I read a report on Reuters today about a ruling in Malaysia that Christians cannot use the term ‘Allah’ to refer to their god. If you want to see what shape the wo
I have been thinking today about what the possible reasons for anyone to even care, other than your standard knee jerk reasons. The word ‘Allah’ translates from the Arabic as ‘the God’ and according to Merriam-Webster, that besides usage by Muslims, the word is also used by Arab Christians. Taking this a bit further I would also assume since the Arabic term translates as ‘the God’ then any monothestic Arab would use this word regardless of religion. Nonetheless Malaysian Muslims want this word, at least in their country, as sole domain unto the Dar Islam, which is tantamount to claiming that under the law no other monotheistic religion can be recognized. And of course you have the local yahoo who has decided that the usage of allah by non-Muslims would merit jihad.
The Malaysian Christian community laid out a few basic points which I feel are grounded in common sense:
- The word ‘Allah’ predated Islam
- The word ‘Allah’ had been used extensively by Malay-speaking Christians in Malaysia’s part of Borneo island for centuries
- Christians in Indonesia and much of the Arab world continue to use the word without opposition from Islamic authorities
Of course, the Christians will try to get this ruling to the highest court of the land, which hopefully will be wiser in their judgment than were the three judges who unanimously issued this appalling ruling. And of course, the churches in the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak have said they will continue to use the word regardless of the ruling.
All of this aside, ‘Allah’ is a word that simply represents a concept of a single god. And it is utterly preposterous in this world to assume that any group of people have ownership to a word or concept. Words are fluid. They are like air and water and belong to everyone. Concepts flow throughout all of mankind. They grow, shift, change and even fade away. At best this ruling could only be considered appeasement. But what kind of legal system can you have when appeasement becomes part of the process? Kangaroo court comes to mind.