Allah Controversy : Playing God, the UMNO way?
Malaysia seems to have developed a mania for negative publicity.
The latest is of course the recent court ruling, banning non-Muslims from using the word Allah.
Or that’s what I understood until some cabinet ministers mouthed confusing statements, saying the ban is only binding on non-Muslims in West Malaysia. Then others joined the chorus by adding it was only meant for the Catholic publication, Herald.
It’s certainly beyond me that the government thinks it has the right to override the Court of Appeal’s decision. It also leaves me trying to make sense of the government’s frantic bid to salvage what’s left of the country’s image as the Herald, is actually meant for East Malaysians where most of the Catholics speak and read only Malay.
These coupled with the likes of Ibrahim Ali’s misdirected fury has enough flavour to float the first few pages and editorials of foreign newspapers and international TV stations.
An editorial in The National, a newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, said it’s surprised by the judgment and called the ruling “wrong”. "The usage of the word Allah is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity," chief judge Mohamed Apandi Ali said in the ruling.
The Emirates article further reads - The UAE is rightly proud of its society that allows people from all over the world to practice their faiths openly and without discrimination. And says that if one walks into any church in the Middle East on a Sunday, they are bound to hear the Allah in the sermons.
An opinion piece in Gulf News states the Malaysian court ruling ignores the fact that Jewish, Christian and Muslim Arabs use the term to refer to God.
A newspaper in Muslim majority Pakistan questioned a Muslim's liberty to copyright the name of Allah.
The facts are simple – Allah is an Arabic loan-word, it predates Islam and has been used for centuries by the Christians and Jews. It continues to be used by the Christians and Jews in every other part of the world, but is seen as a thorny issue only in Malaysia.
In the ruling, one can only deduce that the judges were rather concerned about possible conversions of Muslims into Christianity, if non-Muslims are allowed to use the word Allah.
The judge said - "It is my judgment that the possible and most probable threat to Islam, in the context of this country, is the propagation of other religions to the followers of Islam."
This ruling single-handedly shames my fellow Muslim sisters and brothers as it questions their commitment to their faith.
It has further strained ties among Malaysians, questioned minority rights and split Muslims down the middle, due to conflicting opinions. And if the ruling is not binding on East Malaysians, then it hints that Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak have stronger faith.
Therefore, one can conclude that the ruling is a politically-motivated judgment. It's a thinly veiled attempt at the play of religion on politics and subscribes to the emerging pattern in Malaysia, where religion is used to threaten Muslims into remaining the power base of UMNO.
The judgment robs non-Muslims and particularly Christians of their inherent right to practice their religion without the interference by the state.
Now, we have Perkasa’s chief and self-proclaimed saviour of the Malay Muslims demanding that the government teaches the “ungrateful Christians” a lesson for their “ingratitude” by banning the Malay bible, the alKitab.
Ibrahim Ali also said Christianity is “a religion without a name of God”. He is yet to be hauled up for sedition.
Morality police, Jakim, has urged Muslims to preach and spread their teachings in order to prevent more groups promoting human rights from spreading their ideology, which they deem contradicts Islamic teachings.
And the Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) has been warning Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak not to be taken in by Christian evangalists.
Fanning religious and racial sentiments such as these will cause chaos and unrest. There is a strong basis to this observation.
The only person who does not seem to be observing what's happening in the country is Prime Minister, Najib Razak.
But Mr Prime Minister, don't you think it's about time you gave the rakyat your two cents worth on the ongoing Allah issue?