Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My 2 cents on the ban on non Muslims usage of Allah

For the sake of a few who ask me questions related to this ...

My understanding is that basically "God"(Elohim) is translated TUHAN and "The LORD" (YHWH) is translated Allah.

The church in Malaysia is divided on this issue.

I think that Christians in Malaysia (in relation to this issue) fall into four main categories. (Hey these categories are not scientific ok? So cut me some slack on this) :-)

The first are those who are not sure what the big deal is. They are basically uninformed or misinformed. This is for you! :-)

The second are those who hold that we should just not use the word Allah, and instead use YHWH (Yahewh) as they either identify "Allah" as an incompatible / inappropriate word for God (due to its association with Islam)

The third are those who simply do not want to get involved and "rock the political boat". For them, this has nothing to do with "us".

The fourth (of which I belong) are those who feel strongly that we should not give way as first and foremost "Allah" is an Arabic word that has been used hundreds of years by Christians before Islam was founded. The fact is Allah is the only word used by Arabic Christians. Indonesian Christians too use no other word. I will give other reasons in a while.

I disagree with the second group of Christians but I do respect their position (I have good friends who are in this group) as they have their reasons and they are thinking of "alternatives".

I however do not think very highly of the third group of Christians because I think that they are simply being selfish. Sorry if I sound judgmental but read on and you might well agree with me. If not ... you can always boycott my blog :-)

To me this BN UMNO led government ban is not just related to taking away basic religious freedom but is being used for devious political purposes, among them to attempt to divide the opposition by creating religious and racial hatred among Malaysians.

Anyone following this "ban thingy" can see that the BN government keeps changing its ruling and rationale behind this "ban". It's a common and totally irresponsible political strategy to keep bringing up the racial and/or religious card to stir up fear and hatred. It angers me for example that they can even make this ruling under the ISA!! As if Christians have ever used the word "Allah" to incite violence and create instability in the country! I posted a response to this in Teresa Kok's blog.

And the latest (which I posted yesterday) is to openly hint that even to discuss this matter could result in violence.

Better and more knowledgeable people can give more details (just have to google) on the the constitution as well as the many inconsistencies etc. I won't get into that but rather bring up something more personal.

In Malaysia, many people (including Christians) forget or ignore the fact that a large number of Christians (perhaps the majority?) mainly or even only use Bahasa Malaysia as their primary language (which includes their church life). BTW, there are other key religious words that have been banned years ago but at least they gave the allowance that Christians were allowed to use these words. Now even this is being taken away. (If I remember correctly, that was in the 80's even words like "Wahyu" and "Firman" among other things were banned -can't recall now)

For any Malaysian Christian to say "it is not our concern and it has nothing to do with us" is to be pretty selfish. Especially to us English speaking Christians - do we actually think we are the majority? Have we forgotten the huge number of Christians in Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia and other people groups?

To ban the use of Allah is to effectively make illegal every single Bible and practically every Christian publication in the Malay and Indonesian languages. Have we ever thought what this ban implies?

I occasionally still sing (i.e. worship) and even pray in Bahasa Malaysia (or is it now known as Bahasa Melayu? - again another related political thing?) and I personally I can't divorce "Allah" from "THE LORD" my God. How much more the hundreds of thousands who only use Bahasa Malaysia? It's like telling me I now have to call my father or mother or wife by another name!

Check out these articles by The Nut Graph if you have the time.

The problem with the Allah ban.

The handling of the Allah usage disappointing


  1. what i do find interesting is that the gov changes their position/rationale on many things, and yet it is this particular flip-flopping that gets you mad. :) just an observation.

  2. There's a simple reason(s) for this ...

    1. I can't keep up with the many things the politicians keep doing esp since I am here in NZ so I am often ignorant :-(

    2. It is really emotionally tiring when I read about the many ridiculous things the BN government does. So I let some other friends do the raving and ranting ... like Reuben and I just "ditto" him!! :-) This

    3. This one is particularly personal for the reasons I have already given ...

  3. :) yes, and the rest of us need people like you to remind us of why such issues are important.

  4. thanks Z .. makes blogging worthwhile.

  5. Here's a helpful link on the Micah Mandate on "Who was "Allah" before Islam