Friday, January 21, 2011

An ancient Latin-Malay Dictionary is the litmus test to allow Christians to use the word “Allah”

Muslims seek to prohibit Christians to refer to the Supreme Deity as 'Allah,' despite its use by Christians for centuries. A Latin-Malay dictionary of 1631 serves as proof.

 This article has been taken from Spero Newz.

An ancient Latin-Malay Dictionary, edited by a bureau of the Catholic Church called the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith in 1631, represents for the worldwide communion in Malaysia “the litmus test” in the question of the use of the term “Allah” for Christians”, explained Father Lawrence Andrew. Father Andrew is a priest in Kuala Lumpur and Director of the Herald Weekly, the Catholic weekly in the diocese of Kuala Lumpur which, just one year ago, was at the centre of a legal battle over the use of the word Allah to refer to God in worship, in the Liturgy and in Christian publications.
The weekly publication and the Church in Malaysia began a legal battle before  the High Court after the pronouncement by the Malaysian Government that Malaysian Christians were prohibited from using the term “Allah” to refer to God.
Allah, said the decree, must remain the prerogative of the Muslim faithful so as not to create confusion. On the other hand, Christians argued that the use was ingrained centuries ago and had never generated conflicts. The High Court ruled in favor of the Church and the verdict issued in January 2010 set off a wave of violence against Christian Churches across the country by radical Muslims.
The Malaysian Government nevertheless filed an appeal and the sentence was suspended: at present, therefore, “we cannot use the word Allah. We wait patiently, but it seems that the new process will take a long time,” notes Father Andrew.
In this situation, the priest sees as a “Godsend from Heaven”, the new publication of the “Dictionarium Malaico-Latin et Latin Malaico”, which came about after a painstaking 11 years of historical research and editing, thanks to the backing and interest of Archbishop Luigi Bressan of Trento, who was the Apostolic Delegate to Malaysia from 1993 to 1999.
The precious original copy of the Dictionary is now in the library of the Pontifical Urban University. In the new, modern edition, Archbishop Bressan wrote a preface to the Dictionary, which is “a historical text and incontrovertible evidence that centuries ago the missionaries worked for cultural and language exchange, and that the Christian community in Malaysia already used the term Allah in 1600,” said Fr. Andrew. “We submit this latest, new evidence to the court, noting that it is historical heritage acquired for the Malay Christian communities,” he adds.
The Malaysian government and some Muslim groups, the priest explained, would like to put aside the issue on a theological level, but “for us there remains the problem of a linguistic nature and and we want to stay in this area.”
At this time, concludes Fr Andrew, “We continue in our peaceful campaign, accompanying this process with prayer, because it gives us the right to pray and turn to God with the name that we have always used, which our fathers have used, and which has never created any problem.”

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