(Pic by xymonau / sxc.hu)
MUCH has been said about the use of the word “Allah“, and I do not necessarily want to add clutter to the debate without a fresh perspective. It seems interesting that everyone wants to give their input on this issue, including free-thinkers for whom God, by whatever name God is called, is otherwise irrelevant.
I will therefore start from a different premise. I will assume that it is correct and rightful for the word “Allah” to be restricted to Muslims alone. No one save a Muslim ought to be permitted to refer to God using this word.
My question is, does that necessarily qualify every Malay Malaysian to refer to God as “Allah”? Mind you, we are arguing a theological point and not a constitutional one. If only Muslims can address God as “Allah”, then we must be sure that anyone who wishes to refer to God as “Allah”, including Malay Malaysians, must first and foremost be Muslims. That is a fair proposition, isn’t it?
Who is a Muslim?
Of course, all Malays in Malaysia are legally Muslim, but that is a mere legal fiction. Lina Joy, for instance, remains legally a Muslim, but I doubt any right-thinking Muslim would accept her as a sister in the faith. As a side point, isn’t it interesting that due to the Federal Court ruling in her case, she would actually be the one Catholic in Malaysia who would be legally entitled to address God as “Allah”? This would be regardless of the outcome of the court process over who in Malaysia has a right to use the word.
(Pic by Asif Akbar / sxc.hu) Indeed, if we were to restrict the use of the word “Allah” to Muslims only, we would need some guidelines in order to determine who qualifies and who does not. As the definitive revelation of Allah to humankind, it seems most appropriate for us to refer to the Holy Qur’an for the necessary guidelines. Of course, I am only referring to the Yusuf Ali English translation of the Qur’an. If you want the citations, send me an e-mail and I can furnish them.
Clearly, a Muslim is someone who bows to Allah’s will and celebrates due rites. He or she submits to Allah. Hence, before we allow anyone to call upon God as “Allah”, should we not first scrutinise the person’s life to determine whether he or she is submitted to Allah’s will?
Has a person professing to be Muslim ever not fasted during Ramadan even when he or she could? Don’t let him or her address God by that Holy Name. Someone who has committed khalwat? Clearly out of the list. Someone convicted for corruption? No way, José. Call God anything else you want, but don’t use God’s Holy Name. Every convicted Muslim criminal should also find another word in their vocabulary to refer to the Almighty.
A Muslim is also Allah’s helper. Has any Muslim worked for Carlsberg or Guinness Anchor breweries? Sorry, but that cannot be very helpful to Allah’s cause. How about those associated with Genting Bhd, including some of the company’s directors? I guess another name would have to suffice for them to refer to God, too. Were there Muslim lawyers who represented Magnum Bhd? How about Muslim accountants who prepared these companies’ annual reports? All clearly disqualified.
Grr. Arrgh (Pic by hortongrou / sxc.hu)
A Muslim has faith, and fears Allah. Any Muslim whose life is ungodly is banned from using “Allah”. Has anyone been afraid of the dark, frightened of spirits other than Allah? Sorry, excluded. Has anyone been depressed, hopeless or attempted suicide out of despair hence evidencing a lack of faith in his or her life? Shut the gates, don’t let them in.
Suicide and bomohs
Muslims are patient and constant, and rely on the Holy Qur’an as their guide, mercy and glad tidings. Has any Muslim lost their temper unreasonably? That’s a red card offence.
Does any Muslim merely recite the Holy Book without understanding it? Clearly, such a person is not relying on the Qu’ran as a guide, and should be excluded.
A Muslim holds fast to Allah as protector. Has any Muslim ever consulted a bomoh? That person is disqualified also. Wouldn’t someone who consults a bomoh be considered a buyer of magic? And doesn’t the Qur’an clearly say that buyers of magic would have no share in the hereafter’s happiness, but instead have paid a vile price for selling their souls? Since Muslims go to heaven and buyers of magic are disqualified from going to heaven, clearly buyers of magic are non-Muslims and cannot use “Allah”.
Granted, by the above standards, I personally wouldn’t qualify to call God by any name. But then, neither would anyone else. Perhaps, therefore, there is wisdom in the position maintained by the hardliners, because if nobody is allowed to call upon God, we could perhaps finally have peace on earth. As for the hereafter, that’s another story for another time.
Chan Kheng Hoe believes that God is (still) great. He actually wants to use another term but will refrain just in case The Nut Graph office gets torched.
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