Allah row easy to solve if we follow His bidding, not Umno’s

By Wong Choon Mei, Harakah

The ongoing row over whether non-Muslims can use the word Allah to describe God has flushed out many systemic weaknesses, and also highlighted how unprincipled some of our political and religious leaders have become.

Just to stay on the winning side, many seem to think nothing of abandoning basic truth and simple facts. So much so, it is no longer religious principle but vested interest that is now the core tussle behind the row, and that whoever speaks the loudest – regardless of whether the verbiage is backed by the Quran or not – will emerge victorious.

Against such moral deterioration, what are the chances of an inter-faith dialogue finding a way forward that is satisfactory to all quarters? Against such deliberate cultivation of prejudice, can the voices of every participating faith be heard equally, or will they be drowned out selectively?

The answer depends on whose bidding Malaysians – be they Muslims or non-Muslims – follow.

Deliberate lies

Take the much-hyped Muzakarah Pakar or Experts Forum organized by the government-controlled Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia or Ikim, which was attended by some of the nation’s top religious leaders a few days ago.

When the marathon eight-hour forum ended, former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, the Ikim president, was not above bending the ‘findings’ of a seven-member expert panel that included luminaries such as PAS president Hadi Awang, PKR religious head Dr Mohd Nor Manuty and former Perlis Mufti Dr Asri Zainal Abidin.

According to Umno-controlled media, Abdullah said participants had unanimously ‘surmised that the translation of Allah as God was factually wrong because it contradicted the concept of God as espoused by Islam in Malaysia’. Broken down, the doublespeak means it is wrong for non-Muslims to use the word Allah.

But in an immediate response, Hadi denied that the panel ever reached such a common stand and that the news report was wrong.

The PAS leader stressed that there were no such conclusions taken nor resolutions adopted at the discussion entitled ‘Translation of God as Allah: Identifying the Root of the Problem and Its Solution’. He was backed by Dr Manuty and Dr Asri, who also issued statements to clarify what had actually transpired.

They said, on the contrary, there was general agreement by the forum panelists that non-Muslims could use Allah provided that guidelines were issued to prevent its misuse. All three men also reiterated that the Quran allowed it, and that guidelines were the way out in preserving dignity and preventing sensitivities from being rubbed in our multiracial society.

In particular, Asri blasted Abdullah’s comments that the forum focused on whether Allah was an accurate translation for God. This was again untrue, the ex-Perlis mufti said. In fact, what dominated discussion was whether non-Muslims could use the word Allah and not whether the translation of God as Allah was accurate, he added.

Why? To further Umno’s cause?

Why then did Abdullah misinform the public?

To say he was being ‘sleepy as usual’ would be too facile and disrespectful of his decades as a top public servant. To say he did it deliberately to further the cause of his Umno party – which has been accused of instigating and prolonging the row to rally Malay support – would also be unfair to his record of having been the most democratic of Malaysia’s six prime ministers so far.

Those close to him say he was misquoted, which is not impossible. They say he is unhappy about the incident. But if so, why not issue a clarification. Otherwise, the perception will stick that Abdullah had manipulated information in order to give a false impression of unanimous agreement by experts that it is wrong for non-Muslims to use Allah.

And whether the ex-PM did this on his own volition for the sake of Umno, or was asked to do so by the party’s top leaders would certainly be the next ‘hot’ questions to follow.

The other four panelists who attended the Ikim forum were religious adviser to the Prime Minister Dr Abdullah Md Zain, associate professor at International Islamic University Dr Kamar Oniah Kamaruzzaman, Ikim director of economic and social studies Dr Mohd Sani Badron and Ikim fellow for Syariah Law and Politics Md Asham Ahmad.

Whose bidding should we follow?

Despite organizing and participating in the dialogue, Ikim’s own stand is still ambiguous. It believes that non-Muslims are misusing the word Allah. But it has not clarified whether the word can be used by non-Muslims. These are two different arguments – each loaded and packing a huge wallop of its own. Still, by keeping silent, the implication that follows is it does not believe that non-Muslims can.

Which is fine and fair enough as we cannot all be expected to have the same viewpoints. Malaysians – whether Muslims or not – should be matured enough to accept and understand divergent stands, but we cannot and must not tolerate dishonesty, which is what deliberate misinformation boils down to.

