Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Allah in Banned Bible Case

The following report is an extract from Malaysiakini.

Sabah church lawsuit postponed again
Fauwaz Abdul Aziz | Jan 16, 08 4:46pm

The Kuala Lumpur High Court today set Jan 29 to hear a leave application by the Sabah Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Church and its president to review the government’s seizure last August of Christian children’s books on grounds that they contained the word ‘Allah’.

In chambers this morning, Justice Wan Afrah Wan Ibrahim also set the date to hear their leave application to stay the government’s decision to bar the import and withhold delivery of the books until the case had been settled.

SIB and its president Jerry WA Dusing (photo) were represented by lawyer DP Naban while the respondents to the suit- the Internal Security Minister and the government - were represented by senior federal counsel Azizah Nawawi.

This morning, Wan Afrah allowed SIB and Dusing to submit their written submissions today. She gave a week for the government to hand in its submissions.

This is the second adjournment after Wan Afrah postponed an earlier hearing when the court was informed there was a possibility of an out-of-court settlement.

SIB claims to have about 100,000 members and roughly 600 churches throughout the country.

About 10 of its representatives - including Dusing - had flown in from Sabah to be in court today, in addition to several others who are based in Kuala Lumpur.

On Aug 15, customs officials at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport had seized the books and handed them to Internal Security Ministry officials after noticing the materials which were in Malay contained the word ‘Allah’.

Following SIB’s enquiries and requests for the return of the books, the ministry responded through letters in September and October last year that no publications other than Islamic materials can use the words ‘Allah’, ‘Kaabah’, ‘Baitullah’ and ‘Solat’.

The ministry - citing a Dec 5, 1986 circular to Christian publishers - said that these words were “exclusive to the religion of Islam” and their use by non-Muslims other than to explain Islamic concepts would lead to “confusion” and “uneasiness” among the Muslim community.

For educational purposes

SIB, however, had said that the seized publications were for educational purposes within the church and not for sale or distribution.

The seizure, therefore, amounted to intervening in the religious practices and violation of the constitutional rights of SIB members to the free exercise of their religion, they argued.

They also cited the use of the word Allah as a practice that predates Islam as well as a term presently in use by Christian Arabs throughout the world.

They also noted that Malay translations of the Bible have been in use among Malay-speaking Christians of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak since the 1600s.

In their suit, SIB and Dusing are seeking to quash the decision to restrict the import and to withhold delivery of the publications as well as the ministry’s proscription against the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.

They are also seeking the court’s declaration, among other reliefs, on the constitutional right and legitimate expectation to the use of the term 'Allah' as a translation for God in Christian publications as well the right to import such publications.

The suit came in the wake of the controversy involving the Catholic church’s weekly publication Herald after the same ministry directed the bulletin to stop using the term “Allah” when referring to God or face a ban.

Last year, about 1,000 copies of bibles in Bahasa Indonesia were seized in Port Klang and had remained in Customs’ possession.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Aziz had earlier told parliament that the government prohibits the distribution of bibles in Bahasa Malaysia.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, however, stated that Bahasa Malaysia bibles are not banned but must be labelled with the words 'Not for Muslims’.


Michael said...

As I understand it, the word “Allah” is a derivative word of the Sanskrit language. Similes would be Akka and Amba. This should come as no surprise as the original 360 deity statues were of Hindu origin anyway, as was King Vikramadiya’s inscription on the golden dish contained within the Ka’abah itself. The same black stone contained within the Kaabah is called the “Hajra Aswad”. Ironically the Hindu Lingghi or Lingham, is also called the Sanghey Ashweta. Both words have their origins in the Sanskrit language. Please consult your favorite linguist for verification. I stress linguist, and NOT religious advocate, to reduce any possible “unbiasness”. (geseran Bahasa)

Coming back to the name “Allah”, it has been established that the Sanskrit language translates it as “Mother”, or “Goddess”, or “Mother Goddess”. This appellation has been retained by the Muslims, some say as a form of continuity, and for the ease of transition of the people’s religion of the middle-east from Hinduism and Paganism to Islam. Mecca was already the pilgrimage focal-point of the Hindus & Pagan Arabs as their Holy Site for centuries pre-dating the birth of the prophet Muhammad (real name Ahmad). In fact, the grandfather of Prophet Muhammad (saw) was one of the keepers of the then Pagan Ka’abah. One of his duties included the daily cleaning of the 360 golden pagan statues contained within this Holy Place.

The parallel Christian story is, that Dec 25th was really the Birthday of Horus (Son of Isis 4,000bc) and NOT the birthday of Jesus. The Roman Pope “canonized” it to minimize the transitional “shock” from Paganism to Roman Catholism. Thus, certain “traditions” are kept for ease of religious transitional purposes.

To preserve inter-faith religious harmony, I will not get into the discussions of the shaving of heads, or the perambulations as practiced by both the Hindu and Islamic religions when performing pilgrimage at the Kaa’bah. It raises too may doctrinal questions.

I will however, highlight:
Surah 3 verse 48
“And He (Allah) will teach him the Scripture, and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel(Bible).”
Surah 3 verse 3
”He (Allah) hath revealed unto thee the Scripture with Truth, confirming that which was before it even as He (Allah) revealed the Torah and the Gospel (Bible).”

You might also want to read about the additional definitions of the name of Allah at for even more alternative views.

So perhaps the Christian Community should NOT be using the term “Allah” in their Alkitab, even though Khadijah’s cousin, Waraqah (Christian Pastor), had been preaching Christianity using the same name of “Allah” from his Arabic Talmud/Torah and his Injil/ Kitab (book of Matthew only). Although the Christian community may be historically correct when using the term “Allah”, they may face some inferred “paganistic conflicts” as the term “Allah” also has female connotations in the Sanskrit origin of its derivative. They should instead be adhering to either Yahweh, Yehovah among the many other names of God so as to be more theologically "accurate". Christianity after all, insist that their God is a He.

Final Word, IMHO, Christians should NOT use the term “Allah” in their Alkitab or any other publication when referring to their God.

“Uncle” Pak Lah, maybe you should have let the “INTER-FAITH” Conference proceed instead of canceling it. Now you have a very confused nation. Each citizen not fully understanding one another’s religions. Leaving everyone in a very confused and sorry state.

Zaharan Razak said...

MICHAEL: Very learned, very erudite comment. I profited from it. I too have been speaking out from the same pov. It is of course within your rights to speak sanely as a sort-of contemporary Scarlet Pimpernel (never mind the unfortunate first syllable pun) and I suppose I should make an exception of you for writing anonymously or behind a pseudonym which I take an exception as expressed over at my own blog -

Anyhow, a vote of thanks, er, Michael.