Of Herald, Allah (on Malaysiakini) and my chat with Indonesians

I picked up from Malaysiakini, a news from AFP with the title ‘Herald defies gov’t ban on ‘Allah”.

The editor of the Herald newspaper, Father Lawrence Andrew said this week’s edition uses the banned word and that he intends to continue doing so until the courts rule on the issue next month.

I am a Catholic who buys the Catholic weekly, The Herald (for RM1) from my church. For those who haven’t read this weekly before, let me give you an idea what it contains. Basically, we have the English section, Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin and Tamil section. In each section, there are world news, news from Vatican, weekly happenings in our churches around Malaysia including Sabah and Sarawak and some reflections. There are sections for youths, touching on modern day happenings like movie reviews, new album releases and section for kids with colouring pages and etc.

As Christians, we do not incite hate because our faith is centered on LOVE. Love in Christian term, is not the ‘I love you, you love me’ kind of love. Love is God. Love to us means being able to put others above of our own needs.

When the issue on the banned term Allah was blown into the media, I got the curiousity to find out exactly why Christians are using it. I asked for a copy of Bahasa Malaysia Bible or the Alkitab from my church priest. I even asked Father Fabian to bless it or rather, bless me so that I am enlightened enough to be able to judge sensibly. I want to see for myself how the Allah term is used.

I see that Allah is not used when we are talking about the Son of God, Jesus. In the Alkitab, Allah is used only when God is referred in the highest level. In Christianity, God to us come in three facets, or rather the same Almighty but at different times, they have different references. Let’s not go into the Holy Trinity concept or this post may explode into another debate.

As you all know, I have quite good command of Bahasa Malaysia and I do speak Bahasa Malaysia with a loghat Penang. So when I have the Alkitab, a lot of things suddenly make sense to me because when I read in Bahasa Malaysia, I immediately understand the meaning. I am a product of teaching BM in all subjects in school except Bahasa Inggeris.

Now, let’s fast forward to a conversation I had with a couple from Indonesia. They are Protestants from Indonesia. They look every bit Indonesian. Sometimes, I meet Indonesians who are Chinese and it is easier for me to relate Christianity to them. When I meet Indonesian who looks like Malay, I need a little bit of getting used to. I have that cautious feelings that I am really talking to a Christian.

While chit chatting, they were so surprised that the word Allah is banned in our publications here. They told me, in Indonesia, they have public holidays for Good Friday, Easter and Christmas. Indonesians are free to convert as they like. In their conversation, they used Allah too. They talked about their faith in Allah, and how they depended on Allah in their sickness. The husband is suffering from end stage cancer.

Being a Malaysian, I was rather confused and blur when I keep hearing the word Allah popping from their mouths eventhough I know they are Protestants. So, I realised, over here in Malaysia, it is all political. The term Allah has been made into a political tool for politicians to gain mileage. Since Hamik Kaynui comes into the scene, suddenly Allah becomes haram for us Christians.

Therefore, I pray that God will bless our politicians with wisdom.

And for those Catholics who wrote in to The Editor of The Herald to ask us to step back and give way, I hope they have the wisdom to know that it is not a simple matter. Now, they try to stop us from printing Allah in The Herald. What about the future? Are you going to allow humans to stop us from using the term Allah in the Alkitab too? Don’t we all know what was the last few sentences in Revelation? In particular, Wahyu 22:19

Jika seseorang mengurangkan kata-kata nubat di dalam kitab ini, Allah juga akan mengambil balik hak orang itu untuk makan buah pokok sumber kehidupan dan haknya untuk tinggal di kota suci itu, seperti yang digambarkan di dalam kitab ini.

The term Allah has been used in the translated High Malay Bible since the 1800s.

“Munshi Abdullah, the father of modern Malay literature, translated the Bible into Malay in 1852 and he also translated ‘God’ as ‘Allah’ so there is strong historical proof of what we have been using for centuries,” said Andrew.