Especially in a matter where the greatest sincerity and the highest nobility of spirit should be our spontaneous and ultimate guiding factors. After all, God – by whichever name – is watching us all. And we should all be doing His bidding and not that of His adversaries – whether perceived or real.

If we all followed His teachings, then the Allah row would not be difficult to resolve, contrary to what Umno and its media would have us – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – believe.

The grace of God is mightier than all of us, and only the unbelievers and the irredeemably corrupt would dare to challenge Him.

(Wong Choon Mei is a Consultant Editor for Harakah)

  1. #1 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 5:54 pm

    “If we all followed His teachings, then the Allah row would not be difficult to resolve, contrary to what Umno and its media would have us – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – believe.” – Wong Choon Mei.

    1. So to solve this “easy” problem, what exactly do His teachings & bidding say – can or cannot Non Muslim use “Allah” to describe Him?

    2. And from where and what source would Choon Mei divine, with accuracy, His teachings/bidding?

    “The grace of God is mightier than all of us, and only the unbelievers and the irredeemably corrupt would dare to challenge Him,” she added.

    I am sure many “unbelievers” (by that I supposed reference is made to Atheists) would respect others’ worship of Him as do many “irredeemably corrupt” also hold claims to being religious, though Wong Choon Mei, from her worldview, denies so with her use of the word “challenge” by these two groups….

    Not too sure this is fair to either “unbelievers” or the “irredeemably corrupt” to say that they “challenge Him” from someone who also exhorts that “we cannot all be expected to have the same viewpoints. Malaysians – whether Muslims or not – should be matured enough to accept and understand divergent stands….”

  2. #2 by dagen on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 6:00 pm

    “The grace of God is mightier than all of us, and only the unbelievers and the irredeemably corrupt would dare to challenge Him.”

    The author is clearly mistaken.

    Umno challenges GOD all the time. Because umno is above GOD. Yes. Umno tells GOD wot to do and wot not to do. Umno directs GOD. Umno can tell GOD to shut up. Umno is the GOD of God. Yes. Yes. Because umno is Tuan. Umno is about KETUANAN. Arrgggg … oooo …. ahhhhh

    … an umnoputra masturbating his ketuanan to the fanciful thoughts of ordering GOD about.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 6:11 pm

    As long as UMNO is governing and many times proven to be mightier than God…mocking God ..separating people…which God forbids….yet..they do not care.
    With that…UMNO will destroy everything good.
    Vote UMNO out first…talk later.
    Why let the devil roam freely and talk of inter faith unity an understandings?
    Will you talk of cleanliness when the country is full of dirt and filth?
    Sweep away the devil…then talk.

  4. #4 by jus legitimum on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 6:13 pm

    That racist cintanegara still harps on ketuanan and all the rights whereas even some Umno fellows like Nazri already feels malu to have these words attached to them.Only the lazy,thick skinned ,greedy and stupid ones still need such tongkat in this globalised world.Never feel shameful also,real f…ing idiots.

  5. #5 by dagen on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 6:19 pm

    My point is that that is exactly how ridiculous umnoputras are with their ketuanan attitude and mentality. They applied it to everything they deem good or advantaguous. And worse, umno consists of a bunch of idiots with ultra-inferior complex and they attempt to cover it up by adopting a bullying attitude and by claiming sensitivities over all issues which they are uncomfortable with. NEP failed to address this aspect. Mamak thought the instant noodle way to wealth will surely help the malays to shed the complex under equally short a time. He failed of course. Wealth in the hands of malays became concentrated in the hands of only a few. More than shedding the complex, these few fellas grew greedier than before and they also rather disgustingly acquired an oversize and revolting attitude. I am Tuan and you are Hamba. That is how they would like to see the country. They are no longer god-fearing people. Money is their god. And their new found money-god can talk and do actually speak to them, if you can catch my drift.

    So the author is mistaken. The only way forward is to get rid of umno in GE13. Put those irresponsible idiots in prison. Malaysia needs to re-boot and start again.

    “Selamatkan Malaysia. Re-boot and re-start the system.” Shall we?

    previously, taiking and now dagen – after re-booting and re-starting.

  6. #6 by Godfather on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 6:32 pm

    Sleepy Head was snoring when the others were debating the issue.

  7. #7 by chengho on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 7:15 pm

    very easy to resolve , you just need to ask Pakiam not to publish herald .

