  5. Asuka says:

    Hairul, not all Christians speak English. From what I remember, the Bahasa version of the Catholic Herald is read mainly by Catholics in Sabah and Sarawak, where Bahasa is the common uniting language. There is no intention to preach to Muslims, because the Herald is mainly for Catholic readers. It is just in a language that all can understand, seeing as how there are so many different indigenous languages in East Malaysia.

  6. RPK Fan says:

    If that is the case, then I urge the Christians here in Malaysia to print English bibles with the word ‘Allah’, replacing the word ‘God’.
    What say you?

  7. sd says:

    Just imagine you go to the pub, and see owner place an “ALLAH” sign to show that he prays to ALLAH. What do you think Muslims will feel? Or go ahead and place a JESUS name in the toilet, what do Christians think? The proper word will be TUHAN … it’s very easy. When Christians pray, most of the time, they used the word LORD… so, would it be nice to your TUHAN when they pray in bahasa?

  8. Paul Warren says:

    It is not like as if this ban on the use of Allah by non-Muslims does not have any usefulness.

    In a tangible way it is an example of “ketuanan Melayu” in action. If this ban is upheld it only would go so far to reinforce in the minds of Malay Muslims that this is yet another example of the usefulness to the Malays of subscribing to ketuanan Melayu. After all ketuanan Melayu or a supremacy mentality is supposed to be out of sync with contemporary times.

  9. Mg says:

    Yeah, I do agree with you Jacq. All Malaysians should freely use our national language.

  10. MirrorMirrowOnTheWall says:

    I opine that it is the Christians who are “losing” more Christian believers than Islam judging by the number of Muslim converts among the Sabah/Sarawak indigenous people. I think using the word “Allah” does the damage?

  11. Farouq Omaro says:

    It is a shame to see comments like “majority Christians are English speaking”, “they should use Allah in the English Bible” and so on. This reflects West Malaysians’ ignorance of the religious norms in East Malaysia. When more and more Sabahans began working and studying in West Malaysia in the early 1990s, there was an increase in the circulation of the Malay language Bibles. Some West Malaysians don’t seem to like it. If you don’t like it, what’s the solution? Ask Sabah and Sarawak to leave Malaysia? The use of Allah in Malay language sermons and worship in the Christian church has been going on since before Malaysia Day in 1963. Originally Malay language Bibles were imported from Indonesia, however the Malay-speaking Christians decided to print their own Bible as the Indonesian Bible had many language differences. Why should the Christians in East Malaysia abandon the use of Allah now, after so many years using it? Sabahan Muslims have never been known to be offended all this while.

  12. Eric says:

    Please put forward your suggestion to people who translated bibles in bahasa 400 years ago and all the people who have been using the term ever since.

    @RPK fan
    Intelligent suggestion. But not all people are confused.
    I guess you should read RPK again.

  13. burn says:

    Hairul? Have you been to Sarawak or Sabah before? My brother, his wife and three kids in Sarawak, all converse in bahasa at home, they read bahasa storybooks and majalah. Even a few Sabahan friends of mine speak in bahasa and read too … yet they are not “Malay”.

  14. mike says:

    As a Malaysian Christian from East Malaysia I find the West Malaysian Muslims rather arrogant and ignorant when it comes interacting with non-Muslims in this country. Sarawak has all along our history never had this issue. Let’s get something clear here. The term ” Allah” is indeed Arabic in origin, but has been INDIGENISED in Nusantara since its adoption into the region. How the term was introduced is not known but the fact remains it is now an accepted term to refer to God in the region. The Christians in Nusantara use the term “Allah” not as a proper noun for God, we use it as a generic noun. We are also not using the term “Allah” as an Arabic term but as a Malay term since it has been indigenised and the Malay language is indeed the lingua franca of the region, and Bahasa Malaysia is one of its branches.

    In Christian usage, “Allah” is the BM, NOT Arabic, translation for the English term “God” while “Tuhan” is the translation for the English term “Lord”. When a Christian says “Allah ialah Tuhan ku”, he/she meant it as ” God is my Lord” and NOT ” Allah is my God”. When a Christian says ” Tuhan Allah”, he/she meant ” The Lord God” and NOT “a god called Allah”. When a Christian says ” Puji Tuhan”, he/she meant “Praise the Lord”, when a Christian says ” aku menyembah Allah”, he/she meant “I worship God”, and NOT ” I worship a god call Allah”.

