Categorised | Commentary, News

Responding to “Allah” differently


(Pic by Adrian Van Leen / sxc.hu)

PREDICTABLE. This best sums up the reactions by some Muslim groups and the government to the High Court’s 31 Dec 2009 decision to lift the ban on the use of “Allah” by Catholic paper Herald.

Malaysians were probably able to anticipate the newspaper headlines and ensuing comments, given the usual rhetoric on race and religion in this country. After all, we have all heard the same tune before.

Same old song

“This is an insult to Islam,” said several Muslim groups during a protest in George Town, Penang.

“This can be used to confuse Muslims,” said Defence Minister and Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“Muslims are the majority in Malaysia … The right to practise other religions peacefully means they are to be practised without eroding the peace and harmony of the official religion, Islam. This is the special position of Islam,” said Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar, president of the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association in a Berita Harian column.

“The [Herald's] actions [in using the word 'Allah'] is akin to stirring up a hornet’s nest,” said Datuk Dr Ma’amor Osman, secretary-general of Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia.

Amid all the tangential hoopla, one would hope that the government would respond responsibly and intelligently instead of playing along with the scare-mongering religious rhetoric. Instead, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his cabinet have chosen to appeal for “calm” and to let “the government deal with the matter” while it “expedites” its appeal. Najib has also been quoted as saying he will seek an audience with the Yang-di-Pertuan Agong to brief him on this issue.

And of course, no discussion on race and religion would be complete without the constant reminder that this issue is sensitive, sensitive, sensitive and extremely sensitive.

An alternative scenario

How could the government and the traditional Malay-language media have responded to this issue differently? How would it have sounded if they were truly sincere about building national unity à la 1Malaysia?


What they could have said
Najib, for example, could have announced that even if some Muslims disagreed with the decision, they had to abide by the rule of law.

He could have made good on his 1Malaysia concept and said that as the prime minister for all Malaysians, he must ensure that the legitimate interests of all parties are protected at all times. Indeed, he could have noted that not all Muslims disagreed with the decision. There are Muslim Malaysians who agree with the High Court decision because they understand the historical use of “Allah” that predates Islam, and because their faith isn’t as fragile as it’s made out to be by other Muslims, including the Umno leadership.

Najib could then have added that although Malay-Muslim Malaysians are the majority in some parts of the country, that does not preclude non-Muslim Malaysians from expressing themselves. It also should not prevent non-Muslims from practising their own religions in a way that they have historically done before without any fuss or threat of public disorder.

At the same time, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein could have called a press conference to say that although the ministry would exercise its right to appeal, it nevertheless respected the High Court’s decision. And while the appeal was pending, he would demonstrate this respect for the courts — one of the three pillars of government — by ensuring that the Herald would not encounter any problems with the usage of the word “Allah”.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan could also have weighed in and said that the police would clamp down on any violence by any group. He could also have said that as a police officer, he is bound by the court’s decision, which would be considered valid law until and unless overruled by a higher court. 


(Musa pic by Ridzuan Aziz / Wiki commons)
Even so, any attempted violence in relation to the case would be illegal, and the police would take prompt action should threats of violence be made or executed.

Muslim religious leaders could have advised that regardless of the race and religion of the presiding judge, she had the power to preside over the case and that due process of the law should be respected. And that even if some Muslims disagreed with her decision, that did not mean people should question her integrity and capabilities because she is a non-Muslim and non-Malay Malaysian. After all, shouldn’t any court judgement be evaluated on the merits and facts of a case, rather than the judge’s racial and religious identity?

Imagine the effect if government leaders said that Malaysians were resilient, and able to work through this issue together. Imagine if they told us, “Even if we disagree, we are one nation, and we will discuss these issues and come to a common consensus and understanding through respectful dialogue.” Imagine what the outcome could be if they stopped emphasising how very sensitive some Muslims’ feelings were and how fragile their faith was.

The only variation on the usual “sensitive” anthem has come from Rembau Member of Parliament Khairy Jamaluddin. The Umno Youth chief has at least acknowledged the existence of Catholic sensitivities and called for dialogue between the National Fatwa Council and the Catholic Herald publishers to resolve the issue. But his is a solo voice in the usual uninspiring melody of fear. 

Additionally, what would it look like if the traditional media could also sing a new tune? What if instead of one-sided accounts of Muslim pressure groups purporting to speak for the Malay-Muslim majority, we instead had myriad views from different Malaysians? What if the traditional press also reported the views of Muslim and non-Muslim Malaysians who agreed with the High Court’s decision?

