Malaysia: Religious authority says non-Muslims can’t use the word ‘Allah’

A Christian book entitled “Live With the Presence Of Allah” is on sale at St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah on Borneo island, February 22, 2009. (Reuters)

A Christian book entitled “Live With the Presence Of Allah” is on sale at St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah on Borneo island, February 22, 2009. (Reuters)

By Al Arabiya

One of Malaysia’s leading religious authorities, PAS Syura Council, decided to ban non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” when describing “God” in their religious publications, a local website reported Monday.

While the word “Allah” was universal and had been used by pre-Islamic Arabs, PAS Syura Council ruled that it could not be translated in non-Muslim publications to denote for the word “God.”

“Therefore, translating ‘God’ or ‘Lord’ from any non-Muslim religious book into the word ‘Allah’ is forbidden because it is wrong in terms of meaning and use, does not fulfill the actual requirement and can bring confusion,” The Star website reported the council saying in a statement signed by PAS spiritual adviser, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, and his deputy, Datuk Haron Din.

“Therefore, it must be prevented,” the statement confirmed.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, PAS, has responded to a re-ignited debate surrounding the use of the Arabic word for God, ‘’Allah’’, as Christian groups claim the right to use the term in their own religious scripts.

The Islamist political party has defended its exclusive right to use the word “Allah.”

They suggest that non-Islamic minority groups could use the Malay word for God “Tuhan” in their Malay-language Bible, PAS newspaper Harakahdaily reported late December.

PAS information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said: “There are sensitive elements such as the Declaration of Faith (Shahadah) and Allah, which must be used in the correct context, otherwise there could be unease in a multi-religious society in view of the present situation.”

Referring to the various editions of Bible, Tuan Man said that manuscripts referred to a ‘God’ or ‘Lord’. He added that the Christians in West do not refer to God as ‘Allah’ in their religious texts.

The debate was revived after the Malaysian Multi-Racial Democratic Action Party’s secretary general, Lim Guan Eng, broadcast a Christmas message urging the Federal government to permit Malay-Language Bibles to publish the word ‘Allah’.

Malaysian Catholics and the ongoing debate

In early May 2008 Malaysian Catholics secured the right to initiate a legal battle against the government ban on the use of the word ‘Allah’ in their Herald Malaysia Catholic news publication, AFP reported.

In 2007 the Muslim-dominated government declared that ‘Allah’ could only be used by Muslims and threatened to close down The Herald newspaper if it defied the prohibition.

January 2008 saw the Herald Malaysia battle to keep its publishing license.

The Newspaper won out as High Court judge Lau Bee Lan overruled government objections, saying they were “without merit and therefore dismissed”.

Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of The Herald, welcomed the decision which paves the way for a judicial review of the government ban.

“I am very pleased that we can now proceed. We will see what will happen at the next stage,” he said.

The argument is being conducted in an environment of increased inter-ethnic tensions.

Malaysia is dominated by Muslim Malays, many minority ethnic Chinese and Indians have become concerned over the growing “Islamization” of the country.

In recent months there have been controversies over a ban on the construction of a Taoist statue on Borneo Island and the destruction of Hindu temples by local authorities.

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3 thoughts on “Malaysia: Religious authority says non-Muslims can’t use the word ‘Allah’

  1. Pingback: Prayer is our Hope « Hope for the Middle East and North Africa

  2. IS THERE ALLAH IN THE BIBLE?

    Some of the biggest misconceptions that many Muslim and non-Muslims have about Islam have to do with the word “Allah.” For various reasons, many people have come to believe that Muslims worship a different God than Christians and Jews. This is totally false, since “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for “God” – and there isonly One God.

    Let there be no doubt – Muslims worship the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus – peace be upon them. All the stories of these Messengers are clearly mentioned in the bible and the Quran.

    God says in the Holy Qur’an:

    Say (O Muslims): We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. / And if they believe in the like of that which ye believe, then are they rightly guided. But if they turn away, then are they in schism, and God will suffice thee against them. He is the Hearer, the Knower. (Quran 2:136-137)

    However, it is certainly true that Jews, Christians and Muslims all have different concepts of Almighty God. For example, Muslims – like Jews – reject the Christian beliefs of the Trinity and the Divine Incarnation or having a begotten son.

