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Sakmongkol ak 47

Sunday 3 January 2010

O Allah, is this our fin de siècle?

Our own (Malay) closing of the century came 9 years later on 31st December 2009. The judgment by Justice Bao Lau on 31st December delivers to the Malays, their fin de siècle. In French the term means a closing of an age that can either mean degeneration or usher in an age of hope. Unfortunately it is not a signal for a hope for a better future for the Malays, but the beginning of a new age of despair.

Let me get this off my chest.

We begin 2010 with despair that the government has taken this issue very lightly. With due respects to the government lawyer handling this case, did the government view the case seriously? Or is this another case discounted as a tat frivolous and therefore requiring us to send just a junior to argue before the judge?

Is it a case of sending a second rater to argue before the judge against a team of first rate lawyers? Then, losing this case is the undoing of the government. Given the weight of the facts and the arguments put forth by the applicant's lawyers, the odds will be in favor of the more determined and brainier-powered legal team.

The law is an ass if we think it can be applied in vacuo. The laws of Malaysia for example, were made taking into account elements peculiar to our country and its needs. It follows therefore that when judges apply the law as regards Malaysia, they do so aware of their contextual relevance. They do so, without ignoring their contextual appropriateness. In practice this means, excluding extraneous factors which may be persuasive but irrelevant to our context.

The judge who ruled on the usage of the term Allah by Catholics in their magazine Herald did so out of context. The idea of bringing Allah before the courts is abominable as it is abhorrent. Despite the widespread usage of the term elsewhere in the Arab world or even closer to home in Indonesia, it is of no relevance to us. The judgment given by the court disregarded the most important fact in Malaysia- the contextual relevance.

In the Malaysian context, Allah has always been the god of Islam. Whose religion is this? It is the religion of the Malays. It is the religion of 15-16 million Malaysians as opposed to the religion of between 850,000 to 1 million Catholics. The judgment offends the sensibilities of 15-16 million people. It is causing much grief and resentment.

Is victory over the usage of the word Allah here in Malaysia, a form of satisfaction-giving retribution to the Malays? To the triumphalists, this legal victory is one form of saying FU! right into the face of the 'stupid' Malay?

The judge may have availed herself to an expansive research in the usage of the term Allah such as in Arab world or Indonesia or wherever she has chosen to- unfortunately they have no relevance to the habitual acceptance of the term by Malay Muslims here in Malaysia. It's an article of faith that Allah is the God of Islam and their (Malay) God. This is what I meant when I said this religion is jealously guarded by unreason. Beliefs and faith are not fully 'understandable' through rational reasons.

Indeed, Islam and Malay are synonymous. A Malay is defined as one who speaks the Malay language, practices Malay culture and adopts Islam as his religion. Hence when you make judgment on Allah which is the god of Islam here in Malaysia, you are also judging on the Malay. By taking over the term Allah, what have you done?

You take over the very being of a Malay.

You do that at what costs? Has the judge applied her mind on the costs that may arise out of this judgment? At the end of the day, this victory savored by the Catholics here in Malaysia, may in fact be just a Pyrrhic or Cadmean victory.

You bring Allah before the court means you bring the validity of being Malay before the court. What significance is it to us if the term Allah is used by people in the land of camel dung or nearer to our shores? It is inconsequential if it does not reflect our local context.

Its importance to us in the local context, overrides all other considerations. Because our being Malay is being determined by the judge.

I have no wish to extend the 'theological' debate about the recent court ruling regarding the use of the term Allah by the Catholic church here in Malaysia. Please remember, we are talking here in the Malaysian context. Please also stop saying that unless you are pious you are not to talk about this issue. We are not talking about what they term it in the Arab world or how they handled it in Indonesia. You don't have to be perfectly pious in order to earn the qualification to say something about this issue. Even the pious say the wrong things.

Debating about this issue has nothing to do with the level of personal righteousness. It has everything to do with what is right.

It is right for a minority group numbering not more than 1 million to mock the religion adopted and practiced and jealously guarded by more than 15 million in Malaysia? That is the real motive deduced in fact. That this insistence and zealotry to bring to court in order to get judgment for Malaysian Catholics to use the term Allah is yet another insidious attempt to ridicule and mock the Malays.