Imagine if Utusan Malaysia wrote an editorial saying that Malay-Muslim Malaysians should respect the law and not take this issue as a personal insult. Imagine if they wrote factually about the historical use of the word “Allah”. Imagine if they noted the current use of the word by other faith communities in other Muslim countries, instead of blinding readers with threats of public disorder and chaos because Malaysian Muslims are somehow “special” in how sensitive they are.


Ceilings of a mosque (left) and a church (Pics by ctkirklees and beriliu / sxc.hu)

Genuine reform

What is the value of 1Malaysia and all the talk about national unity if the government’s rhetoric is clearly unmatched on issues such as this “Allah” issue?

In the face of conflict and disagreement, can our leaders stand by the High Court’s decision and tell the population to grow up? Do they have the courage to speak up for minorities, even though it makes them unpopular among some groups who are bent on illogical and unconstitutional reasoning? Will our leaders have the integrity to speak honestly and truthfully about respecting a court judgement and the rights of minority groups?

Truth is, genuine reform that leads to real national unity can only happen with such leaders. For now, though, we’re stuck with the same old boring, unhelpful and ultimately destructive racial and religious tunes, no thanks to leaders who only know how to repeat the same chorus.

For related stories, see In the Spotlight: Political Islam

The Nut Graph needs your support
Please take our five-minute reader survey

Post to Twitter Post to Google Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to StumbleUpon

Tags: , , , , , , ,

47 Responses to “Responding to “Allah” differently”

  1. Azizi Khan says:

    A lot of things have been said and done on this issue. What appalled me the most was the suggestion that this case should be heard in a syariah court and thereby delivering a positive verdict for the Malaysian Muslims.

    This is why I oppose granting higher than existing powers to syariah courts or fully implementing a syariah system in Malaysia. Syariah may be God’s law but implementing it in Malaysia gives absolute control over all areas to one group of people – far more than it is at the moment.

    Now the idea that if we allow Christians to use the word Allah will confuse me as a Muslim is downright insulting to me as a Muslim. I would like to think I’m a very intelligent person. I see absolutely no problem in my fellow Christian Malaysians using Allah to refer to God.

    Besides, as much as our Home Minister would like to think, Malaysia does not have copyright of the usage of Allah exclusively. People in the Middle East, Muslims and Christians have been using Allah for centuries. Malaysia may be able to change Malaysian history, but international history is another matter.

    Besides, why stop with Allah, are the Malay Muslims going to copyright other words as well. Let’s see now, what if Indian Malaysians are offended by the usage of “bumiputra” to mean Malay ultras? Afterall it’s an Indian word. They wouldn’t want this word to be misconstrued to mean something else apart from “son of the soil” to a political mockery right?

    I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again – Malaysian Islam is so far deviant from its origin I believe most Malaysians Muslims have become hypocrites. And this issue over the usage of Allah is proof of that.

  2. M.K. says:

    Soon, the verdict from the High Court judge will be overturned by the Court of Appeal and subsequently upheld by the Federal Court. Very predictable in Bolehland! The whole issue has once again exposed the general maturity of Malaysian Muslims and their knowledge of their own religion and that of others.

    Sorry, but the author has missed out on the comments made by Marina Mahathir recently in relation to the issue; quite in line with Khairy’s view.

  3. Terence says:

    I’m viewing most of what is happening with a fair amount of disbelief and disappointment. Most of all I fear what is lost is the sensible Malaysians we used to be in allowing things to get polarised to this level. I think the whole idea of using the laws of the land to enforce an otherwise spiritual matter is undeniably political and ultimately misguided. That goes for both sides of the equation from the original ban by the Home Ministry to the following High Court decision. All this could be avoid if the various parties (not political would be the best) involved actually sat down in an interfaith discussion and resolved it without getting the law involved. Perhaps this is a time to create a proper interfaith counsel where matters such as this could be resolved without resorting to mob rule. All this adversarial posturing is giving me and I believe many Malaysians a headache. We have enough to worry about with the rising inflation and the new challenges in surviving the brutal world we live in.

  4. joel mizan says:

    Where are the East Malaysian ministers’ comments on this issue? Until today, none has come out to voice their minds.

    We understand that since we are together in BN, we must (and nothing less than a MUST) conform to the general view of the BN. Thus another word would be a “Yes” to BN.
    I am waiting for the Christian bumiputera ministers to come forward and voice their view. Bukan hilang di belakang tabir.