    To Shafiq, I think you have ALSO NOT got your argument right when speaking on the issue of the Arabic nature of the term. If we follow your argument, then the Malay term “manusia” for “human” should not be used in Malaysian biology text books since it’s hindu (manu-shah) in origin, so if we want to use “manusia” we should just write our biology text books in sanskrit !

    Hairul. “The majority of Christians are English Speaking” is a statistic you took from? To say the use of BM in conducting our religious services and affairs is to propagate the religion to the Malays irritates me and suggests that you do not understand what other religious traditions are about. Our children are now a whole generation, if not two or three, brought up in the BM environment. The only language they are most familiar with now is BM, and now we are not allowed to use BM in our services and publications, religious terms which our children have become familiar with through the mass media, of which is now only reserved for the Malay-speaking Muslims. In which direction is the propagation happening here?

    And RPK fan (by the way, I’m a fan of his too), “Allah” is the BM translation for the English term “GOD”. Let me ask you a question, the Muslims also use the term “GOD” to refer to … well … “Allah” in the English Muslim literature, if that’s the case, allow me to re-phrase what you have said earlier, i.e., “If that is the case, then I urge the Muslims here in Malaysia to print Malay Quran with the word ‘God’, replacing the word ‘Allah’.” Man, it would be interesting to hear Muslim imams saying “God ialah Tuhan kita”, “sembahlah GOD sebelum anda disembahkan” in the mosques. In fact, I won’t just “urge” you, I would “challenge” you to do that in the mosque out loud.

    I think mutual respect and understanding as well as acceptance of different cultures and religions in Malaysia is important. Let us not demean ourselves through the home minister’s attempts to copyright certain terms in whatever language. I for one, would stand by the Herald in the action taken on the usage of the term .

    In summary, Christians do not use the term “Allah” as a proper name for God. He has already revealed HIS proper name in the form of a TETAGRAMATON , “YHWH”. “Allah” is generic name in BM for the term “God” in English. If Muslims treat the term as a proper name of God, it’s fine by the Christians. We won’t demand the use of ISA or OSA to stop them from doing it. As Malaysians we must indeed appreciate the fact that words may have different meanings and connotations to different people, if not the politicians will always use it and others to cause indignation among the rakyat and sow hatred and distrust among the people.

  15. Daniel says:

    That’s like saying that everyone speaking the Malay language should use the word “Tuhan” instead of “Allah” which is obviously Arabic. I believe Malay speaking Catholics or Christians have the right to use the word “Allah” just like in Indonesia.

    RPK fan: So you should be speaking in Arabic instead of Malay if you intend to use the word “Allah”?

  16. Tangue says:

    It stands to reason that if Allah is an Arabic word is to be used only if the rest of any text is in Arabic, then the Muslims should also not use Allah when writing or speaking in Bahasa. However, if Allah is customarily used by both religions, why is there a discrimination against Christians using it? This is another case of a lack of confidence among the clerics.

  17. apekapok says:

    To Hairul,

    What is wrong with a Christian or a Buddhist or a Hindu telling a Muslim to use his ability to think and decide to consider their teachings? The Muslims do that to non-Muslims too, right? And why do Muslims try to convert others to Islam …. surely it is because a Muslim thinks that Islam has the truth. Similarly why is it wrong for a Christian or a Buddhist to consider that they have the truth and not you? And if you have the truth, why are you afraid that you will be affected by others’ teachings?

    Could it be that:

    1) Muslims in Malaysia know little about their own religion and easily get offended when others ask questions.
    2) Muslims know their religion very well, and know that things are actually more complicated than they seem?

    Give it some thought.

  18. C. Sivapragasam says:

    In this country religion is a sensitive subject. The main is the fear of Muslims converting to Christianity. Why don’t the Christians continue to use the word “Tuhan” for god. After all the the word ” Tuhan” was used in the Declaration of Independence by Tunku Abdul Rahman and the Rukunegara also uses this word. This the the common word for God in Bahasa Malaysia.

    Let us not fight in the name of God. He has no name. We give Him a name. In every religion God has many names according to how each individual perceives.

  19. Ruzaini says:

    ALLAH is GOD all over mankind

  20. chinhuat says:

    If Allah is the specific name for the Muslims’ God, how do I, as an anak negeri Perak, sing my state anthem:

    Dilanjutkan Allah usianya Sultan?

    The fact is that by being the official religion of all states, except Sarawak, and of the federation, Islam has occupied a central role in our national life. Allah is therefore everywhere in the air.