It does not even mater if people like TG Nk Aziz or lesser beings such as Khalid Samad or Zulkifli Ahmad saying that it's all right and permissible for Catholics to use the word Allah. They won't be able to ward off the accusations that they are willing to sell almost everything just to get into Putrajaya.

It's more important for us to consider what the ordinary Muslims here in Malaysia, given the level of understanding and personal appreciation of their religion think. They are thinking, here is another step in the long list of measures designed to undermine the religion of the Malays.

It is simply incredible to expect 16 million Malay Muslims to tolerate that decision. You may say the word Allah has been used for the last 400 years and what not. Or you may even say, just to win points in an argument, that Arabs don't have issue with the usage of the term Allah by non Muslim Arabs. But we are not in the Middle east and thankfully so. We are in Malaysia where we must learn to accept reality.

Two brothers of differing religions can co exist- one Muslim and the other Christian. But it's far-fetched to imagine the brother who is Christian, using the term Allah in the household. The interest of preserving peace overrides the interest of a freedom to use the term Allah.

Sure, we are not stupid- but we are not about to prove we are NOT stupid by allowing part of our soul to be auctioned before the court.

Don't the Christians want to jealously guard their religion from being infused by a conventionally accepted non Christian term? Hasn't the word Allah been always associated with the religion of Mohammad? What happened to the Father, son and Holy Spirit? Would Christians now accept if these are now re termed as Oh Ayah, Anak Ayah and Hantu Kudus and have them said in prayers? Wouldn't our insistence that these terms be translated as such, be an affront to god fearing Christians?

The reality is the court ruling is perceived as a direct challenge and affront to the sense of Muslim. Malays cannot understand the insistence that Catholics be allowed to use the term Allah when referring to their god. In practice, Allah has always been associated with the religion of Islam and to read some esoteric meaning into it so that it can be treated as a universal term by Christians here is simply wrong.

It is wrong because it will be interpreted as designed to cause offense to Muslim sensitivity. We can't expect 16 million Muslims to sit idly by and accept the ruling without coming up in arms. Do Catholics in Italy, France refer to God as Allah?

While thinking about this issue, I received an e mail from husband and wife team who are lawyers. Both are Muslims and I surmise they are not too exalted about the court ruling. The e mail is a short statement about the issue from the Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia.


In the days leading to the decision of the case brought by the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop applying to use the word Allah in the Malay version of the bible, the Muslim community sat muted whilst being schooled by the non Muslims on their own religion. At the helm of this muted movement were politicians including their ulamas, political alliances and Muslim intellectuals who all agreed that it is permissible for the use of the word Allah in the Catholic weekly Herald publication.

The first effect that we shall see from the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court dated 31.12.2009 allowing the Church to use the word Allah in their Malay language publication is the birth of Allah's son. From now onwards, the Christian God in this new publication shall be referred to as "Allah" and Jesus Christ as "Anak Allah".

The Muslim calendar, ie the Maal Hijrah for the year 1431 shall be well remembered by all Malaysians as the year where the trinity of Allah accompanied by "Anak Allah" shall be celebrated in the books of the Christians in the mother tongue of the largely Malay muslim populace and marked by the lunar eclipse event. In Surah Al Ikhlas, verse 1-4, Allah says ' Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; 2. Allah, the Eternal, Absolute. 3. He begets not, nor is he begotten; 4. And there is none like unto Him.

For the unlettered and unschooled in Islam, verse 3 simply means that Allah "does not give birth", nor is "Allah given birth to". It is incumbent for all Muslims, both lettered and unlettered, to uphold the sanctity of the concept of monotheism in Islam and never to allow Allah to be portrayed as having the attributes of a human being, the ability to beget a Son of which the echelons of the political community using Islam as their brand name in Malaysia have so easily facilitated and consented.

Those responsible for allowing this event to take place shall have to answer in their graves and in the hereafter for committing the greatest of all sins, "shirk" or polytheism of the highest degree. No argument can justify the usage of "Allah" and "Anak Allah" in any kitab here; yet those in a position to prevent this occurrence has shamelessly come to the defence of The weekly Herald to teach us how to pray to our ONE GOD.