In conclusion, it is all political. In particular, Malaysia ruling political party. This issue has nothing to do with the Divine. All faiths lead to only goodness and the same God comes to us in different form. That’s all.


69 thoughts on “Of Herald, Allah (on Malaysiakini) and my chat with Indonesians

  1. Sam – I got one reply for you. Go to hell with your suggestions. I am not the printer of the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia. I am a Chinese, not Arab. So pordah, pigi mampus, aku tak senang nak dengaq pok-pek pokpek hang. Pi mampui like the Penangites say.

  2. So, how many Muslim Malays actually realized that the Catholic newsletter ‘The Herald’ publication permit will be withheld unless it stops its Malay section?

    The Malay section has used “Allah” to refer to God, I mean to be more specific, Christian god and father of Jesus Christ, while the English section still uses the term ‘God’. Two different terms for God in one edition. When the Malaysian government has decided to stop this practice from continuing, with a Minister stating that the term “Allah”, “solat” and “Baitullah” are reserved for Islam religion, so as not to confuse Muslims in this country, the Catholics protest. Hmmm…

    I’m really amused. There they are, the Christians, the DAP politicians, and the ‘human rights’ activists all hopping mad about this issue an putting the blame on the government-led politicians, while the rest of us go about our daily lives peacefully. Even the PAS politicians haven’t issued a formal statement about this issue.

    And what’s the issue? Christians claim that they have the right to use ‘Allah taala’ in their Malay-language Bible, and in other publications for East Malaysian Christians. They also claim that ‘Allah’ is a Arabic terminology for God in the Arab nations, so all Arabs, whether they’re Muslims, Christians or Jews, call their gods ‘Allah’. And yes, some Malaysians agree with this view; that it’s all right for Christians to use this term ‘Allah’ in their sermon, and in their missionary work among Malaysians. I disagree. The Arabic word for God is NOT Allah; it is ‘Ilah’. Even the writing is different between ‘Ilah’ and ‘Allah’. But then I suppose Malaysian Christian don’t read Arabic.

    La ilaha illallah means There is no god but Allah.

    Funny really. All my life till recently, I had always believed that Christians, Buddhists and Hindus in Malaysia steer away from using the term “Allah” as a reference to God. Ask any Chinese ‘AhPek’ or Indian ‘Ayahmah’ on the street who “Allah” is and they’d tell you it’s the Malay’s god. Non-Muslims won’t even stop by nor touch anything which has the Arabic writing of ‘Allah’ or ‘Muhammad’ at the stores. If a beer-drinking pork-eating non-Muslim Malaysian man suddenly cries out, “Ya Allah! Masya-Allah! Allah Akbar..!!” his friends will be so horrified they’d probably think he’s possessed by the devil. They won’t calmly sit beside him and say, “Oh, he’s talking about the God of us all, our Creator.”

    I went to Christians services in many churches in West Malaysia – Methodists, Baptists, AOG, Catholics – and I had never heard the word “Allah” mentioned by the pastor or priest. ‘Alamak’ doesn’t count, ok. So why do Catholics now insist on the terminology which has been used by Muslim Malays in Malaysia for centuries to refer to the God in Islam? Oh sure, Arab Christians use that term before Islam arrives in our land but heck, we are not in Saudi Arabia. All Arabs use this term to refer to God because it’s their only language. We’re in Malaysia and the documented Malay translation for God is Tuhan, not Allah. That’s why we have our Rukunegara as ‘Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan.’ to refer to all gods. Well, if some people seems to demand for the use of ‘Allah’ to refer to everybody’s gods, then perhaps we should change our Rukunegara into ‘Kepercayaan kepada Allah’ to keep everybody happy.

