Monday, December 24, 2007

Malaysia Takes God’s Name in Vain

On the eve of the Christmas holidays, Malaysia’s authorities mistakenly decide Allah’s name isn’t God’s.

The Malaysian authorities’ refusal to renew the publication of the weekly Catholic newspaper The Herald unless it stops using the word Allah as the word for God in the Malay language is a demonstration of racism and linguistic ignorance, not religious purity.

According to Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum, “Only Muslims can use ‘Allah’. It’s a Muslim word, you see. It’s from (the Arabic language). We cannot let other religions use it because it will confuse people,” he was reported as saying. “We cannot allow this use of ‘Allah’ in non-Muslim publications, nobody except Muslims. The word ‘Allah’ is published by the Catholics. It’s not right.”

But what Johari revealed was his ignorance of his own professed religion, of the Arabic language in which the Koran is written, and of the history and culture of Muslims throughout most of the world. God and Allah mean the same in different languages.

Muslims, like Christians do not worship a person called Allah. They worship a single supreme being which the Arabic language denotes as Allah. The very word Allah derives from the singular nature of the monotheistic deity. In the Arab world Allah has always been used by Christians (a significant minority) and Jews (a smaller but important minority until the creation of Israel) to denote the one God which the religions share. Ditto in Farsi.

In Indonesia 100 million Muslims have no problem with their Christian brothers using Allah to denote the supreme being in Bahasa Indonesia, the Indonesian version of the Malay language. So why should a United Malays National Organisation politician unless for some reason to ramp up Malay prejudice against non-Muslims and reinforce the notion that all Malays are and always will be Muslims?

Likewise among the (Roman) Catholics, the word in Latin (lingua franca of the Roman church) for God is Deus and is used without discrimination between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

The Johari version of the world displays the same kind of ignorance as found among Christian fundamentalists in the United States and elsewhere who insist on saying that Muslims worship Allah rather than the God (an English word) that the two religions share. An English Koran uses the words “In the name of God the compassionate and merciful,” not “In the name of Allah the compassionate and merciful.”

If Malaysian Malays are confused about the distinction between Islam and Christianity because they use the same word to describe the one God, clearly there is a lot wrong with the educational system. But if a minister is so ignorant, how can the rakyat – Malaysia’s citizenry ­­- be expected to know better?

For Muslims, Jesus was a prophet of Islam. For Johari on the eve of the birthday of Jesus to make this astonishing decision is an insult to his own religion as well as to the Christian one from which Islam sprang. (Asia Sentinel)

***** What a damning indictment of Johari Baharum. Any normal person with even a little pride and conscience would shrink and hide at being literally torn to shreds by the author of this and other such similar articles. But I'm sure our ultra religio-racist ignoramus, Joe B is made of sterner stuff and would bravely, albeit very foolishly, try to play on Malay ignorance and prejudice instead, to garner support for his perjuangan demi bangsa, agama dan negara, that magic Umno mantra (oops, sorry, very unislamic Sanskrit word that) which can work wonders with the simpletons in our kampungs.

Farish Noor's take on this issue: Do Malaysian Muslims understand what 'Allah' means?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now let's all repeat "Racial & Religious Tolerance" is alive & well in Malaysia!!!!!
The fact is that characters like this Jo B is the "Norm" rather than the "Exception"!
Bodohwi allows these characters to do what they want.
These characters should actually be either sacked or they should be charged with causing "Racial" tension because that is exactly what he's doing!

5:51 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Malaysia, the ppl are ruled under 2 systems. One is for all the ppl, the other one is for UMNOputras only.

It is very much OK for UMNOputras to insult or say things that hurt the feelings of others,but it is very much NOT RIGHT for others to even use name or word to call their own god. See, Malaysia Boleh!!

It is very very OK when UMNOputras wave weapon and claim blood of others, but it is very offensive for others to tell UMNOputras to tell the truth, one might face the music, worse, get lock up!!

Still, UMNOputras have the sense to tell the world they treat all equal and fair, no one community is marginalized. Sigh....

6:43 PM GMT+8  
Blogger DIASPORA said...

Malaysia is accursed that it has neen saddled with men of such low mettle that they make all of us a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. We have lost the old generation of Ministers who could hold up to most situations. Look at how Tun Mahathir responds to questions from the floor. Can't these Ministers at least have their replies or comments written down first, then have them vetted and read them out so that we can save face to a little extent.

Now we have nit wits for our Ministers who bring just but shame unto all of us. And, the saddest and cruelest thing is that they will not quit their posts when they fully well know that they are a disgrace to their race and the Nation.

