Apparently in reaction to the recent High Court decision to allow non-Muslims to use the word “Allah” in their published contents for education purposes, some Peninsular Malaysia leaders are alleging that the use of “Allah” in Bahasa Malaysia Bibles is aimed at misleading and confusing Muslims in order to convert them to Christianity.
Nothing can be further from the truth! Where Bible translations are concerned, the objective is always to use the correct vocabulary of the language being translated to that is in use at the time of the translation. When the Bahasa Malaysia Bible was written more than 400 years ago, the word for God used by the Malay-speaking peoples then was “Allah” and Bible translators kept to the word to stay true to the meaning.
There was no malicious intent to use the word “Allah” to mislead and confuse anyone. This has been pointed out again and again in the debate over the Allah issue over the years and in court cases but it apparently remains an issue with Peninsular Malaysia Muslim leaders. They seem to see the ghosts of misperception in this issue especially when they want to win support from Muslims.
When will Malaysian leaders learn to stop exploiting religious sentiments to get votes?
Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak are not making an issue of the High Court decision because they know how to co-exist with their parents, siblings, relatives and extended family members and members of the community who are Christians and who use the Bahasa Malaysia Bible. They are not threatened nor paranoid over the use of “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible. They live in peaceful harmony and mutual respect.
Peninsular Malaysia Muslim leaders should follow in their example and stop acting like colonial masters and imposing their will on the practice of faith by Sabahans and Sarawakians. Sabah and Sarawak ethnic parliamentarians have already expressed their concern to not appeal the High Court decision because many ethnic Sabahans and Sarawakians are Bahasa-Malaysia speaking and those who are Christians use the Bahasa Malaysia Bibles.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers however have announced that they would appeal the case. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Ahmad Marzuk Shaary also announced that the government plans to introduce a Control and Restriction on the Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Bill. Why would that be necessary when the constitution already states that proselytising Muslims is prohibited?
The issue has now been taken up to the Conference of Rulers, and the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and other Islamic religious agencies have announced they will take appropriate action on the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims after they get consent from the Conference of Rulers.
Will this mean that the court decision will be by-passed and the rulers’ decision followed?
Sabah and Sarawak MPs to blame
We have come to this point under the Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition where leaders in Peninsular Malaysia will be deciding the practice of faith of Sabahans and Sarawakians and no one is to be blamed but the Sabahans and Sarawakians. They were in favour of joining an unelected Malay-Muslim majority coalition whose majority remains suspiciously suspect and which includes an extreme far-right Muslim party like PAS.
Any government which includes PAS as it is now under Hadi Awang and which PAS can influence will lead us to the place we are in now: facing a royal decision on the practice of faith of Sabahans and Sarawakians.
Sabah and Sarawakian MPs should be held responsible for facilitating a government that is seeking royal help to resolve this issue which is already being addressed in the courts.
Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United Peoples Party, Parti Rakyat Sarawak and the Progressive Democratic Party will have a great deal of explaining to do with their supporters.
It is surprising that these parties are not aware that any alliance with a conservative Malay-Muslim coalition would inevitably undermine their own constitutional rights. Hopefully, now they know.
All other non-Malay parties like MIC, MCA and Gerakan need to take note.
If these parties truly represent the people, they will resign from PN and put a stop to PN’s wielding of power without the mandate of the people.