By Syed Jaymal ZahiidPUTRAJAYA, Jan 28 — Islamic academics and administrators have blamed Christians for provoking Muslim anger by challenging the ban on their use of the word “Allah”.
Politicians, particularly those from Umno/Barisan Nasional (BN) were also blamed for failing to defend Islam against perceived threats.
Panellists at a forum organised for civil servants here by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) suggested that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government was lax in defending Islam, after the High Court ruling allowing a Catholic weekly to use “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia section.
Zamihan Mat Zin from the Institut Latihan Islam Malaysia blasted politicians for being vocal only on Malay rights but doing little for Islam.
“Some politicians are ever so vocal when it comes to defending Malay rights but when it comes to their religion, they are quiet. What is the use of defending Malay rights if our religion is not protected?” he told about 800 civil servants at a special forum here today.
Zamihan said deliberate attempts were being made to degrade Islam, citing as an example the Catholic Church’s legal challenge against the ban imposed on the Herald weekly for using “Allah” to describe the Christian God.
“Extremism can be found in any religion and this challenge is definitely one of them,” he said and stressed that references in Islam that “Allah” was exclusive to the Muslims are pervasive.
Mohd Aizam Masod, an officer from Jakim’s research department, said the argument that Arab Christians and Jews also used the word “Allah” had no domestic merits given that Malaysia is not an Arabic speaking nation.
“For Christians, this is just a question of translation but for us Muslims, the term Allah is integral to our akidah (faith),” he said, arguing that the usage of “Allah” by non-Muslims can and does confuse Muslims.
“Imagine if Jesus Christ, which under the Unitarian concept is considered as God to the Christians, be called ‘Allah’, wouldn’t it be confusing? Allah is by definition a description of a singular Muslim God, but non-Muslims usage will pluralise it,” he said.
Deputy chief of Syariah Research Department of the Attorney-General’s office, Mahamad Nasir Disa, who spoke on the issue from a legal perspective, agreed with his fellow panellists that the issue was an act of provocation by Christians.
“Often the argument given by them is that to deny the usage is to deny their rights to practise their religion but our argument is that the word ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of their religion as compared to us.
“If that is the case, then we can talk about rights. If not, don’t talk about rights,” he said.
Mahamad, too, agreed that there is “a lack of real leadership” in dealing with the matter, saying that the government had the power to prevent non-Muslims from using “Allah”.
He said that preventing non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” would ease ethnic tensions.
Yesterday, four boar heads were found at two mosques, the latest in a series of attacks and acts of vandalism on places of worship, including arson attempts on churches, following the “Allah” ruling.
In his remarks, Mohd Aizam also used alleged “historical facts” to say that Christians had tried to convert Muslims in the region since the colonial days by translating their bibles into local languages.
But Zamihan went as far as suggesting that a repeat of the May 13 racial riots was possible if the Christians, which to him practised extremism in the matter, did not back down.
“Who knows, there might be a Feb 13?” said Zamihan.