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Friday, December 17, 2010

Allah issue in Court of Appeal for too long.

 It's been ages  since the name of God - Allah became an issue in Malaysia.

The Court had ruled in favor of the fact that  Allah was not exclusively for the Muslims, ans so too, did Nik Aziz when he said "Allah is for All."

The Court ruled and the Government got the Catholics to stop, and have since appealed. This appeal which is an urgent issue is taking too long and the Church itself has decided to remain  calm and wait for the decision of this appeal.


I do this because it may noit seem urgent to others but to us who have a duty to protect our rights it is urgent. Its not a matter of tolerance it is our rights that are being trampled here by this government.


The attempts by Syed Hamid the former minister of home affairs  the person who turned this into an issue, and the statements by the present minister of home affairs have been ridiculed by Muslim scholars themselves. There seems to a loud cry from the entire Muslim world that this is a non issue, so why make an issue of it just for political mileage.


This court is taking a bit too long on such an issue, in cases where Anwar Ibrahim makes an appeal it is dispensed with at almost lightening speed, in fact sometimes I tend to think faster, so why the delay here?

Whilst the whole of Malaysia awaits the appeal, I have decided to share the thoughts of other Muslims on this issue. These Muslims come from countries where they are a minority, they do not have radio and TV programmes thrice or five times a day to teach the religion, the do not have as many mosques and yet they do not feel threatened or do not feel they'd get "confused" if others use the word Allah. 

I publish their views here for all to see, I shall publish one letter a day, so that Malaysian Muslims who are confused only, do not get confused.

Please note most of my Muslim friends are not confused, they are more confused with the Government's stand and Najibs's rhetoric over the matter.





Malaysia, Allah, and God
by Sheila Musaji

Back in 2007 when Malaysia The Malaysian Catholic Herald, a publication by and for Catholics in the country, was told that it could no longer use the word “Allah” to mean God because Allah was a “Muslim” term for God, The American Muslim (TAM) published a number of articles about this ridiculous non-issue. 
Backgrounder on the word “God” in Arabic and English, Joachim Martillo http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/allah/ 
Do Malaysian Muslims understand what ‘Allah’ means?, Farish A. Noor http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/do_malaysian_muslims_understand_what_allah_means/

Do Malaysian Muslims understand what ‘Allah’ means? Part 2, Farish A. Noor http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/do_malaysian_muslims_understand_what_allah_means_part_2/

Islamic Marcionism in Malaysia:  Is Allah Equivalent to God?, Joachim Martillo http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamic_marcionism_in_malaysia_is_allah_equivalent_to_god/

Just this week, this sad saga has a new chapter - The publisher of the Malaysian Catholic Herald has been told that it cannot challenge the home minister’s prohibition on the use of the word “Allah” in its publication, the High Court heard today.  It is amazing that both Muslim extremists and Islamophobes hold the same beliefs on so many issues including this one.  It seemed likely at that time that the government of Malaysia would be so embarrassed by the world reaction to this ban that the case would be dropped.  It is difficult to believe they do not understand: “And dispute not with the People of the Book but say “We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and that which came down to you…our God [Allah] and your God [Allah] is One, and it is to Him we bow” (Qur’an, al-Ankabut, 29:46)
The Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) says it supports the Catholic Church’s fight to overturn a government ban on the use of the term ‘Allah’ to describe God in Christian texts.  “I personally believe and PAS as well believe the way forward for a mutually respecting religious relationship, especially in a plural, multi-racial and multicultural society like Malaysia, is not to deny the right of others to use the name of Allah,” Zulfikar Ahmad, a PAS official, said
The Malaysia High Court is to issue a final ruling on this Christian ‘Allah’ Case on December 30th.  The government of Malaysia needs to hear from as many American Muslims as possible to let them know that there is no justification for such a ban.  Please send them an email.
Embassy of Malaysia, Washington, D.C.  malwashdc@kln.gov.my 
Malaysian Consulate, NYC malnycg@kln.gov.my

