"Allah" written in Arabic calligraphy

“Allah” written in Arabic calligraphy photo courtesy Enzuru via Wikimedia Commons


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(RNS) A court in Muslim-majority Malaysia ruled Monday (Oct. 14) that only Muslims are permitted to use the Arabic word “Allah” to describe God, overturning a lower court’s 2009 decision that allowed others to use the word.

“The usage of the word ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity,” Chief Judge Mohamed Apandi Ali said in the ruling, supporting the government’s case.

“The intended usage will cause unnecessary confusion within the Islamic community and is surely not conducive to the peaceful and harmonious tempo of life in the country,” said Ali, according to the government-run Bernama news agency.

Allah is the Arabic word for God. Ali expressed the unanimous decision by the court’s three Muslim judges.

“The name ‘Allah’ does not appear, even once, in either the Old or New Testaments. In the Bible world, God has always been known as ‘Yahweh,’” Ali said.

The ruling was aimed primarily at a Catholic newspaper, The Herald, which had been printing the word in its Malay-language stories to describe the Christian God, until the government deemed it was illegal in 2008.

When The Herald sued, a lower court ruled in favor of free speech in 2009 and allowed the paper to use the word.

That decision resulted in clashes between the two religions, including arson attacks against dozens of churches and a few mosques.

“It is a retrograde step in the development of law in relation to the fundamental liberty of religious minorities,” The Herald’s editor, the Rev. Lawrence Andrew, said after losing the case.

Andrew said he would appeal to Malaysia’s highest court.

“Some Muslim groups have said that the Christian use of the word ‘Allah’ could be used to encourage Muslims to convert to Christianity,” the BBC reported.

Christians in Malaysia had used the word “Allah” for decades in churches and Malay-language Bibles, but the government decided a judicial ruling was needed to determine if the terminology should be legal.

In the Middle East and in many other Muslim countries, Christians are able to use the word “Allah.”

YS/AMB END EHRLICH

10 Comments

  1. So crazy it is beyond comment. The Koran itself says The Lord has 99 names. In fact he has many more but nowhere in the Koran does it say only Muslims can use the word Allah. Allah, I am sure, is not pleased at all.

  2. Just in case anyone wants to complain to the court, below is the address to their e-complaint form. However the fact that they have an e-complaint form makes me think they get a lot of complaints, and their actions are consistent with not really caring about getting a lot of complaints, so good luck.
    http://www.kehakiman.gov.my/en/node/577

    Consider living life and loving people without expecting the carrot, or fearing the stick.
    Good day!

  3. Such petty. If only “god” exists to rapture these people away; but what a shame that there is no hell for these people who are inflicting petty notions onto the mass, and degrade society with these outrageous claims. Religion is such a disgrace to humanity, expressed in its most profound stupidity.

  4. Mike de Fleuriot

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    Yes, this is trolling and I doubt that you will have the balls enough to allow it to be posted. Are you scared of Allah?

  5. I am a Muslim from Malaysia and currently living in Malaysia. I feel I have to clarify what’s really going on here and why this Allah issue came up. This issue is regarding the use of the word Allah for the Bahasa Malaysia version of the holy bible, and not on the Christians per se.

    Before I go further, I wish to say that Malaysia’s official religion based on the constitution is Islam (please understand that Islam is the official religion of the constitution because of the majority ethnic Malays are Muslims) We are a multi cultural and multi faith country comprising of mainly 3 ethnicities: Malays (majority), Chinese and Indians, and also many others.

    Although it’s a country with Muslim majority, we practice a very moderate (at times borderline liberal) view of Islam. Here Muslim women are free to either wear the head cover or not. They are also free to wear tank tops and mini skirts and there are no religious police on female dress code commonly found in other Muslim countries.

    Now, for ages our language; the Bahasa Malaysia had always used the word ‘tuhan’ to describe god. While Allah, a word borrowed from Arabs is widely and commonly used to describe the god for the Muslim faith.

    I’m only a layman in religion, like most other Malaysians. I could tell you that if Allah is used to universally translate the word god it would cause a whole lot of confusion. The reasons are that it is due to our language and cultural understandings.

    Take for example the Americans and British understanding for the word ‘football’. In America football is commonly known for the game played on grid iron. While football in the UK is understood as the game known in the US as soccer.

    Roughly, that is the kind of confusion if Allah is used to describe god. Hence because of the language barriers, it is better that in Malaysia Allah is used to describe the god for the muslim faith and ‘tuhan’ the word for God.

    Even in our Priciples of the Nation it stated Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan (Belief in God) and not Kepercayaan kepada Allah (Belief in Allah) when Malaysia have every right to state so being a Muslim country. But the the word tuhan (God) is used instead because the word based on Bahasa Malaysia reflects diversity and tolerance.

    This Allah issue is very recently sensationalised, like 5 years ago by a minority of hardlined Christians, and does not represent the entire Malaysian Christians. For the past centuries this had never been an issue at all.

    I have deep respect for Christians and I quote from the holy bible from time to time. If Jesus was here in Malaysia would you think he approved the use of the word Allah in the Bahasa Malaysia bible knowingly that it would cause tensions? Christianity teaches love and harmony and from my observation it is the only religion currently not frequently bombing people and stuff.

    • From my interpretation of what you have said, can I assume you believe that there are many Gods? And that there is a different God for different religions. I thought that there is one and only one God.

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