    Instead of challenging that, most non-Muslims accept and try to interpret the use of the word Allah (as well as many other Islamic ideas) in a universal manner to empathize with the Muslims and believe that they themselves are not discriminated against religiously.

    In other words, they try to look for the commonality.

    To make an exclusive claim of the word Allah for Islam, the Malaysian government – which may see itself innocently defending Islam from the threat of confusion and outward conversion – is effectively sending this arrogant message: this Allah is ours, not yours, but He is also the one imposed on you by us.

    Do you expect such a move to be accepted with smiles and understanding by the religious minority?

    I pray to Allah that He would bless some politicians with the same amount – no need even for more – of gray matter that ordinary people possess.

  21. Dragon Leo says:

    Well said! The people who were against it are a confused lot!

  22. focussed08 says:


    I agreed with your comment until the stage where you contradicted yourself by arguing that “… because Allah is the ARABIC word for God … besides Bahasa Malaysia?”

    Your comment above indicated that you too place importance on the usage of the word Allah under the pretense of proper usage of language.

    Now, please tell us if the word Allah is an Arabic word? If so, then, surely that word should not have an English language type of spelling (alphabetical). It should only be written in Arabic letterings.

    The fact that the word Allah is spelled alphabetically indicates to us that the word is used by other than Arabic-speaking countries and therein lies the fact that the word Allah has been used to identify a “higher being”.

    Because in Malaysia, the word Allah instead of Tuhan had been widely used over a prolonged period of time, the word Allah is now identified and accepted as describing God.

    Whether Tuhan or Allah is the acceptable description of God will always depend on how the community had been exposed to either of the words.

    When Arabic ideas, imams or religious leaders are consistently preaching to the locals, they use their version of Tuhan to indicate the description of God – and this happens to be Allah. If those preachers had started off with using the word Tuhan, then, over a same period of indoctrination, most of the people of Malaysia would definitely only use Tuhan to describe God and not Allah..

    So, please do not argue the propriety of using any words of any language without understanding the history that had generated the meaning of such words.

  23. amoker says:


    Mike has come out with a very good summary of why the translation is as it is. We don’t worship the Muslim God, but it is a term that has been used in the Nusantara. Jacqueline, good article.

    I personally would not mind the segregation. There are so many natives of Sabah and Sarawak who were led to believe that both Allahs are the same.

    On the use of BM, the majority of Christians in Malaysia are in East Malaysia. For Catholics, 60% use BM in their worship. Due to our education system, I have also met many Indians who can only understand BM or their mother tongue (and can’t read). So, of course BM is important to these people. If there is restriction, why propogate BM as the lingua franca?

  24. Another Arab says:

    Everyone pretty much agreed that ALLAH is a word that the Malays BORROWED from the Arabs. Has it occurred to any intelligent Malays that the proprietry rights to ALLAH belongs to the Arabs?

  25. B Mathew says:

    Going by the standards of a common man or woman, or a child, the whole world knows and understands that:

    – Allah is the God of the Muslims

    – Murugan or Krishna are the Gods of the Hindus

    How odd and ridiculous it would be to call the Lord God of the Bible a Krishna or Allah.

    The following comment was found in the internet and what the writer has said seems theologically sound:

    ………The Father, Son and Holy Spirit is NOT Allah. Allah is the God of Islam. Believers in Christ Jesus/Yeshua HaMashiach should know that our God is YHVH (Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh), pronounced generally as Yahweh. Anglo-cised as Jehovah, which is a combination of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton of YHVH with the vowels of Adonai. Reverse the vowel sound order of Adonai to Ai-O-A and put it in between YHVH you get YaiHoVaH, Anglo-cise it, you get JeHoVaH.

    So to put this issue into context, it doesn’t matter whether a Christian is Malay, Indian, Chinese, Caucasian etc, our God is YHVH. The word God is translated into Malay as Tuhan. The word God in the English bible is referred to as Elohim – Creator God, which suits Tuhan very well. And anywhere if LORD in the English bible is used it is always referred to YHVH. So Father God in Malay is Bapak/Ayah-Tuhan, God is Tuhan, and Jesus should be more accurately translated to Yesu or Yeshua, not Isa. Even the Arab Christians refer to Jesus as Yesua-Al-Masih, Jesus the Messiah.

