Friday, January 8, 2010

Please Stop Politicising 'Allah'

Hantu Laut

I refrained from making any comment on the controversial issue of the usage of the name 'Allah' by Christians.Race and religion are two sensitive issues that should be prodded with extreme care.

As intellectually reprehensible as it can be to certain people the fact remains that religion can inflame the passion of those who ascribed it to their personhood.They get hot under the collar whenever it is questioned,criticised or repudiated. The extremity of such intolerance could end up in social upheaval and violence.

This is one evil that we should give a wide berth.Racial and religious violence can tear a nation to shred.Countless atrocities inflicted on humanity have been in the name of religion.There are no winners,only losers.

I am from Sabah and have many Christian friends many of whom I know use 'Tuhan' or 'God' instead of 'Allah'.Two nights ago while having a drink with a Catholic friend I was surprised with his disagreement of the Catholic church insistence of using 'Allah'.He is English speaking, therefore, the question of using 'Allah' does not arise.I have yet to hear even those Malay speaking Christians using Allah outside the church.

Allah is synonymous to the Abrahamic religions and might have been in use by Christians,Muslims and Jews for as long as the religions have existed.Indonesia must have been the place where the use of Allah took its form in the Christian's Holy Book written in the Malay language. In Peninsula Malaysia 'Allah' is only use by Muslims and is synonymous with Islam.

Since the case is in the hands of the court, Malaysians from both sides of the political divide should refrain from making incendiary statements or politicise the issue to gain political mileage.It's dangerous.

Any street demonstration should be treated in the same manner as those conducted by the oppositions in the past.There should be no fear or favour.Get the water cannons and teargas out if they go on the street.This is the time to prove that 1 Malaysia is not just a slogan.What's good for the goose is good for the gander.Non action could be misinterpreted as government colluding with the wrongdoers.

It's also very disheartening that the government did not take a neutral stand on the issue and let an Islamic organisation take up the case either by mediation or the legal process if such agreement couldn't be reached.

The government should not take lightly the fire-bombing of two churches in the country.The culprits should be brought to book as quickly as possible.

20 comments:

Y1 said...

Since you live in the city, you have little or no experience of your fellow Sabahans who communicates mainly in BM in the villages and interiors. They know God as Allah Bapa and Tuhan Yesus. They having been praying using these two terms since way before Sabah joined Malaysia.

Hantu Laut said...

Y1'
Read, what I say.

I say outside the church.I know they use it in the Bible and in church when attending mass.

Christians don't use it as much as Muslims in daily conversation.

Y1 said...

Sorry for jumping the gun. My appologies.

I cannot comment as to whether Christians use less then Muslims in daily conversations.

Many, whether Muslims or not will use variants of Allah in their daily conversations or exclamations unconsciously.

Back to the issue, if a blanket ban is imposed on all Malaysians of non Muslim faith, how confusing will it be for these BM speaking Christians? I think the majority of Muslims do not care too much for sharing this common term. It had never been a problem here in East Malaysia. We must not allow the vociferous and violent minority of the Muslims in West Malaysia to dictate to the whole country. We must stand up to them without fear and favour.

guong said...

I'm a christian, and yes, we don't use Allah to refer God in our daily conversation. Only during prayer and attending mass in church or any places for that matter.

This issue is more on the political side. And exploited to the max..

SM said...

HL,

You are very right, when it comes to Religion we have to be very careful.
You are also very wrong, the Sabahan & Sarawakian Catholics use the word Allah in church during Malay Mass (yes, they conduct masses in Malay because many of these Catholics can't communicate in English).
The Herald had to take this issue to court because the Malay Section of the Herald uses the word Allah as the Malay speaking Catholics use the word Allah when they pray.
The "Bahasa Indonesian" Bibles (they have to use the Indonesian Bibles because that's the closest you are going to get to Malay) used by the Sarawakian & Sabahan Catholics use the word "Allah" too.
I'm a Catholic & I know this to be true.
Guess what? Indonesia & Bruneian Catholics (this too is true true) use the word Allah ALL the time & guess what? NO ISSUES! Only in Malaysia is there an issue! You wonder why don't you? The PM & his cousin (Mr. Home Minister) say that they can't do anything about protests! What a bloody joke! So much for the 1Malaysia Slogan joke!
By the way, the count is now 3 churches attacked.
I have some to realise that 1Malaysia means 1Race/1Religion (no prizes for guessing which 1)!

Hantu Laut said...

guong,

Thank you.

SM said...

HL,

By the way, show me one Hadith or one Verse in the Quran that says Non-Mislims can't use the word Allah!
I guess only in UMNO's literature!

