The true importance of the ‘Allah’ issue

The Sultan of Selangor has weighed in on the ‘Allah’ issue. According to the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS), “His majesty the Selangor Sultan has made a decision and decreed that the word ‘Allah’ is a sacred word specific to Muslims and is strictly forbidden to use by any non-Muslim religion in Selangor as stated in a fatwa and gazetted on 18 February 2010.” Others have said much about the issue as well, with several groups giving different solutions to the matter.

Take a step back. Why so much anguish over the issue, religious reasons aside? It is because this issue impinges directly on religious freedom, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

While the Federal Constitution states that Islam as the official religion, it also guarantees the religious freedom of all other religions and their right to regulate their own respective religions. The regulation of Islam is through state enactments, the role of the Sultan as the custodian of Islam and the Shariah courts. Their jurisdiction however, does not extend to non-Muslims.

Also, nowhere in the Federal Constitution does not restrict the religious freedom of Muslims. All that is restricted is the propagation of other religions towards Muslims.

According to the Federal Constitution, the Selangor Sultan’s words are of no effect, given he has acted beyond his powers in restricting the use of ‘Allah’ among non-Muslims. The same would be said of MAIS as well, should they take any action.

But what would happen if action were taken among non-Muslims using the word Allah? It would then be a test of the courts as the guardian of the Constitution.

Should the courts rule such actions as legally valid, it would be sanctioning the actions of MAIS against non-Muslims. This would put any assurance that non-Muslims would be untouched by syariah law to an end and would set the stage for further interference with non-Muslim rights.

However if such actions were ruled unconstitutional and legally invalid, the courts would have acted as a check against an unlawful use of legislative and executive power. It would also showcase that the tripartite system of government in Malaysia is well and alive.

Thus the importance of the ‘Allah’ issue is not in the use of the word itself. Its importance goes much further, in fact to the heart of religious freedom in Malaysia and is a test of whether the courts can guard against the ‘tyranny of the majority’ against religious minorities.

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A Christian lawyer who wants to contribute in his own small way towards national discourse.

Posted on 13 January 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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7 Responses to The true importance of the ‘Allah’ issue

  1. arah

    My dear Christians. Did Abraham, Moses and Jesus teach Trinity or One Almighty God? Why there are 28 places in the bible clearly mentioned One God?

    1. Deuteronomy 4:35,39 — Unto thee it was shown, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him. (39) Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.

    2. Deuteronomy 6:4 — Hear, O Israel: The LORD thy God is one LORD. [Note in Mark 12:28-34 how Jesus and a Jewish scribe he encountered understood this text.]

    3. Deuteronomy32:39 — See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

    4. 2 Samuel 7:22 — Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God; for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

    5. 1 Kings 8:60 — That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.

    6. 2 KINGS 5:15 — And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel; now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.

    7. 2 Kings 19:15 — And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.
    8. 1 Chronicles 17:20 — O LORD, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

    9. Nehemiah 9:6 — Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou has made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.

    10. Psalm 18:31 — For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?

    11. Psalm 86:10 — For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.

    12. Isaiah 37:16,20 — O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou has made heaven and earth. (20) Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only.

    13. Isaiah43:10,11 — Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he:before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior.

    14. Isaiah44:6,8 — Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.Fear ye not, neither be afraid; have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

    Continue Pt 2

  2. jam anak masin,
    it is not wrong that muslims find faults with the trinity concepts like u find faults with the quran. as a muslim who read both the bible n quran i find the trinity concept contradictory too. i personally dun see why east malaysian christians cant hv allah in their bible since they are used to the word. the sultan decree has no basis to me personally other than an obvious election stunt, i dont know to win favour of the bn govt maybe? but we fall for it, sadly.