    I believe if the word Allah is censored in the Malay bible, it is actually good thing! Then the printers/publishers might consider replacing all appearances of “Allah” in the Malay bible with the name of our God YHVH! The name Yeshua is also a contraction of YHVH-Saves. It is Yah-(God YHVH)-Shua-(Save) – put together is Salvation.

  26. desmond says:

    I actually see the government’s attempt to prevent the use of Allah as one that is much more than the appropriateness of the usage of the word by those who do not profess the Islamic faith.

    It is a test case by the government to try and impose its views on the practise of other religions.Should the Herald accept such controls by the government, we should not be surprised that the government will find more and more ways and reasons to control and manage every aspects of not only Muslims’, but also non-Muslims’ way of life.

  27. hibou says:

    Going by some of the argument on the usage of Allah, will we be hearing “Tuhan” being used instead of “Allah” in Bahasa Malaysia sermons in mosques’ around the country from now on? They should also use the language properly too, no?

    The use of “Allah” pre-dates Islam and even the Malay language by thousands of years. Malays who were mainly Hindus just a few hundred years ago were converted to Islam by Arab missionaries back then. Perhaps the so-called Muslim authorities in this country should refer back to their Arab brothers on this issue. No? Why? Afraid to appear foolish and petty?

    Muslim brothers, please, stop being misled and used by politicians. Please, do not equate their status and words to that of your great Prophet.

  28. charles lee says:

    The government forced me to study BM. Without a credit forget about enrolling in a local university. Now that BM has become my first language the government forbids me from reading the bible in BM. Absurdity of the highest order!

  29. gracepeace says:

    Jacq, Mike, you are both exactly right. My own two cents: I want to ask those who want exclusivity on the word, how they would translate,”the LORD God”, the first word being the English translation of God’s proper name (just like Joe, Ravi, Ahmad, Wai Ching etc.) and the second being the generic name (noun) for god.

    The whole issue seems to originate from a deep-seated insecurity about one’s own faith that one can be so easily confused and converted at the mere mention of a name for one’s God by a person of another faith. More food for thought.

  30. AB says:

    Then Islamic writing in English should also stop using the word “God”. As this was used by Christians all along and it will also confuse the Christians if this term is use in Islamic writings.

  31. elfin says:

    Jacqueline Ann Surin, congrats on a well thought out and written article. Am surprised the ‘thought police’ of Malaysia have not come knocking on your door, yet!!

    And to Mike, from East Malaysia, I now realise how foolish I have been by not visiting East Malaysia, whenever I have been to Malaysia. My next visit Mike, I am going to skip West Malaysia altogether, and spend time in East Malaysia. You guys are definitely far more intelligent and ‘inclusive’, than many West Malaysians I have ever met.

    Thank you to both, you, and Jacqui.

  32. Steven Ong says:

    After going through the comments, I think our Almighty God must be amused (at our little ‘jokes’ ) and angry at our foolishness (at some who can’t see the facts or will not admit his mistake). We can only pray for divine help to open up their closed mind or eyes, that they may see the truth. I will not argue any further, as the facts are plain clear. But we must not be forced into submission to unfair, oppressive and ridiculous laws. We need to engage positively with them who are ignorant and yet proud. All because we love them. For the greatest gift is love. Without love we are just empty drums or clanging cymbals. We are just as blind as them. God help us.

  33. Karcy says:

    What a completely ridiculous discussion. Here we are arguing about how to name the God of the universe, and trying to put barriers on one of the most fluid of human inventions: language.

    Regardless of whatever arguments put up by whosoever is interested in banning whatsoever, we can all agree that the move to ban the Herald is really silly and based on some other form of prejudice against Christians and their proselytizing tendencies, which of course, cannot be expressed in its entirety. And of course, the Christian battle for Allah is also rooted in the hastiness of proselytization — in this case, for the indigenous Christian groups of Sabah and Sarawak, who have appropriated Allah as a way to address the “Father” component of the Trinity for several decades. Banning the Herald will lead to the banning of indigenous language Bibles in these places. Alas, souls may be lost!

    Muslims who call for the abolition of Christian use of the word “Allah” do well to remember that among the Islamophobes in the West, there is just as vicious a battle for the separation of Allah from YHWH. The Christian majority are bathing in glee with the separation of the name, calling Allah all sorts of things and saying that He is the opposite of YHWH, whereas Muslim advocacy groups in the West are struggling to convince the West that Allah is the same god as YHWH. Perhaps those defending the Muslim exclusivity to the name Allah would do well to remember that in countries where Muslims are a minority, you are shooting their efforts at being seen as equals in the foot.