    Why can’t Catholic Christians use the term ‘Tuhan’ in their Malay Bible, etc to refer to their Christian god? I’ve checked but I can’t find the exact Iban word for God. However, I’m very sure that the Iban word for god is not Allah taala. It is just so that ever since the missionaries converted the Ibans (who had believed in animism) to Christianity, the term Allah taala has been used. They can get their message of God across by other terms such as God or Tuhan; why insist on using the term ‘Allah’ which Malaysians know is sacredly used by Muslims in this country to refer to God in Islam? Isn’t that trying to be mischievous and stirring up confusion among the public?

    And that makes me wonder why the double standard; in West Malaysia, they use God in English sermons, but in East Malaysia where the majority are Malay speakers, they have chosen to use Allah taala instead to refer to the same god. Christian speakers dare not use the term ‘Allah taala’ before non-Iban congregation in West Malaysia because they know that Mandarin-speaking, Hindu-speaking and English-speaking Christians generally associate that word ‘Allah’ with Islam. Hah, the double standards. They can’t even agree on which term to call their own God, so why so hell-bent on using ‘Allah’ for the Malay-speaking Christians?

    So why must Christians now insist on using ‘Allah’ for the Herald Malay section when they know very clearly that it is the name used by Muslims in this region for centuries before the first arrival of the Portuguese Christians in the 14th century? Some say they’re fighting for human rights? Yeah, go ahead and bark. If they are sincere, they’d change the term from ‘Allah’ into ‘Tuhan’ to get their massage and propaganda across. They don’t have to import Bibles from Indonesia with the term ‘Allah’; Christians are mostly literate in Bahasa Malaysia, they can publish their own Bahasa Malaysia Bibles. Unless of course, there is something else in their mind besides giving Bibles to Catholic Ibans.

    As far as I know, Christians have no specific name for God. Some Christians think that it is Yahweh but then they are not sure themselves. Ask any Christian, or better still, a Roman Catholic, what the name of his or her god is, and I doubt he or she will say, “Allah”. The word to refer to God in Malaysian churches differs based on the languages of the Christian worshippers. A Chinese-based church may have a different terminology for God compared to an Indian-based church. I bet a Chinese pastor will not tell his Mandarin-speaking congregation to “pray to Allah, father of our Yesoh(Jesus)’ else he might find the church empty the following week.

    But go ask any true Muslims the same question. We, Muslims are told that our God has 99 names, and the greatest name is Allah. It is written in the al-Quran itself. So all Muslims, throughout the world use “Allah” to refer to the God in Islam, the God of Prophet Muhammad and all prophets before him. Even in translated versions of al-Quran, in Chinese, English etc, the name “Allah” is intact and not translated. That is the essence of Islam, for there is never a dispute about what the name of the Muslim God is.

    I don’t agree with those people who claim that we all pray to one god, therefore we have rights to call our gods in any way we want. Perhaps they can do that to their own gods but not the god I worship. My God “Allah s.w.t” is not the same as the god Christians pray to. Allah s.w.t that I bow to does not have a human son. Allah who created me does not allow drinking of liquor and eating of pork. That is why I support the ban on the Malay section of the Herald for their use of “Allah” in their publications.

    Until the day all churches in West and East Malaysia use the term “Allah’ to refer to Christian god, I think that Christians have no base to claim the use of ‘Allah’ in their publications, here in Malaysia. Also the Christians in America and British would most probably freak out if they are told that they have to call their God ‘Allah’ for haven’t they associated all things Islam to terrorism? And today, after all the bombings at Arab nations, the persecutions and mistreatments of Muslims in the West, some ‘enlightened’ Christian priests actually suggest the use of “Allah’ for God in the Western churches in order to bring Christians and Muslims together. How ironic.

    Some Muslim Malays even say that since we are all Allah’s creatures, just allow the Christians to use it. We should be proud that Malaysian Christians want to use the word in pblications,Bible and churches. Why all the fuss over one word? True enough, we are all Allah’s creations. However, if they are using His holy name for unIslamic purposes, should we as Muslims just stand by and allow that to happen?

    http://themuslimbloggersalliance.org/200 9/03

  3. Lilian
    4:22 pm on March 5th, 2009 52 Sam – I got one reply for you. Go to hell with your suggestions. I am not the printer of the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia. I am a Chinese, not Arab. So pordah, pigi mampus, aku tak senang nak dengaq pok-pek pokpek hang. Pi mampui like the Penangites say.