9:00 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


God of the Jews is male. Christians and Muslims also worship a male supreme being. Allah is the Arabic word for supreme being which was used both by the Christians and Muslims. This name was known to Arabs even in the pre-Islamic times. The probable etymology is the contraction of al-ilah. The Aramaic words Alaha or Aloho are also possible candidates. There is another probable root: The Hebrew word el (and its plural elohim) derives from the semitic root alah ('to be strong' ) which means the great power. The word which describes this holy, miracle-working omnipotent power must have derived from the same source as the word for 'supreme being'. In the Hebrew original of the Old Testament the name of the supreme being is given as either elah (singular) or elahim (plural). The Samaritans have a supreme being called 'Aloah'. Some scholars say that el, elahim, shadday, yehweh, yahweh were all used in an obscure meaning in prehistory. What do you think about the significance of the similarity between Jehovah, YHVH, YAHVEH and the other sacred name Jupiter, Jove.

IL was also used to denote Allah. El, il, alaha, elah, elahim, eloh, elohim, aloah are the names of supreme being in the Semitic languages. Although the words elohim, elahim in Hebrew are plural, they are also used in a singular context - denoting a sole supreme being. >Moses ben Maimonides, who is considered to be the second founder of Judaism uses elohim in a singular context. Some scholars say that the root of the word for the supreme being of Islam, Allah, is the Aramaic Alaha (Encyclopedia of Islam). Syriac is accepted as a branch of Aramaic. The word Allah is Syriac, and may have its root in Aramaic 'Aloho.' Allah is definitely not Arabic, it comes from a non-Arabic root.

In some inscriptions found in Safa (a place near Makka) the word god appears. The words Allah, Hallah appear together with the name of one of the idols in Nabataean (This is extremely important. Make a note), but the word Allah appears alone in the Safa inscriptions. The origin of Allah, according to people of Kufa is ilah. According to Basrans it is lah. The assumption is that, in order to magnify 'ilah', the prefix 'el' was added. The 'l' of 'el' and 'i' of ilah became too heavy to pronounce; 'i' is dropped; and the resultant word became 'ellah.' The same applies to 'lah'. To exalt the word, most probably, 'el' was added and the final word became el-lah. Some Islamic scholars say that god is general than Allah. Arabs reportedly "..had the habit of calling each one of their idols as Allah in addition to its name. Then suddenly Allah became the name of the greatest supreme being." Since the word Allah has become the name of the greatest supreme being, and there is only one greatest supreme being, it has no plural. From the standpoint of Islam the other gods cannot be called Allah or elah or ilah. Allah is the 'greatest name' because it belongs to Him. "The concept of Allah among the pre-Islamic Arabs was amazingly similar to the concept of Allah in Islam. Kuran is baffled sometimes as to why such a correct understanding of supreme being had not led the infidels to accept the new reality," writes Dr. Toshihiko Izutsu. These pre-Islamic Arabs believed that Allah was;


The creator of the world,

The one who brings rain,

The one who gave life to everything on earth.

The only thing which makes Kuran feel uneasy towards them is the fact that though they knew supreme being as "the One who created the sky and the earth, they did not end up with the conclusion that He was the only one to worship." According to Islam Allah is first and last because he existed before everything and he will exist after everything ceased to exist. Everything will end, only his 'self' is permanent. He is above everything. There's none higher. He is in everything, closest to everything. This is the formula in Islam: "Allah exists. He has no before or after. He is eternal. He is the only supreme being. He doesn't need anybody or anything. He has no spatial location. He does not beget, and he is not begotten. He has no equal. He is always alive (hayy). He is all-knowing. He is all-hearing. He is all-seeing. He has the will. He is all-powerful. He is the giver of speech. He is the creator." According to an early tradition (hadith) supreme being said to the Hagarene Messenger ('Muhammad'): " I was a hidden treasure; I wanted to be known. Hence, I created the world so that I might be known." This is basically the supreme being of Islam, which was the supreme being of Abraham, the supreme being of Moses, the supreme being of Jesus and finally the supreme being of the Hagarene Messenger.

9:33 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There can be hope only for a society which acts as one big
family, not as many separate ones."
-- Anwar el Sadat

9:46 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People talk about the need to reform Islam. Now you can stop talking and start helping.

With the help of our readers we went through the Koran and removed every verse that we believe did not come from Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. We would like to publish Reform Koran in as many languages as possible. If you could help with translation, editing, or distribution of the Reform Koran, please email us at If you could provide financial support, please visit our support page.

In Memoriam of Aqsa Parvez.

4:39 AM GMT+8  
Blogger bayi said...

He's just trying to score some brownie points with the fundamentalists. Such people can be more dangerous than the fundamentalists because they totally are ignorant. They are blind when their eyes are open.

2:38 PM GMT+8  

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