The bigotry of forbidding the use of an English word in the name of Islam

By N H Chan

In the Malaysian Insider, Tuesday, 29 March 2011, I find this article;

Mufti says Islamic law bars release of Alkitab
By Syed Mu’raz Syed Putra

Selangor Mufti Datuk Tamyes Abd Wahid said the crux of the controversy is over the use of the word “Allah” in the bible, which is forbidden to religions other than Islam, as written in 1988 state enactment on religious propagation.

I am still of the view that they [the distribution of the Bahasa Malaysia Bibles] should be blocked, as this translation that contains the translation of the word “God” to “Allah” is dangerous and confusing, especially to the young,” the senior Islamic cleric told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

He explained that young Muslims who had shallow knowledge of religion and faith would be confused by the use of the word “Allah” by Christians, which to them meant “Allah has a son … that Allah has a wife … God is a father”.

“Certainly it is not fitting for the government to allow the Alkitab to be released, not because it is in Bahasa Malaysia but because the use of the word [“Allah”] contained inside that could twist the faith of Muslims and we do not want this to happen,” Tamyes said.

Make no bones about it anyone can see through this façade of imagined controversy. All of us know that there is no controversy at all over the use of the word ‘Allah’. What Tamyes meant was ‘Allah’ is a forbidden word to all of us who are not Muslims. Only Muslims can use this word ‘Allah’. Infidels like the rest of us are forbidden to use the word. To these narrow-minded Muslims an ‘infidel’ is a person who has no religion, like me, or whose religion is not Islam. To them even Jews and Christians are infidels.

But the word ‘God’ in the English Bible when translated to Bahasa Malaysia is ‘Allah’ who is God in the biblical sense or meaning. The reason why Christians are adamant and insistent that the word ‘Allah’ should be used in the National Language Bible is because Christians worship the same God that Muslims also worship irrespective of whether they worship in English or in Bahasa Malaysia. So what is wrong with Christians calling their God in English ‘God’ and the same God in Bahasa Malaysia ‘Allah’?

It is not the fault of Christians that the English word ‘Allah’ is spelt in exactly the same way in Bahasa Malaysia. When Bahasa Malaya, later Malaysia, came into existence the powers that be chose to use Roman characters – the alphabet used for writing Latin, English, and most European languages – for writing in the new Bahasa Malaya. Before the creation of this National Language, if I am not mistaken, the Malay language was written in Javanese. However it cannot be denied that the English language had been using the Roman alphabet since time immemorial – ever since the Roman Empire had extended to England up to Hadrian’s Wall. Our National language using the Roman alphabet was only created recently; in mid 1950s. They have also copied a lot of English words into the new language by treating the plagiarized English words as Bahasa Malaysia words. That being the case, they, therefore, have no right whatsoever to say that the English spelling of ‘Allah’ must not be spelt the same way in Bahasa Malaysia. Surely, it cannot be right for copycats to assume proprietorship over an English word which had existed in the English language since the sixteenth century? Shame on them!

If you have read my previous article about the desecration of the Bible especially the one in the Malaysian Insider, you will see this comment:

Please let me clarify an important point brought up by the writer. In Arabic, the word Allah is spelled ‘Alif Lam Lam Hah’ and is pronounced as Allah! and not Alilah as mentioned by the writer. I would suggest that the writer clarify this with an Arab speaking academic. Thank you.

So I was wrong. ‘Allah’ was pronounced correctly by the English in the sixteenth century. But thanks to Amin, now we know the word is spelt in Arabic ‘Alif Lam Lam Hah’ and is pronounced ‘Allah’.

If ‘Allah’ is a forbidden word, whose fault is it then? Instead of copying from the English word ‘Allah’ the people who invented words for Bahasa Malaysia should have spelt ‘Allah’ correctly in Arabic. If they have done that, there would be no need to desecrate the Bahasa Malaysia Bible.

In any English dictionary the word ‘God’ with a capital G depicts the Christian God and the word ‘Allah’ in English means ‘a Muslim name for God’. But the God of the Muslims is the same God as the God of the Christians and the Jews whose God was the God of Abraham. In my book How to Judge the Judges, at pages xxx, xxxi, this is what it says:

I have recounted the … story of Abraham and his two sons from the book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible. The story of Isaac and his descendants are told in the Old Testament. But the history of the descendants of Ishmael, the elder brother of Isaac, is not found in the Bible but we know from the Bible that God took care of him as he grew up and he will be made into a great nation. We can safely assume that the God of Abraham who was also the God of Ishmael and Isaac also gave the same commands to them. So that whatever precepts that might apply to the descendants of Isaac will, mutatis mutandis, apply to the descendants of Ishmael. So now we know that the Arabs and the Jews were descended from Ishmael and Isaac whose father was Abraham (Ibrahim); and the God of them is the same God. And God has marked them as His people by circumcision. It is therefore not surprising that the punishment of stoning to death for adultery and apostasy is found in the Bible and not in the Quran.