    My comment: You have stopped thinking, those are the only words you can find to run away from thinking. 🙂

  4. Sam – You are talking cock because you copied something that is not accurate. You buta tuli copy and paste someone’s opinion and try to act like it is an official statement.

    1) The Herald is still publishing in Bahasa Malaysia
    2) Those who worship in Bahasa Malaysia had used Allah to refer to God the Father of Jesus Christ for a long time.
    3) We don’t refer to Allah as Allah taala. Only Allah.

    There are lots of more inaccuracies in what you copied and pasted here but what’s the point I argue with people like you?

  5. Wah… First Ngan, then Sam, then BDC. I have almost lost touch to this thread. First of all, to Calvin –

    If you’re judging us on the “walk the talk” thingy… Do come to our church Mass, and experience more on what we have already done (or rather “walk” as you say). And, just to enlighten you:

    Many English Bibles call God by the name of “Yahweh” – and it is in Hebrew. Also, many version of Bibles call Him “Jehovah” – a word that does not bring any literal meaning in any languages in the whole world, other than the assimilation of “YAHWEH” and “Adonai” (means ‘Lord’ in Hebrew). If you want to change “Allah” to “Tuhan” in Malay contexts, try to revive Munshi Abdullah and ask him why he used “Allah” in the first place. And also, try to call on all Bible translators in the whole world to change in English Bibles “Yahweh” and “Jehovah” to “God”. C’mon, Calvin, based on your arguments, there is no room for a Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek/Egyptian word in an English Bible what!!!!!!!

    O, Lord! Please grant Calvin Your Wisdom!!

    George (#40) – Thanks for quoting the Perak anthem. I as a Perakian find it very patriotic to my home state now! It brings a lot of meaning now – can be used as a prayer!

  6. Lilian said: 3) We don’t refer to Allah as Allah taala. Only Allah.

    Hehehe… in the first place do u know what Allah Taala means? It simply means Allah the most High, the Esteemed. And I wonder why u wouldn’t to refer God as God The Most High, The Esteemed. Weird isn’t it?

    Who’s the ignorant one here?

    What you shouldn’t be using is Allah the “father of Jesus Christ”… because Allah has no son, He does not beget, neither is He begotten. Period.

