Muslims in the country are still relatively weak and may fall prey unwarily to Christianity or even Sikhism. This will in the long term be of great harm to Islam.
There was an indignant outcry when the federal government repeated its stand that only Muslims can use the word “Allah” despite renewed claims by Christians and other non-Muslims that they can use the term to refer to God.
Othman Mustapha from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) issued a statement, pointing out the use of the word “Allah” by other religions will bring harm to Islam.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Christians are still waiting for the Court of Appeal to decide on their right to use the word after Putrajaya appealed against a 2009 judgment that said the church has a constitutional right to do so.
The Malaysian Gurdwara Council insisted that it is unconstitutional to ban anyone from using the word “Allah” and that the National Fatwa Council’s edict on the word does not apply to non-Muslims.
When DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng urged the federal government to allow the use of the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Christian Bible, it caused a nationwide furore with the Sultan of Selangor decreeing against the use of the word by non-Muslims.
DAP chairman Karpal Singh defended Lim and cited an example where the word “Allah” appears 37 times in the Sikh bible.
The decision to ban the word “Allah” came about when there was word that weak Muslims are unintentionally converting to Christianity, but now it seems that the word “Allah” is also being used by various communities including the Orang Asli, the Babas in Malacca and even the Bengali language uses the word.
Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria has warned non-Muslims who insist on using the word “Allah” to refer to their Gods to convert to Islam if they refused to accept that the word belongs only to Muslims.
Although Harussani may sound a bit harsh, this wonderful, amiable, gentle but controversial cleric only has the Muslims at heart.
Jakim’s wonderful intentions
Known for his fatwas against Tomboys and the PocoPoco dance, this cleric’s aim is only to protect the Muslims from themselves.
Senator Mashitah Ibrahim has also echoed the same line of thinking, saying that non-Muslims should seriously convert if they want to use the word “Allah”.
Malaysians should not feel insulted as Jakim’s only intention is to prevent Muslims from being confused and succumbing to other faiths unintentionally.
Compared to other faiths, the Muslims in the country are still relatively weak and may fall prey unwarily to Christianity or even Sikhism. This will in the long term be of great harm to Islam.
Besides, there might be Christians who may unknowingly convert to Islam which will also pose a serious problem for the Council of Churches. So to keep such incidents from happening, religious authorities have to draw the line.
Although there are many things that harm Islam like corruption, abuse of power, discrimination, oppression, repression, intimidation, bigotry, wastage of public funds, wastage of natural resources, tyranny, cronyism, lies, deceit, plundering, looting and racism, to name just a few, Jakim has chosen to highlight this particular flaw as it may cause Muslims to lose their place in the hereafter.
And besides, all the following flaws do not fall under the jurisdiction of Jakim.
And since there is no other God but Allah, one wonder why anyone would want to call their God “Allah” too!?
Yeah, and while they are at it, Jakim should consider going one step further by banning all Muslims from travelling overseas where they will surely come into contact with others who use the word “Allah” in their religions. One country is Indonesia, where Malay Bibles are readily available.
It will be prudent of the non-Muslim religious authorities not to raise this issue again and again to create problems and to mar the religious harmony that has been in place all these decades.
Everything is so simple to understand and so beautiful about Islam. It is people like Jakim, Mashitah and the Perak mufti who ensure that no Muslims take the wrong path unnecessarily and become utterly confused.
Besides, this order is only for Peninsular Malaysia, while Sabah and Sarawak may continue to worship as they see fit.
And the fact that PAS’ initial stand to allow the use of “Allah” for non-Muslims shows how divided Muslims in this country are. It shows the narrow-mindedness of PAS and why Umno is the only true protector of Malays and Muslims in this country.
But not for long, as the PAS Syura Council has finally put its foot down and disallowed the use of “Allah” in any translation. It has, however, allowed non-Muslims to utter the word vocally but not allow its translation. Seriously, what is the difference, many people wonder?
When will the Malays come to their senses and return to Umno with open arms? Don’t they realise that Umno is the only party capable of protecting Muslims with an iron-clad guarantee until kingdom come?
If the Malays are to unite, Umno can guarantee that Muslims will not easily fall prey to sin again.
The ongoing argument
Some argue that Malaysian Muslims uses the Sanskrit word, “syurga”, “neraka”, “pahala” and “dosa”, which is part of the Hindu religion and that the word “Allah” comes from the Middle East and is also used by Arab Christians.
Others say that the word “Allah” pre-dates Islam by over 4,000 years and that it is used in the Torah (Jews’ Bible) as Elo-im and that it is used by Jesus Christ in the Gospels as Eloi. But whatever it is, it is no excuse for the word to be unnecessarily used by non-Muslims in this country as it can bring harm to Islam in the long run.
Maybe in another 100 years, the Muslims in the country may grow strong enough for the government to rescind this controversial edict.
Meanwhile, Malaysians should remain patient and refrain from contravening the ban unnecessarily. We should also be thankful that the year 2012 did not become the end of the world.
There are those that condemn Jakim for making such parochial claims as being paranoid, ignorant or mentally challenged and claiming that it is political, while others claim that Jakim operates under a siege mentality.
Villifying Jakim as childish and ridiculous is no use as Jakim has already determined that the use of the word “Allah” by other religions will bring harm to Islam.
It is also not amusing to conclude that the Selangor Sultan had been ill-advised. People must learn to live with it and not simply jump to conclusions.
Some are even questioning why suddenly after 50 years of independence, it has suddenly become such a fearful threat and is it only affecting Muslims in Malaysia?
Lastly, Malaysians must understand that religious sensitivities exist in a cosmopolitan country like Malaysia. That’s why we have Ibrahim Ali and Perkasa to protect the Malay race from disintegrating.
His threat to burn the Malay Bibles must not be constituted as instigating communal tensions as he is very passionate about race and religion. So we must learn to listen, listen and listen. Sometimes even frogs have problems.
How the citizens feel?
Many believe that religion is about humanity and not about a single community posturing and positioning and has appealed to the authorities to stop politicising religion.
Some accuse Umno of using the religious authorities to create fear among Muslims so that they can consolidate their voter base, which is so untrue.
Some unhappy ones want the government to bring it into the international court of law or the Arab world to justify its claims.
Or to seek advice from religious scholars from renowned places like Al-Azhar University in Cairo or the Umm al-Qura University in Mecca.
Others strongly feel that religion is about love for mankind and not a threat by any religious party.
Some believe that no one should proclaim the “Allah” word for their exclusive use or to monopolise it as it transcends racial and man-made considerations, or edicts for that matter.
Some feel that faith is sharing the world with fellow-men, not leaving them out in the cold. It is about caring for each other, irrespective of religion. It is about loving each other without boundaries and doing good without hatred to all and to spread the Islamic teaching with openness and moderation.
Shouldn’t the government and Jakim meditate on such eye-opening feedback?
Tour consultant, sports pilot and naturalist Iskandar Dzulkarnain has been writing a few years now. He is a FMT columnist who loves writing satirical pieces like this one.