JAIS certainly knows how to rub it in as it chose Christmas as the occasion to issue threats to the Christian community by declaring its intention to track down some Christians, who allegedly violated the law when they sang songs containing the Allah word in a recent meeting. I suppose JAIS has no need to show respect and sensitivity to the Christian community. Souring Christmas suits JAIS as it wants to impress and intimidate Christians with their bureaucratic power.
It is questionable whether JAIS has any jurisdiction over non-Muslims, especially over an issue that awaits final settlement in the Apex Civil Court. But legality aside, there is no need for such drama from JAIS. There is no need for public announcement about the lengths it will go through to identify Christians and threaten them with punishment.
It is a given that Bahasa speaking Christians will continue to use the Allah word, as no faith community can jettison its centuries-old way of life simply because of a questionable court ruling. Identifying these Christians can’t be any simpler. For a start, there are scores of Bahasa speaking churches in West Malaysia. All that JAIS officials need to do is visit these churches on Sunday morning. They won’t be disappointed as it can be guaranteed that these Christians will be using the Allah word in their liturgy, songs, prayers and sermons. The only surprise for them is that they find Christians will still welcome them into the house of God despite their malicious intentions.
Ambitious JAIS officials may take note that it is even easier to identify and catch bigger fishes than ordinary folks found in churches. There are presently quite a few ministers in the Federal Cabinet and many more deputy ministers from East Malaysia who are Christians. Visit them in Putra Jaya. Surely there is no better place for JAIS officials to begin in their determined effort to track down Christians who use the Allah word.
Selangor religious authorities Hunt for Christians Who used ‘Allah’ Illegally
BY MUZLIZA MUSTAFA
December 25, 2013
It might be Christmas Day cheer across the world but Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) officials are not feeling the festive occasion as they look for a Christian group that used the word “Allah” in their worship illegally last weekend.
Malay newspapers had reported that the Christian group had allegedly used “Allah” at their Sunday function at a hotel in Klang, reigniting the battle for the word which is now before the country’s apex court.
A Court of Appeal ruling decided that the home minister has the power to restrict use of the world. The Government and religious authorities have not only gone to restrict Christians from using the word but have now started a campaign to outlaw Shia Islam in the country. There are only some 1,500 Shias but the number cannot be independently verified.
In the latest case, deputy director of Jais Ahmad Zaki Arshad said they had yet to get proof that the Christian group had used the word “Allah” in their meeting.
“We are seeking the assistance of the hotel management to view footage of the closed-circuit television camera to check on the validity of the claim. We cannot act, based on a photograph in a newspaper,” Ahmad Zaki told The Malaysian Insider. He said the department was seeking the cooperation of the event organisers to come forward to facilitate investigation.
“A photograph is insufficient evidence to act.”
Ahmad Zaki was referring to Utusan Malaysia’s report on Monday which carried a photograph of the event, with the words, “International Full Gospel Fellowship: Keluarga Allah satelit Nilai dan satelit Puchong, ‘Dari dalam gelap akan terbit terang’,” on a backdrop. The department is investigating the case under a 1988 enactment which bars non-Muslims from using the word “Allah”.
The daily had reported that some 200 people had attended the gathering, organised by International Full Gospel Fellowship. The report said those present sang songs containing the word “Allah”. Following this, two Muslim groups have called for action against a Christian group for allegedly using the word “Allah” at their function.
In their reaction, Pertubuhan Ikatan Kebajikan dan Dakwah Selangor (Ikddas) and Perkasa Selangor chapter urged Jais to investigate and act on the matter. “From a legal perspective, it is clear the use of the word ‘Allah’ is prohibited to non-Muslims. If the organiser uses the sacred word in a non-Islamic function, then Jais should not hesitate to take action against them,” Ikddas president Rosdi Long told Utusan. Selangor Perkasa chief Abu Bakar Yahya said it was inappropriate for non-Muslims to use the word, saying the Selangor sultan had issued a decree on the matter.
Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, who is also the Islamic religious head, recently called on non-Muslims in his state not to refer God as “Allah” and ordered that the word not be used in the Bible and in the Bahasa Malaysia section of Catholic weekly, Herald. This, he said, was to avoid causing confusion among Muslims in Selangor.
On October 14, the Court of Appeal ruled to uphold the Home Ministry’s ban on Herald’s use of the word “Allah”. – December 25, 2013.