Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak defended decision of Court of Appeal recently against the earlier Kuala Lumpur High Court on the position of ‘kalimah Allah’ for the Catholic Church’s weekly Herald.
Najib vows to defend use of Allah as exclusive to Muslims
BY EILEEN NG
NOVEMBER 05, 2013
In his message marking the Islamic new year, Najib vowed to defend Islam based on the concept of moderation, or Wasatiiyah. – The Malaysian Insider pic,
November 5, 2013.Putrajaya has pledged to defend the use of the word Allah as the exclusive right of Muslims, even as the debate continued following the October 14 Court of Appeal ruling banning the use of the word in a Catholic weekly.
In his message marking the Islamic new year or Maal Hijrah today, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said while Malaysia upholds the Federal Constitution and the position of Islam, it also subscribed to the concept of moderation, or Wasatiyyah, saying it is the foundation of the country’s harmony.
“To appreciate the wider meaning of migration, we still uphold our religion and defend the name of Allah for religion, race and our beloved country.
“Malaysia which upholds the Constitution and Islam as the official religion of the country, will remain steadfast in defending the position of Islam in the country in line with Maqasid Syariah and the concept of Wasatiyyah,” Najib said in his message posted on his 1Malaysia blog today.
Several Muslim groups have insisted that the word Allah belonged exclusively to Muslim, although Christians and other faiths have argued otherwise.
This followed the recent Court of Appeal decision not to allow Catholic weekly Herald to use the word Allah in its Bahasa Malaysia section, after a long legal battle over the usage of the word.
The decision overturned an earlier ruling by the High Court in 2009, which said that Allah, the Arabic word for God, was not the exclusive right of Muslims, and allowed the Herald to use it.
The ruling was challenged by the Home Ministry in its appeal in January 2010.
The Court of Appeal noted the Home Ministry’s prohibition on the Herald from using the word was justified, arguing that Allah was not integral to the Christian faith.
The church has 30 days to file the leave application to appeal against the Court of Appeal decision.
The decision sparked a debate on whether Christians in Sabah and Sarawak, who mostly use Bahasa Malaysia in their worship, were also bound by the ruling.
This led Najib assuring Christians in East Malaysia that they can continue using the word, as stated in Putrajaya’s so-called 10-point solution announced in 2011.
The Allah ruling also got worldwide attention, including strong comments from American Muslim theologian Reza Aslan who said the decision made a mockery of Malaysia.
The debate on the matter continues, with the Bar Council reportedly considering to back the Catholic weekly in the appeal process. This raised the ire of Muslim Lawyers Association, who strongly opposed the move. – November 5, 2013.
This statement by Prime Minister Najib affirm the commitment of the Federal Government of upholding the position and will of HRH Rulers on “Allah is a word exclusively for the Muslims and Non Muslims are prohibited from using it”.
He also stated that it is unreasonable for the 54 combined NGOs COMANGO to demand for the right of apostasy and deny the power of the Syariah Courts to decide on the position of faith for Muslims since it is against specific provisions enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
COMANGO also is fighting for the rights of LGBT practitioners and act of committing adultery and fornication between two consenting adults.
In his visit to London last week attending the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), Prime Minister Najib spoke to anchorwoman Christiane Amanpour on her program aired by CNN and stated “My priority is to ensure peace and harmony in Malaysia. When the court decide on certain things, I have to respect the courts decision. To me, it is not about winning a legal argument. It goes beyond that”.
He explained his arguments for the position of Wasatiyah, in ‘walking the line of moderation against the hardliners’.
“It is about having a long term vision of the country. We are committed to this long term vision. To move towards this long term vision, there would be growing pains a long the way. If you want long term stability, you must make sure the majority are not marginalized”.
He also told Amanpour that the policy of the Malaysian Government is inclusive and cater for the needs of the minority.
That simply summed up all the initiatives, demands and provocations made by the various groups of minority in Malaysia and being intensified of late, to antagonize against the majority. Whenever the majority turn around to defend their position even for what have been specifically provided in the Federal Constitution, then the minority would use it as an example of them being oppressed and their rights denied.
The fact that all the provocations is actually part of the political strategy by the Opposition to weaken the Malays, which the power-base of the ruling party.
This statement should dispel if not pacify the growing uneasiness of the majority of Malay-Muslim via the various Malay NGOs and the grass-root of UMNO that the Federal Government is not stern and loud enough on issues such as the role and position of Islam, HRH Rulers and Special Malay Rights. In fact, Prime Minister Najib has been plagued with the perception of being a populist and pandering to whims and fancies of the minority, even the extreme and chauvinist ones.
Prime Minister Najib’s position to defend what were the fundamentals when this nation was born is in the right direction of his ‘Wasatiyah’, to move Malaysians together in the same direction and having everyone inclusive in this agenda.