  8. #8 by Onlooker Politics on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 7:18 pm

    The Allah issue will never be an easy problem so long as both muslims and Jesus’ followers are still insisting on the holier-than-thou attititude. This problem will never be easy when either party is trying to refer to their respective religious book for finding a solution. This is because Allah, as a monotheist god, is always a jealous god who will never tolerate the interpretation about Him by borrowing the verses from the so-called cult’s religious book.

    Therefore, the solution for the Allah controversy shall lie in the judgement of a civil court, by phasing out all the spiritual interpretation on “Allah and by the inferences of logics and reasons” and also by the humanity consideration on the human rights and the constitutional rights of the minority group!

  9. #9 by Onlooker Politics on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 7:41 pm

    “very easy to resolve , you just need to ask Pakiam not to publish herald.” (chengho)

    Then chengho will be able to turn Umno into a Nazi-like party with instant effect!

  10. #10 by monsterball on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 7:48 pm


  11. #11 by storm62 on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 8:53 pm

    sorry guys, out of topic…just got this reply from RPK, i think we should do something for him.

    written by Super Admin, January 26, 2010 19:56:19
    Dear storm62, yes, everything has been seized. My wife and I have nothing left to our name other than the clothes on our back and the 10X10 bedroom that we are tompanging in. But it is still more comfortable than Kamunting.


  12. #12 by monsterball on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 9:02 pm

    Storm62..What do you want us to do?
    I think on the financial side…RPK is being looked after by a good Samaritan.
    I think…he wants our prayers to keep him away from harm’s way..more than anything else.
    Correct me…if I am wrong.
    Glad you come to this blog.

  13. #13 by monsterball on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 9:05 pm

    To be blunt…anyone asking for donations on behalf of RPK..I am not donate.
    But if RPK can find a way…to ask donations..I will donate willingly.
    Simple as that.

  14. #14 by storm62 on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 9:15 pm

    monty, we wait for his reply…both his and marina’s account in malaysia have been freezed….maybe can contribute to thru his lawyers…he sacrificed for us, we should help.

  15. #15 by monsterball on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 9:52 pm

    I repeat…I will help..but not through a third party…be it lawyer or anyone.
    I am sure RPK will appreciate what I am taking about.
    Becareful Storm62.
    Nice to be generous..but don’t be hasty.
    I seriously think RPK will never be in financial trouble.
    He is too important to Malaysia and Malaysians..let money be his problem.
    Powerful men will see to that…he and his wife are healthy and well…although they cannot protect then….from harm’s way.

  16. #16 by Onlooker Politics on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 - 9:59 pm

    Just be careful about the danger of eavesdropping by the Police when someone tries to contact RPK through phone or through email! That is the best way to trace the whereabout of RPK!

  17. #17 by vsp on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - 12:23 am

    The fate of Kulim Bandar Baharu MP Zulkifli Noordin will be decided by the PKR disciplinary board within one month from today said Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.


    Anwar, Anwar again the same mistake you are making. The first time this donkey burst into the Bar Council meeting, Anwar said that disciplinary action would be taken against this stupid animal. But as soon all attention began to wane, Zulkifli Noordin was quietly left off the hook. This gave the cue to the unrepentant flyer that he is untouchable and he repeatedly continued to wreak more havoc for PKR.

    What is Anwar afraid of? Is Zulkifli Noordin privy to some of Anwar’s foibles that Anwar does not want it to be exposed to the public? I am beginning to despair of Anwar’s procrastination.

    Nearly 99.99% of the commentators on all the blogs where this story was posted disagree with Anwar’s indecisiveness.

  18. #18 by frankyapp on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - 1:11 am

    What’s there to talk about when Umnoputras are not willing to share even the word ALLAH or to share GOD with others. They refused or even prohibited non-muslims to use the word ,which means they don’t care for others.They don’t share,don’t care,don’t want to understand and don’t want to love others,how on earth can an inter-faith meeting could be held.These people are selfish,self-centred,greedy,imperious,arrogant and pretty cunning just like kasim amat said that the malay supremacy could not be challenged. Tell me who wants to associate with misfits.