    Datuk Maximus Ongkili, Datuk Bernard Dompok.

  5. Fair minded says:

    Thank you for speaking the truth. I cry for Malaysia. This single issue proved beyond a shadow of doubt the hollowness of the 1Malaysia propaganda.

    To those who voted BN in Sabah and Sarawak in 2008, I hope you can see the effect of your actions. May our good God have mercy on us all.

  6. Sean says:

    I’m not convinced KJ’s contribution is positive. To me, this issue is purely one of oppressive licensing laws being used in a way that is contrary to the constitutional provisions for freedom to practise one’s religion. Any attempt to shift the matter from the courts to places of worship undermines the issue. We must uphold the constitution as the final arbiter in this matter, as this is purely a question of constitutional rights.

    If the faiths want to have an independent conversation on this matter, I guess it can’t hurt. But for the sake of everybody in Malaysia – regardless of affiliation or involvement – this matter of constitutional rights must be dealt with by the courts alone.

    I think there’s a powerful movement in Malaysia to pull issues out of the realm of rational discourse, the courts and the constitution – to somehow make them ‘special’. The problem with ‘special’ topics is that they’re forever placed beyond the reach of ordinary Malaysians. And that’s a very bad thing.

  7. Kate Green, Zombie Shooter says:

    I’m extremely upset with people who use this issue as ‘revenge’ for Sabah and Sarawak for supporting BN. Who are these people making their choices for us? Of course they know the perfect choice for Sarawakians, they are from West Malaysia, and thus know better about our struggles, our leaders, our way of life, than we know of ourselves! Why do these comments always target East Malaysia, but Johor is always forgiven despite being an old Umno stronghold?

    Have all these pro-Pakatan people forgotten that there is a huge pro-Islamist and conservative element in the alliance, and that it is PAS, not DAP or PKR, which gives Pakatan its numbers? How many PAS supporters in the grassroots are supportive of the High Court and the Catholic Church in the Allah issue?

  8. GCYM26 says:

    Nobody who has seen the Creator is alive today threfore it’s only right to come to a common understanding to resolve this matter amicably. For now the law has approved the use of kalimah “ALLAH” in Herald publication, therefore as citizens of this country we should abide because the law is for everybody!

  9. D'evil says:

    In the most important test of 1Malaysia, [the government] failed and failed miserably. What is there to talk about when a wise decision is to be made, it is not forthcoming. It just confirmed my belief. [...]

  10. Farouq Omaro says:

    None of these protestors want to listen to the Christians, especially the Christians from Sabah and Sarawak who have used Allah since before independence. Naturally when more Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians go to West Malaysia to work or study, there would be more demand for religious literature in Malay. Why can’t the zealots understand this? So much for 1Malaysia. As for leaders of PBS, UPKO, PBRS, SPDP and PRS, what a disappointment!

  11. Mitch says:

    What more can be said about the Malay-Muslim Malaysian? It is sad that the whole “Allah” situation has come to this. There’s no more consultation in their book or rationalising issues.

    So much for being 1Malaysia and living in harmony. I am upset…I am very upset. Being a Malay-Muslim Malaysian, it has come to a point where I am thinking…is this what Islam is all about ? Is this how we Malay [Malaysians] are towards others? Is this what being a Malaysian is all about?

    This issue will be the downfall of the government and I will pray for that to the one ‘ALLAH’.

  12. kmj says:

    Stupidity isn’t it…the issue is really the “intention”. If Herald has told the world that they have no other motive of changing the word God to Allah then I think every Muslim will understand. But this issue only reveals the sorry part of the “controversial” high court decision. NO right-thinking Muslim will oppose if the intention is fully told to the world. If there is nothing evil about it. What worries us is if it leads to confusion and the Muslims feel threathened, then this is dangerous. Other than that, apa nak takut if your faith is truely Muslim, then you have nothing to worry. But Herald please tell the world your intention of using ALLAH after using GOD for so long…Tolong cakap lah.

  13. Sivin Kit says:

    What a way to start the new year 2010! A strong focus on the Almighty … God … Allah!

    The call is in everyone’s court how we can respond. But I think all eyes are especially focused on those who claim to be inclusive and strive for a Malaysia where diversity and respect can flourish.

    Will the BN-led government withdraw their appeal? Get serious about resolving this in a way that’s open, transparent, educational, interactive, that would benefit ALL parties concerned.

