Latest UPDATE: 31st December, 2007Government reversed ban on use of the word Allah:
Read here for more-End of update
From Asia Sentinel Website: Readhere for more
On the eve of the Christmas holidays, Malaysia’s authorities mistakenly decide Allah’s name isn’t God’s.
The Malaysian authorities’ refusal to renew the publication of the weekly Catholic newspaper The Herald unless it stops using the word Allah as the word for God in the Malay language is a demonstration of racism and linguistic ignorance, not religious purity.
But what Johari revealed was his ignorance of his own professed religion, of the Arabic language in which the Koran is written, and of the history and culture of Muslims throughout most of the world. God and Allah mean the same in different languages.
If Malaysian Malays are confused about the distinction between Islam and Christianity because they use the same word to describe the one God, clearly there is a lot wrong with the educational system.
But if a minister is so ignorant, how can the rakyat – Malaysia’s citizenry - be expected to know better?
Why should a United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) politician unless for some reason to ramp up Malay prejudice against non-Muslims and reinforce the notion that all Malays are and always will be Muslims?
Now, from where did Malaysia's Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum get this religious stupidity from?
"..ONLY Muslims can use ‘Allah’.
It’s a Muslim word, you see.
It’s from Arabic (language). WE CANNOT let OTHER religions use it because it will confuse people.
We CANNOT allow this use of ‘Allah’ in non-Muslim publications, nobody except Muslims.
The word ‘Allah’ is published by the Catholics. It’s NOT right."
The word ‘Allah’ can only be used in the context of Islam and NOT any OTHER religion."
-Malaysian Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum.
So now, in Malaysia, it would seem the usage of "Allah" by non-Muslims is a security offence, punishable with or without triggering the ISA.
Yes, this UMNO-led Government CAN prevent Malaysian NON-Muslims, through its political power and the brute force of the draconian ISA laws, from using the word "Allah", but certainly NOT to non-Muslims in general.
It is a mark of the lowest form of intellect for a Malaysian political leader to pontificate that the word "Allah" is a monopoly of Muslims.
The perception of the monopoly of Muslims on the Arabic word for "God" might be so in the parochial minds of Malaysian Muslims like the Deputy Internal Security Minister.
And, one might even accept such idiocy would come from extreme right wing tunnel-visioned religious fundamentalist groups of Christians and Muslims alike.
Deputy Minister Johari Baharum can start by legalising the use of the word "Allah" and having the law carved in stone in the Federal Constitution, using UMNO's two-third majority, to entrench the illegality of Malaysian non-Muslims using the word "Allah" in their religious books or in their prayers. Do just that!
The Deputy Internal Security Minister, if he thinks that the use of "Allah" will affect Malaysia's national security, or Malaysia's own version of Islamic laws, should have demanded,
".. ONLY MALAYSIAN NON-MUSLIMS CANNOT USE THE WORD 'ALLAH'. .."Sometimes it is best for a Cabinet Minister to keep his narrow intellect in silence in some dark corners instead of having his intellectual garbage to stand out in bright sunlight.
Since he has opened the Pandora box on how non-Muslims should relate to Islam, we intend to keep the Pandora box open for people like the Deputy Internal Security Minister to help expand his intellectual capacity on matters of religion, ie Islam and Christianity, in particular.
Let's put this fact upfront:
"ONLY Muslims can use ‘Allah’"
Arabic is NOT the lingua franca or mother-tongue of Malays or the Malay Muslims in this country.
It is definitely NOT the mother-tongue of Johari Baharum. He must have learned Arabic presumably when he had to recite by rote the Al-Quran and possibly took some lessons in Arabic from some questionable Ustaz or as part of his school or post-secondary education on Islamic studies.
Say that to the 14 million (5-6 %) Arabic-speaking Christians in the Arab world !!
To them, the only word they know which we call "God" and Malays call "Tuhan" is "Allah".
Most of the Arab Christians who live in the Middle East are located in the following countries: Lebanon (35-45 % of the population);Palestine (5-10 %);Jordan (6-12 %);
Syria (10 %);Sudan (10 %) ;Egypt (6-12 %) ; and Iraq (3 %).
Arabs are NOT all Muslims and Muslims are NOT all Arabs.
Some Christians who live in the Arab world refuse to be considered as "Arabs". They take pride in their heritage and trace their roots to their ancestors who inhabited the land before the appearance of Islam.
