The global Christian churches should stop from making comments and demands on the kalimah “Allah” issue after the Court of Appeal unanimously decided on 14 October 2014 that Home Ministry was right to ban Catholic Church’s Herald publication in Malay and overturned High Court decision to ban Catholic Herald from using kalimah “Allah” in place of God.
Riong Kali dot com story:
Churches worldwide lend support to Catholics over ‘Allah’ row as court appeal looms
BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
FEBRUARY 12, 2014
The Catholic Church’s appeal against the ban on the use of ‘Allah’ will be heard on March 5. – The Malaysian Insider pic, February 12, 2014.More churches worldwide are lending their support to Christian leaders in Malaysia as the court date to hear the Catholic church’s appeal against the ban on the use of the word Allah draws nearer.
The latest to join the chorus of criticism is the World Methodist Council (WMC) which expressed shock and consternation over the Court of Appeal ruling in October which bar the Catholic weekly, Herald, from using the Arabic word.
In a letter addressed to the Christian Federation of Malaysia, sighted by The Malaysian Insider, WMC general secretary Bishop Ivan Abrahams wrote that the decision was a “rather troubling” attempt by the courts in Malaysia to allow one religion to take ownership over a universal terminology.
“The verdict has the possibility to create unnecessary division between Christians and Muslims in Malaysia,” said Abrahams who wrote from the WMC headquarters in North Carolina in the United States.
The WMC represents more than 80 million believers in 130 countries.
Abrahams further noted that throughout the world, the use of the word God in a believer’s mother tongue was “not something that authorities should be seen as politicising”.
He added that this would only create a troubling and dangerous precedent in an already fragmented world.
“The Malaysian courts need look no further than neighbouring Indonesia to see that Christians and Muslims refer to God as Allah, without incident or controversy,” he said.
He further pointed out that daughters and sons of Abraham share the same God, and as such, to claim exclusive ownership over the name would constitute a divisive action at a time when religions should be working together to unite believers.
“I write to you as the general secretary of the World Methodist Council, which represents over 80 million believers in 130 countries, and together, our worldwide church family pray that all Malaysians may be able to practise their faith freely.
“And that a spirit of unity, civility and peace will sweep over the people of Malaysia and that the forces that seek to divide will one day learn the power of reconciliation and hope,” Abrahams wrote.
Just last week, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), in a letter to the Council of Churches of Malaysia, noted that Christian communities in the Muslim world and in countries where Arabic words permeate local languages, God has always been referred to as Allah.
“This is not just a matter of faith, but also a reality of history and language.
“It is with great sadness that we continue to witness the burden you bear in the controversy in Malaysia over the use of the word Allah,” said ELCA’s Bishop Elizabeth Eaton in the letter dated February 5.
The letter also noted that the raid and seizure of Malay and Iban Bibles from The Bible Society of Malaysia’s (BSM) premises last month had brought “renewed attention to the unique problem faced by Christians in Malaysia”.
“What is particularly disturbing about the incident is how it violates Malaysia’s own Constitution, in which Article 11 sets out the freedom of religion,” Eaton wrote.
Even the United Nations had weighed in on the Allah issue in Malaysia, when its Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, called on the Malaysian government to reverse its decision to ban Catholic weekly Herald from using the word.
In a statement released in Geneva late last year, he had warned that the case may have far-reaching implications for religious minorities in the country.
“Freedom of religion or belief is a right of human beings, not a right of the state,” Bielefeldt had said.
UN Independent Expert on minority issues Rita Izsak and UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression Frank La Rue had both echoed Bielefeldt’s call.
The Herald won a High Court decision in December 2009 that overturned the Home Ministry’s ban on the use of the word “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia section.
However, last October, the Court of Appeal overturned that decision, saying that the word was not integral to Christianity.
In October last year, a three-man Court of Appeal bench were unanimous in their decision that Allah’s name can only be used by Muslims and barred the Catholic weekly, Herald, from using Allah in its Bahasa Malaysia section.
The bench found that the word Allah was not an integral part of the Malaysian Christian’s faith.
An appeal has been filed against this judgment and the case is scheduled to be heard at the Federal Court on March 5.
On January 2, tensions over the “Allah” issue escalated when the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais), raided BSM and seized more than 300 Bibles in Malay and Iban.
The Bibles have yet to be returned. – February 12, 2014.
Violation of kalimah “Allah, especially with the intent to prosetylise Christianity to the Malay-Muslim majority populous of Malaysia should be seen as nothing but a direct attack against Articles 3.1 and 11.4 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
The intent to curb violation of both articles is reflective in the unanimous decision of the three learned Court of Appeal judges.
Under Article 3.1, Islam is not only religion of the Federation of Malaysia but Islam is a defining characteristic of this nation. That was based on the Federation of Malaya Treaty inked between HRH Rulers and representative of the British Empire on 21 January 1948 where the treaty became the fundamental basis of the Federation of Malaya Constitution which came into effect on 31 August 1957.
The definition of the Malays is also related to their belief and practice of Islam.
That is why, HRH Rulers take this kalimah “Allah” matter very seriously. Even His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong XIV had to stand up and be heard, specifically issued a titah on the matter recently.
The matter is not for scrutiny or criticism for the world community, just like in the episode where Vatican Ambassador to Malaysia Apostolic Nuncio Joseph Salvador’s statement in the interview with Riong Kali dot com, last Ramadhan.
It is very clear pro-Opposition news portals in the likes of Riong Kali dot com have intent of malice playing this issue continuously. Especially in the angle and flavour presented in this article.
They would not stop and put the matter to rest unless they could expand the matter which violates the sensitivities of the Malay-Muslim majority and create a situation of uneasiness and tense, where the minority Christians which is a minority amongst the minority especially in Semenanjung could then be manipulated as being ’emotionally oppressed’.
Example is giving a Catholic church odd-ball like Murphy Pakiam to tell off Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak or Non Muslim Consultative Council make seditious statements, via the Riong Kali dot com.
The recent JAIS raid at Bible Seminary Malaysia opened an investigation for the activities pertaining to violation of ban of protelysation of Christianity to Malay-Muslim majority of Selangor and surrounding states. Mots likely, the investigations have not been completed yet. Hence, the bibles have not been returned.
That is a simple logic to explain for the 300 plus bibles in Malay still in possession of JAIS. Yet, Riong Kali dot com chose to highlight this point.