Oct 19, 2013
Five days after the Court of Appeal ruled on the ‘Allah’ issue the controversial decision is still drawing ridicule from some Muslims worldwide as, among others, “bizarre” and “grossly wrong”.
“Now, as a fellow Muslim, I will be honest to the Malaysians who have given this verdict or those who support it: This is one of the most illogical, insensible and childish decisions I have heard in my life. It is sheer nonsense,” wrote a columnist for Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News today.
Mustafa Akyol, who appears to write for several Turkish and international publications, called the verdict that The Herald cannot use the word ‘Allah’ as it leads to confusion amongst Muslims and brings the threat of propagation “grossly wrong”, “un-Islamic” and “irrational”.
“Why? Well, first of all, the word ‘Allah’ simply means ‘the God’ in Arabic, and it certainly is not exclusive to Islam,” he wrote, mirroring the much repeated explanation that seems to fall on deaf ears amongst the local Muslims in authority.
He added in his commentary that Islam itself in fact encourages others of the Abrahamic religions to embrace the term.
“…If Malaysian Muslims should have done anything about the word ‘Allah’, it should have been to call on Christians to use the term freely,” he argued quoting from Quranic verses.
Commenting on Muslim “confusion” over the Christians’ use of ‘Allah, Akyol said, “Well, nobody’s ‘confusion’, or lack of comprehension, can justify the destruction of other people’s freedom.
“Otherwise, should Christian countries ban the usage of terms such as ‘Jesus’ or ‘Mary’, which are prominent in the Quran, by their Muslim minorities?”
The columnist did not mince his words that those who advance such ideas of a “Muslim copyright for ‘Allah’” does nothing but “reveal the burning lack of intellectual self-confidence among Muslims”.
“Why, otherwise, does the slightest chance of ‘the propagation of other religions’ provoke so much fear – and so much compulsion?” he concluded.
‘Sad behaviour on holy day’
Earlier on Wednesday, an editorial in Pakistan’s English paper Daily Times lamented the sad state of Islamic practice while reflecting on the week’s holy day Eid Al Adha, citing the ‘Allah’ ruling as one of the examples.
“The problem with practising Muslims today is that they treat Islam like an insecure entity that needs care, due attention and a special shelter lest it gets smeared and nullified…
“Who has given Muslims the liberty to copyright the name of Allah? It is His name, and He is the God of the universe, as He has said in the scriptures,” wrote mufti Abdul Aziz al Sheikh in his commentary that included incidents of violence in Syria and Pakistan.
“There is no religion that does not believe in the existence of god. Why are we trying to deny people owning god in all his attributes? Is this how piety in Islam is preserved or managed?” wrote the mufti.
Calling the move to limit the use of the name “retrogressive”, Abdul Aziz asked how Muslims were to attain their spiritual goal.
The highly anticipated ruling on Monday to bar the Catholic publication The Herald from using ‘Allah’ to refer to god, and the aftermath of consternation as well as confusion both among the public and the government alike, has reverberated across the world in a chorus of criticism.
In the UK a Sudanese Muslim writer said the verdict was merely an attempt by the majority in “subordinating” the minorities and had no basis in theology.
United Arab Emirates’s (UAE) newspaper The National was one of the first to react, arguing in an editorial on the same day as the verdict that the word ‘Allah’ was “not exclusive to Islam”.
Meanwhile a senior editor at Indonesian daily Jakarta Post commented, “Can Muslims, who profess belief in one almighty god, seriously claim exclusivity in God?
“Those who claim exclusivity to God undermine their own faith,” wrote Endy M Bayuni on Thursday.
Ibrahim Ali: Who cares what you think?
In the face of the onslaught abroad, firebrand and pro-government lobbyist Ibrahim Ali in The Malay Mail Online yesterday slammed critics of the ruling, saying there were also ignorant Muslims in the Arab countries, and that some in Indonesia even “eat pork”.
“Why should we be bothered … Don’t think that every Arab knows or understands Islam. That there is no one ignorant there.
“Those (from the Arab world) that support the US are socialists and Christians…
“The same can be said about Indonesia…it is far worse. Those who don the ‘songkok’ are not necessarily Muslim …there are those who consume pork. It’s all possible in Indonesia,” the Perkasa chief told the English daily.
Ibrahim, who last year courted controversy for calling on Malay language bibles containing the word ‘Allah’ to be burned, repeated his stunt on Thursday now calling for such bibles to be banned.