Home Civil Society Voices 2013 Civil Society Voices Five contradictions in restricting the use of “Allah”

Five contradictions in restricting the use of “Allah”

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We cannot escape from pursuing a broad-minded vision of religion that celebrates diversity and emphasises the shared values and other similarities across faiths, writes Pak Sako.

The A church in Ipoh - Photograph: penangnewspaper.com
File pic: A church in Ipoh – Photograph: penangnewspaper.com

“There are major contradictions in the claim that the word “Allah” belongs only to Muslims and Islam and does not apply to non-Muslims and other religions (Jakim) and in the insistence that non-Muslims must convert to Islam to use the word “Allah” (Perak’s mufti Harussani Zakaria).

The contradictions are as follows.

  1. If we disallow non-Muslims from using the word “Allah”, are we implying that Allah has no relation to the non-Muslims, that Allah did not create the non-Muslims, but to whom Allah must belong if He is the Creator of all things?
  2. If we say Allah is not the god of the non-Muslims, does this not imply that besides Allah there must exist a second god specifically for the non-Muslims, the former god of Muslim converts? Does this not clash with the Islamic concept of tauhid, which proposes that there cannot possibly be another god apart from Allah, and that no being can perform the work of a god other than Allah?
  3. If we maintain that “Allah” has no relevance to other religions, who then ultimately created these religions if not Allah, the Creator of all things? Are we suggesting that Allah got it wrong before unveiling Islam? But if tauhid is to stand and Allah is the sole Creator, and if Allah is infallible, perfect and all-knowing, does it not mean that Allah happily created, with no games intended, all the variety of religions and religious philosophies including Christianity and Hinduism?
  4. Therefore how can it be wrong for a Hindu, a Christian or a freethinker to refer to “Allah” as our one common god? Must Sikhs, who are not Muslims, stop using the word “Allah”, though “Allah” appears numerous times in their holy book, which is not the al-Quran?
  5. If non-Muslims must convert to Islam before referring to “Allah”, is that to say Allah was not their Creator prior to them converting? But how can that be if Allah created everything and there is no god other than Allah? If we say non-Muslims are non-believers who do not recognise Allah, then why deny them the use of the word “Allah” to recognise this Supreme Being and Ultimate Cause?
READ MORE:  Change in Malaysia must come from within

The restrictions on the use of “Allah” conflict with the core tenets of Islam. They conflict also with those of other religions.

Therefore we need an open and respectful discourse involving all the affected groups in this matter.

This is to attain a better understanding of Islam, of other religions, of the nature of religion and god in general, and of the reality of living in a multi-religious society.

It is not enough for Islamic religious officials alone to convene and make decisions. Blindly accepting this or that authority’s unilateral interpretations or decrees cannot be the way to go. A resolution can only be found collectively.

It is thus necessary for each of us and all of us to question, discuss and learn widely to get closer to the truth. This is an essential counsel in Islam and in other religions.

It is clear that the exclusivist mentality of “this is for us, not for them, we are not the same so we cannot share” is not sustainable. It must be discarded.

We cannot escape from pursuing a broad-minded vision of religion that celebrates diversity and emphasises the shared values and other similarities across faiths.

Source: Centre for Policy Initiatives

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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3 Dec 2013 7.23am

Non Muslims may not only use the word Allah but may also consider circumcision and dietary restriction imposed by Allah.

Jamil Hadi
Jamil Hadi
13 Feb 2013 12.44am

Father + Son + Holy Spirit = Trinity
Allah = Tauhid

To the author of this article, please ask the christian to study Islam deeply and the meaning of Word Allah. Please read the verses below carefully.

Say, “He is Allah , [who is] One, Allah , the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born,Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” Al-Ikhlas:1-4.

And Allah warns the Ahlul Kitab about Trinity:

O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only a messenger of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His messengers, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one Allah; far be It from His glory that He should have a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His, and Allah is sufficient for a Protector.


Jamil Hadi
Jamil Hadi
13 Feb 2013 12.46am
Reply to  Jamil Hadi


Ong Eu Soon
26 Jan 2013 12.48pm

You can argued with all kind of reason about the use of Allah. The pertinent question you should ask is what do you gain when the cocky arrogant tokong raise this issue as election approaching. All whatever good reasons you put forward will be seem as a damage control for Lim Guan Eng. Why Pakatan can’t come out with a common view and stand on the issue?
I have friend who is a mamak yet involved in Thaipusam celebration as someone who bless the devotees with divine power to carry the Kavadi. Allah does not seem to be a problem so were all the other gods.
Does this mad rush for damage control really help to win back Muslim votes? We have seen all the madness that is self defeating in nature as all the opposition supporters are too obsessed with defeating BN. Reasoning and being rational is last thing that come to the mind of people like Anil, Rama, Francis and Guan Eng. What a fool!

Hilmi Ismail
Hilmi Ismail
17 Jan 2013 3.29pm

Pak Sako….. You are technically right that non- Muslims can use the word ‘ALLAH’ anyway they want but for the Christians to replace the ‘FATHER’ for Allah in their bible is a serious offence . Read the Cheticism ‘… in the name of the Father, the Holy Son and the Holy Ghost’ . It’ s the trinity but Allah is one and the Almighty. Why after 2012 years the Christians now want to replace their Father for Allah? Are they desperate that Islam is spreading fast around the world? It’s ridiculous that non-Muslims are writing about ‘Allah’ when they don’t know how beautiful and holy is the word ALLAH to the Muslims.

23 Jan 2013 12.55pm
Reply to  Hilmi Ismail

Dear Hilmi, as a Christian, I can tell you “Why after 2012 years the Christians now want to replace their Father for Allah”. The answer is simple, no work of replacing of said term with another involved here; Allah love His creation the way a Father love His children, You and Me. Arab Christians and the rest of the world have believe this for a long time since the time when Prophet Muhammad was still a young man following his uncle to learn trade. Islam spreading fast in the world? No worries, what Christians worried are extremist understanding of Islam that follows behind the spread.
Lastly, you wrote “It’s ridiculous that non-Muslims are writing about ‘Allah’ when they don’t know how beautiful and holy is the word ALLAH to the Muslims”. Try attending a Holy Mass in a Catholic Church(especially one with a Bahasa Malaysia “Misa Kudus” where Sabahans and Sarawakians attend); His Name is Beautiful and Holy, I can assure you.

May Allah bless you and guide you with His Love and Wisdom

najib manaukau
10 Jan 2013 8.44am

This is a true reflection of what the muslims in Malaysian are doing ! They can even decide on the correct word you can use, even even though it is proven the word has been used in other Islamic countries by the other religions to call their God Allah. This is Islam in Malaysia !

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