  19. #19 by monsterball on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - 6:03 am

    No problems..make problems.
    That’s what UMNO is good at.
    A united country … from corruptions..UMNO does not fit in at all.
    It must always divide and rule…and use money to buy loyalties ..therefore….the country.
    UMNO is corrupted to the core…cannot change…s used to living high society life with stolen money…want more and more to keep up with their established lifestlye.
    They know how to enjoy..act and be merry.
    They do not know how to earn a ringgit honestly.
    Their only hope are their big mouths…protected by bought up law and order people…to speak…do or act…to make a peaceful prosperous country into a sick country with unhappiness and hard to make a living.
    When all are poor …hungry…all wil be tamed and listen into them.
    You think such people love Allah?

  20. #20 by Loh on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - 9:36 am

    It is not that the UMNO government cannot solve the Allah issue, it chooses not to. Read the following article appearing in the New York Time.

    >>>reality, a government dominated by the United Malays National
    >>>Organization (UMNO) is using spurious religious/linguistic arguments to
    >>>shore up its support among a majority Malay electorate, which has been
    >>>fed for years with preferences and privileges. Meanwhile, non-Malay
    >>>money and talent exits the country.
    >>>By PHILIP BOWRING, The New York Times
    >>>One ought to be able to laugh at the absurdity of it. But the
    >>>message is one of ignorance, religious and racial prejudice and
    >>>political opportunism.
    >>>Last week, the Malaysian government
    >>>declared that Christians in one part of the country could use “Allah”
    >>>as the word for God when speaking Malay, but that those in most of the
    >>>country could not. This is the same government that is currently
    >>>running a public relations campaign called One Malaysia emphasizing the
    >>>common identity of the nation’s racial and religious
    >>> mix.
    >>>reality, a government dominated by the United Malays National
    >>>Organization (UMNO) is using spurious religious/linguistic arguments to
    >>>shore up its support among a majority Malay electorate, which has been
    >>>fed for years with preferences and privileges. Meanwhile, non-Malay
    >>>money and talent exits the country.
    >>>The government had earlier
    >>>tried to stop the use of the word Allah by all Christians. This was
    >>>successfully challenged in the High Court. But instead of letting the
    >>>matter rest, the government declined to back down, setting the scene
    >>>for the fire bombing of churches. While these could not be laid
    >>>directly at the door of UMNO, hotheads in the party may well have taken
    >>>their cue from what non-Muslims see as a deliberate attempt to stir up
    >>>ethnic/religious issues for political gain. Last year it was Hindus who
    >>>were the target of Malay provocation.
    >>>UMNO political calculation
    >>> that the organization sticks to its demands about the use of
    >>>the word Allah in peninsular Malaysia, where all Malays are deemed
    >>>Muslims and where Christians are ethnic Chinese or Indian, but not in
    >>>the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak where there are large
    >>>communities of Malay-speaking Christians. The UMNO-led coalition needs
    >>>the support of the multi-ethnic parties in those states.
    >>>word Allah has always been used without Muslim objection by Christians
    >>>in the Arab world, as well as those in Malay-speaking Indonesia, where
    >>>there are 10 times as many Muslims as in Malaysia. The word is itself
    >>>derived from pre-Islamic Semitic language roots. Even Malaysia’s
    >>>strictly Islamist opposition party, Parti Islam (PAS), agrees that all
    >>>Abrahamic faiths are entitled to use the word Allah.
    >>>But such
    >>>facts are of little relevance to UMNO politicians determined to drum up
    >>>any issue that can be used to show
    >>> their commitment to defending Malay
    >>>and Muslim privileges and thus retain the support of a Malay majority
    >>>against the appeal both of PAS and the multi-ethnic Keadilan party of
    >>>the former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
    >>>UMNO cannot
    >>>claim to be a party of the pious. Half a century in power has turned it
    >>>into a vast patronage machine that enriches the Malay elite, providing
    >>>support for luxurious lifestyles. Its insistence that all Malays are
    >>>Muslims (and cannot convert) is an attempt to give religious backing to
    >>>the message of Malay racial preference. That is barely in accord with
    >>>the universalist notions of global Islam but keeps the loyalty of many
    >>>Malays otherwise resentful of growing income gaps.
    >>>However, the
    >>>racial and religious divides among the opposition still make an
    >>>UMNO-led government seem a better choice than the alternatives — most
    >>>likely ones in which the fundamentalism of PAS would
    >>> replace the
    >>>opportunism of UMNO. So despite the deterioration of communal relations
    >>>in peninsular Malaysia, no major changes are in sight.
    >>>carries two main dangers. The first is the continuing large scale
    >>>exodus of capital and of talented non-Malays. Five years of generally
    >>>good prices for its main commodity exports, oil, gas and palm oil, have
    >>>delivered huge trade surpluses and a current account surplus of more
    >>>than 10 percent of gross domestic product. But economic growth has been
    >>>slow due to very weak private investment, only partly offset by large
    >>>government deficit spending. Once a major recipient of foreign capital,
    >>>Malaysia is now a source of flight capital. This is only sustainable
    >>>while commodity prices remain at double levels of five years ago and
    >>>three times those in 2002.
    >>>A longer term danger, at least as
    >>>perceived by some leading Malays, such as the former Finance Minister
    >>> Razaleigh, is that a combination of religious intolerance and
    >>>resentment of federal exploitation of their natural resources will
    >>>generate secessionism in the Borneo states. They joined Malaysia in
    >>>1963 without much enthusiasm but as the best option open to them as the
    >>>British withdrew from empire. They do not want their traditions of
    >>>racial and religious diversity to be poisoned by peninsular prejudices.
    >>>Their separate treatment on the Allah issue will have some immediate
    >>>benefits for Kuala Lumpur, but can only underscore just how different
    >>>they are.
    >>>In short, the episode is sad commentary on a nation
    >>>whose mix of races, its fine infrastructure and wealth of resources has
    >>>held such promise. If only there really were One Malaysia.