Malaysian Consulate, LA mwla@pacbell.net 
Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the U.N. malnyun@kln.gov.my

UPDATE 12/31/2009
According to the Wall Street Journal the Malaysian high court has struck down the ban.  “The court overturned a three-year-old government ban that prevented the Catholic Church from using the term Allah as a translation for God in its local-language publications. The Arabic word has been used by various faiths in this predominantly Muslim nation for centuries, and the Church argues that it is the only suitable translation for God in the Malay language.”
UPDATE 1/3/2010
According to the Wall Street Journal this battle isn’t over yet.  “Government spokesman Tengku Sharifuddin Tengku Ahmad said Sunday the government will file an appeal against the ruling. Among other things, the verdict potentially upholds the constitutional right of the Church’s Herald newspaper to refer to Jesus Christ as the son of Allah—something that might inflame many Muslims here and set back Prime Minister Najib Razak’s efforts to bring Malaysia’s different religious groups closer together.”

UPDATE 1/5/2010

ISNA has now issued a statement on this issue:
ISNA Commends Malaysian Court Ruling that Affirms Religious Freedom of Christians
(Plainfield, IN – January 4, 2010) The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) commends the landmark ruling by a Malaysian Court on December 31, 2009, that affirms the religious freedom of Malaysian Christians. The ruling asserts that Christians have the right to use the word “Allah” to translate “God” into Bahasa Melayu, the Malaysian language. It strikes down a government ban that was placed in 2007 on the use of the term in Christian literature.
The opponents of the use of the word Allah in reference to God have argued that the term “God” is usually translated by Malaysians who follow faiths other than Islam as “Tuhan” in Bahasa Melayu, not “Allah.” They insist that “Allah” should only be used to refer to God in Islam. This argument is contrary to both Islamic understanding and practice.
The Qur’an is quite explicit that Muslims worship the same God recognized by Christians. The Qur’an commands Muslims to declare that the God they worship and the one worshiped by the followers of revealed books, including Christians, is one:  “… and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him do we submit.” (Qur’an 29:46)
With regards to actual and historical practices, Christian Arabs have been using the word “Allah” to refer to God in their religious sources since the inception of Islam, and have never been challenged by private Muslims or Muslim governments on this ground. Islamic law is clear that followers of the Christian faith have the right to practice their religion according to their own religious teachings.
We call on the Malaysian government to uphold the religious freedom of Christians and to let the court ruling stand. We also urge Muslim NGOs to respect Islamic teachings and long-held Islamic traditions, and to withdraw their opposition to the use of the word “Allah” by their Christian compatriots.
UPDATE January 9, 2010
It is tragic that this story only gets worse.  According to the AFP:  “Two Malaysian churches have been attacked, leaving one badly damaged, in an escalating dispute over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.  ...  The ground floor of the three-storey Metro Tabernacle church, part of the Assemblies of God movement, was destroyed in the attack.  ...  Several hours later, the Catholic Church of the Assumption in Kuala Lumpur’s southwest was targeted, parish priest Philip Muthu said.”  Reuters is now reporting that four churches have been attacked.  The PAS Islamic Party has condemned the attacks.  I pray that they go beyond just condemning, and that the perpetrators of these crimes are prosecuted, hat Muslims help the victims to rebuild, and that the Muslim leadership in Malaysia works hard to educate people on the meaning of Allah, and of Islam.  If there are Muslims in Malaysia who do understand Islam, they should be protecting every church in the country.  Such actions are crimes against fellow human beings, against fellow citizens, and against Islam.  This is hirabah and terrorism.
UPDATE January 10, 2010
It has now been reported that “Eight churches have been attacked over three days amid a dispute over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, sparking fresh political instability that is denting Malaysia’s image as a moderate and stable Muslim-majority nation.”
UPDATE January 11, 2010
Anwar Ibrahim has issued a Statement on Malaysian Church Bombings http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/statement_on_malaysian_church_bombings/0017840
Marina binti Mahathir, who is the daughter and eldest child of the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Mahathir Mohammad, has a petition, hosted by http://www.PetitionOnline.com/Msia0801/, that now has more than 600 signatures.  (Note:  only Malaysian citizens can sign.) 
UPDATE January 12, 2010
There are now nine churches that have been attacked http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/world/asia/12malaysia.html
CAIR Establishes Spirit of Islam Fund to Help Rebuild Malaysian Churches http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cair_establishes_spirit_of_islam_fund_to_help_rebuild_malaysian_churches/0017843 

— IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED:
Demonstrate your desire to reclaim Islamic values and to promote the true spirit of Islam by protecting all houses of worship.
Go to http://www.cair.com to donate securely to the “CAIR Spirit of Islam Fund.” One hundred percent of the donations will be turned over to the Malaysian embassy for use in repairing the churches.
Checks may be made payable to “CAIR” and mailed to:  CAIR Spirit of Islam Fund, 453 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, D.C. 20003
(Put “Spirit of Islam Fund” in the memo area of the check.)
UPDATE January 14, 2009
Muslim groups in Malaysia are offering their help to prevent any further attacks on Christian places of worship amid a spree of attacks on churches in the multi-ethnic, Muslim-majority Asian country, The Star reported on Sunday, January 10.  http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1262372217702&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout#ixzz0cbJeDsYZ
SEE ALSO:
The Allah-God controversy in Malaysia, Eric Munir Winkel http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_allah_god_controversy_in_malaysia/
CAIR Establishes Spirit of Islam Fund to Help Rebuild Malaysian Churches http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cair_establishes_spirit_of_islam_fund_to_help_rebuild_malaysian_churches/0017843

Can Allah Be Monopolised By Any Community?, Asghar Ali Engineer http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/can_allah_be_monopolised_by_any_community/0017853 
Church Bombings in Malaysia:  The Politics Behind the Dilemma, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/church_bombings_in_malaysia_the_politics_behind_the_dilemma/0017842

Combating Muslim Intolerance, John L. Esposito http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-l-esposito/combating-muslim-intolera_b_417319.html

Malaysia, Allah, and God, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/malaysia_allah_and_god/

Malaysia, Allah, and God, Part II, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/malaysia_allah_and_god_part_ii/

Malaysia Catholics allowed to call God ‘Allah’ again. Why the fuss?  http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2010/0104/Malaysia-Catholics-allowed-to-call-God-Allah-again.-Why-the-fuss 
Malaysia: Government Appeals Ruling on ‘Allah’ Use http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/world/asia/05briefs-Malaysia.html

North American Muslims Determined to Counter Violence and Terrorism, Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/north_american_muslims_determined_to_counter_violence_and_terrorism/0017836 
Protecting Houses of Worship a Duty for Muslims, Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/protecting_houses_of_worship_a_duty_for_muslims/0017844

Statement on Malaysian Church Bombings, Anwar Ibrahim http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/statement_on_malaysian_church_bombings/0017840

Zaid calls for inter-faith council in wake of church attacks http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/49169-zaid-calls-for-inter-faith-council-in-wake-of-church-attacks-

Our Responses to Extremism Section has the following listing on incidents in Malaysia: — Malaysian judge ordering Christian paper to stop referring to God as Allah - [1] (Ali Eteraz) - [2] (Farish A. Noor), [3][4] (Eric Winkel), [5] (Dr. Robert Crane)  — Malaysian Bible confiscation incident [1]1] (Farish A. Noor). — Malaysian fatwa against Yoga [1][2] (Farish Noor).  — Malaysian sentencing of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor to a fine and lashes for drinking beer [1] (Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf), [ 2] (Farish Noor) 3] (Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf) — Malaysian church bombings 1 (Anwar Ibrahim)  — Malaysian Muslim ‘cow head’ demonstration against Hindu Temple [1] condemned by Malaysian lawmakers,  [2
 
(Sheila Musaji), (Farish A. Noor). — Malaysian decision to enforce Shariah punishments on non-Muslims also who are involved with mixing of the sexes with Muslims

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