Before the time of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago, the God of the Hebrew people, as depicted in the Old Testament, was a God of wrath who would severely punish those who have sinned against Him. But since Jesus Christ and 600 years later, from the Prophet Mohammed, God has been depicted as a God of compassion. But I can perceive a difference between the Old Testament on the one hand and the New Testament and the Quran on the other hand. The God of Abraham and his sons Ishmael and Isaac are confined to their descendants – to the Arabs and the Jews. But, after Jesus Christ, the New Testament and Christianity and after the Prophet Mohammed, the Quran and Islam, God as depicted therein is for the rest of the World.

However, if you are not a Christian, you cannot call your god ‘Allah’ because you do not worship the same God as the Muslims and Christians.

Therefore the only perceived disagreement between the Christians and the Muslims in Malaysia is the misunderstanding on the meaning of the Trinity in Christianity. So it is now necessary for me to explain the Trinity in Christianity to those Muslims who think Christians worship three gods. Like the Muslims, I am not a Christian yet I can understand the faith of the Christians because, unlike the narrow-minded critics of Christianity, I took the trouble to find out about the religion. Actually, the Trinity is explained in the Oxford English Dictionary.

The Trinity or the Holy Trinity

To understand what the Trinity in Christianity means we must go back to the time of Jesus Christ and the early Christians. In Landmarks in the Law, p 314, it says:

The New Testament is not accepted by the Jews. It is rejected by them. It has even greater influence than the Old Testament. It contains the life and teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ who was a Jew and of all the 12 apostles who were Jews and the letters of Paul who was a Jew.

Jesus Christ, his apostles and the early Christians because they were Jews lived in an era where it was very dangerous for a Jew to be a heretic against Judaism the religion of the Jews which was based on the Old Testament. Jesus Christ was advancing the belief that God is a Deity of love and compassion which is a belief that is contrary to the Jews’ belief in the Old Testament. Heresy at that time was punishable with death. Now you can understand why Jesus Christ, his disciples the 12 Apostles had tended to euphemism in teaching their belief to the multitude.

I have written for Loyarburok this piece called A glossary of the terminology in ‘But Allah is a word in the English Dictionary’. This is what it says:

The Trinity or the Holy Trinity

[A reader of this article] remarked that Muslims worship only one God and that is Allah. But Christians worship the Trinity – three persons.

If you know the English language well, you should know that the Holy Trinity is a euphemism for God. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning of the Trinity as ‘(in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that make up God’. The phrase ‘the three persons’ is used figuratively as a metaphor for God. God came to be identified euphemistically as the Father. Jesus Christ was identified euphemistically as the Son. And the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is God who came to be identified euphemistically as ‘God as a spirit that is active in the world’: see the Oxford English Dictionary, Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost).

Why is that so? Is there a reason for referring to the Deity euphemistically? In the book A Dictionary of Euphemisms by Neaman & Silver, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1983, it says in its Introduction, pages 1, 2:

The subject of the earliest euphemism was undoubtedly religious. Gods, whether benign or malevolent, were treated with respect amounting to terror. Since the names of gods were considered identical with them, to speak a name was to evoke the divinity whose power then had to be confronted. Such dangerous practices were reserved for priests … Even they were often forbidden to utter the real names of the powers. Consequently, priests devised indirect forms of reference to calm the spirit or avert the wrath of a deity.

Gods could be referred to by their attributes (the Thunderer), by their symbols or domains (the Rock), by their titles (the Lord) …

In another book, The State of the Language by Philip Howard, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1984, it says this, page 103:

… the Hebrew word for God, YHVH, still never spoken or written by a pious Jew, but vowelled by the rest of us as Jehovah or Yahweh. The English, a notoriously godly, and profane, and God-bothering people, have tended to euphemism in religious matters. The French, who never let their religion affect the rest of their life, have no embarrassment about saying Mon Dieu! Puritanism and euphemism are strong in the English, so we have devised hundreds of ways of mentioning the awful word without saying it.

[The] euphemisms for getting round naming Him Who Shall Be Nameless included such attributive sobriquets as the Almighty, the Creator, the Eternal, or the Deity. Jesus came to be identified euphemistically as the Redeemer, the Saviour, the Anointed, the Paschal Lamb, and so on.

