Malaysia: To speak of ‘Allah’?

Despite a Malaysian High Court ruling that the word ‘Allah’ can be used in Christian contexts it still cannot be used because of a pending appeal against the ruling. Clearly, slow justice is no justice.

It seems that in an attempt to get the appeal heard, a date has still not been set, the Catholic Church has reprinted a rare 17th-century Malay-Latin dictionary in what seems to be “a silent bid to speed up its case”.

The “Dictionarium Malaico-Latin and Latino-Malaicum” was first published in 1631 by the Vatican Press in Rome. Church officials say it is historical proof that its missionaries had played a key role in the exchange of knowledge and culture between Europe and Southeast Asia some 400 years ago.

Reverend Lawrence Andrew … said it was crucial to counter the mistaken belief that the spread of Christianity through local languages in Malaysia was a recent 20th-century phenomenon. 

The issue is how do we speak of God/ Allah if we cannot name him? Of course, the substance or being of ‘God’ is infused with difference – that is the nature of religious diversity. For one religion to seek to lay claim to the word ‘Allah’ in prohibiting the use of it unless it carries their meaning is authoritarian in the extreme. Is this the nature of Islam in Malaysia? of Malaysian power politics? I do not know the answers but I do know the non-Muslim community is suffering. 

See article in The Malaysian Insider, A year on, a silent war over ‘Allah’ between church and state  and the High Court ruling 1 year ago, Christians gain use of Allah in Bible.  Earlier post, Allah banned for Christians.

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