Selangor Sultan Says non-Muslims Must Not use ‘Allah’, Pakatan and Christian Federation of Malaysia Disagree

Rulers are looked upon as symbols of national unity. For this reason rulers or sultans normally stay above political contestations and social controversies. This would be a most appropriate posture of royal dignity. An intervention that is premature would only exacerbate disunity among his subjects. He intervenes only when the conflict is so intractable that his intervention is absolutely necessary. Knowing exactly when to intervene is the mark of a wise ruler. Obviously, he can restore unity only when he is seen to be impartial and has the interests of all his subjects equally in his heart.

Many of us wonder why the Sultan of Selangor chooses to decree that the word ‘Allah’ is forbidden to use by any non-Muslims religion in Selangor at a time of obvious political tensions and deep social divisions in the run-up to the coming General Elections. The ruler has absolute discretion in making any decree. He can rule, but will he reign, at least in the hearts of all his subjects? In this regard, other national leaders from political parties and leaders from the Christian and Sikh communities have expressed concerns, if not disagreement with the decree of the Sultan.

What now happens to the harmony between the Sultan and his subjects? The Christian assurance is that providence is ultimately in the hand of God, the one and only almighty ruler over human history and society.

You can also read my fuller article, ‘Allah’ is Substitute for Hebrew Words ēl, ĕlōah, and not for English Word ‘God’ at http://www.krisispraxis.com LINK

Non-Muslims Must Not Use ‘Allah’, says Selangor Sultan

Malaysian Insider 8 Jn 2012 LINK

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 – The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah is shocked at Lim Guan Eng’s remarks over the word “Allah” and has called for an emergency meeting with state Islamic religious officials to bar non-Muslims from using the Arabic word for god, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) said today.

In December 2009, the High Court ruled that the word “Allah” was not restricted to Muslims and the Catholic Church had the right to published the word in the Malay section of its weekly newspaper, Herald.

“His majesty the Selangor Sultan has made a decision and decreed that the word ‘Allah’ is a sacred word specific to Muslims and is structly forbidden to use by any non-Muslim religion in Selangor as stated in a fatwa and gazetted on 18 February 2010,” MAIS secretary Datuk Mohd Misri Idris said in a statement.

Mohd Misri
The Selangor Sultan also chided those who would use Islam for political purposes and warned them against destroying the existing peace enjoyed by Malaysia’s multireligious community, Mohd Misri secretary said.

Further information on the state laws and fatwa regarding the use of the word “Allah” can be read on its website, he said.

The “Allah” storm was reignited recently when Lim, the opposition DAP’s secretary-general, raised the controversial “Allah” issue in his Christmas message urging the federal government to lift its ban on the word published in the Malay bibles shipped in to Sabah and Sarawak, who form the bulk of Malaysia’s 9.2 per cent Christian population.

In recent years, the Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug-of-war over the word “Allah”, with the latter group arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim god.

Shipments of the Alkitab, the Malay-language Bible catering to the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Bumiputera Christians, were blocked or confiscated at ports, before the government finally bowed to pressure and released them in 2011. added that Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had issued a similar decree three years ago when the “Allah” issue first erupted and regretted that his statement was taken lightly.

He also said the Selangor Ruler had instructed MAIS and the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS) to take firm action against all groups, including non-Muslims, who continued to question the state fatwa.

He pointed out that the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment restricting the use of the word was passed in the state assembly 25 years ago and enforced in July 1988.

He said the state law was also in keeping with Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution governing the spread of non-Muslim doctrine.

“Section 9 of the Enactment strictly forbids the word ‘Allah’ to be used by non-Muslims in any matter related to their religions.

“Those who breach this provision can be charged and sentences meted out against them,” he said.

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Malaysian Insider LINK

Despite royal ban, Pakatan says okay for non-Muslims to use ‘Allah’
By Clara Chooi
Assistant News Editor
January 08, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Despite the Selangor Sultan’s latest decree banning non-Muslims in the state from using “Allah”, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) confirmed today its stand on the controversy, insisting that Islam does not prohibit others from using the word.

Explaining the federal opposition’s position, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang told a joint press conference with PR leaders here that Christians and other non-Muslim communities should not abuse the word to spread confusion among Muslims but this did not mean they were not allowed to use the word.

