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The issue is proselytising, not terminology

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Herald: Lawsuit on 'Allah' to proceed .

The issue here is not whether Catholics have the right to use the word ‘Allah’ in the Bible but rather whether the Catholic Church has the right to proselytise amongst the Malay-Muslim community in Malaysia.

There is suspicion that the Catholic Church in Malaysia is using the same tactic used by the Dutch Catholic missionaries in Indonesia. Since Islam came to Indonesia at an earlier period and the Indonesians had already embraced Islam, the Dutch missionaries used phrases common in Islam in order to attract Muslims in Indonesia by making them feel familiar and comfortable with Christianity.

These included the use of terms like ‘Allah’, ‘Baitulmal’, ‘rezeki’, ‘al-Masih’, etc. In Malaysia, on the other hand, the British, who are Protestants, did not engage in proselytising and left the Malay sultans to handle issues of religion.

The fact is that proselytising amongst Muslims is banned in Malaysia. Actually, proselytising by Catholics has offended many which is why it is also banned in many Christian Orthodox countries like Greece.

Proselytising by Catholic Christians towards Orthodox Christians became a source of enmity in the past that eventually led to the adoption of the Balamand Declaration.

Perhaps in Malaysia, Christians and Muslims should adopt something like the Balamand Declaration and agree on the use of terminology for each religion.

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