For example, Lebanese Christians take pride in their ancient Phoenician roots.
Egyptian Coptics trace their roots to the ancient Egyptians under the Pharaohs dynasties.
So the Chaldeans and the Assyrians of Iraq who consider themselves to be the original inhabitants and dwellers of present day Iraq.Read here for more
Excerpts from BUILDING BRIDGES by Fouad Accad (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress), p. 22).
"...And what about the 10 to 12 million Arab Christians today?
They have been calling God ‘Allah’ in their Bibles, hymns, poems, writings, and worship for over nineteen centuries.
What an insult to them when we tell them not to use this word ‘Allah’!
Instead of bridging the distance between Muslims and Christians, we widen the gulf of separation between them and us when we promote such a doctrine.
Those who still insist that it is blasphemy to refer to God as Allah should also consider that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)’s father was named Abd Allah, ‘God’s servant,’ many years BEFORE his son was born or Islam was founded!
Some Christians unthinkingly say 'Allah is not God.' This is the ultimate blasphemy to Muslims, and furthermore, it is difficult to understand.
Allah is the primary Arabic word for God. It means 'The God.'
There are some minor exceptions. For example, the Bible in some Muslim lands uses a word for God other than Allah (Farsi and Urdu are examples).
But for more than five hundred years BEFORE Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), the vast majority of Jews and Christians in Arabia called God by the name Allah.
How, then, can we say that Allah is an invalid name for God?
If it is, to whom have these Jews and Christians been praying? ”
(A) From the Al-Quran
"In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful."
[Qur'ân 1:1 - Arabic transliteration]
"Bismi-Allahi ar-Rahmani, ar-Raheem"
[Qur'ân 1:1 - Arabic]
(B) From the Arab (Christian) Bible:
Genesis 1:1 - English Bible - [King James Version]
"In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth . . . "
Genesis 1:1 - [Arabic transliteration]
"Fee al-badi' khalaqa Allahu as-Samaawaat wa al-Ard . . . "
Genesis 1:1 - [Arabic Bible]
John 3:16 - English Bible - [King James Version]
"For God so loved the world, that . . . "
[John 3:16 - Arabic transliteration]
"Li-annhu haakadha ahabba
Allahu al-'Aalama hataa badhala . . . "
[John 3:16 - Arabic Bible]
Luke 1:30 - English Bible - [King James Version]
" . . . Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God."
Luke 1:30 - [Arabic transliteration]
" . . . Laa takhaafee, yaa Maryam, li-annaki qad wajadti ni'amat(an) i'nda Allahi."
Luke 1:30 - [Arabic Bible]
[Luke 3:38 - English Bible - [New King James Version]
"the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God."
Luke 3:38 - [Arabic transliteration]
"bini Anoosha, bini Sheeti, bini Aaadama, abni Allahi."
Luke 3:38 - [Arabic Bible]
(English version from Yusuf Ali translation )
(Transliteration into romanised Arabic from USC-MSC Compendium of Muslim Texts)
Az-Zukhruf (43:61, 43:63 )
إِذْ قَالَ اللّهُ يَا عِيسَى إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ فِيمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ
3:55. Ith qala Allahu ya AAeesa innee mutawaffeeka warafiAAuka ilayya wamutahhiruka mina allatheena kafaroo wajaAAilu allatheena ittabaAAooka fawqa allatheena kafaroo ila yawmi alqiyamati thumma ilayya marjiAAukum faahkumu baynakum feema kuntum feehi takhtalifoona
3:55 "(Ingatlah) ketika Allah berfirman: Wahai Isa! Sesungguhnya Aku akan mengambilmu dengan sempurna dan akan mengangkatmu ke sisiKu dan akan membersihkanmu dari orang-orang kafir dan juga akan menjadikan orang-orang yang mengikutmu mengatasi orang-orang kafir (yang tidak beriman kepadamu), hingga ke hari kiamat. Kemudian kepada Akulah tempat kembalinya kamu, lalu Aku menghukum (memberi keputusan) tentang apa yang kamu perselisihkan. "
3:55 Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.
