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Screenshot of BFM website promoting the interview with Reza Aslan

Screenshot of BFM website promoting the interview with Reza Aslan

The Riong Kali’s pro-Opposition news portal and Business FM 89.9 radio station are doing their bit to systematically provoke the Muslims and antagonise the Court of Appeal decision last week pertaining to the ‘kalimah Allah’ issue and the Home Minister’s authority to ban the sacred word by being abuse for the purpose of prosetylisation of Muslims.

Award-winning American Muslim scholar on Allah ruling: “We are laughing at you”

OCTOBER 22, 2013

Reza Aslan says Christians using the word Allah do not pose a threat to Islam. - Pic courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Roanoke College, October 22, 2013.Reza Aslan says Christians using the word Allah do not pose a threat to Islam. – Pic courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Roanoke College,

October 22, 2013.A well-known American Muslim theologian has joined a long list of critics over the recent Court of Appeal ruling on the use of the word Allah, saying it was a “political decision more than anything else”.

“This notion that Malaysian Muslims need to be protected by the court because you can’t think for yourself, you can’t make decisions on your own. We are laughing at you,” said Reza Aslan, speaking on BFM Radio’s Evening Edition programme yesterday.

“That you can control people’s ideas, their behaviour, their faith and their minds simply by trying to control the words that they use, is absurd. It is an embarassment to a modern, constitutional, democratic and deeply Muslim state like Malaysia,” he added.

Aslan insisted that Christians using the word Allah – which means God in Arabic – were not a threat to Islam.

“A Taliban put a bomb in the Quran and took it to a mosque in Pakistan, where Muslims were slaughtered on one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar. You want to talk about threats to Islam? That’s a threat to Islam,” he said, in dismissing the argument that allowing Christians to use the word in their worship was a threat to Malaysian Muslims.

He was referring to an incident during the Aidiladha holidays, in which Afghan governor Arsala Jamal was killed while scores were injured after a bomb placed in a copy of the Quran went off in a mosque during the Eid sermon.

Aslan, who wrote the international bestseller No God But God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, said he was mystified by the court ruling on October 14, stressing that the word Allah was merely an Arabic term for God, “any God”.

“Allah is constuction of the the word al-Ilah. That’s what the word is,” he explained.

“Al-Ilah means ‘The God’. Allah is not the name of God. Frankly, anyone who thinks that Allah is the name of God, is not just incorrect, but is going against the Quran itself. It is almost a blasphemous thought to think that Allah has a name.

“And this is not an interpretation. It is a historical fact,” Reza added.

In its judgment, the Court of Appeal’s three-man panel ruled that the word Allah “was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice and that such usage if allowed, will inevitably cause confusion within the community”.

The decision sparked a debate among local clerics and scholars, while several editorials in Muslim countries expressed their surprise over the issue.

Pakistan’s Daily Times questioned the ruling, asking why Malaysia would deny people of other faiths to “own God in all His attributes”. The United Arab Emirates’s The National called the court ruling “wrong”, and said the word Allah was never exclusive to Islam but used by both Christians and Jews to refer to God even before the advent of Islam.

Aslan poured scorn on the court verdict, asking, “How can you read that and not laugh?”

Soon after the court ruling last week, he had taken to Twitter and remarked, “How stupid has Malaysia just become? In honor of Malaysia banning the word Allah by non-Muslims I suggest US ban the word ‘twerking’ by anyone over age of 17,” he said, referring to a type of sexually provocative dance.

Much of Aslan’s interview yesterday was made available on Podcast.

In it, he slammed those who argue that the faith of Malaysian Muslims can be undermined if Christians use the word Allah.

“This idea that not only should Christians not be able to use this word, but that using the word is somehow a threat to Islam… that Malaysian (Muslims) are so stupid if they hear a Christian use the word Allah, they will accidentally become Christians. I mean, the idiocy of that statement speaks for itself,” he said.

Echoing many other Muslim scholars and writers, Aslan said Christians and Jews in the Arabian peninsula since before the time of the Prophet Muhammad had been referring to God as Allah.