  7. > Salam sejahtera di dalam Tuhan Yang Mahaesa, Tuhan yang disembah oleh
    > Abraham, Ishak dan Yakub … yang datang ke dalam dunia, menjadi
    > manusia, yaitu YESUS Kristus, yang mati di atas kayu salib demi
    > menebus dosa umat manusia, yang bangkit dari antara orang mati, dan
    > naik ke surga … yang berjanji akan datang kembali menjemput setiap
    > orang yang percaya kepada-Nya. Kiranya Roh Kudus memberi kita
    > pencerahan, agar kita dapat mengerti kehendak-Nya.
    > Menanggapi artikel yang ditulis di http://www.heraldmalaysia.com oleh FR
    > Kami adalah penerbit Kitab Suci Indonesian Literal Translation, yaitu
    > Yayasan Lentera Bangsa, dan kami memang hadir di Malaysia pada acara
    > Pesta Buku Antar Bangsa (Malaysian Book Fair) April 17-26 di PWTC.
    > Kami ingin informasikan, bahwa KAMI ADALAH PENGIKUT YESUS KRISTUS, dan
    > KAMI KRISTEN. Jadi jangan samakan kami dengan penerbit/penulis Gospel
    > of Barnabas (Injil Barnabas).
    > Saat di PWTC, memang kami hanya mendisplay KS-ILT (Kitab Suci
    > Indonesian Literal Translation) pada hari pertama, karena kami tidak
    > diizinkan mendisplay terus di hari berikutnya, karena di Malaysia,
    > Alkitab/Kitab Suci Kristen tidak boleh dijual secara umum (menurut
    > seorang Petugas dari Kementrian Dalam Negeri Kerajaan Malaysia, ..
    > saat itu dia memperkenalkan diri bernama Bpk. Zainal dan Zulkifli).
    > Di Indonesia, Kitab Suci Indonesian Literal Translation telah
    > digunakan oleh banyak Gereja Tuhan, dan banyak Pendeta-pendeta
    > seperti: Pdt. Daniel Alexander, Pdt. KAM Yusuf Rony, Pdt. Benjamin
    > Obadjah, Pdt. Yuda Maiool (Yehuda Gospel Ministry), Pdt. Stephen Dji,
    > Pdt. Yakub Sulistyo, dan gereja-gereja mereka. Dan masih banyak
    > gereja- gereja dan belasan ribu umat Kristen di Indonesia sudah memakainya.
    > Kitab Suci Indonesian Literal Translation BUKAN JIPLAKAN, karena
    > dikerjakan oleh sebuah team penerjemahan di bawah lembaga/yayasan yang
    > legal (legalitas dari Pemerintah Indonesia lengkap), dan dari sumber
    > yang bisa dipertanggungjawabkan yaitu The Interlinear (Jay. P Green,
    > Sr.) dengan MoU! The Interlinear memakai naskah sumber Masoretic Text
    > (naskah sumber berbahasa Ibrani untuk Perjanjian Lama) dan Textus
    > Receptus (naskah sumber berbahasa Yunani untuk Perjanjian Baru). Akan
    > halnya Perjanjian Baru Kitab Suci ini memuat juga nama YAHWEH, hal itu
    > oleh karena kami juga mengambil HNT (Hewbrew New Testament) sebagai
    > rujukan.
    > Kitab Suci Indonesian Literal Translation diterjemahkan mendekati
    > literal, dengan mempertahankan bentuk kata/kalimat, feminim/maskulin,
    > aktif/fasif, dan berusaha mempertahankan setiap kata dalam text bahasa
    > sumber dan menerjemahkannya apa adanya. Oleh karena itu, di dalamnya
    > terdapat nama YAHWEH, karena ada sekitar 7000 kali nama itu disebut.
    > Di dalamnya juga digunakan sebutan/generic name Elohim — karena
    > kata/ nama generik itu terlalu sulit mencari padanannya di dalam
    > bahasa Indonesia (itu sangat jelas menunjukan bahwa Tuhan kita itu Tri
    > Tunggal, Esa! Karena kata tersebut adalah kata yang plural namun
    > diperlakukan sebagai single — untuk menyebut/sebagai sebutan bagi
    > Tuhan).
    > Sebagai informasi, bahwa Kitab Suci Indonesian Literal Translation ini
    > sedang dalam kajian akademis di banyak Sekolah Tinggi Teologia (kami
    > sudah mengirimkan surat dan sample ke lebih dari 100 STT di
    > Indonesia), dan kami juga mengirimkan lebih dari 150 sample seluruh
    > sinode gereja di Indonesia. Kami berharap, setiap orang Kristen dapat
    > mengerti bahwa kita memiliki Tuhan Yang Maha Cemburuan, dan Tuhan
    > ingin kita mengingat nama-Nya yang mulia dan suci itu!
    > Demikian kami sampaikan, kami bersedia memberi penjelasan lebih lanjut
    > jika Bapak memerlukannya. Tuhan YESUS memberkati.
    > Cuplikan kitab ada di link ini … klik saja!
    > http://books.google.co.id/books?id=xOnpRGpkFFcC&printsec=frontcover&dq
    > =YLB&ei=vMaKSfOKDp-4lATYpJTJBQ
    > Salam dan hormat,
    > Samuel
    > Ruko Cempaka Mas Blok K-31
    > Jakarta Pusat 10640 Indonesia
    > Telp. 021-42889058, 42886275; Fax. 021-42889085
    > Website: http://www.yalensa.org
    > Email: ks-ilt@yalensa.org;

  8. Well, there it is, as Samuel has clarified or has by coincidence clarified..the word used is Tuhan.

  9. The usage of Allah by the Herald – My views.

    My background

    I am an ordinary Malaysian of Chinese and Javanese descent. Some of my relatives are Buddhists, some Christians and some Muslims. I love my grandfather & grandmother, all my uncles & aunts, all my relatives.