    Will the elected government create an environment [where] fear, misinformation, and suspicion reigns?

    I get the feeling that [there is] a substantial amount of goodwill and friendship amongst people of different faiths [who] are ready for respectful conversations and fruitful engagements. Even when we disagree on the details.

    The Home Ministry can appeal but they don’t have to.

    Perhaps then our energies will be directed towards understanding each other, and moving forward together?

    Or maybe I’m too naive?

  14. @M.K.

    The author did not miss out on Marina Mahathir’s comments. It’s in the link in the word “faith” in this sentence: “There are Muslim Malaysians who agree with the High Court decision because they understand the historical use of ‘Allah’ that predates Islam, and because their faith isn’t as fragile as it’s made out to be by other Muslims, including the Umno leadership.”

  15. My thoughts on this issue:

    1. It has been argued by some Muslims in Malaysia that Muslims would be confused if Christians and others are allowed to use “Allah” to refer to God. And that potentially, Malaysian Muslims would not know the difference between Islam and Christianity if Christians were allowed to use “Allah”.

    But Christians and Sikhs have been using “Allah” for the longest time in Malaysia, and non-Muslims continue to do so in other countries without restriction. How is it that Christians and Sikhs in Malaysia aren’t confused about who their God is and are not likely to convert to Islam even though they are using the same name for God that Muslims are using?

    Are we saying that Muslims are of weaker faith than Christians and Sikhs? And that Muslims are more easily confused than non-Muslims? Talk about insulting one’s own brothers and sisters in the faith.

    2. The other argument that has been made has been that, “It’s ok for educated Muslims not to feel threatened by the use of Allah by non-Muslims. But what about the ones who are uneducated.”

    You know, the period before Islam was known as Zaman Jahiliyah i.e. the Age of Ignorance. Islam brought enlightenment. The people who make the argument about needing to protect the sensitivities of uneducated Muslims are asking for the ummah to remain jahiliyah or ignorant. How is that consistent with the spirit of Islam?

    If there are ignorant, uneducated Muslims in our midst, shouldn’t Muslim leaders be educating and enlightening them, instead of letting their ignorance dictate standards for the rest of us, Muslims and non-Muslims?

    3. I was travelling in the Muslim country of Morocco with Muslim friends over the Christmas break when we heard the news of the High Court decision. My Muslim friends celebrated the news. Yet, there are groups in Malaysia now who claim to represent all Muslims in their demands that non-Muslims be prevented from using “Allah”. And our lovely Umno leaders support them! I’d like to know, why is the national leadership comprising the highest members of cabinet choosing to support irrational and unconstitutional Muslim views instead of endorsing the views of educated and rational Muslims? What’s in it for Umno that they would continue to perpetuate a culture of ignorance and irrationality among Muslims?

  16. hendrie says:

    Truly, if our leaders are knowledgeable, the country will be peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not so, therefore we have [mobs] who go to the streets to protest and leaders giving their own irrational personal opinion in the name of the general public who are Muslims.These leaders should do their homework before opening their mouths to speak. I have no respect for these leaders who speak with their hearts and not their heads. Like most people say, Malaysia has first class facilities but third class mentality. These are the leaders who spoil the image of our country. What a sad thing. Anyway,I don’t care now as my family and I are planning to migrate overseas in the near future.

  17. joel mizan says:

    This is how we pray, “Ya Allah, Tuhan ku, kita menyembahMu. Segalanya berada di dalam tanganMu”.

    Will they take that away from us?

    Our manner of worship, or word of reverence and our reference to our God, “Allah, Bapaku di syurga.”

    Let’s hear it from the BM churches in Sabah and Sarawak e.g. pusat SIB, Calvary, SDA and RC. What have you to say in this matter?

  18. JC says:

    Anyone ask the Umno ministers what makes them assume that Malaysian Muslims’ faith is so weak that the use of Allah by the Catholics can so adversely affect them? What proof do they have that a lot Muslims in Malaysia will all abandon their faith because they read a Catholic publication? This is absolutely insulting to the majority of Muslims in this country! If I am a Muslim, I will be protesting that sort of assumption! Who is confused about God?

  19. Sivin Kit says:

    Jacqueline, you are spot on.

    We need to name it as it is. Especially for point number 3. It’s worth a recap:

    “Why is the national leadership comprising the highest members of cabinet choosing to support irrational and unconstitutional Muslim views instead of endorsing the views of educated and rational Muslims? What’s in it for Umno that they would continue to perpetuate a culture of ignorance and irrationality among Muslims?”