“Why? Because they spoke Arabic… that’s why. Not because Allah meant a specific God but because that it is nothing more than the Arabic word for God. It is not an opinion. It is a fact,” he pointed out.

“Any Imam that tells you God has a name, is blasphemous. It is as simple as that. Allah is not God’s name. Muslims do not own the word itself,” said the 41-year-old Iranian-American, who is Visiting Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Iowa. – October 22, 2013.


Aslan is totally out of context and his interpretation of Islam is very dubious. He sounds as if he is not a Muslim and never had been one. Even legally, he should have referred to the complete judgement of the three Court of Appeal Judges.

He also did not consider the Federal Constitution, laws of this land, norms and values of this country, will of HRH Malay Rulers nor take into consideration what HRH Sultan Selangor’s reminder titah on the matter, dated 9 January 2013.

Probably it is alright for Aslan to do that because he is not a Malaysian citizen nor a resident of this country. However, it is inexcusable for BFM and TMI to spin and manipulate the issue further in this manner.

BFM 89.9 as a radio station licensed by Malaysian Communication and  Multimedia and Commission, the owners, producers and editors should understand their limitations which have been spelt out clearly in the license condition. One of the items prohibited for them to air are materials obnoxious against race and religion.

Probably the producers of BFM 89.9 thought they could go scott free by airing the phone interview with Aslan since it is conducted in English.

Amongst the points Aslan raised on top of what reported in the TMI story are:

“Islam says ‘X’ or Islam says ‘Y’. I know this will make them feel good but it is nonsense”


“Allah is not a name of God. Allah means God. Allah means every God. Allah is nothing more than the Arabic word for God”.

He also went on to say,

“Using the word is a threat to Islam. Malaysians are so stupid when they hear a Christian use the word ‘Allah’, they accidentally becomes Christian. The idiocy for the statement speaks for itself”.

A lot of what Aslan explicitly expressed in the interview is not acceptable for the consumption of Malaysians because it would definitely cause a lot of anger amongst Malay-Muslim, especially when the points that were put forth are manipulated further.

The fact that the two BFM 89.9 presenters Ezra Zaid and Umapagan  in the show were laughing at some part of the interview demonstrates their distasteful and disrespect to what the Court of Appeal decision.

Aslan also went to insult further “I get there are political machinations taking place here. This court is not exactly independent of the executive branch. This is more of a political decisions than anything else. Muslims in Malaysia got to be protected by the court because you cant think for yourselves, you cant make decisions on your own. One of the judges even make a remark to the effect that ‘This is a threat to Islam'”.

It is also a sinister agenda of TMI to expand the story further and carry the anti-Malay/Islam sentiments by reproducing it in a news report, both in English and Malay. These are very serious matters that MCMC should investigate from the various perspective of the law including Sedition Act and Communication and Multimedia Act.

This is also an indirect insult against the Court of Appeal unanimous decision Monday last week.

The title in English means “Poking hornet’s nest”

*Updated 2359hrs

Published in: on October 22, 2013 at 18:30  Comments (40)  

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  1. The bro has got a point.

    The main point should have been regarding translation of bibles into bahasa. That would have saved us all from this crap.

    So why allah and not tuhan. Issues of trying to make the muslims leave the straight path should have never been brought up.

    Even if it is true, it should have been covered using a standing point of language where god is tuhan. Simple.

    Now even more shit is brewing, so if i am not mistaken, those in sabah and sarawak can use the word allah?

    What sort of mess is this?

    • The mess was created not by us but by their intransigence. We objected to their use of the kalimah Allah. We can and have the power under the Constitution and the laws passed by Parliament to administer religion in this country to restrict the Herald in their publication.

      They chose to go to Court, when the Judge ruled in their favour, we had to accept. We appealed and three Judges of the Appeal Court ruled in our favour, they should have accepted. Now we all wait for the possibly 5-Judges strength of the Federal Court to decide. I think not so messy as far as those went.

      Then the political masters decided on whether the Appeal Court’s ruling should be applicable in Sabah and Sarawak. You know lah, politics. They have to kira the facts that the Malays and the Bumiputeras there gave BN some 30 seats or so at PRU13. Bloody Anwar Al Juburi, Al Hadi and Lim Kit Siangi had messed things up such that BN had to count on the Malays and the Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak for general election wins. It’s become a political mess, bro.