  34. blur says:

    Hey, wasn’t it our PM (just before they re-banned the word Allah) who said in his message two Christmasses ago that they are all (Jews, Muslims and Christians) people of the Book? Implying that we are worshiping the same GOD? And aren’t they all people of the Abrahamic faiths i.e. worshiping the same GOD? Aren’t they all worshiping the GOD of Abraham?

  35. abdul says:

    I am a Muslim. And this is how I understand my religion. Islam is NOT a NEW religion. It is brought about due to the deviations that arose from the original worship of the one true God . The worship started from Adam, the first of mankind, and by successions of prophets (including Jesus) through the ages till the last one – prophet Muhammad.

    As such, to say that Allah is not just the prerogative of Muslims to use to refer to GOD is correct.

    Christians are welcome to call it Allah, Yahweh or whatever. Indonesian Christians in their Christian bible use Allah as the term for their Christian god. The pre-Islamic Arabs also had Allah as one of their many gods and goddesses.

    The main contention of Muslims is that Allah is ONE and no partners can be ascribed to this name. Muslims referred to this as SYIRIK. So in Muslim thinking and belief, by definition the Christian God can not be called Allah because Christians are syirik in the eyes of Muslims due to their belief in the concept of trinity. But having said that, no one can stop Christians if they insist on calling their God Allah.

    And I think that’s the reason why the Malaysian government is so much against the use of Allah for Christians, as Muslims regard Christians as syirik with their concept of the trinity.

    So in a nutshell, what the Malaysian government is doing is acting like a Muslim preacher, which they shouldn’t be doing. The government says it’s wrong for Christians to call their god ALLAH, but nobody should or can stop Christians from calling their God whatever name they like, including Allah.

    Just like Christians have no right to stop Muslims calling Muhammad the last of the prophets, or that Jesus is a prophet, just like any other and not a “son of God”.

    Put it another way, Muslims don’t own the proprietary right of the word ALLAH as much as Christians does not have the same exclusive right to call Jesus the son of god. Muslims and Jews don’t think so.

  36. Libation Bearer says:

    Which Allah is it that you believe to be the name of God in the bible? The Allah in the Quran says this:-

    And they say: the Beneficent hath taken unto Himself a Son. Assuredly ye utter a disastrous thing, whereby almost the heavens are torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall to ruins, that ye ascribe to the Beneficent a son, when it is not meet for (the Majesty of) the Beneficent that He should chose a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth but cometh unto the Beneficent as a slave. (Quran 19:88-93)

    Perhaps you are talking about a different Allah now, God forbid? Or shall you henceforth be selective from now onwards on what this Allah says is correct and what isn’t? 20 centuries ago this deity whose name is nowhere mentioned in the New Testament suddenly acquires a name just because the Malay Muslims you hate so much (fear, that’s the word you use) have that very name? And the closest thing to a name of God that appears in the Bible occurs just a few pages away in the Old Testament but you conveniently refuse to use it because “Aku Sembah Yahweh” doesn’t quite tally in with conversion agendas amongst the unsuspecting Malays as opposed to “Aku Sembah Allah”?

    But I applaud your cause, will help campaign and fight for you regarding the usage of the name Allah in the Bible for you. Seriously, with all of my heart. A writer in has drafted a petition with which we could all sign. Perhaps we can start there.

    Libation Bearer

  37. Jefferson Nuing Jemie says:

    Kepada mmat Islam Melayu yang menyokong keputusan Home Minister bulat-bulat, saya menaip semula sebuah “Christian hymn” dalam bahasa Iban Dayak Sarawak
    yang memuji kebesaran Allah.


    Kudus, kudus, kudus Allah ke tinggi,
    kami tiap hari muji Nuan tumu;
    Kudus, kudus, kudus, ke pemadu kasih,
    Apai, Anak, Roh ke endang satu.

    Kudus, kudus, kudus, talok samo-a,
    Bebasa lalu pantun ka muji Tuhan:
    Bala serga sampal tundok lalu nyembah,
    Muji Tuhan ke endang meruan.

    Kudus, kudus, kudus, ni alah lindong,
    Utang orang jai nya enda meda Allah;
    Amai nuan kudus, nadai baka Nuan,
    Pemadu Kasih, pemadu kuasa.