    Here are my views.

    Facts in a nutshell :

    The Herald publishes certain sections in Malay & they also want to use the word “Allah” as a pronoun for “God”. Many Muslims & Malays are unhappy (see Artcle 11(4)), in turn they are branded intolerant.

    Now think about this :

    • Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution restricts the propagation of any other religious doctrine or belief other than Islam among Muslims. This is the law, in fact the supreme law of the land.

    • Most Muslims in Malaysia are Malays.

    • Translation of the Bible to BM could arguably be a tool to propogate to the majority of Malays. A very strict reading of this would mean that no BM version of the Herald should be allowed. Yet, it is allowed. Tolerant? Intolerant? Yes, you argue that other races read BM too, but if the very strict interpretation of Art 11(4) is used, wont you agree that it could be used as an excuse to say no? But then, lets push the envelope further. Lets request for God to be translated to Allah. Who is the audience you wish to reach out to? I ask around and none of my Christian relatives and friends say they even want to utter “Allah”, they will stick with God, Jesus. Most say that its just weird and sounds so wrong. For this, the herald wants to risk bedlam and chaos?

    • The word Allah is referred to in the Quran. Is it referred to in the English Bible as “Allah”? If yes, and if all Malaysian Christians will start to replace “God” with “Allah” even in English, then it makes more sense. Would you?

    • The word Allah is used by Muslims in reference to God and also used in prayers.It is actually uttered. We SAY it. Do Christians in Malaysia refer to God as Allah too? Do you utter it in your prayers? If no, whats the deal?

    • If the Herald wants to use the word Allah as a pronoun for “God”, why not use “Tuhan”? No one would get upset . Yet, they insist on the word “Allah” when Christians don’t even utter the word either in prayer or in reference to God.

    • Arguments to support the word “Allah” points to Indonesia. Seriously, do you really want to benchmark against Indonesia? Then don’t cherry pick, lets take what they have in toto. You think that Indonesia is better and more tolerant in all aspects? Think.

    • Wouldn’t “Tuhan” make better sense as the translation of “God”? Of course it would. But, in the interest of “pushing the envelope”, in the interest of trying to get the most that you can, they (the Herald) insist to use “Allah”.

    • Malays are a docile bunch, you know that. Especially if compared to Muslims in the Middle East etc. However, I see the Herald’s actions as wanting to bait the Malays, to see how far they can go. Is there any spirit of tolerance here? No. They want what they want. No matter that what they want doesn’t really mean much to the Malaysian Christians who DO NOT USE the word “Allah” anyway. They could have been more sensitive, been tolerant and used “Tuhan” instead since it touched a nerve amongst the Muslims. But no, lets just bulldoze through and see what happens.

    • If something bad happens, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, we all lose.

    • To my Christian friends, and I am talking about the ordinary man on the street – the man and woman who works hard for a living and is just scraping by every day, I have a question :

    o Are you really really bothered that the translation of God MUST be “Allah” instead of “Tuhan” which makes good sense?

    o At the risk of unhappiness and possible unrest & in talking about religious tolerance, would you lose sleep if “Tuhan” is used as translation of God instead of “Allah”?

    o Are you really comfortable with and will you actually utter the word “Allah” in your prayers from now on? Or do you prefer “God”?

    Make no mistake, any decision by the authorities other than allowing the word Allah to be used by the Herald would be deemed as oppressing the Christians, heavy handed, pro-Malay and against tolerance of religion. You know that.

