Sunday, 30 December 2007

Malaysian Government's Prohibition Lands ALLAH in Court

Latest UPDATE: 31st December, 2007
Government reversed ban on use of the word Allah
Read here for more

--------------------End of update--------------------------------

Malaysian Courts to Decide on COPYRIGHT Ownership of "ALLAH".
Malaysians will be told WHO can own the word "Allah."

A ridiculously stupid legal tussle caused by the UMNO-led Government for the NAME of GOD!

Read HERE related article, and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here

Malaysian Government's recent actions and comments made by Deputy Internal Minister Johari Baharum have landed Allah (Arabic word for "God") in Malaysia's secular courts.

Speaking on God's or Allah 's behalf will be Muslims and Christians/non-Muslims.

In all probability, Allah's case will be heard by at least two to three Muslim judges. For Malaysian Christians, they have to wait to know whether there will be at least one non-Muslim judge to decide on the case.

The publisher of a Malaysian Catholic newspaper, The Herald, has sought a court order to use the word Allah. "We are in the view that we have the right to use the word Allah, (a right) which ... is now sought to be curtailed," Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of The Herald, told AFP.

The legal challenge was filed in a Malaysian High Court on December 5 following orders from the government not to use the word Allah, which Muslims use to describe God.

Church leaders had said they used the word Allah when delivering sermons in Malay or write in the Malay language section of the 28-page weekly newspaper.The tabloid Herald is circulated among the country's 850,000 Catholics with articles written in English, Chinese, Tamil and Malay. Read here for more

In a separate case in Sarawak, the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB), also known as the Evangelical Chuch of Borneo, is seeking a court order to quash Malaysia's Internal Security Minister's decision to refuse the import of four titles and withhold delivery of another two titles impounded under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA).

They are also seeking a declaration that they have the constitutional right to use the word “Allah” in all their religious publications and practices, and not just within the church. Read here for more


  • RECOMMENDED READING ! : From Ali Eteraz: Read here for more on The Guardian (UK)
  • "... I just read that a Catholic newspaper in Malaysia is not being allowed to refer to God as "Allah" as it has always done.

    I guess the (Malaysian) government thinks that Muslims have a MONOPOLY over the word.

    The Church has, quite appropriately, sued the government for this absurd pronouncement, arguing that the word "Allah" is merely an Arabic word for God, which has been used by members of many faiths, long before Islam was even founded.

    The Church has, quite appropriately, sued the government for this absurd pronouncement, arguing that the word "Allah" is merely an Arabic word for God, which has been used by members of many faiths, long before Islam was even founded.

    This is yet another instance (do they ever stop?) where Islam is being used by conniving leaders to advance political agendas.

    (UMNO) leaders in Malaysia promote supremacist, dominionist versions of Islam, because it makes political sense for them to do so. Sixty (60) per cent of the country is Malay-Muslim; the rest are Chinese Buddhists, Tamil Hindus and animists.

    So, if you can CONTROL the (Malaysian) Muslims, you will control the government.

    Therefore, ever since Malaysia's independence in 1957, Islamocentric ideas have been utilised by politicians thirsty for political power.

    This ISLAMIST PROGRAMME has gone through TWO stages.

    1. In the first stage, it simply sought to apply Islamic laws to Muslims, making comforting gestures to non-Muslims that Islamic laws would not be applied to them. In this stage, Sharia courts, which are separate from the secular legal system, were created.

      This occurred in the 1980s, specifically under an amendment of Article 121(A) of the constitution which said that civil courts (which apply secular law) had no jurisdiction over matters under the control of a Sharia court. This produced some absurd results.

      I recall a story (via Farish Noor) where at a club non-Muslims were told by the PA system "to enjoy themselves" while the Muslims were told to segregate themselves on the basis of gender.

    2. It looks as if the second stage has now taken off.

      In this stage, ISLAMIST LAWS are being applied to NON -Muslims (the curse of self-replicating fundamentalism).
      - A Christian publication cannot use the word "Allah" for God.

      - A Hindu Muslim couple with six children was forcibly separated on the basis of Sharia (which
      reminded me very much of the racism of the American South when miscegnation was legally prohibited).

      - A Hindu woman was
      forced to bury her husband as a Muslim because a secular court judge (who is, surprise surprise, a Muslim) stated that his court could not challenge the ruling of the Sharia court which, in an ex parte ruling no less, had declared the Hindu man a Muslim.
    Obviously, Islamism wouldn't be complete without some completely assinine rulings, like when a fatwa targeted genies, mermaids, vampires, phoenix birds and ghouls.

      Voices Against Spread of Islamism in Malaysia

      There are, of course, some voices against the spread of Islamism, but as always, they are both under-recognised and under-valued.