Hantu Laut said...

SM,
I am not wrong.I say outside the church Christians do not commonly use the word in daily conversation as much as Muslims do.

We utter many words of Allah in our daily existence.Allah Akhbar,Insa Allah,Masa Allah,Ya Allah..... the list goes on.

The sooner politicians stopped debating on this issue the better it would be.

SM, you really can't blame the Muslims in Peninsula.The Christians there never use Allah before, suddenly the Catholic Church wanted it in their Bahasa version of the Herald.

For many years the government didn't bother when it was confined to Sabah and Sarawak.The problem only arises when it spreads to West Malaysia where there are no Malay Christians.

That was probably the reason for the objection.

I agree with Marina Mahathir when she says "confident people do not get confused."

I would not be confused between reading a Christian literature and those of my own religion and it would certainly not foresake my faith in my religion.

Hantu Laut said...

SM,
I have a copy of the Bible in my home for decades.I have read it and it has not shaken my belief in Islam.

Y1 said...

"SM, you really can't blame the Muslims in Peninsula.The Christians there never use Allah before, suddenly the Catholic Church wanted it in their Bahasa version of the Herald."

Allow me to add to your conversation.

1) The Christians over in West Malaysia were predominantly English, Chinese, Tamil speaking until BM became the national language. New generations of Christians became more comfortable with BM and therefore the church has to change their language for them. And Indonesian Bibles have been used since, with the word Allah.

2) Also many orang asli (who are the real bumiputras) became Christians. They use Bahasa Indonesia Bibles.

3)The Peninsular churches began to face more and more obstacles and oppositions from the authorities in getting these literature.

4) Then the East Malaysians Christians have migrated to the Peninsular and more BM speaking churches started because of them.

Can we ban them from using Allah?

The Herald, if I am not mistaken have been using the word Allah for their growing Malay speaking members. It was banned only last year after years of usage. That many Roman Catholic's constitutional rights abused.

SM said...

HL,

I'm sorry but your understanding is errorenous.
Yes, we do not use Allah outside the Church. However, the Herald has been using the word Allah in it's publication from the beginning. It's not suddenly. However, the Home Ministry canceled the Herald's Publication Licence when it found out that the Herald has been using the word Allah.
Because of that the Catholic Church had to go to court.
As Y1 says, Bahasa Malaysia (or are we not to use the National Language suddenly?!) is now used by many young West Malaysians & alot of East Malaysians work & live in West Msia. They continue to use Malay when worshipping.
I have first hand experiences too in KL. Masses said in Bahasa Malaysia use the words Allah (ever since I was a kid).
At the end of the day, Najib by saying he can't do anything about the protests showed he is either weak or biased and/or both!
This is what Malaysia is coming to!
By the way, it's now 4 churches & also cars in Bangsar with Christian symbolds have been damaged! What next? Suicide bombing in KL?!

SM said...

HL,

Like you, I have the Quran at home (English translation) & I find it a beautiful book BUT it has not shaken my faith in Christianity.
What Najib should have done, was send a delegation to talk to the Church Leaders (but he said he was powerless). Unlike UMNO, PAS Youth have sent a delegation to talk to Bishop Murphy Pakiam.

eddy said...

1.Bro first of all we Malaysians must condemn the burning of the churches in the strongest possible terms by irresponsible group(s) who are bent on provoking violence amongst us. I think this is a good time to use the ISA to round up all political provocateurs and religious extremists who are trying to make this a political issue which if not immediately curtailed will cause serious instability to the country.

2.I think it is a problem when the Christian Herald publishers decided to challenge the Minister's powers to ban its Malay section from using the word, "ALLAH", in Court though it is within their legal and constitutional rights to do so. It however had opened opened a huge Pandora's Box which if not solved amicably by calm heads will lead to somewhere we do not want this nation to go.

3.As we all know the usage of the word "Allah" by many of our Christians brethrens who speaks Bahasa Melayu in Sabah and Sarawak has been going on since before the Federation of Malaysia was formed. Whether it is a correct usage for "Allah" which Muslims believed as their one and only God and as applied by the Christians there as basis of their Gospel i.e the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is not something that we mere mortals and the deficient in theological knowledge should argue of its rights or wrongs. I believe the Government in its wisdom would have no problem with that as it well known that the usage of the word "ALLAH" in Sabah and Sarawak would be confined within the churches of the Bumiputras there, never to be used to propagate Christianity to other Muslims.