At page 106:

Euphemism about naming names survives from the beginning of speech, when to know something’s name was to have magical power over it. We are still superstitious about naming God and the Devil, the Queen and Madam Chairperson.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Thursday, 7 April 2011 - 4:51 pm

    Datuk Tamyes Abd Wahid does well to block the whole world from using the word “Alxxh” in the bibles so that young Muslim Malaysians go overseas for further studies would not be influenced by the use of the word “Alxxh” by Christians there.

  2. #2 by monsterball on Thursday, 7 April 2011 - 5:20 pm

    It is sickening to keep reading how well versed and knowledgable.. that Selangor Mufti is.
    He is nothing but a UMNO B doongoo member..from the jungle….supportng dirty religion politics.
    N.H.Chan have said it well…but will this Mufti listen to logics and real truths?
    Not in a million years…for once he agrees…his racists job is finished.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Thursday, 7 April 2011 - 5:23 pm

    Selangor Mufti is fit to preach in the jungle.

  4. #4 by Loh on Thursday, 7 April 2011 - 5:36 pm

    ///Selangor Mufti Datuk Tamyes Abd Wahid said the crux of the controversy is over the use of the word “Allah” in the bible, which is forbidden to religions other than Islam, as written in 1988 state enactment on religious propagation.///

    Mamakthir said recently that Christians worship three Gods. So after making the blunder in 1981 he had not learnt anything about Christianity over the last 30 years. Little knowledge is dangerous when he was the only doctor in the house. The Cabinet that ruled in 1981 comprised of all the deaf and dumb persons to allow Mamakthir to plant the poison that becomes lethal now.

  5. #5 by dagen on Thursday, 7 April 2011 - 5:54 pm

    According to islam jenis-umno’s twisted logic, since god is translated into allah then the whole world cannot use the word GOD and ALLAH. And mind you. Alkitab was the word used for bible. For the same twisted argument, neither of these words, bible and alkitab can be used by anyone in the world except believers of islam jenis-umno.

    Doesnt make sense? Never mind. Islam jenis-umno says just accept the final result. Dont use those words. OK?

  6. #6 by cemerlang on Thursday, 7 April 2011 - 7:08 pm

    There can only be 1true God. God; spelled as G-o-d can be translated into many languages. In Malay God is Tuhan. In Arabic, God is Allah. You only have to go into the dictionary to have the many language translations of God. What is the big deal ? It is fear. Fear of losing something you think is right, is true. Fear of finding out that you are wrong. How can you be wrong after all these years of believing and claiming to be the truth ? If Allah of Islam is greater than Allah of Christianity, then Allah of Islam wins. The thing is when it comes to faith, it is something private. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. What’s the point too of proclaiming Allah 5 times a day but the heart is not right and the actions are wrong ? You can call out loud Allah’s name as many times as you wish but it will not make any difference if your motives are wrong. We can fool Allah but Allah cannot be fooled.

  7. #7 by monsterball on Thursday, 7 April 2011 - 9:53 pm

    Non stop being moderated.
    I guess minorities just accept whatever be told and shut up.

  8. #8 by tak tahan on Thursday, 7 April 2011 - 10:16 pm

    That’s why i rather spend my time more away from here.

  9. #9 by monsterball on Thursday, 7 April 2011 - 10:42 pm

    There is a limit to be cautious…..when you are being bullied….but who am I to say Moderator is not wise and intelligent.
    I guess being a Living Legend…he is always right?
    In that case..I will follow tak tahan and post less.
    I guess one braggart who said…if you have nothing to say….just read and shut up is correct?
    Actualy we have plenty to say..and non is with foul words or offensive in any way…except truths may hurt the bullies.
    Since we are moderated so much…to shut mouths…I wonder if change of Govt is a ghood idea.
    I have never said this before…nor voted for BN….but my efforts to win votes seem to be appreciated…except from lips services..exactly like Najib doing that to fool Malaysians.
    I have balls and guts. No one is to control me to this extreme.
    I am not saying good bye to this blog…but maybe Moderator wish me to say that…I do not know.

  10. #10 by Thor on Thursday, 7 April 2011 - 11:23 pm

    Man are fond of fixing rules for god which god himself did’nt knew that such rules exist.
    Why make such a blardy fuss when no human could actually proof which god is for real.
    What a hypocrite!

  11. #11 by hallo on Thursday, 7 April 2011 - 11:46 pm

    God is for everyone human God’s Children.

    Only stupid human brains thought he very smart he found the way to close to God, making many difficult rules blocking human to be close to god.

    GOD is not for human to be their copyright.

    It is free for everyone.

  12. #12 by AhPek on Friday, 8 April 2011 - 1:59 am

    In fact if we get back to the period before Abrahamic faith,paganism was the religion practised in the middle east region.Of all the gods and goddesses they worshipped Allah was considered by Arab Pagans to be the suprme God/diety,the Moon-God.In fact according to historians Allah was already being worshipped at the Ka’ba in Mecca by Arab Pagans before.This can also be found in pre-islamic literature.