      In fact, it has always been a political mess the moment those blokes exploited the Kalimah Allah issue to suit their political purpose. Imagine, one faction in supposedly strongly Islamic PAS supporting the DAP stand favoring the Christians using the kalimah Allah. Like DAP and PKR, they have their mess, too, e.g Lim Guan Eng now witch-hunting for “DAP members with BN hearts”. We’ll wait for the PAS Muktamar in November to know which faction will have the upper hand. Meanwhile, we grin and bear the fact that every body is in a mess, including the political parties. Wonder if the Chinese have a term for The Year of The Mess.

      • This mess should have been counter argued by using bahasa as the main bone at the beginning and not religion. Then that would have saved us from all that has followed.

        Now the perception is that, as if we are at war with the christians. The constitution does back islam, but how are we perceived by others that are internal and external to from a religion stand point.

        The issue should have been language, i cant understand why it was decided to bring up “they are trying to murtad the malays”, even if it was true.

        Now a whole can of worms has been opened,

        Ineffective leadership by leaders who did and do not know how to react.

        Everyone is in a mess but this mess might just end up being like something from the alleys of ambon or maluku. And that aint gonna be nice.

      • Btw good morning bro. Happy hunting where ever you are

      • You’ve got a good point that the issue should have been language, bro, but I disagree with you on the other bit – I say that if it was true “they are trying to murtad the malays”, then whatever necessary action has to be taken.

        Well, well, well … look at what religion and politics have gotten us mortal human beings to. When are they flying paying passengers to the Mars? Hurry up, Virgin Branson whatever.


  3. well known theologian is this guy really? it does not matter to me whether he won any award or not but he does not sound to me as learned individual.

    TMI and BFM are operated and hosted by unlearned individuals in the field of comparative religions.

    please youtube and search zakir naik and have a learned view of comparitive religions understanding before making a fool of yourself like the above theologian.

  4. Big Dog,

    Isn’t Reza Aslan is discussing matters pertaining to a higher authority – Allah?

    After all, even the Agung MUST kneel and bow before Allah.

    By demanding that Reza Aslan put the Agung above the discussion on Allah, have you not committed the “unforgivable” from an Islamic viewpoint?

    • Thank you.

      Aslan should have read the judgment first. Then he might have a bearing whether or not “Malaysia is a laughing stock”.

      The three judges explained in detail with referrences why the plantifs were awarded the case and debunked the judgment made at High Court four years ago.

      Probably you should make time to read the judgment too. It might add some credibility in your next comment, should you decide to share your thoughts again in here.

      Then again it is of no big concern for what Aslan said.

      Out concern is for BFM to air the interview and TMI to report it. These, warrant the investigation under the relevant laws and license conditions.

      • Mein leibe knodel,

        You misunderstood me 🙂

        I have no problems with the judgement by the Court of Appeal. It is the law of the land – man made laws.

        On the other hand, Reza Aslan is talking about Islam just like another other authority on Islam, be they from Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc or from Shia, Sunni, Wahabi, etc.

        Thus, Reza, and indeed any authority on Islam, would believe that they are discussing a higher level of “law”, wouldn’t they?

        Anyway, if you want to discuss this further, I’ll try to but I need to tell you that I am a disinterested bystander who likes gossiping 🙂

    • Allah should not be discussed. Should just be admired, respected with awe and not crossed, pun intended.

      I also have no problems with the judgement by the Court of Appeal. But the law of the land must also be respected. Come the Federal Court, the highest court of the land, everybody has to accept it or grin and bear it. No two-way about it, except win the elections and make the changes. And the Muslims in the country will surely try to prevent anything that would adversely affect their interest from happening.

      I disagree that Reza Aslan is talking about Islam just like another other authority on Islam. It is very clear that he is talking thru his nose, not understanding the laws of this country and without reading the judgment of the Appeal Court in full. In any case, bloody hell, he should know or be told that those unhappy with the ruling can appeal to the Federal Court.

      Yes, Islam may be discussed, but where it touches on the sensitivities of Muslims in Malaysia who practised Islam in accordance with the laws of the country, those criticising jolly well ought to understand Malaysian laws or get the brickbats they deserve.

      Gossip as you like, Mister Never Mind Who You Are. We will gossip back when we disagree. That’s democracy, they tell me. And I like this kind of discussion in here.

      • Haba,

        So, Muslims in Malaysia practise Islam according to the laws of Malaysia and not according to the “laws” of Islam?

        How interesting. OK, got it.

        Thanks for that clarification.

      • Shiite practices are allowed in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan etc but not in Malaysia.

  5. Who exactly is this Reza Aslan to laugh at us? I am laughing at him because he has to merempat somewhere else other than his own birthplace, so for people who have to merempat, such behaviour is perfectly understandable. And who bloody cares if he or indeed the whole lot of his likes are going to laugh at us till the end of days? I’m certainly going to sleep like a baby at night anyway. We have our own law and we shall enforce it our way, just as we hang other Iranians who smuggle and/or distribute drugs in this country. In the past, other so called award winning experts condemned/laughed at us for the way this country was steered through the Asian Financial Crisis. That is just one example. Look who’s laughing now? So this so called award-winning scholar can laugh at us until hell freezes over, as I don’t give a toss!

    • I like your name (that’s Shah of Iran, isn’t it?), your phrase “until hell freezes over” and you “don’t give a toss!”. Do come in more often, Your Majesty. It’s a pleasure to hear you speak.

      But that Reza Pariah fellow, he should jump into the Black Sea. Talking about a foreign country that’s as remote in distance as his original or his adopted country.

      And the interviewers/ publishers of his story should be pushed to the South China Sea. Didn’t read the Appeal Court findings in full (three Judges, each giving their own finding, mind you) yet want to try and discredit the Court, the Government and the Muslim population of this country.

      • Dear Zen,

        Thanks for your comment and please, don’t address me as ‘Your Majesty’. The deposed Shah of Iran was ‘Reza Pahlavi’ whose son also shares the same name. I am from the Pahlavee family and not of the royal ‘king of kings’ blood-line. You see, it’s a name problem but I never claim to be who I am not, even though I have been using the name for nearly 400 years (check my vintage dictionary).

        The problem with some people in this country is that they are so gullible and susceptible to the bite-size information being propagated by irresponsible people with sinister agenda, who also craftily peppered and marinated their bite-size, slow-acting poisons with misleading buzz-words like ‘experts’, ‘award-winning’ etc. (and of course not to forget ‘liberal’ and progressive’). This is a just bloody labelling exercise where people with sinister agenda work so hard to identify themselves as the beacon of hope and prosperity by continuously positively labelling themselves with sugar, spice and everything nice but have no qualms in twisting facts for their own gain or to demonise/belittle others.

        Nk harapkan PAS and PKR dlm isu ni, jauh panggang dari api. Pemuda UMNO?-Aish, tunggu cat kering lagi baguih.

  6. The interview was framed totally outside of the context of the judgment. One crafty plot, no – sinister is the better word. I am pretty sure this is part of the broader, ongoing effort to discredit the Malay led government by the usual suspect.

    Well done Min Yuen, keep up the good work. Keep pushing the Malays, force their back onto the wall and we shall see the consequences.

    I am pretty sure the Malays will lose a lot less than you.

  7. is an example of a self denigrating man whose constipated mind thought him to convolute his own thoughts and blinds him to the fact that il’llah is god in Arabic. The kalimah syahada says there is no other il’llah but Allah. Allah is a specific name referring to the one and only il’llah. Yo! Mr, ask the Christians if they believe that there is no other il’llah but Allah and why don’t they accept Muhammad as the last messenger of Allah? Ask them if Allah is integral in the religions of non Muslims? If not integral, why insisting in using kalimah Allah in their religion/ religions? Why bring in the man-made rights thingy to justify their insistence? And we should be laughing at for his lazy ignorance of Malaysia’s Federal Constitution and the judgements of the Appeals Court yet pretending that he knows what he was rambling about.

    • so what does allah mean? allh in arabic is proven to be just another word for god. the pagan arabs had also called their numero uno lord allah. i dont understand this bone that you have with the so called term/name?

      • Then you should tell some people to get a proper name for their god lah! Why must ciplak-ciplak one? And if they want to ciplak, ciplak la hebrew ka, aramesh ka? cannot meh? closer to old/new testament relation what? but still want to use what malay-muslims have been using in this part of the world even before their missionaries arrive here? why ar? ada rancangan ka? then got some guts to play victim-victim some more. better still, all pray and conduct mass in latin la.

        Allah is a proper name. Arabic got different words for god, show your proof la. talk is cheap lor.

      • Support what you say, Anu.

        I like that bit “Anu dlm Botol Air”. Loaded in meaning. And maybe in air oso. But I dread to think the kind of air that goes into the botol.

        We are still in discussion, right? I like this sekel kepala sikit kind of discussion. That is apt where the intention of the question appears daft.

  8. Reza Aslan ni mcm tak betul je Bro..have a read: even his credentials are being questioned in the US.

  9. The Iranians are at it again, eh? Previously, it was the Iranian-absconded-to-Britain Salman Rushdie ridiculing the Qur’an with his book, “The Satanic Verses”. He got a death warrant issued by the Iranian government that forced him to live in “safe houses” moving from place to pace for years until that death warrant was withdrawn a few years ago.

    And the son of a gun was knighted or something, and given minor roles in Hollywood films, too,recently. The Neo-Cons, Jews and Zionists complicity? But what an experience, living under a death warrant from no less than an Iranian government with their Secret Police, Intelligence operatives serving abroad and all. He must have had more than 9 lives.

    Now this Iranian-absconded-to-US Reza Raslan. “A well-known American Muslim theologian”? Says who? Says the Riong Kali boys? They don’t count, do they? Those boys who do not even understand the laws of this country, the prerogative of the Home Minister in sending the letter to the Christian Herald that started the Court case leading to the Appeal court decision favouring the Muslims recently.

    Of course the Raslan bloke wants to show the Americans that he is more American than those who have been American for generations. He’d probably just got his green card and sworn as an American. To prove his camaraderie with American Christians and his loyalty to America, he should volunteer to serve in Pakistan Swat Valley or in Afghanistan and face the Talibans. And bring a few Riong Kali boys, too, maybe that MI Editor who was photographed in a hat that is often worn by the Talibans.

  10. I am wondering why the Saudi religious authorities and the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar have not as yet commented on this issue.

    An uncharitable explanation is that they are more concerned about the ramifications of the Sunni-Shia divide insofar as it affects Islam globally.

    Or maybe they are content to let Malaysia stew in a juice of it’s own making.

    But, at the end of the day, the US calls the shots.

    Islam or Christianity notwithstanding.

    And no amount of huffing, puffing and grandstanding is going to change that!

    • “at the end of the day, the US calls the shots” –

      You are at the end of the day? We are just starting here. Careful you might have no government if you follow the US. They are in the habit of closing their government. Recently. Before also. Their system is such. Even the US system is not perfect, remember that.

      But if you want to tell how the US will call the shots on our Malaysian business of ruling under Malaysian laws – not theirs – I might listen to you. No promise of agreeing or anything.

      • I hear you, Adam.

        The US may not be perfect. It’s adversarial political system may be dysfunctional. But it is still the ultimate guarantor of peace and security in our little neck of the woods.

        “China”, do I hear you say? “Japan”? ” Indonesia”? ” India”? Surely, you jest.

        As for how the US can call the shots as far as Malaysia is concerned – it’s very simple.

        Just declare Malaysia as a nation that does not respect freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

        Follow up with sanctions, a la Iran.

        You see, Adam, the concept of “sovereignity” is vastly overrated.

        “Sovereignity” operates within the circumscribing parameters drawn up those who have the clout to wield the big stick.

        Uncle Sam, in other words.

        And. push coming to shove, I don’t think that anyone in their right minds (unless it’s Al-Qaeda, Al-Shahab, the Taliban and other assorted worthies) would want to take on the US.

      • “Just declare Malaysia as a nation that does not respect freedom of religion and freedom of speech.”