    They say: “God hath begotten a son!” – Glory be to Him! He is self- sufficient! His are all things in the heavens and on earth! No warrant have ye for this! say ye about God what ye know not? Say: “Those who invent a lie against God will never prosper.” A little enjoyment in this world!- and then, to Us will be their return, then shall We make them taste the severest penalty for their blasphemies.” (Quran 10:68-70)

    “They do blaspheme who say: “God is Christ the son of Mary.” They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a trinity: for there is no God except one God Allah. If they do not desist from their word of blasphemy, verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them. Christ the son of Mary was no more than a Messenger; many were the Messengers that passed away before him.” (Quran 5:72-73, 5:75)

    The God that tired, rest and wrestle with human as mentioned in the bible is surely not Allah since Allah clearly explain Himself in the Quran:

    Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great ( Quran 2:255)

    This, however, does not mean that each of these three religions worships a different God – because, as we have already said, there is only One True God. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim to be Abrahamic Faiths”, and all of them are also classified as “monotheistic.”

    However, Islam teaches that other religions have, in one way or another, distorted and nullified a pure and proper belief in Almighty God by neglecting His true teachings and mixing them with man-made ideas.

    First of all, it is important to note that “Allah” is the same word that Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews use for God. If you pick up an Arabic Bible, you will see the word “Allah” being used where “God” is used in English. This is because “Allah” is a word in the Arabic language equivalent to the English word “God” with a capital “G”. Additionally, the word “Allah” cannot be made plural, a fact which goes hand-in-hand with the Islamic concept of God.

    It is interesting to note that the Aramaic word “El”, which is the word for God in the language that Jesus spoke, is certainly more similar in sound to the word “Allah” than the English word “God.” This also holds true for the various Hebrew words for God, which are “El” and “Elah”, and the plural or glorified form “Elohim.” The reason for these similarities is that Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic are all Semitic languages with common origins. It should also be noted that in translating the Bible into English, the Hebrew word “El” is translated variously as “God”, “god” and “angel”! This imprecise language allows different translators, based on their preconceived notions, to translate the word to fit their own views. The Arabic word “Allah” presents no such difficulty or ambiguity, since it is only used for Almighty God alone. Additionally, in English, the only difference between “god”, meaning a false god, and “God”, meaning the One True God, is the capital “G”. Due to the above mentioned facts, a more accurate translation of the word “Allah” into English might be “The One -and-Only God” or “The One True God.”

    Let observe the most important commandment of Jesus in the bible

    Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

    And also:

    But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40)

    And the teaching of Prophet Moses as mentioned below:

    “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”( Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

    More importantly, it should also be noted that the Arabic word “Allah” contains a deep religious message due to its root meaning and origin. This is because it stems from the Arabic verb ta’allaha (or alaha), which means “to be worshipped.” Thus in Arabic, the word “Allah” means “The One who deserves all worship.” This, in a nutshell, is the Pure Monotheistic message of Islam.

    Many people, including some Muslims, claim belief in “One God” even though they’ve fallen into acts of idolatry. Certainly, many Protestants accuse Roman Catholics of idolatrous practices in regards to the saints and the Virgin Mary. Likewise, the Greek Orthodox Church is considered “idolatrous” by many other Christians because in much of their worship they use icons.

    However, if you ask a Roman Catholic or a Greek Orthodox person if God is “One”, they will invariably answer: “Yes!.” This claim, however, does not stop them from being “creature worshipping” idolaters. The same goes for Hindus, who just consider their gods to be “manifestations” or “incarnations” of the One Supreme God.

    If there were more than one God, they would have taken away what they created. The Qur’an says:
    “No son did Allah beget,Nor is there any god Along with Him: (if there were
    Many gods), behold, each god Would have taken awayWhat he had created,
    And some would have Lorded it over others! Glory to Allah! (He is free)
    From the (sort of) things They attribute to Him!”[Al-Qur’an 23:91]

    When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan after he fast for 40 days, he didn’t asked Satan to worship him but to worship Allah the Almighty Creator..

    “.. the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” ( Matthew 4:9-10)

    Let not forget the warning of Jesus regarding false prophet who teach blasphemy .

    “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. (16) You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? (17) Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (18) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. (19) Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (20) Therefore by their fruits you will know them.( Matthew 7:15-20)

    Let us differentiate the teaching of all the Messenger of Allah in the Quran and the bible with the false teaching of Paul or Saul Tarsus. He worship Jesus instead of .Allah the Almighty God .

    (8) Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One) (Phil3:8-9)

    Finally in the Holy Qur’an, Almighty God enjoins Muslims to issue the following call to Christians and Jews:

    Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (Aal ‘Imran3:64)

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