4.I think this is a theological problem which cannot be solved completely by a secular court which our Judiciary is based upon (The Secular British system). If politicians wants to solve this problem then they should help organise talks and discussions between the Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan/IKIM with the Council or Federation of Christian Churches in Malaysia to find an amicable long term solution. (Dr Mahathir is right when he said this issue cannot be resolved through the courts).

5.Definitely it does no good in these times for opposing political parties to fan anger among Malaysians on forcing their points of view on who should take reponsibility for the burning of the churches.

Whatever it is cool heads from all sides should ultimately prevail for our nation's sake.

Hantu Laut said...

SM,
You know as much as I this is all about politics.I, for one have no objection for Christians to use Allah.What I wrote here are mostly from my personal experience.

I don't know whether the Herald have been using Allah from its inception, but it seems unlikely,otherwise it would have been detected much earlier by the religious bigots in the Ministry who issue the licence.

Hantu Laut said...

eddy,
If there are more level-headed Muslims like you we wouldn't be having this problem.I agree we should, as I have said in my post, mediate first and only go to court if mediation failed.

I think the problem started when people took an arrogant stand when they should have sat down and find a better solution.

Religion is a delicate subject and should be handled with care.

eddy said...

Agree with you Bro,also in times like this I am nostalgic about Dr Mahathir's time as PM.

During Dr Mahathir's time people can talk nonsense and call him and his Government with all sort of derogatory words and description without too much censure BUT when it comes to sensitive subjects like race and religion which could quickly turn ugly, most extremists or extreme provocateurs from both the opposing political divide will be identified rounded up and detained under the ISA.

Hmm, those were the days....

Y1 said...

HL, as you said, religious bigots must be stopped, especially those in govt depts. The Herald problem is only the tip of the iceberg. I know of SIB churches having to face the same problem in importing Indonesian Bibles & Christian literature for more than 2 decades. When prime ministers were approached, it was solved. How many times do churches need to go thru the PMs everytime they face customs issues and permit issues?
It was because the home minister could not and would not solve the Herald issue, what other recause can they use except the court? We all need clear guidelines otherwise the little napoleans will cause havoc and anger.

SM said...

HL,

Yes, the Herald has been using the word Allah right from the beginning. I can attest to that. The Home Ministry banned them from using it once they found out!

Anonymous said...

Political issues aside, this recent fiery development should probably be something of interest to the rest of the world.
The arguments from both sides are not fully disclosed if at all (very sad indeed). What we know is that the court accepted the argument that the word "Allah" has been used by arabic speaking Christians and malay speaking Christians as a generic term for god for a very long time and should be accepted as such.
Similar idea was propagated by a few people, mostly Muslims. An example being Robert Squires.
A common argument is that the earliest arabic translation of the Christian bible (dated at 867AD) used the word "Allah" as a generic term for god.
Another argument is that the arabic word al-ilah (god) is shortened to Allah.
There are problems with both arguments of course. The arabic bible was produced some 220 years after the advent of Islam. Hardly a proof that arabic Christians were using the term "Allah" as a term for god before Islam. Another problem is that contracting the word al-ilah to Allah seems to be a western principle.
The most important argument against the use of "Allah" as a generic term are these and a few other passages from Qur'an:
"This is the true explnation: there is no Ilah (God) except Allah." Qur'an 3:62.
"Have they an ilah (god) other than Allah?" Qur'an 52:43
"Allah! There is no Ilah (God) save Him." Qur'an 20:8
It is true that many do not mind sharing the same term but this is an important issue with profound implications to us all.
The Government said that this is a matter of national security so it must be true and we should all act as if this is a matter of life and death.

mingxhin said...

Dear Hantu Laut, Utusan Malaysia, UMNO, PERKASA, MAIS, KIMMA, MACMA, ABIM, GPMS, Tun Mahathir, PEKIDA, YADIM, JAKIM, JAIS, Mufti Perak dan kawan-kawan:

When in doubt please refer back to the Al-Quran Chapter 29, Verse 46:

"wa laa tujaadiluu ahlal kitaabi il-laa bil-latiy hiya aHsanu il-lal-ladhiyna Zalamuu minhum wa quuluu aaman-naa bil-ladhiy unzila ilaynaa wa unzila ilaykum wa ilaahunaa wa ilaahukum waaHiduw wa naHnu lahuu muslimuun"

And O Muslims, do not argue with the People of the Book(s) except in the best manner – except (with) those among them who oppress, and say, “We believe in what has been sent down towards us and what has been sent towards you – and ours and your God is One, and we have submitted ourselves to Him.”

http://multimediaquran.com/quran/029/029-046.htm