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:

  1. The word ‘Allah’ predated Islam
  2. The word ‘Allah’ had been used extensively by Malay-speaking Christians in Malaysia’s part of Borneo island for centuries
  3. 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.

Bear with me on this one. I have been pondering it over the past day.

My wife, who is a special education teacher her in Thailand, had a friend she went to university with who also studied to be a special education teacher. But instead when when this lady graduated she went to work in the family business. Her friends would have understood this if the family business was prosperous, but this girl came from a house of poverty. Her family was made up of fish mongers. They sold fish that they raised themselves in flooded paddies. Her friend also had a young daughter The child was either born out of wedlock or the father abandoned the family. I couldn’t get the whole story, but what was clear was that my wife’s friend and her daugher lived with the maternal grandmother and the child was fatherless.

Recently, tragedy has struck on several levels.

Earlier this week my wife’s friend was traveling by a motorcycle and was involved in an accident with a big rig truck. She was killed instantly and lost the top of her skull in the incident. On the very same day, and I’m assuming this had to do with all of the commotion and confusion that went on with death of her mother, but the child fell into one of the flooded paddies serving as a fish pond and even though the water was shallow the girl lost consciousness and was thought dead. When she was finally able to have been revived at a hospital she’d suffered from severe brain damage and her family was told that the girl will likely be left not only blind, but mentally retarded. This was a result of lack of oxygen to the brain.

Like I said this story is more than unfortunate. It is downright tragic. But the story that my wife and her friends believe is the oddest thing I have heard in a long while.

A few years after my wife’s friend abandoned teaching and returned to her home village two of their classmates passed through for a visit. They saw that part of this woman’s job in selling the fish was first to kill the fish, which was accomplished by whacking the fish on what we might call their forehead. (This is the way garr fish are killed back home, so I get the picture.) The woman’s classmates remarked to her that this was a very cruel way to treat the fish. She agreed but said unfortunately even though she herself finds this a cruel way to kill the fish, that is just simply the way it is done

So the story here is this:

Pinkan’s friends believe that her friend’s untimely death, apparently resulting from a whack to her forehead in the accident with the truck, is a result of bad karma for killing the fish in such a cruel way – by whacking them on their "foreheads". They believe also that the coincidence of the daughter becoming retarded from the near drowning incident on the same day of her death is also karmic payback for this woman having been trained at university to help retarded people but then never doing it. My wife believes the first bit but not sure about the second part.

Nonetheless, it never ceases to amaze me what superstitions supposedly university educated people might still believe in this day and age.

It’s been a doozie!

I saw my buddy, Cain, while I was East in the Land of Nod. I was frightened out by this hellacious spaghetti monster so I headed off to Damascus where I was struck blind by a light and I met a nice angel. I got a ride to Jerusalem by a mysterious bird whose name sounded presidential. After came a huge rain, forty days and nights! I got washed out to sea where I was swallowed by a huge fish, not a whale, but a fish. I spent three stinking nights in its belly when it finally puked me up on the beach (after the waters from the flood receded, of course). My angel later showed up again with some gold plates with a language only I could translate, upon which the angel flew the plates back up to Heaven.

That’s where I’ve been all this time.

Now those plates, well, they’ve given me the key to all that is good and evil. They are a source of wisdom and make me an arbiter of justice. I’m setting up our temple to share it all with the world. All of mankind will one day recognize me a the legitimate heir in a long line of prophets. And Thursday will be our new holy day as Friday, Saturday and Sunday are taken. Since it is your duty to help me spread the word we except you to pitch in your share of cash when I pass the plate around.

You follow me?

If you won’t then you can burn in Hell with the rest of the infidels and sinners. As for my followers? I’m more than sure we’ll be able to find some who will drink my Kool-Aid.