    • jam anak masin

      dear @zhukl,
      thank you for your respond. we as a civilised society must mature with healthy interactions to foster better understanding with each other. it is good that the cyber world provide this platform for us which i intend to capitalise on to speak my side of the story and you yours. we may have to agree to disagree to some points so that our communication could continue and that there is no breakdown of communications because i owe it to you to tell what i know after many years of discovery. it is up to you to decide what you want to do with what i told you because God gave the freedom to choose and He respect our choices. i am sorry that you think i am finding fault with the Quran but i am merely stating my opinion based on historical deduction. as i observe in the quran, a certain pattern seem to be the norm and that is a certain command or decree is arrived to be the final position in respond to certain situation, a matter or a problem. with this in mind, i conclude that the position of the Quran regarding Jesus or Yeshua or Isa has much to do with the prevalent understnding and practices of the surrounding peole in the region where the muslim prophet had intreraction with. at the material time, the apostles of Isa Al-masih were no longer around and his teaching had devolved into an institutionalised religion called roman catholicism and even cults which were forewarned by the apostle Paul as you might know since you read the bible. as you might know, emperor constantine made christianity or rather roman catholicism the state religion and built its hq in what is known today as Turkey. my point is, roman catholicism was the common religion throughout the roman empire. however this religion was dominant among the non jews or the gentiles who incorporated their paganistic beliefs and practices into their religion. this is where i suspect the Quran were responding to or deriving its informations from the wrong source of the true biblical teaching because at the material time, the proper compilation of the bible hasnt exist in its form like we have today. as for the true bibilical understanding God whom Jesus introduces as the Father, Jesus himselt and the Holy Spirit of which you have difficulty to understand, i am more than happy to enlighten you as soon as possible.

  3. Alfredo

    Many will be puzzled, in the middle east Allah is a common term used by Moslem and others. Even some arabic words mainly used by moslem in religious context are common used by others. If in the olden days where our fore fathers do not find it disturbing the word Allah been used by other fellow country men, why in the modern society which many had our education had this problem? Had we seen huge "migration" from moslem faith to others in the olden days? Absolutely NOT! Had we lost our tolerance? Have other religions rejected the Federal Constituition enactment of Islam as official religion? ABSOLUTELY NOT! As one nation, peoples must understand peace and achievement in one nation is gained and strengthen through unity, tolerance and understand the truth. Not be fool by many mis-guided half truth.

  4. Jam anak Masin

    the positive side of "Allah" debate is the amount of well researched materials made known to the public in their bid to educate the confused masses. one of such confusion is the muslim misunderstanding of the christian trinity. biblically, such term does not exist in the bible but it is in the quran. the bible does not reveal that there are 3 gods but constantly affirmed that God is one but reveal Himself in 3 personalities with function unique to each personality in regard to His plan to redeem mankind from sin. the whole bible from genesis(the beginning) to revelation (the end) is the story of God initiating and bringing to completion His redemtion plan so that mankind can be restored back to Himself having HImself dealt with the issue of sin that separate man from Him. the muslim misunderstanding or misinformation would be clarified if they bother to study the bible carefully. unfortunately they chose to depend on their so called expert to tell them what to believe. the more i ponder as to why the quran talks about the wrong concept of trinity, the more i am convince it is due to the wrong practices by the roman catholic church which came to dominance in the 4th century. or else how would the quran says that christian worship 3 gods – father, son & mother. such wrong concept does not exist in the bible but in roman catholic practices and cults. the bible in its compiled form like today hasnt exist those days except in parchments form and are not available to the masses. the wrong concept of trinity and the mixture of truth and myth concerning concerning Jesus in the quran was sourced or in respond to the wrong teaching and practices of the roman catholic church and christian cults those days.

  5. Kim Quek

    This is an excellent analysis that draws the bottom line of the issue. The crux of the matter is: are we going to uphold constitutional rule, or are we going to allow other forces -political, religious, social – to over-rule the Constitution? This is a crucial test for both political blocks – BN and PR.
    The high court has already ruled in favour of adherence to the Constitution, but BN is attempting to block it by appealing against the high court judgment. The appeal hearing has been pending at the court of appeal for the past three years, and no reason has been given for the long delay. The unreasonable delay points irresistibly to political interference, as the incumbent power does not want to rile up a significant section of the electorate prior to an imminent election.

  6. Musa Ng

    Jonathan Muk,

    Methinks that the true importance of the "Allah" issue is whether one would actually get to Paradise after all this kerfuffle. :)