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If “Allah” were for Muslims only

(Pic by xymonau /

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 /
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.

Who qualifies?

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 /

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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19 Responses to “If “Allah” were for Muslims only”

  1. paulinefoo says:

    I truly support it, KH. Well done, bro!!

  2. non-muslim says:

    Good to know that only Muslims committed so many sins based on the author’s observations. Then again, out of 6 billion people in the world, 4.7 billion are not Muslims. I think they, too, committed more sins than the 1.3 billion Muslims, but these 4.7 billion are not in the observations of the author. Good Propaganda.

  3. Cdawg says:

    Well said 🙂 Impressive reasoning 🙂

  4. Cdawg says:

    “Good to know that only Muslims committed so many sins based on the author’s observations. Then again, out of 6 billion people in the world, 4.7 billion are not Muslims. I think they, too, committed more sins than the 1.3 billion Muslims, but these 4.7 billion are not in the observations of the author. Good Propaganda.”

    It’s 6.9 billion, firstly. And really, is the author commenting on anyone other than Muslims? The author himself admits to “not qualifying”. You are bringing in new ideas to a fairly straightforward opinion piece. Non-Muslims are not the ones who are upset about the use of “Allah”, since they have been using it for years, and don’t care, so why are you discussing their “sins”? This is not propaganda, unless you have trouble reading and are misinterpreting it.

  5. good news! says:

    The Christian god is “Tuhan” in Malay. The rukun negara says “kepercayaan kepada Tuhan”. I’m ok. Are you ok? Kids won’t be confused, I’m sure. But maybe the adults.

  6. Zeep says:

    Yeah, I totally agree, KH. Many of them still don’t get it. BTW, have you seen the following blog: and the facebook of Ustaz Dr. Ridhuan Tee Abdullah. Some rather disturbing views/comments posted there.

  7. oik says:

    Your whole article is based on a false premise. The argument is not about whether non-Muslims can say Allah, it is about whether “Allah” in BM can mean anything other than the God of the Muslims. Muslims have no problem with Father Pakiam or anyone else saying Allah as long as they mean the God of the Muslims, not some other deity that has a father or a son. Is that so difficult to understand?

    You also make a big song and dance about who qualifies as a Muslim and who doesn’t. If you had even an iota of knowledge about Islam, then you would know that it is not the place of any person, Muslim or otherwise, to judge whether another person can be considered a Muslim. Only Allah can do so. As long as a person recites the Syahadah and does not renounce Islam, we have to accept that that person is a Muslim.

    I’m amazed that anyone can be this confused. Are you deliberately trying to be obtuse?

  8. kmj says:

    My, my. I think KH is wrong in many ways. You can’t expect every single Malay Muslim [Malaysian] to be perfect. The very reason Islam was preached by so many Muslims is simply because we are not perfect. No one, with exception of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), is.

    Please research and study the origin of the human race. The beliefs of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all basically refer to god as “Allah”. But why do Christians in Malaysia want to use “Allah” now, when they didn’t before? The very existence of our multiracial, multireligious society can never be reversed, so please be sensitive. This will only create havoc and misery.

  9. pope says:

    We are waiting for Vatican pope, the number one authority in [Catholicism], to start using word “Allah”, otherwise, the so-called bishops and [priests] in this country are abusing their powers and disrespecting the Pope himself. If the Pope is openly disrespected by these bishops and [priests], what would the future of Christianity be? I really wonder.

  10. Muslim says:

    Chan Kheng Hoe gives us a clearer perspective. He has explicitly pointed out what have been the biggest problems for Islam in this country all this while. Carlsberg, Guiness-Anchor, Genting and Magnum are shown here by this clever bloke to be the culprits that hinder Muslims from being closer to their god, and from being goody-goody citizens like everyone else. And, since i know TNG wouldn’t publish my comment, let me say let’s torch these four great [devils] instead…

  11. Ida Bakar says:

    Interesting and utterly hilarious piece. There is caveat though. A Muslim is some one who testifies that there is no God but God and Muhammad is his messenger. What they do after that is another story. Ergo, all the examples you have given above can all themselves Muslims.