    If we seriously want investors to come in to Malaysia and help with our economic development, we need to invest in creating the kind of political climate that would encourage that.

    Of course, life is more than economics.

  20. The people of the book, i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam have this common commandment in the Mosiac Law (Ten Commandments) and it states:

    “Thou shalt not use the name of thy God in vain.”

    Those who manipulate religion for personal gain have to answer to their God. It is very clear that the Umno-led government just cannot discard their old modus operandi to garner support by manipulating the “Allah” issue to stir their supporters. We pray for them.

    After manipulating the assets and finances of the country for so long, and having enriched themselves, these leaders/supporters will use every trick to stay in power. The real issue is not the usage of the word Allah, but about staying in power “by all means”. And this is where the real danger is. Having created a culture of ‘race politics’ for so long, and with the tsunami of 2008, Umno is again using the ‘race/religion card’ to drum up their diminishing support. Corruption, crime, billions of national funds abused, numerous other disastrous revelations. Without any real commitment and political will to address these issues, this will only bring out their own corrupted and dirty practices, [and] the Allah issue is being used to prop themselves up.

    The first precept of the RUKUNEGARA is:

    “BELIEF IN GOD”. This applies to all Malaysians. Some leaders, especially politicians are beginning to believe in their tactics, techniques and strategies, more than the belief in God. I dread to speculate on the consequences for those who take this part. I suggest all God-fearing Malaysians to pray for God’ s will to manifest and not to add fuel to this dangerous Umno-inspired flame.

    We keep ourselves in prayer. We pray for peace for all Malaysians and humanity.

    ====

    This is a side-topic, but since you brought up the Rukunegara, I wonder what the status of atheists in Malaysia is. By logical extension, the Rukunegara excludes atheists, but do atheists have their rights protected under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution?

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  21. abingkasan says:

    One of the best writes-up so far. Congrats. Keep up the good work! Allah God bless us all

  22. sad says:

    It is sad to hear such rubbish from this group. If they complain about “Tuhan” I might understand, but to claim “Allah” is Malay word is going too far. “Allah” is an Arabic word, and I don’t see any Arabic people complaining about it. People in the Middle East can live with other people of different faiths in peace.(apart from Israel). They allow people of different faiths to use “Allah” as God. I cannot see why this group [in Malaysia] has to make a mess of it. It is most unfortunate that this group is forgetting their “roots”, and is laying claim to what is truly not theirs to grieve over.

    I would not be surprised if they did something extreme and live to regret in the future. I am indeed most sad that if this is the way we are moving forward, we are going in the wrong direction.

  23. Anonymous Coward says:

    I thought that it’s been agreed upon by Islamic scholars that Christians and Jews worship the same God as do their Muslim counterparts? After all, they are the people of the book, as the Qur’an says. So why is there a need to lay claim upon the word Allah?

    Muslims here are like the Islamic version of miliant Christians from the US’s Bible Belt. It’s ridiculous and absurd how little they understand of their own teachings.

  24. Sean says:

    Shanon,

    I’ve asked before elsewhere if those who fill in “tiada agama” on official forms are due a tax rebate under Article 11.2 of the constitution. If the tax for “tiada agama” is not to be used for the religions of others, and if their tax logically cannot be used for their own religion, then should it be refunded? Or should those of “tiada agama” be publicly congratulated for contributing proportionally more towards non-religious public expenditure than their religious fellows?

    The constitution has explicit protection for the religious, but doesn’t appear to offer any protection for those who are not religious. It would appear that the most simple option to address this anomaly is to remove “tiada agama” from the options on official forms! There is some freedom of religion, but no freedom from religion.

  25. jery says:

    It is puzzling why the government is playing this card. Perhaps their eyes have been blinded by the urge to instill a strong Muslim identify among Malay [Malaysians], so that they can be portrayed as defenders of the religion.

  26. rowena says:

    I honestly cannot understand what the noise is all about. The Herald is ONLY sold in Catholic churches in Malaysia. So, how can the Herald confuse the Muslims in Malaysia? Do the Muslims purchase the Herald from the Catholic churches? It’s TERHAD. FOR NON-MUSLIMS ONLY, sold ONLY in CHURCHES. What’s so confusing about that?! National security?!

  27. Yomon Ommo says:

    How can a non-Muslim consider becoming one when he/she sees the selfishness of existing Muslims in not “sharing” the name of their God? If “Allah” is exclusively for Muslims only, He is not the God of the whole universe! I can’t pronounce “Allah” the way my Malay [Malaysian] friends do… but isn’t He all-loving and forgiving even if I can’t pronounce His name correctly?