“Islam does not stop those of other faiths from using kalimah ‘Allah’ in their practice, although [in the usage of the word by non-Muslims] it does not refer to the original meaning of the word as according to the al-Quran,” he said, reading from a statement.

When reminded of the Selangor Sultan’s decree this morning, however, Hadi (picture) would not comment further, merely telling reporters that he would not repeat his statement as it should sufficiently explain PAS’s and PR’s position on the issue.

He said further queries should be directed to Umno, as a party that is part of the federal government that could decide on the usage of the word.

The religious leader pursed his lips, however, when it was pointed out that PR runs the Selangor government and the pact’s position on the controversy could be seen as a direct snub to the state Sultan.

PR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was also at the press conference, however stepped in to say that the pact fully endorses PAS’s stand and reminded reporters that the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS), which the Sultan heads, does not represent the views of the state’s PR government.

“MAIS moves freely and has nothing to do with the state government,” he said.

“I think PAS’s statement is clear,” he added, when asked if this meant PR was going against the Selangor Sultan’s decree.

In a statement from MAIS today, the Selangor Sultan expressed shock over DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng’s recent remarks on the word “Allah” and called for an emergency meeting with state Islamic religious officials to bar non-Muslims from using the Arabic word for God.

“His majesty the Selangor Sultan has made a decision and decreed that the word ‘Allah’ is a sacred word specific to Muslims and is strictly forbidden to use by any non-Muslim religion in Selangor as stated in a fatwa and gazetted on 18 February 2010,” MAIS secretary Datuk Mohd Misri Idris said in a statement.

The religious debate was reignited recently when Lim raised the controversial “Allah” issue in his Christmas message urging the federal government to lift its ban on the word published in the Malay bibles shipped in to Sabah and Sarawak, who form the bulk of Malaysia’s 9.2 per cent Christian population.

“PAS is very disappointed at Umno, a party that represents the Malay Muslims and Barisan Nasional (BN), which rules this country, for turning this kalimah ‘Allah’ into an issue… without caring about the misunderstanding that it has created and the tension among our multireligious nation,” Hadi said today.

In recent years, the Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug-of-war over the word “Allah”, with the latter group arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim god.

Shipments of the Alkitab, the Malay-language Bible catering to the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Bumiputera Christians, were blocked or confiscated at ports before the government finally bowed to pressure and released them in 2011.

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Malaysian Insider LINK

After 400 years of ‘Allah’ in bibles, CFM says to stick with practice
By Debra Chong
Assistant News Editor
January 09, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 – The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) maintains its constitutional right to describe its god as “Allah”, saying the word has been in Malay-language bibles for more than 400 years – as a Selangor royal decree threatens to restrict the right of non-Islamic religious worship.

The Selangor Sultan has yesterday issued a decree banning non-Muslims in the state from using the word “Allah”.

The umbrella body representing 90 per cent of churches nationwide said Christians here said the Arabic word is being used by “all Bahasa Malaysia-speaking church congregations especially the Orang Asli Christians, the Baba Christians and Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians including those who are residing in the various states of West Malaysia”.

“In accordance with Article 11 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, CFM affirms every person’s right to profess and practice his religion and in this connection, the churches’ freedom to use the Holy Bible in Bahasa Malaysia, the Alkitab, in all our church services, meetings and in our homes,” its chairman Bishop Datuk Ng Moon Hing said in a statement today.

The latest row arose after Selangor’s religious authority said it would enforce a blanket ban on non-Muslim use of the word, despite a High Court ruling in December 2009 that the word “Allah” was not restricted to Muslims and the Catholic Church had the right to publish the word in the Malay section of its weekly newspaper, Herald.

Sikhs, who also lay claim to use of the word in their holy texts, are similarly affected by the state law.

n recent years, the Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug-of-war over the word “Allah”, with the latter group arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim god.

Christians, however, counter that they have a legitimate and constitutional right to also call their god “Allah” based on historical records.

The “Dictionarium Malaico-Latin and Latino-Malaicum” was first published in 1631 by the Vatican Press in Rome.

Church officials say it is historical proof that its missionaries had played a key role in the exchange of knowledge and culture between Europe and Southeast Asia some 400 years ago.

