PETALING JAYA, 17 Feb 2009: Use of the word “Allah” among Catholic churches should not be restricted unreasonably, said leading Islamic scholar Prof Dr Mohammad Hashim Kamali today.
Hashim Kamali“In Islam, there is one God for all humanity. Therefore, one should not monopolise or personalise ‘Allah’ as belonging to only one sector of humanity,” he said.
He said that restraint should only be applied in accordance with the principle of sadd al-dhara’i (blocking the means to an evil development) in Islamic jurisprudence.
“For example, marriage is a lawful institution. But if a man is going to use marriage as a means of abuse or corruption, then he should be blocked from accessing this lawful institution,” said Kamali.
He said this logic extended to the use of the word “Allah” by the Catholic church.
“If there is no abuse of the word, then there should be no restraint on its usage,” he said.
Kamali was chairing the public lecture Christian evangelicalism: A modern political religion and its implications for Muslims, organised by the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.
Kamali is IAIS’s founding chairperson and chief executive officer.
The talk was given by Dr Karim Douglas Crow, IAIS’s principal research fellow.
According to Crow, overseas evangelical groups claim that 3.1% of Malaysia’s Christian population are evangelical.
He said the same sources put Christian Malaysians at 8.6% of the total population.
“But just as Muslims do not like to be generalised, we must remember that we cannot judge all Christians based on our impressions of this strand of evangelicalism,” he said.
Karim Douglas Crow He added that Muslims should engage in the real world and be alive to nuances, instead of relying on caricatures or stereotypes of other communities.
Crow said modern “pre-millenial, dispensationalist evangelicalism” — a particular strand of Christian fundamentalism — also espouses what he termed “Christian Zionism”.
This strand of fundamentalism upholds an uncritical defence of Israel using selective interpretations of the Bible.
“These evangelicals have, in a way, hijacked Christianity to their own ends,” he said.
Crow traced the modern development this strand of Christian theology to the Chilean Jesuit priest, Manuel de Lacunza, in 18th century CE. Lacunza’s writings then influenced the Protestant movement of the Plymouth Brethren in the British Isles.
Crow said this went on to influence the Bible college movement in North America, and post-Cold War politicisation of the movement followed.