    Kudus, kudus, kudus, Alalh ke tinggi,
    Di langit, tasik, dunya sampal ke muji;
    Kudus, kudus, kudus, pengasih, pengrindu,
    Apai, Anak, Roh ke endang satu.


    note :-

    1) Hymn ini dicipta oleh Reginal Heber, disalin oleh L.D. Mamora (bangsa Iban) dan sekarang disalin semula oleh saya untuk tatapan secara online.

    2) Hymn ini dipetik daripada m/s 43, Bup Pantun Sembiang; Gereja Methodist Malaysia, untuk Sarawak Iban Annual Conference.

  38. Bert says:

    All this debate about Allah is really reaching new heights of madness. It’s essentially a non-issue to start with. Nobody can copyright words – it’s ludicrous. Other than that I can call my God anything I wish – it’s nobody’s business. Allah is the correct usage for the Muslim God. However it’s not exclusive to Islam as Allah is simply Arabic for God. Muslims do not own the word.

    Any Muslims offended by others using the term Allah are manipulated by politicians. These (like Zahid Hamidi) politicians do not care about Islam, they want power on the back of religion. They only cause people to go against each other over stupid reasons.

    Can’t these people show more tolerance? Our constitution ensures freedom of religion but many people spit on it. Sometimes I wish politicians should not exist. Seriously, we must find a way to fight these bigots. Spread the word about why everyone should be able to freely use Allah. If you are a voter make sure you punish the politicians making these gestures by voting Pakatan Rakyat to punish BN.

  39. anuar says:

    Cool. Now at last we could have the same God. Less fighting in the name of religion since now we’re sharing the owner.

  40. Marini says:

    I am Muslim and I think it’s dumb to ban the use of “Allah” for Christians. All know that Allah is the Lord for Muslims, Christians and Jews. Unless they do not read the Quran, Bible (Injil) and Taurat (Torah).

    What about the more than 10 to 12 million Arab Christians? They also say their Lord is Allah. The Malaysian Government may want to propose this banning issue to Arab governments?

    As a Malay Muslim, I feel sorry for this stupidity.

  41. Libation Bearer says:

    Here’s a message to the “people of the Book” from Allah in Qur’an, in chapter An-Nisa verses 170-173

    “O people of the scripture, do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter anything concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary was only a messenger of Allah and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three.” Desist, (it is) better for you. Verily Allah is one God. Far exalted is He above having a son. His is all that is in the heavens and the Earth, and suffice in Allah as a Trustee. The Messiah will never scorn to be the slave of Allah, nor will the favored angels. Whoso scorneth His service and is proud, all such will He assemble unto Him; Then, as for those who believed and did good works, unto them will He pay their rewards in full and He will add unto them from His bounty. And as for those who were scornful and proud, them will he punish with a painful torture and they will not find for themselves any other than Allah as a friend or a supporter”

    I bring this verse in here because I want to know how will you now regard the Allah that says this. If the name of the deity in both scriptures is Allah, will you now let this verse be referenced by readers of your Bible too? Or is this a different Allah that you have in mind?

    So go ahead, sign or write that petition to the Pope as highlighted by JebatMustDie and forever hold our peace once we get clarifications from Vatican (or any other Christian denominations, for that matter).


  42. blur says:

    It’s like this. Like playing football. All shooting for the same goalpost (God).
    Wearing different jerseys. Only difference is the different coaches. With different ideas.
    Still, on the same field and the same target. Unfortunately, the coaches have somehow ended up with some difference in their rule books. So the players keep fighting amongst themselves!

  43. fung says:

    First, we have wars being waged in the name of God/Allah/Tuhan/The Almighty/YHWH/etc…

    Now, we are fighting OVER his name. See how sad this is becoming?

  44. JT says:

    This whole episode has shown us there are many Malaysians that are still very ignorant about the way of life of their East Malaysian counterparts.

    As they say, a little learning is a dangerous thing.

  45. M Sahib says:

    The Quran states: Say: “Call Him Allah (God) or call Him Ar-Rahman (The Most Gracious), whichever name you call Him by, to Him belongs the Most Beautiful Names.” (17:110)

    And the Quran also states that it is a book for all mankind, irrespective of religion but only those who submit wholeheartedly to it are Muslims.

    It also states that “those who believe, those who are Jews, Christians and the converts, anyone who believe in God and the last day and lead a righteous life, they have nothing to fear or grieve.” (2:62)

  46. Libation Bearer says:

    Dear Readers, especially the apologist Muslims here. When looked at beyond diplomacy, or beyond the intent to please, the issue is not that simple, and might open up cans of worms filthier than you might imagine.