  28. Pendatang Cinakuih says:

    Shanon,

    Atheists do not need protection under Article11 unless you take the view that a way of life is a religion [this view is clearly not what Art.11 was intended for]; there is no religion (in the Art.11 sense) to protect.

    What Art.11 does not protect, though, is people yelling in the streets in the name of their religion [Art.11(5)].

    P.S.: Since the Rukunegara employs the term “Tuhan” and not “Elah”, “Yahweh”, or “Allah”, clearly its drafters were referring to “God” — and not merely in the monotheistic sense. Thus, by logical extension, the Rukunegara includes atheists whose minds are their temples, and (scientific) knowledge their God.

  29. John boy says:

    I ask this to Muslims who accept the High Court decision on this forum, sincerely as a Christian. I share your views that we worship the same God. Some Muslims are averse to this because we believe in the Trinity concept and think that therefore it is wrong. How do you reconcile this ? I think this is the crux of the problem facing these mob protesters. To Christians, the Trinity is central to our faith, but is a stumbling block for Muslims. Perhaps we share the same faith, but the interpretation is different? The ultimate goal is the same, but there are many paths which lead us to Allah? Isn’t it sad then to think that so many wars have been fought over this, despite worshipping the same Allah? Perhaps as humans we are failed creatures who need guidance. As Jesus says, be like little children.

  30. Sivin Kit says:

    Shanon, just for creative engagement.

    I recall a quote from Martin Luther (attributed founder of the Lutheran Church, which I’m part of): “That to which your heart clings is your god.”

    Perhaps with that interpretive move, atheist and agnostics can be included, too? :-)

  31. Sean says:

    Sivin, I wouldn’t like to wear a label assigned to me by a religious person. However, in the interests of dialogue, if Martin Luther is telling us that our god is really our sternum (that is what my heart clings to, after all), then I am ready to applaud him for coming up with a unifying attribute we can all get behind.

    Shanon, I think a discussion of alternatives to Abrahamic beliefs would be marvelous, but perhaps poorly timed – if we were to have it now.

  32. Jas Kler says:

    In response to Joel Mizan: Sabah leader Tan Sri Bernard Dompok made a statement, saying that Christians have been using the word “Allah” long before the formation of Malaysia. But the story was not used by the national papers. The Malaysian Insider had it two days ago. Some Sabah dailies also have comments from local Christian leaders on the issue.

  33. Nehemiah says:

    There are some illogical mistakes in the comments here such as by John Boy.

    To say that Christians share the same God as Muslims is not true although both faiths (along with Judaism) were derived from the Abrahamaic line.

    Christians believe in God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Just because Muslims believe in the God of Abraham does not mean they worship the same God as Christians.

    The main historical difference is that Christians/Jews believe that Isaac was the true blood son of Abraham and Sarah, while Ishmael was the son of Abraham and the maid Hagar. The Muslims believe it is the other way with the names of the sons switched.

    Anyway, there is a fresh insight into this issue of Allah and the spiritual state of man that is discussed in the article below:

    http://jeremiahliang.blogspot.com/2010/01/online-allah-debate-opens-up.html

  34. joel mizan says:

    Didn’t Jesus say,” Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”? Didn’t David defeat Goliath? …

    We are just a minority in this country (despite I being a bumiputera myself). It is difficult to fight against or oppose a government that is so pro-Muslim in this matter. I am so tired of thinking about all this. Let us resort to prayer, for only through this will great things work.

  35. jery says:

    The only reason that this government stay in power is because the Christian bumiputra in Sabah and Sarawak has been very pro BN.

    Instead of appreciating the patron of those people the government has chosen to deny them their very right to call their God as Allah.

    Those Christians would need to realise one day when they meet their God, they will be held accountable the way on how they can continue to vote for the very party that persecutes them. Pray to save your very own soul. Obey the law and uphold the constitution that safeguard your right; if not you only have yourself to be blamed.

  36. Anonymous Coward says:

    To John:

    That is indeed my understanding, as a Muslim. The concept of a Trinity is blasphemous to Muslims and that can never be reconciled. It is a sticking point whenever anyone from either faith gets into a discussion and will forever be that way. The way I see it is that both Jews and Christians worship the same God but with differing interpretations and doctrine regarding how one should have a relationship with Him.