What is the rationale for using the word "Allah" in the Christian books and how does this promote racial integration or even "One Malaysia"? If anything, this event draws the divide between the races even more. It is a deep shame that we have to live with for the rest of our lives, losing a battle that need not have been fought at all. It is not the fault of the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop that we lost our pride and identity, we are our own doing. The pride of our community today fell due to treachery by those who fought and won political battles using the name of Islam. In the Quran, Allah warns us most of all against people who sell their religion. Allah says in the Quran, " not sell my religion for a paltry sum..". In this case before us, the situation involved is even worse, they sold their religion for free.

Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar


Persatuan Peguam Peguam Muslim Malaysia


Keith 3 January 2010 at 09:19  

In the words of Mahathir himself:

"I accept the term ‘Allah’ had been used in Sabah and Sarawak before the two states joined Malaysia but it is difficult to stop them from doing so now... but in the peninsular, we have not heard of such practice"

Sabah and Sarawak are part of Malaysia therefore that is the Context.

Your context of Malaysia doesn't include Sabah and Sarawak. It doesn't include the East Malaysians who are Christians and have used the term for centuries. It doesn't include the East Malaysia who are working in Peninsular Malaysia, and appreciate a Catholic Newspaper with articles in Bahasa.

This is not an attempt to sideline Islam or convert, it is merely a stand for our East Malaysian brothers and sisters.

That's all, why can't you accept that. We're not taking Allah to court, we took the government to court. There is a difference.

Anonymous,  3 January 2010 at 10:51  

Again, very nice analysis, Sir.

Let me summarise it and keep it sweet and simple (KISS):

The CURRENT Malay Muslim leaders are helpless because:
a. they are guilty
b. they are stupid
c. they are guilty and stupid.

Why? Ask TDM.


Anonymous,  3 January 2010 at 11:20  

More emotion than logic.

Tam Dalyell 3 January 2010 at 11:56  

When Khalid Samad wrote

"... seperti “Wa Kaalatil Yahudu Uzair ibnu Llah” yang bermaksud “Dan berkata orang-orang Yahudi Uzair adalah anak Allah”? " in his blog and infered that, quote "bahawa orang bukan Islam, ...... menggunakan perkataan ‘Allah’, unquote, in the Qur-an, he has blasphemed.

NO ONE beside Allah s.w.t. say or utter the "allah" in the Qur-an.

All words in the Qur-an are Allah's word. It's Allah who say "Allah" in the Qur-an.

None of Khalid Samad's Christian or Jewish frinds has left any word in the Qur-an.

Khalid Samad has said something of Allah that he has no knowledge of.

About this, Allah has turned against Khalid Samad and his kind, 1400 years ago saying (9:30) ".... That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!"

Walski69 3 January 2010 at 15:24  

First off, I seek your indulgence in allowing me to direct the attention of you and your readers to a poll I'm conducting on this very issue, either via my blog posting or directly at the poll website.

Now, on to my comments, with thanks, in advance.

With all due respect, while I appreciate your honest concern, your argument appears rather counter-productive, as it justifies the narrow-view mindset being exhibited by the very people you champion.

And if theological significance is pushed aside, then the argument regresses to becoming a racial/political one, and one that is easily exploited politically.

Personally, I don't see the court decision as one of victory or defeat. As you mentioned, this is one of the psyche.

So, is it okay to perpetuate a world-view that anything and everything can be potentially taken as an affront?

Yes, I am aware of what the realities are. But is it a beneficial "reality", and one that should be perpetuated?

I will agree, in some respect, that the December 31st, may be viewed as a fin de siècle - perpetuating a defeatist mindset will surely mean a new age of despair.

One's world will not change, until and unless one changes him/her-self. Mindset included.

arah 3 January 2010 at 17:20  

Allahuakhbar or Allah the Great.

With One Malaysia concept very soon all the Christians will joint PAS to say " Allahuakhbar"

Is it right to say that most Malays especially UMNO including Mahathir, Zulkifly Nordin etc does not ever understand the teaching of Jesus in the Bible.They confused with the teaching of Paul or Saul the Murderer.

What did Jesus( peace be upon him) teach in the bible?

Mark 12:29

29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a]

Did anywhere in the bible that Jesus ( peace be upon him)teach about TRINITY?

What did Moses ( peace be upon him)teach in the bible?

Exodus 20: 3- 5
"You shall have no other gods before [a] me.

4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

What is the teaching of Muhammad ( peace be upon him)

:255 (Y. Ali) Allah. There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory).

