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Monday, December 31, 2012

SHUT UP HARUSSANI! Don't make Malaysia more of a loony bin than it already is!


SHUT UP HARUSSANI! Don't make Malaysia more of a loony bin than it already is!
It’s confirmed now that Malaysia has become one big loony bin! This is the only country in the world where politicians and government lackeys such as Perak chief cleric Harussani Zakaria have nothing better to do than to quarrel over who and who cannot use the term Allah for God in print in Peninsular Malaysia i.e. in this case in Malay print in the Bible.
The Internet is exempted. Likewise, there’s no Umno Government prohibition on using the term Allah for God in Malay print for the Bible in Sabah and Sarawak. There’s also no Government prohibition on using the term Allah for God in non-Bible print.
In fact, not many realise that there’s no Government prohibition either on using the term Allah for God in English print or any other language whether in the Bible or non-Bible material. There’s also no Government prohibition on using the term Allah for God in song, prayer and worship by anyone in any language.
This explains why there has been only ominous silence from the Home Ministry on Allah in the Sikh Holy Book and in Bahais and Mizrahi Jews also using the term.
Use religion to do good, weed out sins like corruption, not  hide wrongdoings
Sikhs too call their God Allah since Sikhism is a synthesis of Hinduism and Islam created by Guru Nanak in Lahore, now in Pakistan but then in undivided India. Guru Nanak claimed in Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Scriptures written in Gurmukhi in eastern India, that he was taken to God’s Court and given nectar by God to drink. Apparently, he was then instructed to reveal to mankind that God was neither a Hindu nor a Muslim and had no religion.
But argue all you like, it won't stop ruling party, Umno, and its religious chiefs from stirring up religious mischief.
There's little doubt Umno - embattled and corruption-riddled - is now at its weakest. It needs to deflect attention from its string of shocking corruption scandals. Umno leaders know they need to rally the Malays behind their party as never before. And what better way than to use, or is it abuse, Islam to claim the moral high ground.
"“The matter is already in the (Islamic) enactments of every state, they’re provoking Muslims on purpose so Muslims will melatah (over-react). Christians should not interfere with Islam, they’d be better off taking care of their own religion. If they want to use Allah, convert into Islam,” Harussani was reported as saying.
Perhaps the Malaysian Gurdwara Council's rebuttal captures the core of the issue best. As MGC president Jagir Singh pointed out the National Fatwa Council’s 2010 edict on the Allah word cannot apply to non-Muslims. The fatwa council does not have direct jurisdiction over non-Muslims and therefore cannot issue fatwas to bar them from using a specific word.
The dumbest contradiction & clearest proof of abusing Islam for politics
Again, the Umno government does not want to see the term Allah for God in this print. Allah activists can make an issue of the fact that Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Malaysia are not one and the same language and that the Bible is not in Malay but in Bahasa Malaysia, among other languages.
The Government’s reasoning against Allah in Malay Bible print is that Muslims would be confused. The population estimate in 2004 was as follows, according to the CIA World FactBook on Malaysia: Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, Orang Asal 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8%. The religious picture: Muslim (or Islam) 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8%.
In a contradiction in terms, the government doesn’t seem to realise that Christians in Peninsular Malaysia who use the Bible in English might be confused as well.
The fact is that neither Muslims nor Christians in Sabah and Sarawak would be confused. The Sikhs aside, Allah in Malay, English or other print is a peculiarly Borneon problem in this part of the world. This is the crux of the matter which seems to have escaped the politicians in Peninsular Malaysia or Malaya as Sabahans and Sarawakians prefer to call it.
Muslim politicians suspect a sinister plot by Christians to confuse Muslims
One development which might be troubling Muslim politicians in Peninsular Malaysia is that Christians in Malaya too now want to use the term Allah for God in all print. They see this approach as necessary to be in solidarity with fellow members of their faith on the side of the South China Sea. The sea, according to the Catholic Church in a novel take, does not divide Malaysians but brings them together.