    Let’s start from the case of M Sahib’s comment where he brings in the Quranic verse that he mentioned, for all the sincere intention that that verse may bring. “…Any one who believes in God …. Shall have nothing to fear or grieve.”

    Which God now? The One who asks people not to believe in the falsehood that He begets a Son? Or the One that says He shares his Godhood with two other entities? Are we talking about the God who says that everyone born in this world is clean and free of sins in the beginning, or the one that says everyone was born in sin, being in inheritance of the original sin of Adam to whom no one was privy to and responsible for?

    Or is it the God that says salvation in this world is only via faith in Him and doing good works, as opposed to the One that says salvation is via all those PLUS believing in the sacrifice of a man on the cross who is supposed to be God also?

    To the Muslims here, would you want to teach your children that these two entities are one and the same God? More succinctly, would you want your children to be taught and PRESENTED WITH A LITERATURE THAT SAYS WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE SAME GOD?

    You can refute me, be heard loudly and be applauded all you want here, but think about it in the silent environs of your own solitude tonight and decide for yourself.


    PS I would like to thank Jacque Surin for her magnanimity in posing opposite-sounding ideas like mine here. To reciprocate, I have always ensured that my writings never sound vindictive, overtly personal, irreverent and disrespectful sounding. Please tell me if I have failed in this attempt and I will rectify it the soonest. The unspoken human bonds that exist between Malaysians, irrespective of whatever faiths they are from, rules the day more than any conflict can ever slice.

    Just that the vigour and passion with which one writes about his or her religion sometimes indicates the magnitude of love one has for it.

    That goes for both Muslims and Christians alike.

    Adherents of neither of the two faiths who sometimes bark worse than the defenders of either, as is manifested by some in here, we can safely ignore. Thank you.

  47. dr ahmad says:

    I agree with Shafiq. If the argument is language-related, then the word “TUHAN” is “more Malay” than “ALLAH”. Remember that the majority of the peninsular people (Malays) were once Hindu/Buddha followers. To me, the Malays started using the word “ALLAH” only after the arrival of Islam to this region.

  48. Yvonne says:

    The name belongs to God. Let’s ask God who can use.
    Only an arrogant man will dare to control the usage of God’s name.
    Muslims should rejoice when the name of Allah is praised by all.

  49. rin says:

    Perhaps the government should have consulted both the Muslims and Christian authorities in Malaysia first? Let both sides sit down and discuss? So that the Muslims can understand why the Herald insists to use “Allah” when “Tuhan” seems like a better choice (personal opinion), and the Christians would comprehend why some of the Muslims would feel uncomfortable? Did the Cabinet consulted anyone? Perhaps the YDPA and Sultans should be consulted too since this is an Islamic (and Christian) matter?

    Not every Muslim/Christian (and Buddhist, Taoist, Sikh, Jew for that matter) think they’ve the same God. Although Jacqueline suggested that this would improve unity among Malaysians, but we cannot/should not impose our ideal on the others?

    Most, if not all, Malaysians having the same God sounds cool, but apparently Buddhism has no God (though some Buddhists consider Buddha as God), Hinduism has the One (or several), Taoism has plenty, Christianity has its Trinity, Islam only Allah, and then there are the agnostics and atheists as well … We’ll always be different.

    The government’s ban sounds irrational, but the Herald’s insistence sounds fishy too, I’ve no problem with them printing in the Malay language, but what is the problem with using “Tuhan”? They may have been using “Allah” for a long time but isn’t “Tuhan” the more accurate version of God in Malay, that’s why it’s “Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan” in our Rukun Negara? So why wouldn’t they want to change and use the more accurate term?

  50. hibou says:

    Does trying to make clear a Muslim concept of Allah make one an apologist Muslim? Does it really matter to Muslims what others’ concept of Allah is? Why do you think Allah sent so many prophets to the Abrahamic followers through the ages from Adam to Muhammad, if not to remind man that all, from Adam worship the same God?

    Instead of spending so much of our efforts pointing out how the Christian and Jewish and Muslim beliefs are different , Muslims should emulate the Messenger by explaining what they believe is the true concept of God instead of helping Iblis in his promise to divide us.

    All men regardless of belief are brothers, Allah doesn’t reject anyone because He thinks they have gone astray, otherwise there wouldn’t have been so many prophets.

