Malaysia Allah dispute: Top court rejects challenge

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)

Petronas Towers, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Petronas Towers, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia’s highest court has rejected a challenge to the ban on Christians using the word “Allah” to refer to God, in a highly divisive legal case in the Muslim-majority nation.

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The case was brought by the Catholic Church, which sought to overturn a ban first put in place in 2007.

But the Federal Court said an earlier ruling backing the ban was correct.

The case began over the use of “Allah” to refer to the Christian God in the Catholic Church’s Malay-language paper.

People of all faiths use the word Allah in Malay to refer to their deities.

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.

Malaysian authorities say its use by Christians could confuse Muslims and lead some to convert to Christianity.

Malay Muslims make up almost two-thirds of the country’s population, but there are large Hindu and Christian communities.

The long-running case has proved very controversial, sparking impassioned debate and leading to occasional attacks on mosques and churches.

The Catholic Church’s newspaper, The Herald, appealed against the initial ban and in 2009 a court ruled in its favour, but that judgement that was later overturned by the Court of Appeal.

This ruling was handed down by a seven-member panel, which voted by 4-3 to dismiss the challenge.

Additional Reading

Solomonic wisdom needed to establish Separation of Mosque-Church-Synagogue and State

5 replies

  1. Malaysian court decision is neither Islamic, nor wise and pragmatic.

    What precedence does it create for the Muslims, who are living in the West?

  2. At atime when the world is going topsy-turvy the is a dire need for more rational approaches.Every religion has fanatics who are bound to distort the Divine image of their original message.There are two meanings of most religious terms including the term GOD,Allah, Dieu, Khuda etc.The literal meaning of the term in all languages including English and Arabic is “The sole Creator and Sustainer of the universe”.The technical meaning,however, differs from culture to culture.Some Arabs may use the term Allah to stand for the doctrine of trinity.English-speaking muslims use the term God to refer to Islamic monotheism(Tawheed).Allah or God is the Lord of the Worlds not just That of Muslims, Christians,Jews or even atheists.
    As an expert in terminology,translation and cross-cultural dialogue, I made this point clear to the Malaysian Embassy in Amman, Jordan and the immediate effect was stopping violence against churches over there.Many misnomers lead to misconceptions and conflicts.
    Director General
    Eurab Cultural Centre
    Surrey, England
    PhD in linguistics and translation
    University of London

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