    In some other cases eg quotas, scholarships, opportunities, etc I certainly can see the point and in most cases agree for change BUT in this particular case, is it THAT important?

    P/S : If your argument is “if we back down, today they forbid us the use of Allah, tomorrow they will forbid other things” then another camp will say “today, they want to use “Allah” to confuse Malays, tomorrow they will ignore Art 11(4) altogether”.. .. the argument goes on, so where will it end?


  10. There was no terms of Allah before the coming of Islam and during Jesus time. Allah only mean for the only God that exist, and no other God except Allah the most Greatness, the most Merciful and the most Beneficent.

    Allah has no family and no son. He created the universe and everythings within including human and also he who create Jesus and made him his massenger. Thus Allah are totally different in meanings of God as to those Christian understand, who has a son.

    So Allah shouldn’t be associated to God as Christian understand. Why dont they just say `Tuhan’ which also means God. What’s the problem with that, unless they actually trying to confused and provoke Malay Muslims.

  11. Hi there,

    Just wanted to put my 2 cents in.

    As a catholic who was baptized as a child and brought up in a Catholic home, I am indeed saddened by all that has transpired.

    During my years of school in the 80’s, I remember fondly the friendship that we all had for each other. During our school days, it didn’t matter what colour or what religion you were; all that mattered was if you were good at football, we wanted you to be on our team. We attended Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Christmas at each other’s houses NOT because the goverment propaganda machine told us to but because we enjoyed our friends’ mother’s cooking and of course gifts, duit raya, ang pows from our friends parents. I spoke more BM than chinese and had (and still have) malay friends that I keep in touch with.

    If these friends of mine asked me why the catholic church is doing all this, this is what I would answer:

    1. From a theological point of view, even the Koran acknowledges that Muslims, Christians and Jews are all “people of the book”. We all therefore worship the same Almighty God. Hence, we all worship “Allah”.

    2. We want to practice our religion in any way that we choose. With due respect to Eddie’s comment, BM does not exclusively belong to the Malays. Ever since Tun Mahathir ended the medium of teaching in schools from English to Malay in the 70’s, BM has (and i believe it that was his intention) become the lingua franca of all malaysian children.

    3. Due to the fact that now most Malaysians are more fluent in BM than English (if you don’t believe this, just try to interview our fresh graduates in english), the Catholic church is trying to reach out to this generation using BM. To do so, we import bibles from Indonesia. Guess what happens when we try to do this? It get detained at the port of entry because it contains the word “Allah” and is confiscated by the authorities.

    4. The catholic church has been sufering subtle religious prosecution from the government. Cases include difficulty in getting approvals to build churches, difficulty in dealing with local authorities to get utilities for our places of worship. For instance, the only place that was granted acceptable for a catholic church in Shah Alam was the Glenmarie industrial zone. IMAGINE THAT! Another case was the chaple that was built on Orand Asli land in Pahang that has been refused electricity and water because the local authorities said that the chaple had no approval. Can you imagine a Masjid being refused utilities? The Catholic church in Puchong also had difficulty in getting a CF and were bogged down by administrative delays during it’s construction. I believe that the majority of Muslims in our country do not know that this is happening. News of such things happening are not carried by our mainstream (read – govt approved) media.

    I hope that this has shed some light on why we catholics feel strongly enough to pursue this case. Please also have faith in us that as religious people, we would not in any way want to abuse and desecrate the word “Allah” for if we did, we would commit the sin of blesphamy.

    Please also understand that we take no joy in winning our court case but instead are saddened that we had to do so in order to practise our religion in a free way as provided by the Malaysian Constitution.

  12. Halid, your comments were accurate and right to the point , am a true Malaysian of Malay, Indian and Chinese parentage. Its sad if this is taken to such extent that churches are burnt and hatred developes amongst malaysians. All said n done religion is a sensitive issue n need be handled cautiosly. we dont need war in Malaysia.