      A Hindu Rights Force has been created, composed of 30 Hindu organizations. The group Sisters in Islam, is still chugging along having opposed Islamisation for years (though I'm sure they could use some donations).

      The writer Farish Noor has been on a tireless crusade (can we call it a jihad?) against Islamism for as long as I can recall, fighting "the fascism in our midst." Mr Noor's commentary on the use of the word "Allah" is at his blog.

      There is the work of Afghan-Malay scholar, Muhammad Hashim Kamali, such as his book, Freedom of Expression in Islam.

      In the Malaysian case, theoretical anti-Islamist programmes are useful. The fundamental point is that there have to be MORE Malay-Muslims who have to be willing to put aside their racial preference (for Malay), and join the Chinese (Buddhists) and Tamil (Hindus).

      This is, in fact, what Farish Noor is often agitating for. Historically, this has been difficult to do because Malays have felt resentful towards the wealthier Chinese, and taken out their aggression against the weaker (and smaller) Hindus.

      Yet, if Malaysia is going to stymie the Islamist push, which - make no mistake - it is clearly suffering from, this reconciliation must happen, and soon.

    1. From Wong Chun Wai: Read here for more in The Star
      "... The similarities in Islam, Christianity and Judaism are expected because these religions originated from the same area and the people share many cultural, sociological and anthropological traits.

      IT’S odd that it should even become an issue but the matter has now gone to the courts following the unprecedented suits by two church groups against the Government for prohibiting the word Allah to be used.

      I do not think Johari Baharum has taken into account the linguistic and historical issue of the subject. He probably made the decision on the advice of middle and lower-level officials and we hope he will review this decision, which has caused unnecessary discontent.

      Anyone travelling across the Middle East can tell you that tourists would be greeted with “Assalamualaikum”, even among Christian Arabs.

      But Malaysians are told that “Assalamualaikum”, is for use exclusively among Muslims. Even the Arabs are perplexed by this.

      “Peace be upon you” is such a beautiful and meaningful greeting, and we wish for it to be used by Malaysians of all races. It is also such a positive introduction to the world of Islam, where followers wish others well.

      The Arabs prefer salam, as with the Malays here, while the Jews use shalom. There is no religious context in such greetings.

      If you take a copy of the Arabic bible, you will find that Allah is used as a reference to God in the Christian perspective. It’s not something new as it has been in existence for centuries. In fact, the Christian usage of the word predates Islam.

      This Arabic word is the closest equivalent to the English word God. In Hebrew and Aramaic, the language used by Jesus, the word used for God was “El” or “Elah”.

      Christians in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Indonesia and many parts of Africa with huge Muslim communities have used the word with no problems.

      The Church of Nativity where Jesus was born is located at the Palestinian side.Muslim leaders have no problems attending the church mass annually, as part of the respect accorded to the church.

      A MUSLIM holds the keys to the Church of Nativity because of the factional fight between church groups.

      It is common to see Palestinian Muslims and Christians selling church souvenirs, including crosses and rosaries, to pilgrims side by side.

      The ministry has obviously decided that Allah is exclusive to Islam, seeing it as a security issue, but times have changed. They have no reason to fear that Malaysians would be confused. In fact, the ministry’s decision is confusing.

      SIB president Pastor Jerry W.A. Dusing has said, in court documents, that the word Allah was used in the first complete Malay Bible in 1733 and the second complete Bible in 1879.

      The ministry has stirred up a subject which should be left alone, as it has been for centuries. A new generation of Malaysians, more fluent in Bahasa Malaysia than English, has emerged because of our own policy.

      Sermons in churches are increasingly conducted in the Malay language, simply because the younger congregation are no longer fluent in English.

      Indonesians, mostly foreign workers, are attending church services in huge numbers alongside Malaysians. If Christian books cannot be in Bahasa Malaysia, then it has got to come from Indonesia and Singapore. The dilemma is that the Bahasa Indonesia translated Bible uses the word Allah and Indonesia has more Muslims than Malaysia but it’s not a problem there.

      Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin is right. He has consistently reminded Malaysians that Bahasa Malaysia is not exclusively for Malays. The same applies to Arabic words.

      (The Prime Minister) Pak Lah must have listened to the views of both Muslims and Christians by now and certainly he serves as a good appellant.

      It would be good if the church could meet Pak Lah, express their feelings and possibly withdraw the suits. They could also give an assurance that these books and publications will be used only for their members.

      The impasse has to end and as we usher in the new year, let us remember there are bigger and more challenging tasks ahead of us. Surely, the ministry has more issues to handle than to create a linguistic controversy with religious connotations.