Reverend Lawrence Andrew, who had worked for the past 11 years to reprint the dictionary, previously told The Malaysian Insider it was crucial to counter the mistaken belief that the spread of Christianity through local languages in Malaysia was a recent 20th-century phenomenon.

“It’s to say it’s been here for a long time… 400 years,” the editor of the country’s sole Catholic weekly newspaper, Herald, told The Malaysian Insider in an interview two years ago.

The Catholic Church had challenged the Home Ministry for the right to use the word “Allah” to describe God in the Christian context and had won in a landmark ruling at the High Court on New Year’s Eve in 2009.

But the paper is unable to use it as the ministry managed to get a stay pending its appeal which has been languishing at the Court of Appeal for the past three years.

Veteran lawyers have said there is little the church can do speed up the process as there are no rules on a time limit; adding it was not unusual for a case to be called years after being filed.

Andrew had submitted a copy of the dictionary as historical evidence to back the church’s suit after the ministry tendered several essays by Islamic scholars from the influential Institute of Islamic Understanding here supporting its case.

St Francis Xavier was instrumental in romanising the Malay language, which was used widely but had no written form in Southeast Asia then.

The Vatican’s former representative to Malaysia, Archbishop Luigi Bressan, had observed that the Holy See had as early as 1622 set up a special printing office to spread its Catholic Christian doctrine worldwide, and had marked the importance of Malay in that role.

Bressan, who was the Apostolic Delegate to Malaysia from July 26, 1993 to March 25, 1999, was crucial in reproducing the historical document.

The Italian archbishop remarked that Jesuit missionaries had “distinguished themselves” in translating the new Asian languages into Latin and European languages, in his notes to his essay “A 17th-Century Roman Dictionary of the Malay Language” that was also published as a sort of foreword in the 2010 reprint.

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4 Responses to “Selangor Sultan Says non-Muslims Must Not use ‘Allah’, Pakatan and Christian Federation of Malaysia Disagree”

  1. Krisis & Praxis » Blog Archive » ‘Allah’ is Substitute for Hebrew Words ēl, ĕlōah, and not for English Word ‘God’ Says:

    […] Religious Liberty Blog, Selangor Sultan Says non-Muslims Must Not use ‘Allah’, Pakatan and Christian Federation of Malaysia Disagree  LINK […]

  2. Paul Long Says:

    The Sultan needs to heed his won advice:

    The Selangor Sultan also chided those who would use Islam for political purposes and warned them against destroying the existing peace enjoyed by Malaysia’s multireligious community, Mohd Misri secretary said.

  3. ChristianDH Says:

    I have to agree with the Muslims on one point. The monotheistic GOD we worship has many names, none of which is Allah. Allah has been the sole intellectual property of Muhammad in his circa 600 A.D. world. In fact, Muhammad originally referred to his god as Al-Rahman. It was only later that Khadija, his first wife, told Muhammad that his god was actually Allah. Previously, Allah’s claim to fame was being the largest rock idol stored at the Kaba. The pre-Islamic Kaba had been used to store the many rock idols belonging to the polytheists of the day.

    So what’s that got to do with us Christians using the name Allah? The answer…everything! The saying often quoted by Islamic monotheists is that there is no illah (god) but Allah. We have to ask ourselves, do we really want to give any godly attributes to this deity. To answer this, we must open the bible and examine the names passed down to us from the original Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew scrolls.

    We find that God was identified in our scriptures many names, such as: ELOHIM (God); ADONAI (Lord, Master); YAHWEH (Lord, Jehovah); and EL SHADDAI (Lord God Almighty) amongst others. He is also known to us as the great I AM. Nowhere in the Bible, nowhere in the Scriptures does God ever associate himself with, or call himself by Allah. “Allah” is Muhammad’s alone. My suggestion is that we leave that word with the Islamists. We need to proudly name our God, creator of Heaven and Earth, in the majesty of the names he has provided us with.

  4. CCPS Says:

    Why is this about we are fighting for? We are only worship God in our own language. If people who can talk and understand Malay language, then how they may understand and read. It is really unfair to non-muslims meanwhile 1Malaysia nations we all are saying…. Really unfair…
    God will really bless the country of Malaysia, if everyone comes in agreement to use the word “Allah”. Malaysians better wake up. See with open eyes..

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