Herald Continues To Use Allah Word

In its running battle with the authorities over the usage of the word Allah in its Herald, The Catholic Weekly, the Catholic Church has decided to go ahead to continue to use the word despite a prohibition imposed by the authorities.

In an article “Ministry Distorts Its Directive” in its current issue for the week beginning 18 Jan 2009, it said, “We are surprised that Che Din , the Secretary of the Koran Publication Control and Text Division of the Home Ministry has denied that they had prohibited HERALD from printing the Bahasa Malaysia section.”

“If his statement is true, then we are disappointed.”

The article said that it its previous edition on 11 Jan, it carried a letter from the Ministry which was written on 30 Dec 2008 informing them that they are prohibiting the paper from printing the Bahasa Malaysia section.

The letter said the publication of the Bahasa Malaysia section is prohibited until the court makes its ruling on the use of the word Allah. The church is currently suing the ministry over the prohibition of use of the word. Issued the previous year.

“We followed their directive and did not print the Bahasa Malaysia section on our 11 Jan edition of HERALD,” it said.

“Archbishop Murphy Pakiam (who is the publisher) then wrote a letter to the ministry demanding that it revoke its order against the use of Bahasa Malaysia.”

The article said, in the letter, the archbishop gave the ministry seven days to reply or it would take the government to court for the directive had contravened the Constitution and the National Language Act 1967.

The ministry replied on 7 Jan saying that it was lifting the ban. However, it is insisting that the HERALD is not permitted to use the Allah word until the court decides.

In its current issue, the HERALD is continuing to use the Allah word as in the past in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

The article said,” The HERALD does not use the word “Allah” for God in their English section nor is it used in the church for the English services.”

But it said, “All our prayer books and the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia use the word “Allah” for God.”

9 Replies to “Herald Continues To Use Allah Word”

  1. The Home Ministry pre-empted that argument by saying that while it is all right for Arabs to use “Allah” as a generic term of reference for God, in the Malay language, the term “Allah” has been exclusively used to refer to God within the Islamic context.

    That is why I have always found the “Arabic usage” defence extremely weak. It invites a “So what? this is Malay not Arabic” response. It would make more sense for us to use this as a teaching moment to highlight the difference of usage between the terms “Tuhan” and “Allah” in the Christian context and why it is not interchangeable as well as the fact that “Allah” has been used in the Christian context in the Nusantara as far back as the 16th Century – long before the Malay world could actually be considered as thoroughly Islamised.

  2. Good point as well. Still, i think the Home Ministry’s “pre-emption” is hardly a defence. At the end of the day, Allah is a Middle Eastern word. Both Christianity and Islam are Middle Eastern religions. When in doubt, go back to the source. That’s what I think…

  3. That’s true but the “pre-emption” is the current prevailing rationale and it is the reality that we have to deal with when it comes to engaging those who feel we have no right to use the term “Allah”. So we have to base our defence mindful of the limitations.

  4. The argument if Christians should use the word ‘Allah’ or not should not be determined by the government which has no constitutional or moral grounds for interfering in religion as in the ‘Allah’ ban.

    The more important point is historic accuracy. The word ‘Allah’ was used by the Arab Christians long before Islam arrived and there is no reason why it should be banned in Bahasa Malaysia.

    Language borrows words from one another.

    Here we should also be concerned about principles and precedents. If we allow the government to dictate what people can or cannot use in religion it contravenes the Constituion in its provision for freedom of religion.

    The question then is does the state have the right to dictate to practitioners of religion what they can and can’t believe? I don’t think so insofar as matters of conscience are concerned. Faith matters should be left to each individual religion.

    For example the Koran has similar biblical characters that contradict Christian teachings. Jesus is the Son of God and is divine but Islam says he is merely a prophet, and the Koran’s teachings on other biblical characters eg Adam, Abraham, Moses etc are different from the Christian teachings. What will Christians do if suddenly the state says you can’t use those names also in the BM Bible because they confuse muslims? You don’t want to accept a precedent.

    Some Christians are wary of the use of ‘Allah’ and have gone on to say that ‘Allah’ is not the Christian God. But what they mean is that the teachings of Islam about Allah and the Christian teaching about Allah are different.

    God is the same whatever you call him but what we teach about him makes all the difference for people to understand.

    The Catholic Church is to be supported for its stand. ‘Allah’ existed before Islam and while we don’t accept Islam’s teachings about Allah as Christians, it does not give the state the right to ban it. Not on constitutional, historica or moral grounds.

    There are more important things for the government to do than embroil itself in a controversy that puts it on the backfoot.

  5. Can We Use Allah in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible?

    By all means you are most welcome. Such a beautiful word and most accurate to refer The Almighty God according to ISlam. SubhanAllah .. MasyaAllah the Christians believers in Malaysia and Indonesia particularly(leave out the middle east because Allah is God in their arabic language) do believe in Muslim God Allah s.w.t. and thats why they vehemently stress to be allowed to use Allah in the Malaysian and Indonesian bible. I love u Christians better than the Jews. So thoughtful, i guess the word Tuhan(Melayu) and Gusti(Indonesia)are not linguistically accurate to be referred as God in your bible or i personally think u need to engaged a professional translator to translate the bible to bahasa malaysia and indonesia or u will end up with other new Christians dominants and sects soon.

    And i would suggest a new name for the Christians(non arabic descent ) as Christian Hadhary cos they so much love to use Arabic language in their Bahasa Malaysia and Indonesia bible translations. Peace be upon u. And please use Salam when u greet the fellow Muslims so that one day we will share the same masjid for prayers. Bi iznillah.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *