I refer to the letter Why can't we use the word 'Allah'?

The writer has issued a challenge thus, ‘So by saying that ‘Tuhan’ does not mean ‘Allah’ suggests that Malaysian Muslims are worshiping two Gods. One called 'Allah', another called 'Tuhan'. What say the experts?" I feel I must respond.

The writer noted: ‘However, there is one thing that I just can't seem to understand. Why are the Malays (I'm sorry, the Umnoputeras actually) so afraid of the non-Muslims using the word ‘Allah’?’

The answer to his question is that the Malays are not afraid of non-Muslims using the word ‘Allah’ but rather of Christian evangelists misusing the word ‘Allah’ to confuse - especially the young and malleable - Muslims about the Islamic conception of God, as the absolute One ( maha esa ) as opposed to the triune God of Christianity. This is why the word Allah is not allowed to be used in Malay versions of the Bible.

Evangelist Christians use all methods to win converts and as such I am afraid the writer is not sincere and above board in making this call to allow Christians to use the word ‘Allah’ in their Bible.

Sometime back, there was an article and a comic version about the word ‘Allah’ as the ‘moon God of the Arabs’ which was inaccurate, insulting and clearly aimed to confuse Muslims about their unitary conception of God. It accused the Muslims of worshiping an Arab idol who was worshipped as the moon God in pre-Islamic Arabia. Even I was taken aback until I came across another article by a Muslim, who exposed this fraud by pointing out inconsistencies in the original article.

The writer further says: ‘I thought they were taught that only one true God exists? By saying that Allah is the God of the Muslims, they are also saying that there are other Gods for other religions’.

Yes, we are taught ‘ La ialaha illa Allah ’, which is means there is no God worthy of being worshipped, except Allah. The Qur’an declares that ‘if there were other Gods besides Allah, you will certainly see the universe in chaos’. This is our belief, we welcome you but will not deceive you into it.

The writer further adds: ‘So why should 'Allah' be confined to Muslims? Doesn't 'Allah' mean Tuhan? If ‘Tuhan’ doesn't mean Allah, then I say that all Muslims have committed a mistake. This is because our Rukun Negara itself has a phrase called ' Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan ', which is professed under oath by all Malaysians."

Thank you, sir, for reminding us that we have committed a mistake. However, the fact of the matter is that the Malays have been very gracious in not insisting on the use of the word ‘Allah’ in the Rukun Negara although some Muslim scholars are against this. (See also the Panca Sila of Indonesia) The move not to change ‘Tuhan’ to ‘Allah’ was to guard the sensitivities of the non- Muslims who would prefer to call God by their own names (eg. Murugan, Sivan, Krishna, Rama, Jesus, Jehova, Buddha etc.).

‘Tuhan’ or ‘God’, however, is a neutral world accepted by all.

When foreign dignitaries arrive, we play both our and their national anthems but they don’t sing our ‘Negara Ku’ neither do we sing their national anthem. If national anthems are so sensitive, how can religious terms be so liberal as the writer suggests?

I have no objection to the word ‘Tuhan’ in the Rukun Negara being changed to ‘Allah’ and the word ‘Allah’ being used in all language versions of the Bible in Malaysia as ‘Allah’ would then be a national term. However, I am not sure other non-Muslim Malaysians will agree.

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