Sunday, January 10, 2010
My right to use a word, your right to use the word, OUR right to use any word

That's what the row in Malaysia is apparently all about - the right of anyone to use the word Allah. There are Muslims (not all Muslims, but a significant enough number) who say that Christians should not be allowed to use the word Allah when referring to God. Apparently, Allah is a word only to be used by Muslims for "their God" and the use of the word Allah will confuse Muslims (in Malaysia only, of course, seeing as no other country seems to have this issue).

1. If Allah is the only God, then surely He is God of all people, not just Muslims. Surely, then, it is right for me and you and anyone else who believes in God to call Him Allah if we choose to. It seems that it is right for Middle eastern Muslims, Christians and Jews, and also for Malaysian Muslims, but it is apparently not right for Christians.

2. Why are other Muslims in other countries not confused by the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims, but Malaysian Muslims will be confused? Are Malaysians somehow more stupid than residents of other countries?

3. Those who oppose the use of Allah by non-Muslims are also claiming that if Christians use Allah, then it will be easier to convert Muslims to Christianity. I simply do not understand this, especially since Christians in Malaysia have been using Allah at least since the 1800s, and we are not seeing any evidence of masses of Muslims being converted to Christianity. In fact, it is illegal to preach teh Gospel to Muslims in Malaysia. It is illegal for Christian and other non-Islam literature to be sold to Muslims. It is illegal for a Muslim to step foot into a church or other non-Islam place of worship. In Malaysia, but not so in most other countries. It is illegal to convert a Muslim to amy other religion in Malaysia. So, given all of the above, how will teh use of the word Allah result in it being any easier to convert Muslims to Christianity? Inquiring minds want to know

Well, a Catholic newsletter's printing licence was pulled by the government because they use the word Allah in the newsletter. You know what? The newsletter is not distributed to non-Catholics. yes, non-Catholics. Not being a Catholic myself, I can't even subscribe to it although I am a Christian. So what chance has a Muslim got of subscribing to it? On the front of the newsletter, it says that it is for Christian use only (as required by law, I believe). The Catholic church took the matter to court where it was ruled that they should be allowed to use the word Allah. Dissatisfied parties have now taken to fire-bombing churches. Not just Catholic churches (not that restricting it to Catholics would make it any better) but random churches. As I type this, 7 churches have been torched. I bet that is 7 and counting.

I guess I should also add that the majority of the Christians affected by this are the indigenous Christians of Malaysia. They speak Bahasa Malaysia as their main language aside from their indigenous language and the Bible they have been using all these years is actually in Indonesian (very similar to Bahasa Malaysia) and it uses the word Allah to mean Lord. If this is truly a problem, a religious problem, surely this would have come up earlier .. perhaps some time in the 1800s when the Indonesian Bible was first used. However, it is only now that it has come up.

At the end of the day, is it really a religious issue? Other Muslims don't have an issue with it? Are they somehow lesser Muslims? I think not. Some who are opposing the use of Allah by Christians say, "That is them, but this is Malaysia" Right, so what is so different about Islam in Malaysia that others should not be allowed to use the word Malaysia? Perhaps it is simply politics.

I don't normally write about politics, the economy, religion or other such heavy matters much, but this bothers me. It bothers me a lot. The country I grew up in does not behave like this. Well, it did not. We used to pride ourselves as multi-racial, multi-religious. However, if one religion were to be allowed to dictate how another religion prays and worships, this is no longer a multi-religious society. It saddens me to see this. I may not live in Malaysia now, but inside I am still Malaysian. The recent happenings makes me ashamed that my fellow Malaysians would not consider the spiritual needs of their (mostly indigenous) brothers and sisters when swaying to the tume of politics.

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