    My theory is that most Muslims here believe that Christians — and indeed, Jews — do not worship the same God. The ignorance seems to stem from the concept of Saints that Christians have and especially of the many statues one can find in Churches. My theory is that most Muslims here believe that Christians actually worship the statues (although they may only think this subconsciously) and this is tantamount to “menyembah berhala”, as they say in Malay. But this is only a theory that I have, nothing more.

    What would (probably) solve this problem is when someone with respectable Islamic scholarly credentials — perhaps from the Middle East or having studied there — to conclusively say that the Christians worship the same God and thus the name by which He is called is irrelevant.

    But even then, the angry mob would probably still not be convinced.

  37. Jeremiah says:

    There are some illogical mistakes in the comments here such as by John Boy and Anonymous Coward.

    To say that Christians share the same God as Muslims is not true although both faiths (along with Judaism) were derived from the Abrahamaic line.

    Christians believe in God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Just because Muslims believe in the God of Abraham does not mean they worship the same God as Christians.

    The main historical difference is that Christians/Jews believe that Isaac was the true blood son of Abraham and Sara while Ishmael was the son of Abraham and the maid Hagar. The Muslims believe it is the other way with the names of the sons switched.

    Anyway, there is a fresh insight into this issue of Allah and the spiritual state of man that is discussed in the article below:

    http://jeremiahliang.blogspot.com/2010/01/online-allah-debate-opens-up.html

  38. I am a Buddhist, and I am shocked and appalled at the attacks on the churches. I would be equally angered by attacks carried out on other houses of prayer and worship.

    Buddhism affirms that life is the most precious of treasures, and attacks like these are an affront to the dignity of life. I believe that dialogue and consultation, together with correct education, is the only sure way of appreciating one another’s beliefs and overcoming our differences.

    I am glad that most Malaysians have not chosen to respond in anger. Christians and Muslim leaders have called for calm and have expressed willingness to resolve the differences through dialogue.

    Recently, at the kind invitation of an old friend, I attended a Christmas service at a church in Singapore with other friends. I also met many Muslims who called for more understanding among people of different beliefs. And I love Amazing Grace; it’s a beautiful and moving song. Recently, I have been reading more books on Islam and attending more events by Islamic organisations, and I am impressed by the progressive and humanistic view of the Muslims at these events.

    Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr wrote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The attacks on the churches are not just injustices on the Muslims and Christians; they are also a threat to the peace and happiness of people of other faiths, and also those who do not profess a religion.

    I hope that Malaysians will unite against this small group of people who are attempting to subdue us through hatred and bigotry.

  39. Peter Rock says:

    We can go further back. Christianity predated Islam, and the first Arabic Christians in present Turkey and Middle East region had been using the word “Allah” long before Mohammad was even born. So maybe it’s the Christians who should “copyright” and monopolise the use of the word “Allah” instead. Fundamentalist Muslims are simply ignorant people, and for “high” officials in government, who should know better, to also buy into the lie is a most shameful display of the small-mindedness of Malaysians to the world at large.

  40. Hong says:

    Jeremiah,

    There’s nothing illogical about either comment. While you may choose to make the distinction between the Christian God and the Muslim God, the Qur’an does not – protesting, website-hacking and firebombing Malaysian Muslims notwithstanding – and that is the point here, given that this is an issue powered by malcontents within the local Muslim community.

    As quoted in another Nut Graph article on the recent statement made by the Islamic Society of North America in praise of the High Court ruling, surah Al-Ankaboot, 46 of the Qur’an reads: ‘And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, “We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam).”‘ (trans. Yusuf Ali)

    In any case, the story is the same on the other side of the fence. The Catechism the Catholic Church states: ‘The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.’ (CCC 841)

    Sean,

    Thanks for putting my sentiments into words better that I ever could have. Sternum? Brilliant.

  41. Mistress of the Universe says:

    Its just another opportunity to strut and posture themselves before the Malay-Muslim electorate.

    The song is so old:
    (1) The [Christians/Buddhists/Hindus/Chinese/Indians/Others] are trampling on your rights again!
    (2) The Malays are under threat!
    (3) All Malays must unite against aforesaid threat! (See Item 1)
    (4) We, Umno is the only party by Malays for Malays that will ensure that the threat is kept at bay! Only we can ultimately safeguard your rights!
    (5) without UMNO you are all dead!!! DEAD YOU HEAR ME???