  21. #21 by Loh on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - 9:39 am

    ///You think such people love Allah?///–monsterball

    Think not what they can do for Allah, dream only what Allah can do for them. That is why in addition to NEP, they have to monopolise Allah.

  22. #22 by Suckkars on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - 10:07 am

    Loh :
    ///You think such people love Allah?///–monsterball
    Think not what they can do for Allah, dream only what Allah can do for them. That is why in addition to NEP, they have to monopolise Allah.

    Excellent point!!! Not only they monopolize the word “Allxh”, they monopolize almost everything!!! Studies in local Universities, Civil Servants, Arm forces, Police, Judicial bodies, Halai Foods and ect ect….

    How UMNO/BN is going to win favors of FDI and attract returning of those best brains from overseas? Whatever UMNO and BN are always contradictory to their set forward objectives for the entire nation!! Excellent example, the pursuits of UMNO for monopolizing the word “Allxh” as vigorously campaigning 1Malaysia unity as what NYT pointed out….

    Not only contradictory and hypocrisy; but moronic absurdity with hog heads….

  23. #23 by PSM on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - 11:55 am

    No where in the Quran or Hadith does it say that Non-Muslims can’t use he word “Allah”.
    PAS made the right decision. However, UMNO uses politics & threats when making their decisions!
    Isn’t difficult to see afterall just look how corrupted UMNO is!

  24. #24 by cheng on on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - 3:24 pm

    Easy, just use ISA, enact a law to legitimate its ban (minimum fine RM18,000 or 1 year’s jail ??), paste notices at all entry points, Better still make it legal only for Malaysia Muslims, all non Muslim, whether Malaysian / foreigners cannot use this Arab words or words with similar sound in any languages (yes, any languages) of this world !
    Non Malaysian Muslim also cannot use. Malaysia govt can then get a lot of money from these fines ?? wonderful, isn’t it??
    Malaysia govt can also create another world number 1. ?? OR do Malaysia jails will have a population explosion??

  25. #25 by cheng on on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - 3:33 pm

    All affected state anthems, must be modified to suit non Muslim Malaysian, otherwise just ban them (non Muslim Malaysian) from singing any state anthems which have this Arab word.
    Words like Aladdin, Alamak, Alana, ala-carte etc shall also be banned to collect more fine money for govt??

  26. #26 by MGR1940 on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - 4:06 pm

    By the way I thought it must be a malay to become the PM of Malaysia.
    How come a bugis Indonesian is the PM of Malaysia?
    Mamak Mahathir just let the cat out of the bag.

  27. #27 by MGR1940 on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - 4:45 pm

    It is complsory for all employees in the industrial sector to attend Toolbox talk every morning before starting work after praying for Allxh by muslim together with non-muslims.

    All these years the non-muslims has to stand still as a mark of respect if they like it or not.


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