Muslim politicians in Peninsular Malaysia, on the other hand, suspect a “sinister” Christian plot to confuse Muslims through Allah and lure them away from their Faith. They fear that Muslims might conclude, and not entirely without justification, that Islam is just another branch of Christianity like the Protestant denominations which rebelled some 500 years ago against the authority of the Vatican.
When yours truly was in school in Peninsular Malaysia and long after, the thought of a Christian calling God Allah as in Borneo and in the Middle East never crossed the mind.
In fact, had such a thing been suggested in school before by the Christian brothers, the initial reaction would have been one of shock, horror and confusion. The word Allah would have definitely stuck in the collective throats of Christians in Peninsular Malaysia and probably strangled them to death.
The reason that Christians in the Peninsular Malaysia now want to use the term Allah for God may also be due to the reason that they can only smile if asked something in English, and prefer to use the Malay language.
An added factor is that there are many Sabahans and Sarawakians in Peninsular Malaysia, as many as 200,000, formidable block in the electoral rolls.
Also, Muslims settling down in Europe in large numbers partly to make up for the virtual elimination of the Jews by Adolf Hitler, Christians on that continent too appear to have since discovered that Allah is the right term for their God as well.
Syed Hamid’s political mischief-making will haunt our political future
This Allah problem was wholly created not so long ago by former Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar – he claims to be Arab and not an Indian Muslim tracing his roots to the Indian subcontinent -- for political reasons. He was then eyeing a high post in the Umno hierarchy. He used the Printing Presses Act in going after the Catholic Church on the issue. For his troubles in “protecting Allah for the Muslims”, Umno members kicked out Syed Hamid from all party posts and he was dropped from the Federal Cabinet.
Even then, Syed Hamid did not want to bite off more than what he could chew and conveniently ignored the fact that Jesus, for example, was Isa in the Malay Bible as in the Quran. The difference was that Isa was Nabi (Prophet) to Muslims and Penyelamat (Messiah and Saviour) and Anak Allah (Son of God), both exalted positions, to Christians.
A Muslim reading the Bible in Malay would be intrigued that Isa (Jesus) in Christianity was not as portrayed by Islam in the Quran. However, this point seems to have escaped the politicians in their eagerness to harp on the term Allah for God in the Malay Bible.
Another point is that Mary, the mother of Jesus the Son of God, is Siti Mariam in both the Quran and the Malay Bible. In the Quran, Mary is portrayed simply as the mother of Jesus and not as how Christians revere her.
The third point is Allah – the Almighty, the All Powerful -- is not God’s name but just one of the Creator’s many attributes which function as names. God, according to Jews, Christians and Muslims, has 1001 attributes but only 100 including Allah is known and the rest have been hidden from mankind.
So, if the Umno Government prohibits Christians in Peninsular Malaysia from using the term Allah for God in the Malay Bible, what about the other attributes of God? No prohibition? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_God_in_Islam
The final point is that Allah was known and in usage long before the coming of Islam 1,500 years ago. So, where’s the logic in prohibiting religions which have always used Allah for God from using the term just because some Malays are likely to be confused?
Allah was never a problem during the time of the first four Prime Ministers in Malaysia – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Abdul Razak Hussein, Hussein Onn and Mahathir Mohamad. Syed Hamid’s political mischief in the past has again caught up with us in the present to haunt our future.
Will PAS turn 'rogue'?
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng and various PAS leaders have all made the right noises on the issue until recently, when a certain faction within PAS shocked everyone by suggesting that non-Muslims should agree not to use Allah as a 'pragmatic' way of resiolving the issue.
The racist mainstream Malay media has gone to town on the issue and made it appear that both Dap and PAS are at loggerheads on the Allah issue. Such mischief-making is typical of the mainstream Malay media which probably wants to see the country burn so that they can boost their flagging street sales.
Now, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) wants to meet and discuss the issue again – already discussed before, noted Anwar – and re-affirm what they had already agreed on before. And that is to stick by the federal constitution, which does not prohibit non-Muslims from using the Allah word. This, of course, is totally opposite to the stance taken by Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Umno party.
