High time for “Allah” issue to be settled amicably

Letter to Editor

THE “Allah” controversy has erupted again and various parties have given their views on the matter hoping to seek common ground to find an amicable solution to this vexing problem that has been plaguing the nation for the last 15 years.

It must be noted at the onset that West Malaysian Christians do not use the word “Allah” in their prayers, liturgy or publications.

This controversy became prominent only after East Malaysians started settling or working in large numbers in West Malaysia. They began using the word “Allah” as they and their forefathers had been using for the last few centuries.

Churches catering to East Malaysian Christians began using the word “Allah”. This new development caused a controversy among West Malaysian Muslims who insisted that “Allah” was a term exclusive to their religion.

The natural question to ask is if East Malaysian Muslims, which make up more than a third of the population in the Borneo region, can accept “Allah” being used by Christian.

If they can, why then are the West Malaysians opposing it if it is exclusively used by and for East Malaysians?

Is it right to force the East Malaysians to refer to God by an alternative name when they are in West Malaysia where they have every right to settle and work as stated in the Malaysian Agreement 1963?

The West Malaysian Muslims need to understand that only East Malaysians – and not West Malaysian Christians – use the word “Allah”.

If an East Malaysian Christian can go to the cradle of Islam in Saudi Arabia and use the word “Allah” without any problems, why should it be a problem in West Malaysia?

It is not logical to ban the word simply because West Malaysian Muslims have not heard any others using the word “Allah” for God in the past. This is because East Malaysians have as many rights and privileges as West Malaysians and vice versa.

Calling this a threat to West Malaysian Muslims who may be influenced by Christianity and become apostates is totally unfounded.

In fact isn’t it the other way round due to increased Islamic proselytisation efforts and activities which the non-Muslims have to worry about and contend with?

If Arab Christians and Muslims had co-existed for centuries using the same word for God for centuries, why is this a problem for East Malaysian Muslims?

The word “Allah” pre-dates Islam and no one has claimed any monopoly over its use. About 10 million Coptic Christians in Egypt use the word “Allah” in their trinitarian worship without any issue or complications from their Muslim brethren.

West Malaysian Christians who are mainly from the Indian, Chinese and Eurasian communities do not use the world “Allah” and it is the same for Singaporean Christians.

(Pic credit: AFP)

This is due to a common British colonial history, unlike in Sabah and Sarawak. In Selangor it has been decreed that certain words cannot be used by non-Muslims and this has complicated matters as Selangor has the largest number of East Malaysian Christians who work and have settled down here.

It will be better if words such as “Allah” are allowed exclusively for East Malaysians in their Church services, liturgy and publications.

It can be outwardly stated that reading materials containing are exclusively for East Malaysians and therefore there should not have been a blanket ban.

If the controversy continues to rage on without any win-win political solution by the unity government and the Opposition parties, it will be better for Malaysia to refer this matter to the Al Azhar Observatory for a well-thought-out decision.

Alternatively, Malaysia can also refer this matter to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It is also time the OIC initiated an Islamic Court of Justice to deal with the numerous issues facing the worldwide Islamic community.

It can be modelled after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or the European Court of justice.

Presently, there is no single legal authority since the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924 that can deal with legal and religious issues within the Islamic community, and this has led to  uncertainty and ambiguity concerning the various fatwas and decrees among Muslims that cause instability in Islamic nations. – May 29, 2023


V. Thomas
Sungai Buloh

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main pic credit: Benar News

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