  13. #13 by undertaker888 on Friday, 8 April 2011 - 7:57 am

    Only the umno muftis in this country are stupid. Bcos they think with position and cash mix with religion in their puny brains. if everything seems to make the pea brain umno muftis to abandon their religion, go live in the fenced up desert. then again they will blame the camels for making them horny over the humps.

  14. #14 by Thor on Friday, 8 April 2011 - 8:59 am

    Man are the dumbest creatures of all kind.
    They tend to fight because of differences in belief.
    Who is God and where is God?
    Many don’t even really know and what they really seems to know are those words picked up from the so called holy scriptures.
    And what are those holy scriptures supposed to be?
    All words written by man who claimed to be inspired by god.
    And if that’s the case, why’re there two different version?
    One bible and one koran!
    Man are cunning and selfish so will god wanna let man “represent” him on his behalf?
    Why would god wanna make people confused when he himself can personally do all those “magic” with just a word from his mouth.
    If god does really exist, why not let god find us instead of we, human declaring which one is real.
    Why not put our differences aside and be a “god” of our ownself for the time being.
    Kick those UmnoBN goons out and let us live in peace and harmony.
    Why would we wanna let someone who proclaimed himself as a “1 Malaysian God” to farrk up our lives and country!
    Let’s do our part and faark those BN buggers to hell, starting from Sarawak.
    We have to send them packing and running and yelling, ” Oh! my God!!!”.

  15. #15 by boh-liao on Friday, 8 April 2011 - 9:33 am

    Yes, OMG, d gods above cry over d imbecility of mortal humans, esp those who don’t know but pretend 2 know n 2 want 2 command others 2 follow thier imbecility

  16. #16 by monsterball on Friday, 8 April 2011 - 9:40 am

    hi “tak tahan”…go to Dr.Hsu Forum.
    He is now a free man…and all mesaages are approved.

  17. #17 by MGR1940 on Friday, 8 April 2011 - 11:49 am

    It’s typical UMNO who don’t have anything of their own and borrow from others call theirs like the national car which is Japanese and name it Proton.
    And so is the English language into Bahasa Malaya and write as Allah.
    Christianity is more than 2,000 years old whereas Islam is only just over 1,400 years where you can do all the adjustments as you like.

  18. #18 by cemerlang on Friday, 8 April 2011 - 8:59 pm

    Imagine going back in time to the first creation of the world. There were people worshipping, whom we now call God, except in those days they called Him by other names and by shapes. In people’s hearts, they know that there is, as we call these days, God and they want to worship this 1God. The aborigines in Australia worship God in nature. Same too with a lot of the ethnic or native groups over the world. Humans have a spiritual side to their existence by default. Whatever religion it is, it is actually the Creator who creates them. Especially in times of needs when they feel abandoned, they will call out to God because somehow in their inner man, God is there and they need to know that life is still life.

  19. #19 by tak tahan on Friday, 8 April 2011 - 9:56 pm

    Moderater,are you illiterate?Or don’t you read first before you give your final judgement?Tolong la please,jangan main main ok?Kesian la kita ni..dikena buly oleh umno n gangs lebih lima dekad,sekarang lagi diseksa oleh orang sendiri pulak.God bless you!

  20. #20 by Evenmind on Saturday, 9 April 2011 - 6:40 am

    hahaha, we all very well know that the ‘infidels’ would be denied justice by the unfidel gomen . Why not instead of waiting for the decision take the matter to international court of justice and show the whole world that in Malaysia ‘allah’ only belongs to the the UMNO unfidels. Let the world have the last laugh , as to how moronic these unfidels are. Bohoohoohoo

  21. #21 by Evenmind on Saturday, 9 April 2011 - 6:42 am

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    hahaha, we all very well know that the ‘infidels’ would be denied justice by the unfidel gomen . Why not instead of waiting for the decision take the matter to international court of justice and show the whole world that in Malaysia ‘allah’ only belongs to the the UMNO unfidels. Let the world have the last laugh , as to how ‘smart ‘these unfidels are. Bohoohoohoo

  22. #22 by Loh on Saturday, 9 April 2011 - 10:13 am

    by Loh on Thursday, 7 April 2011 – 5:36 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    That was two days ago

  23. #23 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 9 April 2011 - 12:42 pm

    I believe its nothing to do with the Moderator. So don’t blame him. Its the particular automatic moderation under this Word Press platform that of late creates problems. We have no idea by what criteria moderation is triggered. The Moderator, if he is around, merely does the job of uplifting the moderation and uploading the comment. Its the automatic moderation system that causes dissatisfaction of commenters and needs tinkering here.

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