    Think about it in the silent environs of your own solitude tonight and decide for yourself instead of what Iblis whispers in your ears or what many so-called Muslim politicians want you to think.

  51. cj says:

    Alamak, apa susah-susah! If the goverment is so takut that Muslims in general will convert to Christianity, then I say, “Praise be to Allah”.

    Maybe, the government should educate our Muslim brothers and sisters in the mengaji classes that Allah is for everyone. Then I say we all shall have a united Malaysia respecting one another.

  52. blur says:

    The Christians said, GOD did “this”.

    Allah replied, “I didn’t do that. How can you say I did that.”

    Hey, doesn’t that mean that Allah is acknowledging that He is the God that the Christians are worshipping but only He did not do the things they claim He did? He would not have corrected them if the Christians were talking of a different GOD! He just disagrees with their description of Him! So same name la! Ya? Why correct anything if they were talking of someone else?

  53. Felix Charles Ginajil says:

    “Muslim NGOs view Herald’s action as rude”. You say, “The action of the Catholic weekly Herald to continue to use the word ‘Allah’ as a translation for ‘God’ in its Malay edition is rude and can lead to racial tensions.” My comment: who is going to lead racial tensions? What’s the gravity that causes racial tensions?

    Datuk Dr. Ma’amor said, “The use of the word which was sacred to Muslims should not be used by other religion as it could cause confusion among Muslims and lead them to stray from the true path of Islam”. My comment: is this such shallow knowledge that can be misled? That weekly Herald is only for Christians. Why would we have ignorant Muslims brothers to buy it and read it?

    Datuk Dr. Ma’amor goes on saying this: “Stop this rudeness and insolence before the patience of the Muslims runs out.” Yet he said, “We do not want tensions.” How can our Bahasa Malaysia-educated Christians stop uttering the word “ALLAH”? If they continue, are you going to wage war with them?

    Ma’amor continued saying: “The use of the word ‘ALLAH’ went against the Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution that clearly stated that Islam was the official religion of the country but other religions could be practiced in peace.” My comment: did you hear any non-Muslims questioning Article 3(1)? Why don’t you let them worship “ALLAH” in peace?

    Ma’amor said again, ” Followers of other religions can practice their religions but cannot influence or interfere in Islamic matters.” My comment: Have they ever influenced/interfered in Islamic matters? Did they ever protest when you influenced/interfered with their religions?

    Malay Unity Action Front chief said, “The govt must take stern action against the weekly.” My comment: go ahead and show your true colours. It goes on saying, “The Islamic Department should act firmly and take legal action on this group that tries to confuse Muslims and attempts to deviate them subtly.” My comment: go ahead because “ALLAH” is with them and you could never win though you win in a M’sian court. No non-Muslim tries to confuse and attempts to deviate Muslims. It’s you Muslim authorities who confuse and deviate their minds. My suggestion: organise more dakwah programs for them so that they have strong faith in Islam and you don’t have to worry about Muslims being confused or deviated.

    Peace be with you (Assalamualaikum).

  54. juliah says:

    May I just say that this is pure rubbish?

  55. Libation Bearer says:

    So blur of 11:06PM:

    You acknowledge that they are the same, and you acknowledge that the same God abrogates His former saying or re-corrects the false sayings attributed to Him. In short, you acknowledge the error because you want the Muslims to acknowledge that the pointer of the error is indeed the same. And what do you do now? Continue with the error while keeping the name?

    The name is more important to you than the teaching of this same God?

    Ok, as a Muslim I now agree and admit the name for both religions are the same. Go ahead and put it in your Bible. Will Christians now admit the error and broadcast a correction in the Bible too?

    Libation Bearer

  56. blur says:

    A table is a table no matter what you or I say it is for.

    God is Allah no matter what you or I say He has done. Or how you or I choose to describe Him?

    There is only one truth. Only one name.

    Who is to say who is right except for God? Hey put it the other way, Christians can also claim.

    That their God is Allah and no one has the right to use this name. That’s the name they call Him in Arabic no? It comes down to whose scripture is right, no? Of course the Christians will claim the Quran is wrong and the Muslims will claim the Bible is wrong, no?

    So until we can prove who carries the right message, the two can claim their revelation came from the ONE TRUE GOD, no? GOD/YAHWEH/ALLAH.

    By the way does the Muslim teaching say that God has more than one name?

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