Article 3 of the Federal Constitution guarantees Freedom of Worship. So no surprise what statement Pakatan will reiterate. The only wild card is whether PAS will throw a spanner into the works and reverse its previous stand.
Malaysia Chronicle
Related Stories:
Embrace Islam if you want to use ‘Allah’, Harussani tells non-Muslims
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 — Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria today told non-Muslims who insist on using the word “Allah” to refer to their Gods to convert to Islam if they refused to accept that the word belongs only to Muslims.
The controversial cleric also accused the Christians community of intentionally provoking Muslims by pressing on with their demand to use “Allah” in their holy book.
“The matter is already in the (Islamic) enactments of every state, they’re provoking Muslims on purpose so Muslims will melatah (over-react),” Harussani told The Malaysian Insider here.
“Christians should not interfere with Islam, they’d be better off taking care of their own religion. If they want to use Allah, convert into Islam.”
The latest polemic over the use of the word “Allah” by Christians to refer to God hit media headlines last week when Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng spoke on the issue in his Christmas message.
The DAP secretary-general triggered uproar when he urged the federal government to allow the use of the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Christian Bible.
He pointed out that this has been allowed in Sabah and Sarawak for the last 50 years and practised in the Middle East for more than a thousand years.
Harussani reiterated today that the name should be exclusive to Islam to not confuse Muslims, a view shared by DAP’s partner PAS which insisted that Christians should not use it in the Alkitab as it does not reflect the actual meaning of “God” in the original text.
The mufti also warned Muslims to not easily play into the hands of Christians by over-reacting, despite stressing that it is important for the adherents to express their disapproval.
Malaysian Gurdwara Council (MGC) said yesterday that it is unconstitutional to ban anyone from using the word “Allah”, insisting that the National Fatwa Council’s 2010 edict on the word could not apply to non-Muslims.
In a statement, MGC president Jagir Singh pointed out that the council does not have direct jurisdiction over non-Muslims and could not issue fatwas to bar the community from using a specific word.
In Penang, state Mufti Hassan Ahmad berated Lim for raising the issue and reminded him of the council’s 2010 edict, where it had banned the use of the word by non-Muslims, along with 39 others.
But DAP chairman Karpal Singh came out to defend his party comrade, reminding Muslims that those of other faiths apart from Christianity also use the word “Allah”.
As an example, Karpal said that the word “Allah” appears 37 times in the Sikh bible, while the orang aslis, the babas in Malacca and even the Bengali language uses the word.
On Friday, former council chairman Datuk Dr Ismail Ibrahim was reported as saying that non-Muslims should stop demanding to use the word “Allah” as the Arabic word is fundamental to Islamic belief and therefore exclusive to Muslims.
“Enough is enough, enough with all the other policies, including the ones enshrined in the Constitution that has been claimed for equality, to be granted equal rights... therefore the right to recognise the concept of the divinity in this religion, don’t grab, challenge and manipulate so. The name ALLAH is still something basic and fundamental to Islam.
“The name Allah, from a philosophical point, its definition and concept is not equal with the name Tuhan, God, Lord and so on in the usage of other religions,” he was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian in its front-page report.
Christians form 9.2 per cent of Malaysia’s 28.3 million-strong population, with many of them in east Malaysia using the Malay language and the word “Allah” to refer to their God.
In recent years, the Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug-of-war over the word “Allah”, with the latter group arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim God.
A legal tussle over the use of the word “Allah” remains unresolved, with the Catholic Church still barred from publishing the word in its weekly newspaper, despite winning a High Court decision on December 31, 2009.
This is due to the Home Ministry filing an appeal in January 2010 against the High Court’s decision, which have since stagnated in the courts as no date has been set for its hearing.
Last year, shipments of the Alkitab, the Malay-language Bible catering to the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Bumiputera Christians, were blocked or confiscated at ports, before the government finally bowed to pressure and released them. - Malaysian Insider

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