Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Government response to the attacks have been rather positive, but these cops need to catch the perpetrators fast.

When Malaysia makes it into international newsmagazines, its almost always for the bad stuff. Piracy and the loss of mangroves in National Geographic, human trafficking in Newsweek, and the Perak political crisis in The Economist. Not to mention rampant deforestation in many NGOs reports and websites. Well, we just got in The Economist, thanks to the Allah controversy, and the burning of churches.

Aren't we famous?

My belief is that Catholics should be allowed to use the word Allah, simply because, in the Middle East, where Christianity came from, Allah simply means 'God'. For 600 years after that, Arab Christians and Jews continued to use it to mean God, and when the Prophet Muhammad founded Islam, the preexisting word for God was then taken to be used by Muslims worldwide. There is, thus, a shared history of the word Allah for the 3 Abrahamic religions, and it should stay that way.
This is Allah, a beautiful name for a beautiful God in three beautiful religions. Check out the Wikipedia article for full details on the word.

In Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, Christians are allowed to freely use Allah in their worship and even public posters and banners. Even Arab Christians use the term to mean 'God'. According to Gwynne Dyer, a journalist for the Salt Lake Tribune "... Malaysian Muslims should take a lesson from early [Arabian Muslims]...[the Christians] were quickly conquered by Muslim armies, but were not forcibly converted... improbable that they had to change the word they used for God". (Read the article here)

The government likes to say that when we use Allah, we will confuse the nation's Muslims. However, since the Herald already carries the word TERHAD, how are Muslims supposed to get to read it? Plus, I believe this nation's Muslims are intelligent enough to know the difference in the contextual usage of the word. Those believing that the word's usage is somehow their right (!) are lacking judgement, maturity and are an affront to the intelligence of Malaysian Muslims. A simple history review (provided Free Of Charge above),is enough for this country's educated Muslims to understand the truth.

Like the Economist's article, I believe that the current controversy is no more than the effort of the government to woo Islamic hardliners after losing more of their support to PAS in the last general election. Prominent intellectuals, like Universiti Malaya's Azmi Sharom also believe in this scenario. By contrast, PAS has become a voice of moderation saying that the other Abrahamic religions be allowed to use Allah to mean God in Malay. The 1Malaysia concept has thus come under serious threat, because whoever wins, gaping wounds have been opened. And these can't be stitched up easily.
If the whole issue is indeed a tactic by UMNO to win votes, then the 1Malaysia concept is as good as dead.

In short, this issue has to play out in the courts with all parties maintaining cool heads. Reiterating my support for the Herald, I would like to point out that if the Herald loses this case, which word do we lose next? Amen?


  1. This is good, enjoyed reading your article.

  2. Oh, don't worry I'm not a stalker, just a journalist doing some research on what young Malaysians think about national issues these days. All the best.