Why allow khat but not ‘Allah’, asks Christian leader

Khat calligraphy will be introduced as part of the Year 4 Bahasa Melayu syllabus in vernacular schools next year.

KUCHING: A Christian leader has questioned the government’s move to include the Malay-Arabic calligraphy of khat in the syllabus for primary vernacular school students in light of the court’s recent decision to postpone for the sixth time its ruling on whether Christians in East Malaysia can use “Allah” in religious publications.

“We are wondering why the government is hesitant to allow Christians in Sabah and Sarawak to use the word ‘Allah’, which means ‘God’ in Arabic, in religious publications but wants non-Muslims to learn khat calligraphy,” Council of Churches Malaysia general-secretary Herman Shastri told FMT.

This comes just days after the High Court deferred its ruling again on whether the word “Allah” can be used by Christians in the Bornean states in religious publications for educational purposes among members of their community.

Sabah church Sidang Injil Borneo has also written to the government for an administrative ruling on whether “Allah” can be used in religious education.

Khat calligraphy will be introduced as part of the Year 4 Bahasa Melayu syllabus in vernacular schools next year.

The move was met with protests from some, including Chinese and Tamil interest groups who said it would not help vernacular school students increase their standard of Malay.

Shastri said if the government insists on including khat in the syllabus, Christian students should also be allowed to study Arabic Christian calligraphy.

For a long time, he said, the Bible had been translated into various classical languages in different parts of the world.

“Christians in the Middle East have been using Bibles which were written in the Arabic language for many centuries,” he added.

“We have many Bible verses, prayers and hymns written in Arabic calligraphy that adorn places of worship.”