Friday, December 28, 2007

Allah, Who Is Confused?

What a Christmas gift we got from the govt this year! A friend Look.Observe wrote this letter to Malaysiakini, and indeed, more should do so in the media and blogs:

"It is with great unease and displeasure I read news in recent days of how the prime minister has systematically clamped down on other religions. First it was the issue of Hindu temple demolition, which was completely blanked out of mainstream newspapers. It seems that the irresponsible authorities who insisted on bringing down the temple were not brought to justice at all.

The Malaysiakini video clearly shows how the authorities have wronged the people, particularly the Hindu community in Malaysia. Instead of discussing the issue and taking proper steps, the issue was blanked out from all Malaysians. This leaves no room for Malaysians to learn from history as to not repeat such blunders.

At the dawn of the new year, Christians, particularly the Bahasa Malaysia speaking Christians in East Malaysia, got themselves another ‘Christmas present’ from the Internal Security Ministry. The ministry threatened not to renew Herald weekly’s publishing permit because the word “Allah” was used to refer to God. This is a very unreasonable act by the government.

Th word “Allah” is also used in the Middle East by all the religions of the Abrahamic faiths. Islam, Christianity and Judaism were all founded in the Middle East. So why then is the government making an issue out of nothing when such practices of Christians calling their God “Allah” is not an issue at all there?

By warning Herald not to publish their BM section because the term “Allah” was used, the 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."

Siew Foong at the NECF called for prayer:

2Chronicles 19: 6-7 “Consider what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord who is with you when you render judgment. Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of bribe.”

1. Justice and fairness to prevail
2. Christian leaders and lawyers involved in the lawsuits: wisdom, sound judgment and courage.
3. Against the temptation of the evil one, the spirit of compromise and the fear of man.


Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...

God who knows all
Will heed out call
Wither bounces the ball
He will not let us fall

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng
Fri. 28th Dec. 2007.

Elly Chen said...

"Allah" – who is confused?

Religious freedom provided in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution includes the right to have access to, and the use of, scriptures and printed material in Bahasa Malaysia, our national language. To have scriptures and publications in a language of one's choice is fundamental. Nonetheless, there have been incidents where Christian materials are being confiscated on grounds that the use of certain words, e.g. "Allah," etc., would cause confusion and controversies.

On 15 Aug 2007, three boxes of educational materials for Christian children were detained by the custom officers at the LCCT in Sepang. The materials belong to the SIB Sabah. Recently, the publisher of Catholic weekly bulletin Herald was asked to remove its Bahasa Malaysia section or risk losing its publication permit.

To the Bahasa speaking Christians, the native bumiputeras in particular, the rationale of the Internal Security Ministry (KDN) for its action appears nonsensical. The term 'Allah' has been used to mean God for generations, even before Malaysia as a country was formed.

"In Bahasa Malaysia, the word 'Allah' has been used continuously in the printed edition of Matthew's Gospel in Malay in 1629, in the first complete Malay Bible in 1733 until today in the Alkitab," said Pastor Jerry Dusing, the president of SIB Sabah.

Historically, the word predates the Islamic era and was used by Christians in the Arabic-speaking world before there were any Muslims.

The SIB Sabah has filed for a judicial review against KDN's decision to disallow the import of Christian literatures containing the word "Allah." The hearing has been postponed to 16 Jan 2008. Meanwhile Herald files a suit against the government for stopping it from using "Allah" in its publication. The date of hearing has yet to be fixed.

As Malaysian citizens, in what manner shall we, Christians, embrace our national language? Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, the Minister in the Prime Minster's Department, says it well: "Bahasa Malaysia is the national language for all, irrespective of the racial groups or religious beliefs. It should be a matter of pride for all Malaysians, followers of all religions, to use the national language for their worship" ( theSun, p4, 28 Dec).