وَإِنَّهُ لَعِلْمٌ لِّلسَّاعَةِ فَلَا تَمْتَرُنَّ بِهَا وَاتَّبِعُونِ هَذَا صِرَاطٌ مُّسْتَقِيمٌ
وَلَمَّا جَاءَ عِيسَى بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالَ قَدْ جِئْتُكُم بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَلِأُبَيِّنَ لَكُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي تَخْتَلِفُونَ فِيهِ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ
43:61 Wa-innahu laAAilmun lilssaAAati fala tamtarunna biha waittabiAAooni hatha siratun mustaqeemun
43: 63 Walamma jaa AAeesa bialbayyinati qala qad ji/tukum bialhikmati wali-obayyina lakum baAAda allathee takhtalifoona feehi faittaqoo Allaha waateeAAooni
43:61 Dan sesungguhnya Nabi Isa menjadi tanda kedatangan hari kiamat, maka janganlah kamu ragu-ragu tentang (hari kiamat) itu dan turutlah (petunjukKu); inilah jalan yang lurus.
43:63 Dan ketika Nabi Isa datang dengan membawa keterangan-keterangan yang nyata, berkatalah ia: Sesungguhnya aku datang kepada kamu dengan membawa hikmat dan untuk menerangkan kepada kamu: Sebahagian dari yang kamu berselisihan padanya. Oleh itu, bertakwalah kamu kepada Allah dan taatlah kepadaku.
43:61 And Jesus shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore have no doubt about the (Hour), but follow ye Me: this is a Straight Way.
43:63 When Jesus came with Clear Signs, he said: "Now have I come to you with Wisdom, and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) on which ye dispute: therefore fear Allah and obey me.
The word "Allah" in the Indonesian Christian Bible
Yohanes 1 -Kitab Suci: (Gospel According to John)
1:1 Pada mulanya, sebelum dunia dijadikan, Sabda sudah ada. Sabda ada bersama Allah dan Sabda sama dengan Allah.
1:2 Sejak semula Ia bersama Allah.
1:3 Segalanya dijadikan melalui Dia, dan dari segala yang ada, tak satu pun dijadikan tanpa Dia.
1:4 Sabda itu sumber hidup, dan hidup memberi terang kepada manusia.
1:5 Terang itu bercahaya dalam kegelapan, dan kegelapan tak dapat memadamkannya.
1:6 Datanglah orang yang diutus Allah, Yohanes namanya.
1:7 Ia datang mewartakan tentang terang itu, supaya semua orang percaya.
1:8 Ia sendiri bukan terang itu, ia hanya mewartakannya.
1:9 Terang sejati yang menerangi semua manusia, datang ke dunia.
1:10 Sabda ada di dunia, dunia dijadikan melalui Dia, tetapi dunia tidak mengenal-Nya.
1:11 Ia datang ke negeri-Nya sendiri tetapi bangsa-Nya tidak menerima Dia.
1:12 Namun ada juga orang yang menerima Dia dan percaya kepada-Nya; mereka diberi-Nya hak menjadi anak Allah,
1:13 yang dilahirkan bukan dari manusia, sebab hidup baru itu dari Allah asalnya.
1:14 Sabda sudah menjadi manusia, Ia tinggal di antara kita, dan kita sudah melihat keagungan-Nya. Keagungan itu diterima-Nya sebagai Anak tunggal Bapa. Melalui Dia kita melihat Allah dan kasih-Nya kepada kita.
1:15 Yohanes datang sebagai saksi-Nya, ia mewartakan: "Inilah Dia yang kukatakan: Dia akan datang lebih kemudian dari aku, tetapi lebih besar dari aku, sebab sebelum aku ada, Dia sudah ada."
1:16 Ia penuh kasih; tiada hentinya, Ia memberkati kita.
1:17 Hukum Tuhan kita terima melalui Musa. Tetapi kasih dan kesetiaan Allah dinyatakan melalui Yesus Kristus.
1:18 Tak ada yang pernah melihat Allah, selain anak tunggal Bapa, yang sama dengan Bapa dan erat sekali kepada-Nya. Dialah yang menyatakan Bapa kepada kita.
1:19 Para penguasa Yahudi di Yerusalem menyuruh imam-imam dan orang-orang Lewi pergi kepada Yohanes dan menanyakan kepadanya, "Engkau ini siapa?"
1:20 Yohanes mengaku dengan terus terang, "Saya bukan Raja Penyelamat."
1:21 "Kalau begitu, engkau siapa?" tanya mereka. "Apakah engkau Elia?" "Bukan," jawab Yohanes. "Apakah engkau Sang Nabi?" tanya mereka lagi. "Bukan," jawabnya.
