The debates on the usage of the word “Allah” have intensified following the High Court ruling on 31st December 09 which reversed the Home Ministry’s ban on The Herald and permitted the latter its Constitutional right to use the terminology “Allah” in its weekly publication. Predictably, the Home Ministry has filed an appeal as well as a stay of execution pending the appeal.
The Catholics (and Christians) have argued that they have referred to God as “Allah” in their worship service and communication where Bahasa Melayu / Malaysia is used. I know I have. And in those instances when I referred to God as “Allah”, it was within the confines of my church or in the midst of fellow believers. And we all know we were referring to our God. Uttering the word “Allah” in the company of fellow believers cannot be seen to be a work to confuse or threaten the belief of those in the Muslim faith. For the simple reason that Muslims are not, according to local laws, supposed to have anything to do with non-Muslim religious worship and the like. To refuse a licensing permit to the publishers of The Herald for the reason that the word “Allah” was used in the Bahasa Malaysia section is most confusing indeed. More so when the The Herald is a private publication and especially for non-Muslims only.
Anyway, if it were true that on this land called Malaysia, nobody can call their God as “Allah” unless they were Muslims, then can somebody please tell the hundreds, if not thousands of Indonesians who profess the Catholic / Christian faith currently working and / or living in Malaysia that they are also to stop doing so with immediate effect? My ex-maid was an Indonesian Christian. She reads her Bahasa Indonesia bible and refers to God as “Allah”. Jesus is “Yesus” and Lord is “Tuhan”. Holy Spirit is “Roh Kadus”. Are we also to tell them that in Malaysia, they may not utter “Allah” if they were not referring to the God whom the Muslims worship? What would they say in response?