I do not wish to quote the many instances – readers can refer to the letter themselves.
However, it is important to end the continuing presumptions, even lies, that are propounded as a factual basis – not just in this letter but in many other posts in various media. So here goes:
Anyone – not just Zainah Anwar – who offers a disagreement about the uniquely Malaysian Muslim monopoly on “Allah” is deemed to be “scare-mongering, sowing misunderstanding” and even “abusing democracy”. Do note that it is only Malaysia among all other Muslim countries that has this ban on Christians using the word “Allah”.
Our closest neighbour, Indonesia, whose language is similar and is the largest Muslim nation in the world, had a headline in the Jakarta Post titled “Since when do Muslims own God?” inferring correctly that “Allah” is simply a linguistic reference for God.
Lately, a Pakistani cleric Yunos al Gohar has again criticised the Islamically indefensible ban since it gives Islam the world over a bad name.
1. As a recent scholarly article proved, in a Malay sentence of 10 words, five to seven are of foreign origin. The original translators of the Bible into Bahasa Malaysia (BM) included the esteemed Munshi Abdullah, thus “Allah” was selected to denote God since most words for religion in BM are from Arabic.
2. Only Malaysian Christians whose sole language in common is BM use “Allah” in their prayer and their alKitab. Those of us who pray in English, Chinese or Tamil have our own word. But these BM- speaking Christians constitute 64% or almost two-thirds of Malaysian Christians! So banning “Allah” has very serious consequences, including for the first source of cheap labour in peninsular Malaysia… the native bumiputra Christians who have no other means of praying or reading their scripture except in BM.
3. Munshi Abdullah and others understood that it was impossible to use only “Tuhan” in the alKitab. Both “Tuhan” and “Allah” are used, in the many passages which state “I am your Lord and your God…” (Saya adalah Tuhan dan Allah kamu”.) Writing “Saya adalah Tuhan dan Tuhan kamu’ is rather nonsensical, don’t you think?
4. Claiming that the Bible in English, Aramaic and Greek does not contain the word “Allah”, therefore Malaysians should not, even though “The Professor” acknowledges that the Indonesians have no problem despite their linguistic similarities, is an illogical argument. “Allah” is simply the etymological reference for God in BM, hence using it for God in a BM version or Indonesian version of the Bible.
5. The word “Allah” has been in use in the BM alKitab for centuries, peacefully until recently, and claims by “The Professor” that it is sacrilege and abusive were never ever raised. One needs to ask: Why now? Why only in Malaysia? Especially as banning the word is not defensible by referring to the Quran; there is nothing that says Christians cannot use the word “Allah” as they continue to do so in the Middle East, Bosnia and in Turkey – even when the language is not Arabic.
6. Finally, claiming that Christians “have an agenda”, “ridicule” and “abuse” by using “Allah”… Let the facts speak for themselves.
At no time, despite years now of increasing harassment, demonstrations, attacks on churches (after the High Court judgment found no reason to obstruct BM speaking Christians from using “Allah”), the recent Molotov cocktail attempt, incendiary banners hung outside churches, police reports galore against a single Christian, Father Lawrence Andrew, GE 13 election billboards that were anti-Christian, taunts and malicious, untruthful videos on the Internet, khutbah after khutbah that make unfounded accusations at Christians had there been a single retaliatory response from Christians.
7. Even during the Court of Appeal hearing in Putrajaya last year, Christian leaders including Father Lawrence, asked Christians to stay at home or go to church and pray, but not to come to Putrajaya. Christians upheld the peace and harmony of our nation as our highest priority and continue to do so.
8. The facts speak for themselves, “The Professor”, about just who is not being mutual regarding “tolerance” and “respect”, and who is abusing democracy.
9. There would be no problem, no repeatedly stoked anger about this issue if the status quo of centuries had been maintained. Jesus’ highest teaching was peace, and we hold on to that.
The fact is, Christians have changed nothing, are asking for nothing; just for 64% of those who pray in BM, for churches and clergy who look after them to continue to do so. As they have peacefully, for centuries.