        The issue does not arise, amigo. That will never happen.

        But Malaysia will insist, must insist, that freedom of religion and freedom of speech must be based on Malaysian laws. Nobody can touch us on that. We are a democratic country, practicing the rule of law, guided by Acts of Parliament, decided by representatives of the people.

        To that extent, we have our own national sovereignty.

        And Russia has been playing a check and balance role at the UN, e.g on the proposal to attack Syria.

        And for so long as we do not allow those bent on harming the interests of freedom loving people and of the US e.g Al Qaeda roaming in our country, no reason why Obama would want to authorize drone attacks like they do in Pakistan. Which now says is an attack on their national sovereignty.

        So, I maintain that the US does not and cannot call the shots on the matter of this country not allowing the use of kalimah Allah by non-Muslims in our country. They are aware of our judicial process and our Government respecting and abiding by the decisions of the Courts.

        Between China and US, I trust the US any time. If at any time our national sovereignty is threatened by US – which I doubt will ever happen (I’m sure Obama regretted a lot in not being able to visit and befriend us recently) – I shudder at the thought of hiding under China’s arm pits. Because they are damn smelly. Decades of Communist Chinese smells, supporting the Malayan Communist Party to overthrow the government, discard our system of monarchy etc. And clapped on by blokes like the DAP.

  11. Allah is the beautiful name of one the God and the creator. Nothing else matter.

    • I love you for saying that kenny. That one I’ll never get bored of hearing. In fact, it’s inspirational.

      Only I cannot fathom people wanting to use the term Allah for their God which takes the form of the Trinity of The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost.

  12. This chap should seriously study the concept of cults.

    “Most members are relatively normal ADULT individuals. Cult members include the young, the old, the wealthy, the poor, the educated, and the uneducated. Clinical experience and informal surveys indicate that a very large majority of cult joiners were experiencing significant stress.

    Unassertive individuals, for instance, may be especially susceptible to the enticements of an authoritarian, hierarchical group because they are afraid to challenge the group’s dogmatic orientation.”

  13. Like they Say ….You Reap what you Sow. The Government Sow Seeds of Confusion and now it is Haversting Endless Derogatory Comments from the Rest of the Islamic World!

    • the Rest of the Islamic World? Who?

      For so long as you don’t sow wild oats, Joe. Which you might be doing when you make wild accusations.

      When you accuse, it’s always a folly doing so in just 1-2 sentences, old chap. Explain and justify what you say so that you don’t appear black with what you say.

    • Hahahahahaha! “Endless Derogatory Comments from the Rest of the Islamic World!!” Just one comment from a desperate, attention seeking, unqualified, self-proclaimed Rushdie-esque expert trying hard to sell his books, and you think we are having sleepless nights? Puh-lease! We know what the rest of the world think of us.

  14. This Reza Aslan should be classified as anti-Faith. He picks a bone with the Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims for his interpretation, generalisation and over simplification of faith, tradition and history.

    He is a religious intelectual troublemaker or Faith Terrorist!

    He terrorize People’s faith!

  15. I hear a dog barking, and that dog’s name is Reza.

    He can bark all he wants.

  16. Read, read and read surah al ikhlas “Say He is Allah the One, Allah the eternal..

  17. Why would they insisted on using an Arab word for a Malay translation of the Herald. Christians in Sabah & Sarawak have been using Bahasa Indonesian Bible with Allah. That’s fine, no problem with that.

    But if you want to translate an English Bible or any publication, to Malay, the correct word for GOD is TUHAN.

    Why the need to use an Arab world for a Malay translation. If you ask me, how come an Arab word for Allah, can be used for the Malay translation of the Koran; I’ll say, we have been using it for ages, same already.

  18. Allah is not a translation of God in Arabic. Allah is his Name, Oneness and the Merciful. His name remains his name, nobody can ever cannot translate his name in any form of human language. Language is non issue here. Kalimah Allah and Al Quran is Qadim, the highest dimension and powerful, not merely in translation and word.

  19. […] It seems that he is continuously mocking the ‘kalimah Allah’ issue, even after the highly controversial interview with Reza Aslan on BFM 89.9 which should be seen as […]

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