    Read Halid’s explanation n c the light.

  13. The day that we take our last breath in this world, the thoughts running through our minds wont be contemplating if its Allah or Tuhan or God or Lord. We will simply be thinking of that power, that light that resided in our life and the question is was it a fullfilled life.

    Does it matter what we call HIM? Deep within us, there is an unsound truth and we all know for a fact, its childish games we’re playing now. You can be in a church, a mosque or a temple saying the word Allah or God or Tuhan.. but if at the moment, if your mind was busy thinking of other things, then it doesnt matter. What matters is consciousness. Consciousness of fullfilling this life. One time ago there wasnt ANY language to begin with. Language was created by man. But even in those times, men stil knew how to connect with HIM.. with unspoken words.

    Sometimes we all need to be that innocent child again that we once were.

  14. As an Indonesian Catholic (who looks “malay” and not “chinese”), I think that it is absurd to argue over the use of “Allah”. The reason why is because the word “Allah” has been part of the Bahasa Melayu/Indonesia lexicon for centuries and has been to this very day, well I least I still hope so….

    Our language is an open language which means that it has many borrowed words from different languages including Sanskrit, Chinese, Portuguese, and, especially, Arabic. We even use Yahweh, too, and that’s Hebrew. It is purely linguistic reasons that we use the world Allah for God. Even Christian Arabs use “Allah” for God.

    “Tuhan” is equivalent to Lord and if you read the English version of the Bible, God and Lord are both used since each word conveys a certain degree of meaning. The diction of Alkitab will change if we were to change all of the “Allah”s to “Tuhan”s.

    The point is the word “Allah” has been integrated into the Malay language and changing it would cause confusion among the Malay Christians. My suggestion is to leave it they way it is. We don’t use the word “Allah” to insult Muslims or to solely convert people, but only to practice our religion in our native tongue.

    Is that so hard to ask for?

    Lastly, if Muslims say that Allah is only referring to their God and not the God of the Christians or Jews, are they suggesting that there is more than one God other than theirs? So there’s more than one God; a God each religion? If that were true, the “banning of Allah” argument is hypocritical because it implies polytheism.

    Please, stop the burning of churches. I’ve experienced that first-hand, it’s not pleasant. Not only does that bring misery to the Christians, but to Muslims as well because they are portrayed even more negatively, seeming to only use violence to counter-attack an argument instead of promoting an open, civilized dialogue to remedy simple misunderstandings.

  15. Hi all,

    Would like to share some insights on this too. I’m a Christian from East Malaysia, and yes we do use Allah commonly in songs, prayers and church services as well. Here are some explanations to some issues raised here:

    1) Why use Allah instead of Tuhan?

    In the Bible, God is referred to as Lord, God and LORD. There is a distinct meaning of these references for specific reason in the Bible.

    Lord = Refers to a person of honor and respect, translated as ‘Tuhan’ in BM Bible.
    God = A plural form referring to the majesty of God. In original Bible text which (Hebrew) is Elohim, which is translated as ‘Allah’
    LORD = Is a replacement for God’s sacred name, to avoid misuse of the name, is translated in same way (all capitalized) to ‘TUHAN’

    If we were to translate God to Tuhan directly in the Bible, it WILL effect the meaning and context of verses in the Bible, as ‘Tuhan’ is already used as a translation to Lord.

    2) Why Munshi Abdullah or Indonesians translate God to Allah?
    Here’s a good explanation:

    3)Why Catholics insist on using the word Allah now?

    Christians have been using the word Allah in its BM publications for at least 50 years now. It didn’t start just 2 years ago. The question we should be asking is, why ban it now, not 30 or 20 years ago? It is already stated in the law that all Christian publications be limited to Christians ONLY, and that’s how it has always been. It only became an issue just recently when some ministers just decide blindly to make it an issue.

    I try to be as brief as possible, hope this helps!

Comments are closed.