Epigraph: Say, ‘O People of the Book! come to a word equal between us and you — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah.’ But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we have submitted to God.’ (Al Quran 3:65)
A Malaysian court has ruled that non-Muslims cannot use the word Allah to refer to God, even in their own faiths, overturning a 2009 lower court ruling.
The appeals court said the term Allah must be exclusive to Islam or it could cause public disorder.
People of all faiths use the word Allah in Malay to refer to their Gods.
Christians argue they have used the word, which entered Malay from Arabic, to refer to their God for centuries and that the ruling violates their rights.
One Malaysian Christian woman said the ruling would affect the community greatly.
“If we are prohibited from using the word Allah then we have to re-translate the whole Bible, if it comes to that,” Ester Moiji from Sabah state told the BBC.
‘Disappointed and dismayed’
The 2009 ruling sparked tensions, with churches and mosques attacked.
It came after the government said that a Catholic newspaper, The Herald, could not use the word in its Malay-language edition to describe the Christian God.
The newspaper sued, and a court ruled in their favour in December 2009. The government then launched an appeal.