  42. joel mizan says:

    It is shameful to read about the [churches being] bombed today. We hope that these terrorists will stop these acts of instigating fear into peoples lives. This is the last thing we need in peaceful Malaysia.

  43. ellese says:

    A false basis. One option that Najib should have said is that the Muslims are all very [...] except for a few, but also noted the practice in Sabah and Sarawak. What happened was that there was no leadership from the Muslim perspective to guide it properly. Instead everyone, including you, [...] telling us that [we] are stupid. Re-assess [...]. If you don’t, our country will not heal. Have a bit of empathy and look beyond partisanship. Most of my Muslim friends are unhappy. And they are not political. It’s not the other way around.

  44. guakayuu says:

    The courts may eventually ban the use of Allah by non-Muslims but that can not stop non-Muslims from using and saying Allah. That’s passive resistance a’la Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. The more people say it, the stronger the support for Allah. I thank Allah for His love and understanding.

  45. Philip Selvaraj says:

    The Muslim Allah has S.W.T, after his name, people must be really stupid to not know the difference.

  46. joe says:

    Just let the Muslims call their God the actual name: Allah S.W.T. This should be suggested by the “wise” ulama in Malaysia. Have none of them any brains to think of a way out, other than going straight into battle? We need good religious leaders in this moderate Muslim country to teach the right thing to our Muslims brothers.

  47. Gopal Raj Kumar says:

    I think Jacquline Ann Surin’s response below highlights the general arrogance of ignorance by non-Muslims in this particular debate.

    A self-righteous form of bigotry even Marina Mahathir (if that’s any consolation to Surin) has expressed when referring to ‘confused Muslims’ in this context.

    First and foremost there is no unqualified constitutional right to the practice of any other faith in Malaysia guaranteed by the constitution as espoused by some. Especially the legal fraternity of Malaysia.

    The qualified right in the consitution is subject to the powers and obligations of the King and the various state authorities including the sultans to protect and to preserve the primacy of Islam amongst Muslim and Malay [Malaysian] subjects, and then the caveat that the practice of any other religion other than Islam is subject to peace and harmony in its practice and the exercise of that limited and qualified right.

    The fact there are many Malays (like other Malaysians) who may be uneducated or ignorant or confused simpletons is not an excuse by an aggressive bunch of prozelytising provocateurs to engage in what’s clearly a provocation of a ‘hornet’s nest’ of religious sensitivities amongst Malay [Malaysians] in a tinderbox political environment.

    Interestingly this Chevening scholar has Malay [Malaysian] friends, (and I am sure male and Indian [Malaysian] friends as well). Why are her friends qualified as being Malay or Indian or by any other qualififcation? Does she not see the pseudo-liberal hypocrisy in her latent prejudices which betray her in her statement? Why can’t they just be friends?

    Therein Ms Surin lies the difficulty in a place like Malaysia to reconcile the differences between races and religions. Of their own volition, the other races have built and continue to build a barrier around themselves to the exclusion of Malay [Malaysians] and Muslims unless it is for a sinister purpose like conversions.

    This problem and separateness has existed for centuries nurtured by the British who left more than a flawed constitution behind. They left the non-Malays many of whom would not assimilate behind. And in the absence of a more convincing argument than that carried by you and your colleagues here, that includes you.

    Morocco, like Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, has its own peculiar identity regardless of its Islamic heritage. Having a largely Islamic population does not mean they are similar to Malaysia or ought to be or that Islamic states are a generic blue brand without character of their own. Perhaps you ought to read a little more about Islamic secularism, the Turks and the birth of the Islamic Brotherhood which Nasser and the West drove to the fanaticism that has produced Ayman Al Zawahari.

    Your gratuitous comments on this subject are an insult. Not too different to that of Gandhi’s to the Anglo Indians (justifiably so in that particular case). The Anglo Indians like many non-Malay [Malaysians] of today at the time acted as surrogates of the British and an obstacle to independence.

    Of them he said, “Monuments to British adultery in the east, possessing the virtues of neither but the vices of both”.

    This subject requires a lot more sensitivity than you and your publication through selective publication of the communities’ responses (censorship with an excuse that it breaches your somewhat obscure policy guidelines) are capable of handling.

    Come on grow up. Allow your readers to seek a wider (even if unacceptable) view of things here.

    Gopal Raj Kumar


Most Read in Commentary

Most Read (Past 3 Months)

Most Comments (Past 3 Months)

  • None found

Advertisement


<

Advertisement


<
  • The Nut Graph

 

Switch to our mobile site