2:256 (Y. Ali) Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

There is no other God but me, a righteous God and Savior. There is none but me. Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God there is no other. I have sworn by my own name ... Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to me.” (Isaiah 45:21-23)

Allah the Almighty Creator is the the God of Abraham, Jesus, Moses,Muhammad ( peace be upon them) and all mankind

2:133 (Y. Ali) Were ye witnesses when death appeared before Jacob? Behold, he said to his sons: "What will ye worship after me?" They said: "We shall worship Thy Allah and the Allah of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma'il and Isaac,- the one (True) Allah. To Him we bow (in Islam)."

May Allah guide us to the truth

lebai 3 January 2010 at 20:18  

AMSTERDAM - A Roman Catholic Bishop in the Netherlands has proposed people of all faiths refer to God as Allah....

Go to

Stephen Doss 3 January 2010 at 20:25  

Dato Sak,

You asked if Catholics in Italy, France refer to God as Allah?

I guess they don't have a population like ours, Sabahans and Sarawakians who refer to their God as Allah be they Muslims or non-Muslims.

Suci Dalam Debu 3 January 2010 at 22:06  

It has been said more men (and of course women too) have died in the name of religion or GOD than any other causes combined.

It seems mankind don't learn much from the past and I hope we will not start fighting over the word Allah.

Arif Omar 3 January 2010 at 23:29  

Daripada segi undang-undang, Perlembagaan Persekutuan mengiktiraf Islam sebagai agama bagi negara ini di dalam peruntukan Perkara 3(1). Perkara itu turut menjamin kedudukan agama lain dengan formula "aman dan damai"."Islam ialah agama bagi Persekutuan; tetapi agama-agama lain boleh diamalkan dengan aman dan damai di mana-mana bahagian Persekutuan".

Formula "aman dan damai" ini belum pernah ditafsir oleh mahkamah.Namun, daripada segi amalan, agama selain Islam tidak boleh diamalkan sekiranya ia mengganggu dan menggugat keadaan "aman dan damai" masyarakat negara ini.Bahagian kedua Perkara 3(1) ini juga memberi pengertian bahawa, keharmonian dan toleransi antara agama perlu dititikberatkan supaya tidak menggugat kedudukan Islam sebagai agama rasmi negara.

Oleh itu, penggunaan perkataan 'Allah' oleh Herald Catholic boleh ditafsirkan sebagai menggugat kedudukan Islam sebagai agama rasmi negara ini. Ia juga boleh mencemar formula "aman dan damai" yang dimaktubkan di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan.Merujuk kepada isu penggunaan perkataan 'Allah', kita perlu melihat aspek baik dan buruk hubungan antara penganut agama dalam formula 'aman dan damai' itu.Undang-undang, pada banyak ketika, tidak dapat menjadi penyelesaian kepada semua masalah terutama yang melibatkan emosi atau sensitiviti.

Anonymous,  3 January 2010 at 23:45  

I have all the while been using the name Allah to refer to God, I am a Christian in Indonesia and I also read the Holy Quran, for I believe that the Holy Quran is the word of God.

As you have pointed out, it is widely acceptable here but I guess in Peninsula Malaysia, the Malays are not used to hearing non-Muslims referring to God as Allah since in their minds, the non-Muslims are not referring to the Allah in the Holy Quran.

It is indeed tragic, that things have to come to state, for the God of the Bible, the Yahweh of the Torah and the Allah of the Holy Quran is the God or Allah who created the heaven and the earth. In only we could just celebrate the similarities instead of harping on the differences!

- Insan

Anonymous,  5 January 2010 at 08:19  

The whole issue has become confused because it is being debated by West Malaysian politicians, bloggers etc. As Tun M has rightly pointed out the East Malaysian Christian Bumiputeras have been referring to God as Allah long before they were part of Malaysia. This usage of the word in their prayers, Indonesian translated bibles etc has been going on for hundreds of years. Are we saying that if the word is copy-righted by the West Malaysian Malays (since there seems to be no problem in the use of the word Allah everywhere else in the World), the Government is going to go around re-educating all the East Malaysians in their prayer forms and giving them new translated bibles and books (printed in Malaysia)? The BM section of the Herald is also meant to cater for the East Malaysian crowd. So please be sensible about the whole thing. No one is making a mockery of anyone else's religion. But East Malaysian Christians have a right to worship in their own way too, as is guaranteed by the Constitution.


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