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LETTER | 'Tuhan' - why distinction between capital 'T' and lowercase?

LETTER | The Malaysian Gurdwaras Council refers to the statement dated April 20, 2021 issued by the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) where it refers to “… karya penulis bukan Islam yang mengunakan istilah 'Tuhan' di-tukar kepada 'tuhan'". This seems to suggest that only Muslims can use word 'Tuhan' with capital 'T'.

It is to be noted that the Rukun Negara uses the word 'Tuhan' in the first principle of “Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan” (Belief in God). 'Tuhan' is actually a common word for all religions and the framers of Rukun Negara did not intend 'Tuhan' to refer to any one religion in particular. In fact, Tuhan with capital 'T' or without capital 't' means the same thing.

The holy scripture of the Sikhs, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, on the first page and in the first sentence gives the attributes of the Universal God. 

The first line says “Ek Ongkar” (There is only one Almighty without duality and is the life within the entire creation). “Satnaam” (Exists everywhere and his form remains in all ages), “Karta Purakh” (He is the creator and sustainer of all), “Nirbhau” (He is without fear), “Nervair” (He is without enmity), “Akaal” (He is immortal and beyond time), “Morrat” (He is formless), “Ajuni” (He is beyond reincarnation and is unborn), “Saibhang” (He is the illuminator of knowledge and the life form is only obtained with his grace).

DBP had stated further that, "... huruf besar 'Tuhan' digunakan untuk kata dan ungkapan yang berhubung dengan hal ehwal keagamaan”. As explained above, in Sikhism there is only one creator of all the universe and all that we see. It is formless and is the creator and sustainer of all. Thus, how could DBP equate it with worship of 'Dewa-Dewa' and further, how could 'Tuhan' only refer to 'Allah yang Maha Esa'?

Kazi Nurul Islam (professor and chairperson of the Department of World Religions and Culture at the Dhaka University in Bangladesh) in his six-page article entitled 'Guru Granth Sahib: A Model for Interfaith Understanding' dated Dec 15, 2010, says, amongst others:

“Guru Nanak vehemently opposes those who criticised the holy books of other religions. He categorically asks his followers: Do not say that the Vedas, the Bible and the Quran are false. Those who do not contemplate them are false ..."

In today’s pluralistic world, the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib can play a vital and constructive role. Sikhism not only acknowledges and appreciates other faiths but also accepts their validity and intergrades worldly life with the idea of Divinity. 

Guru Granth Sahib seeks to unite people belonging to different faiths and holds that the object of religion is not to divide mankind but to unite it; not to act like scissors and tear asunder the social fabric but to act as a needle and sew it together.

Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka must accept and acknowledge all faiths as is the intent of the Rukun Negara. It can also learn from Kazi Nurul Islam who quoted with approval from Guru Granth Sahib, that the object of religion is not to divide humankind but to unite it. 

DBP should not create unnecessary divisions as to the creator of all humankind and all the universe as all we see is the same one creator of all different faiths and diversity. 

The diverse religions are the will of the One Creator for if the Almighty wanted he could have created just one religion. 

Guru Nanak was asked which religion is greater. Guru Nanak replied that without good deeds, one will only weep and wail and belonging to one particular religion is not the criteria to get accepted in the court of the Lord.


The writer is president, Malaysian Gurdwaras Council.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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