Anas Zubedy shares with us his understanding of Muslims and Christians within Peninsula regarding the use of the word Allah. I have sought to summarise part of his article by creating four headings. The views expressed under each heading are extracts from the author’s article.
THE CHRISTIAN POSITION
We Muslims must understand the frustration our Christian brothers all these years when dealing with the Government (which is perceived as Malay Muslims, as the officers are usually Malays) for example whenever they want to build churches and when dealing with issues regarding their faith.
They are also frustrated and upset over cases involving Article11(4). Muslims must understand that like us, the Christians see it as their religious duty to spread their creed and they must have found Article 11(4) hindering them from spreading and sharing their religion, as a setback as a good faithful Christian. Muslims would probably have felt the same if placed in a similar situation. We Muslims must emphasis, how we would feel if each time we are to build a mosque, we have to wait and wait and wait for approvals after approvals. Rasa lak sikit, tak kan tak boleh rasa kot?
THE MUSLIM POSITION
The Christians must understand that while the Quran has no issues about Allah as the universal name of God, the Malay’s understanding and emotional attachment to the word Allah is unique to the Malaysian world. Rightly or wrongly, your Muslim brothers and sisters are deeply hurt as they perceive that you are doing this with bad intentions – to convert their fellow faithful as they do not see you actively wanting to also change all the other Bible translations like English or Chinese making the word Allah a universal name for God.
More so, the Malay Muslims cannot imagine that Allah Yang Esa/Satu now can also be the Allah as part of the Trinity. For example, their current worldview cannot fathom words that describe Jesus as Son of Allah.
THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE
My Christian brothers and sisters, may I ask you a favour? Personally, I have no issues with you using the word Allah, but there are many who do and there are some among them who are less tolerant and can get dysfunctional to the extent of burning down churches.
Can we please choose to be more Christ like? Remember that “an eye for an eye will only make the world go blind” Are you being Christ like here?
Did Jesus not teach us to go beyond the letter of the law in our daily lives? Did he not tell us to do away with personal revenge? Did he not model his ministry based on love, care amd empathy? Can you not find a compromise?
How about using another name that you are also familiar with? At least till the Malay Muslims relearn that the word Allah is not only for them? I was thinking how about Eloi or Eli instead of Allah? Any Christian who is worth to be called one, would have heard these names during church sermons, that is, when Jesus cried out loud while on the cross, “Eli Eli lama sabachthani?” (Matthew 27:46, in Mark 15 : 34 it is Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani, translated into English as “My God, My God whay have you forsaken me?”)
What do you think? Boleh compromise ka?
THE MUSLIM RESPONSE
Firstly, we need to have more faith in ourselves and must be willing to be challenged not just in matters of the world, but especially in our aqidah.
So, should we really continue to support Article 11(4)? Or should we have more confidence in our capable religious leaders and ourselves in preparing the community with an unyielding and rock-solid aqidah that can buttress any external dakwah? Can we set a target date to do away with Article 11(4)?
Secondly, we need to stop being like a “katak di bawah tempurong”. Get to know the larger world of Islam and understand that in the Middle East, even from the time of the Prophet, Jews and Christians call God, Allah. We must learn not to monopolize Allah or the Arabic language. Even “Assalamulaikum” pun ada yang nak monopolize.
Thirdly, we must be always fair and just. We cannot support lopsided laws. If we can preach to others, we should allow them to do the same towards us. Tak ada maruah ka kita ni? If we do not want them to preach to our followers, than we must stop preaching to their followers too. We cannot practise double standards.
Obviously, we would not agree with many of the views expressed in this article. However, we are grateful to Anas Zubedy for seeking to teach his fellow Muslims an important Scriptural lesson, which we also must put into practice.
“Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)