  12. Junid says:

    The real issue is not about who can use the term “Allah”, but what the term “Allah” really means. Jews, Christians and Muslims alike can use the term “Allah”. But it must in the actual context. “Allah” is used to refer to the One True God Who is the Creator of Heavens and Earth and also the Creator of the Universe.

    If this rule is obeyed, then we Muslims have no qualms about this issue as “Allah” says in the Qur’an to the Jews and Christians: “O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah. that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah.”

  13. Kheng Hoe says:

    To oik,

    First, let me clarify I am not Christian. However, I know enough about Christianity to know that Nabi Isa is neither the physical nor biological son of Allah. You seem so knotted up over the issue of the so-called “son” of God, yet you don’t come across as one who has bothered enough to understand the concept. I believe both the Qur’an and the Bible teach the same thing about the birth of Nabi Isa, that he was born of a virgin. Who then, would you conclude, to be his “father”?

  14. Abak says:

    Generally, Muslims are not opposed to Christians using “Allah” to refer to God. But the reason given by Christians for wanting to use “Allah” as a Malay-language translation for God is ridiculous. “Allah” is not even a Malay word. It is Arabic to refer to God. If you want to translate God to Bahasa Malaysia, it should be “Tuhan”, while Lord should be “Yang Amat Berkuasa”.

    Another aspect that is boggling our (Muslims’) minds is why use “Allah” only in Bahasa Malaysia? Why not use it in all languages, just as the Muslims do? That’s what makes the Muslims suspicious of the Christians. It is a known fact that the Christians have been trying to convert the Muslims for years and they failed. They made some headway in Sabah and Sarawak on the indigenous people using this tactic.They think they want to use the same tactic in the peninsula.

    The Muslims cannot give in this time. Today, the Christians would want “Allah” written in Romanised form; later they would want it in Jawi .They are not trying to confuse us, but worse: to challenge Islam’s sanctity.

  15. phtan10 says:

    To those who are offended by this article, please watch

    101 East – Malaysia: Whose God?

    This is a political issue, not a religious issue!

  16. Azizi Khan says:


    By the premise of your argument that only Allah can judge who is a Muslim and who is not, why then make a big deal about who can use Allah ? Let Allah be the judge, after all, he is supreme. I believe your problem is that you see being Malay Muslim (using BM) as being somehow superior to every other Muslim speaking any other language. This, I believe, is hypocritical.

  17. rowena says:

    It’s always wrong for a non-Muslim to get confused with the teachings of Islam. But most of the time, it’s okay for a Muslim to be confused with the teachings of other religions…

  18. PM Ellamaran says:

    It is really hurting that the Christians have disturbed the peace of the nation. “Allah” never occurred in the Hebrew, Greek, or Latin versions of the Old and New Testament, and there is no reliable evidence of the existence of any pre-Islamic Arabic translation of the Bible.

    One would not find the term “Allah” in Algonquin Bible, which was translated for the American Indians in 1663, let alone in English versions like Wycliffe’s, Tyndale, Douay, King James or Confraternity. There is no reason to use the term “Allah” to refer to the Christian god because “Allah” has never been the god of American Indians or the English people, hence the word does not exist in their languages.

    In India, the Catholics use Brahma or Iswara. What is the hidden agenda of the Malaysian Catholics churches in using “Allah”? Please use Tuhan or any other Hebrew name for god.

  19. eureka! says:


    You are so right! So let’s check Kamus Dewan.

    You are so right again! ONLY ALLAH CAN DO SO!

    It’s probably not going to make a difference to whether you go to heaven or hell if Christians use Allah. But if you think Allah will send the Christians to hell for using the name Allah, then ONLY ALLAH CAN DO SO! Let them go to hell in PEACE!

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