The controversy over the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims appears to be an attempt by the Muslim right-wing to ‘privatise’ the word – something that no progressive Muslim country has done, writes Tota.
The actions and pronouncements of Umno ministers in the Cabinet during any crisis or scandal demonstrate amply what may be deemed as their apparent lack of brainpower. Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Law Minister, is a classic example.
He did not know that there was no Witness Protection Act until former Bar Council Chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan pointed it out to him. Then he demonstrated his ignorance of the Constitution, when he said that the separation of powers among the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary is a luxury that Malaysia cannot afford!
Nazri is very adept at putting his foot in his mouth. Remember his challenge to Karpal Singh to prosecute lawyer V K Lingam in compliance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission? What came of it? Well, nothing because, realising the potential fallout, he probably connived and colluded with the AG not to permit it.
Nazri once again showed his inability to think straight when he commented on the ‘Allah’ issue. According to him, non-Muslims in Sabah, Sarawak and Penang can use the word “Allah”. Why he left out Malacca is baffling. However, Sabahans and Sarawakians residing in West Malaysia are barred from using the word as a mark of respect to local Muslims! Nazri’s statement makes very little sense – indeed it’s an absurd logic without any merit.
Indeed, the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims has generated a great deal of controversy. To be sure, Islam came into existence in AD 622. The word “Allah” had been used for more than 600 years by Jews, Christians and after 1469 by the Sikhs. The word is used freely in the Middle-East, Egypt, Jordon, Lebanon, India and Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population.
The arguments of some who have commented on the issue are flawed and they – beyond doubt – demonstrated the truth of the saying “confusion worse confounded” in their heads. None demonstrated this better than Nazri.
Like Nazri, few in the government or in any official Muslim religious authority care for constitutional provisions regarding religious freedom. Muslim authorities seemingly do not care for what the Qur’an says.
For example, Dr Azmi Sharom, a law lecturer, pointed out that in Surah 22 verse 40 of the Qur’an, it is clearly said, “Had not Allah checked one set of people by means of another, there surely have been pulled downed monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure.”
Has any official local Muslim authority shown that it cares for the learned opinion of other renowned Muslim scholars elsewhere on the issue? It also appears that interpretations of the Qur’an and Islam of eminent Islamic scholars in the Arab world and other Muslim countries like Indonesia are ignored. It also appears that the powers-that-be are more prone to listening to right-wing religious bigots out to destroy our unity and harmony.
I wonder whether Malaysia is one nation or two or three entities pretending to be a country!
The controversy over the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims shows the attempt by the Muslim right-wing to privatise the word – something that no progressive Muslim country has done. The government’s appeal against the High Court decision to allow the Catholic Herald weekly to use the word “Allah” not only reveals the religiously-bigoted policies of the government but also the hollowness of 1Malaysia.
“Spirituality and peace are inseparable. While religiosity without spirituality tends to divide (“my religion is better than yours”), spirituality emphasises the importance of loving God (however we know Him) and loving and respecting one another (whichever is our professed religion, or no religion at all). Spirituality breeds peace.”Dr Amir Farid Isahak (in Star, fit4life, 7 Feb 2010)
“Ignorance never settles a question.”
Tota, an Aliran member, is a regular contributor to Aliran