Allah does not exist (for me)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 at 15:50 | Posted in Freedom of speech, malaysia, Press freedom | 6 Comments

Diptychal points to an article in the International Herald Tribune reporting that a senior government official in Malaysia has told Malaysian catholic weekly Herald to drop the word “Allah” in their Malay language section as a condition to have their publishing permit renewed.

The Herald, the organ of Malaysia’s Catholic Church, has translated the word God as “Allah” but it is erroneous because Allah refers to the Muslim God, said Che Din Yusoff, a senior official at the Internal Security Ministry’s publications control unit.

“Christians cannot use the word Allah. It is only applicable to Muslims. Allah is only for the Muslim god. This is a design to confuse the Muslim people,” Che Din told The Associated Press.

The weekly should instead, use the word “Tuhan” which is the general term for God, he said.


In the same IHT article, the Herald editor explains the biblical usage of “Allah” and “Tuhan”:

The Rev. Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Herald, said the weekly’s use of the word Allah was not intended to offend Muslims.

“We follow the Bible. The Malay-language Bible uses Allah for God and Tuhan for Lord. In our prayers and in church during Malay mass, we use the word Allah,” he told the AP.

Diphytcal refers to a Wikipedia article about Allah which spells out that “Allah” is widely used by Arabic speaking christians and jews as a reference to god. Diphytcal’s conclusion is that Mr. Che Din Yusoff obviously does not know the difference between language and religion.

Personally I could not care less because I have no religious belief at all. God, Allah and Tuhan do not exist for me. However, I am an advocate of freedom of speech and religion. No matter what ignorant officials in the Malaysian or any other government say, everybody must have the right to address the god they believe in whatever way they see fit.



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  1. Not being a religionist, or a Malausian, I more than fancy that you are missing some perspective on all this (Religion often gets used as an excuse for other purposes!). Bit I disagree that people in the IHT cannot use the term Allah, or any other non-Muslim means of dialogue. Allah is arabic for THE GOD, and it is the same God the Christians, Muslims and Jews follow. It is wholly applicable.

  2. I agree that religion is often used to cover other purposes. I also agree that Allah can be used by any religion. So, with all due respect, I am not getting what you are disagreeing with me about.

  3. I’m don’t understand why you think I’m disagreeing. I’m I supposed to? I was saying you may not have the full picture as to why this is all happening.

    And I’m sorry for my atrocious spelling. Santa failed to give me a new keyboard (again) 😦

  4. I was just that you wrote that you disagreed about something which I failed to understand. Surely, we can agree that we agree? 🙂

  5. In some ways this has very little to do with religion. My entry was definitely influenced by my personal reaction as an Egyptian Christian. His statements are incredibly ridiculous considering that the word Allah is used in our churches and bible. But putting my personal feelings aside, this is more political than it is religious. He’s flexing his muscles and trying to intimidate them for whatever reasons he might have – and as you said – at its most basic level – this is a complete violation of their freedom of speech.

  6. I disagree but not with you, rather with Malaysian Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum, who is reported (in non too friendly sources) as saying “The word ‘Allah’ can only be used in the context of Islam and NOT any OTHER religion.”

    I can well believe he is letting reactionary forces within him (partly from greater pressures resultant from higher degrees of polarization that is taking place in Malaysia, but also some of it from ‘religious antagonism’ some based on race, power and form a financial point of view) and not from the point of view of Islamic doctrine. Whether my analysis is right or wrong, what he said is still wrong.

    I may not agree however with my Ethiopian friend as they can still discuss God in the same manner, just temper the use of a specific word, as indeed we all self-regulate when in various conversations in various situations.

    But like the teddy bear, the way this issue has garnered attention is worrying sign of the opposite type of polarization Baharum displayed.

    Happy Hogmany.

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