By Awang Abdillah | FMT
Many Muslim scholars and politicians fear that the Bible and related publications using the word “Allah” as God will influence and confuse “innocent” Muslims, making them susceptible to being converted to Christianity.
If a Muslim wants to stray from his faith, there are 1,001 ways to do it, including entering another religion or even sect.
So what is the big deal? Why go only after the church?
Many Muslims nowadays are already very much influenced by the greed for power, positions, wealth, money, black magic, immoral activities, drugs and what not.
They are a confused lot.
Why not go after the bomohs, witches, evil politicians, drug traffickers and those in the police force who give them protection, the addicts, snatch thieves, the apostates and the corrupt government servants?
But that would be politically incorrect, wouldn’t it? Here in Malaysia religion is greatly politicised and race a weapon to be wielded when “needed”.
Never has this been more pronounced than after the 2008 general election which shocked the ruling Umno-led Barisan Nasional out of its stupor.
With all common sense asunder, it’s been a religious tug-of-war since then between the Umno and PAS Muslim ulamas and scholars.
I find this strange because according to the Surah Al Kafirun, a Muslim should confine himself to his own religion and others to theirs.
No religious basis
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the caliphs of the Islamic empires in their propagation of Islam did not literally touch on the Christian scriptures.
Therefore it is wrong for Muslim scholars to tell the Christians what to do with their books.
The contention by the Muslim ulamas from various organisations and bodies such as Jakim, Umno and PAS that using the term Allah is the exclusive right of Muslims only has no religious basis.
History notes that the original religion of Islam that Allah had ordained to mankind was eventually broken into three main religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam in that sequence.
All these religions recognise Allah as the one God in their original scriptures.
But over time major changes were made to the Jewish holy books as well as the original Gospel where the name of Allah was deleted for reasons best known to the early scribes and preachers of Judaism and Christianity.
However, the Arab Christians continued to maintain and used the name Allah until today.
In which case who gives us the right to stop any one from believing Allah is God either verbally, in writing or in his heart?
The history of the three great religions is testimony to this.
‘Allah’ is the universal God
In Malaysia, the books of the Bible, especially those translated into the Indonesian Malay, and the Catholic publications such as the Herald refer to God as Allah.
There are two issues here – the use of the name Allah and the understanding of Allah. In the first issue, there is nothing wrong in Christians using the term “Allah” as they are from the original religion.
Since Allah is the term of the universal God, how can it be an offence to recognise Him as such?
The second issue is the understanding of Allah.
As the Jewish scriptures of Judaism, the gospels of Christianity or the books of any other religion are different from the Quran, their descriptions of the attributes of Allah will definitely be different from Allah as described in the Quran.
Allah relates in many verses of the Quran the differences in its teachings with that of the Bible.
What the Quran does not do is to command Muslim ulamas to interfere with the teachings of the Bible and demanding/threatening that the Christians change certain words or delete the word Allah in the Bible.
“Allah” is the name of the Eternal Supreme Being that existed even before the universe in totality (including time and the empty space) was created as understood by the Kursi verse and the Surah Al Ikhlas.
“Allah” is the universal God to all living beings and non-living things.
Thereby the stand-alone eternal name does not belong to any human language.
Awang Abdillah is a political analyst, writer and FMT columnist.