1:22 "Kalau begitu, katakanlah kepada kami siapa engkau ini," kata mereka, "supaya kami dapat memberi jawaban kepada orang-orang yang menyuruh kami. Apa katamu tentang dirimu sendiri?"
1:23 Yohanes menjawab, "Sayalah dia yang dikatakan oleh Nabi Yesaya: 'Orang yang berseru di padang pasir: Ratakanlah jalan untuk Tuhan.'"
Religious Narrow-mindedness of the UMNO-led Government
Read here for more on Malaysiakini
The Security Ministry has also allegedly told the publisher of the Catholic "The Herald" to remove the entire Bahasa Malaysia section or the permit will not be renewed when it expires in two weeks.
The Herald, which is published in four languages - English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil - has a circulation of 12,000.
He said the decision was made based on a report submitted by the publications department of the Internal Security Ministry.
However, when asked why the Herald is being told to remove its Bahasa Malaysia section altogether - rather than demanding the weekly not to use the word ‘Allah’ - Johari was unable to comment.
The use of ‘Allah’ outside of Islam has stirred controversy in Malaysia previously.
Four years ago, the Bible in the Iban language was banned because it translated the word ‘God’ as Allah Taala, which resembles Islam’s name for God.
The ban was, however, lifted after protests from the Christian community.
Related Article: Read here on Asia Sentinel
"... Muslims, like Christians do not worship a person called Allah. They worship a single supreme being which the Arabic language denotes as Allah. The very word Allah derives from the singular nature of the monotheistic deity.
In the Arab world Allah has always been used by Christians (a significant minority) and Jews (a smaller but important minority until the creation of Israel) to denote the one God which the religions share. Ditto in Farsi.
In Indonesia 100 million Muslims have no problem with their Christian brothers using Allah to denote the supreme being in Bahasa Indonesia, the Indonesian version of the Malay language.
So why should a United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)politician unless for some reason to ramp up Malay prejudice against non-Muslims and reinforce the notion that all Malays are and always will be Muslims?
Likewise among the (Roman) Catholics, the word in Latin (lingua franca of the Roman church) for God is Deus and is used without discrimination between Christians Muslims and Jews.
The Johari version of the world displays the same kind of ignorance as found among Christian fundamentalists in the United States and elsewhere who insist on saying that Muslims worship Allah rather than the God (an English word) that the two religions share. An English Koran uses the words “In the name of God the compassionate and merciful,” not “In the name of Allah the compassionate and merciful.”
".... When the Prime Minister came into power, he promised more openness in government. And this supposed openness has been touted by his people as a sign of a maturing democracy. Indeed there was a brief period when things were looking rather hopeful on that front.
The recent fiasco regarding the use of the word Allah by a Catholic newsletter, culminating in the effective ban on the publication, reflects a thinking that is mind numbingly infantile.
There is the false declaration that Allah is a Muslim word to be used only by Muslims.
There was no attempt by the powers that be to answer publicly to the fact that the word is Arabic and means literally The God. “Al” means “the” and “Lah” means “God”.
Furthermore, the Abrahamic religions all have the same root language. This being the case, it is not correct to say that Allah as a word is exclusive to Muslims.
Linguistic quibbles aside, what gets to me is the presumption that Malaysian Muslims will get confused if they were to ever get a hold of this Catholic newsletter and see the word Allah in it.
For one thing, it is not as if this newsletter is on sale openly. It can’t be anyway because there are laws preventing the producers from doing so.
For another thing, I think that a Muslim who may chance upon a copy would probably be able to tell that this is a Christian publication. The references to Jesus being the son of God and that sort of thing would probably give it away. .."
"... the (Internal Security) Ministry is actually telling Christians how to call their God in BM. BM is the national language of this country. It belongs to all Malaysians regardless of whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim. The language is not exclusive to any party, race or religion.
I have never heard of any government imposing on a person or a group’s right to call out to their God or being told how to call their God. At the most, a person or group can try to convince the other person/group of how they believe God should or should not be called, but they have absolutely no right to impose it.
The answer to my question above would be that no one has the right to tell me how to address my God because my relationship with God is between me and God. It does not involve the country or the government.
If it is wrong or if God does not like it when I address Him as “Allah” in BM, He can then strike me dead with lightning. I really don’t need the government or anybody else telling me how to address my God if God does not mind it...."