Friday, August 19, 2011


By Mansor Puteh

(Note: before anyone gets too uptight and emotional about the issue concerning the use of the term ‘Allah’ by the Catholics in Malaysia, let’s try and look at it in a more sober way.

Because it is indeed ironic for those who wish to speak in his name, who are actually going to demean him.)

So those who do not accept and testify that they agree to accept Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w. cannot be said to worship Allah.

Controversies arising from the use of the term ‘Allah’ as god amongst the Catholics in Malaysia may be due to misrepresentation by the early Catholic missionaries or due to poor translation by the scribes of old who translated the bible from English and Dutch to Malaya.

‘Praise the Lord’, ‘Good Lord’ and ‘Jesus Christ’, are expressions used often by the Catholics and Christians.

The Catholics and Christians in England and the west including, America, do not use the term, ‘Allah’ as a reference for God.

The Muslims’ affirmation to his faith of Islam comes with the recitation of the affirmation called the ‘syahadah’, where he testifies that ‘there is no God but Allah, and Prophet Muhammad is His Messenger’.

Therefore, most Muslims believe and rightly that those who do not testify Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w. to be His Mesenger is said not to obey Allah’s demands.

And this is basically what the problem with this issue concerning the use of the term ‘Allah’ for God by the Catholics in Malaysia which has now become such a bone of contention that has caused some forms of physical abuses.

Fortunately, Malaysians are made of sterner stuff, so they are able to withstand provocation by outside forces which may be trying to take advantage of the situation to further make the two factions to fight with each other.

Not many believe the fire-bombing of some of the churches were done by righteous Muslims.

Those who may have done it could very well be urchins. But my bet is that they were done by foreign elements who wished that with the burning of few of the churches, the whole country will be in flames.

This, fortunately, does not happen. And chances of it happening are bleak. It is as bleak as the alarm raised by the authorities in America who cautioned its citizens from going to Sabah where they claimed that there could be attacks on them.

Unfortunately, such alarms or safety measures have in the past to be an introduction to possible covert actions as it gives a strong hint of the intentions of the authorities in America.

They seem to be able to foresee activities happening in some of the other countries that they are now engaged in. So it is not wrong for many Malaysians to suspect something amiss with the security report, which had come to them out of the blue.

Coming back to the fire-bombing of the churches in Malaysia, those who had done the deed didn’t realize that they had targeted the wrong churches of the Christians in Malaysia who did not demand the use of the term ‘Allah’, which are only demanded by the Catholics.

They obviously could not tell the difference between Catholicism and Christianity.

Regardless of that, so far no one has been arrested and charged for the crime. So everything is left to conjecture with some Muslims immediately feeling guilty for nothing.

There is no need for any Muslim to feel guilty for the fire-bombing until it has been proven that they were caused by some Muslims. Even then they are confused ones.

But they cannot be solely blamed, because they, being vulnerable, react to actions created by some others who claim to champion their own causes, knowing very well that they may not be in the right position to do so.

The Catholics and Christians in Malaysia constitute such a small percentage of the total population, but because they are seen to be a ‘western’ religion now, they tend to look a lot more than they are.

And herein lies the problem, too, that the religions as being practiced by many are said by many Muslims to be of the different types than the original Catholicism and Christianity which were practiced in ancient times. Their holy books were the Kitab Injil.

But many Muslims allege that since the original Kitab Injil has been lost, so those who practice the religions cannot be said to be the same as those in ancient times.

It’s the same with Judaism whose Holy Book called the Taurah or Torah has also been lost, so the Jews of today, according to many Muslims, to be not the original Jews.

And of the three Abrahamic faiths, only Islam is said to be in its original form, since the Holy Koran is still intact. Whereas the Holy Books of the other faiths have seen revisions after revisions.

And if there are some Catholics in East Malaysia who are still using the term, ‘Allah’ as a reference to their God, then it could be due to the misrepresentation by the Catholic missionaries who had gone deep in the jungles of the states of Sabah and Sarawak to convert the Natives to this religion.

The logic being, if this was not done, then surely the Natives of all tribes would not be too compelled to convert.

Many of the others had already become Muslims which was brought to them by traders and by their interaction with the Melayu who had already converted to Islam since the Fourteenth Century, with Melaka becoming the center for the spread of the religion, by virtue of the fact that it was also the center of trading in the Nusantara Melayu or Melayu World of Southeast Asia.

The Natives in Sarawak who converted to Catholicism were told to use ‘Allah’ for God, and this could be a reason why many of them agreed to do so. If the Catholic missionaries did not use this term for God, then surely most of them would not have been so attracted to the religion.

It’s the same with the Indonesians Catholics who use the term, because the Dutch Catholic missionaries who had told them to use it as a ploy to get them to convert to their religion.

It is therefore not strange that the Christians in Malaysia do not use the word ‘Allah’ for God.

In fact, most of them use the term of ‘Lord’ to mean God. So we have expressions of ‘Praise the Lord’, ‘Good Lord’ and mostly, “Jesus Christ’ instead of ‘Praise Allah’.

This is even more prevalent in America and the other countries in the West whose Catholics do not use the term for God. And no wonder, too, there are some Catholics and even Christians or Atheists, who charge ‘Allah’ using words and terms which cannot be mentioned least of all, written.

How could they so if they also believe in Allah and worship Him? The truth is they do not; they only worship the Lord or God, with the Jews now refer Him as G_d.

Lastly, one only needs to take a good look at Holland and England, whose believers do not use the term, ‘Allah’ as a reference of God.

Their missionaries had traveled to the Far East and all over the world from the Fourteenth Century to recent times and even today, and how none of them do not use the term ‘Allah’.

If their missionaries had used the term ‘Allah’ to convert the Natives in the countries whose language is Melayu, then we can suspect that they had not meant well in wanting to do so.

It could also be that the translators of the Bible from English or Dutch to Melayu did not know which word to refer to so that they just used the word, ‘Allah’.

This can be true. But let’s study this matter in greater depth first. However, since those who had done the translation have long gone, so there’s no way for us to find out if what they had written to be so.

One of the scribes who worked for Stamford Raffles was Munshi Abdullah. And we do not know what word he used to describe God in the religious book that Raffles had asked him to do, if he had also used the word ‘Allah’ to mean God. 

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