Malaysia should rectify its mistake
There is a matter of debate that has not been resolved for the last five years and even turned up in court. This issue is about who is allowed to speak the name of Allah in the country.
Events commenced when the Herald, printed by Catholics in the country, published the name of Allah in an article and as a consequence that the ensuing legal affair culminated in a verdict permitting only Muslims to mention the name of Allah.
This pronouncement is most definitely an error and needs to be corrected; I will touch upon the reasons for this briefly.
First, I need to mention that despite government authorities claiming that this verdict is not a religious one, and that the prohibition is only binding upon the Herald, unless this error is rectified, it will obviously generate a deeply negative impact on the social and religious life of the country.
In general such decisions may lead to fragmentation, polarization and new disputes in societies. People appraise these rulings in line with their religious understanding, culture and principles and therefore many different and mistaken abstractions could arise that would lead to further tensions.
In particular, people who approach people of other faiths with hostility may utilize such adjudication for acts of hatred. They may also amplify this debarment by means of additional prohibitions to make use of this as a method of repressing their fellow citizens or else, they may abuse the legal system to generate new prohibitions in an unjustified effort. On that account, while today merely speaking the name of Allah is outlawed, tomorrow there may well be sanctions on other words; that would bring about anger against the regime in some part of the public. People who lose their freedoms based on this proscription may start to think that there is no justice, tolerance and love for them in their own country. That would be the start of a downward trajectory leading to disturbances of the peace and the tranquility of society.
As a matter of fact, following this verdict outlawing non-Muslims from mentioning the name of Allah in Malaysia, spokesmen of certain radical Muslim groups made announcements stating, “They (Christians) can choose to move to another country if they cannot accept the supremacy of Islam.” This mistaken viewpoint is enough evidence to point to the scale of the approaching threat.
It is clear that this ban against non-Muslims in Malaysia is not in line with the Qur’an. In any one of the verses of the Qur’an, there is no commandment which says that only Muslims can mention the name of Allah. According to the Qur’an, there is neither sanction nor provision against non-Muslims in mentioning the name of Allah; in point of fact, the Qur’an is a message to all of humanity and Islam is a universal religion. Everyone, be they Christians, Jews, atheists or deists may read the Qur’an and benefit from it. Our Lord introduced Himself with the name “Allah” to humanity in the Qur’an. This means anyone reading the Qur’an acknowledges our Lord with the name “Allah”. Therefore, there is nothing wrong in a Christian or Jew mentioning the name of “Allah” when he is talking about our Creator. On the contrary, it should be pleasing for Muslims to hear non-Muslims, atheists or a deist mentioning the name of Allah when speaking of the Creator of all the worlds. In fact, one major reason for Muslims to communicate religion is to have the name of “Allah” praised all over the world.
For that reason, it should never be a matter of inconvenience or illegality for the name of “Allah” appearing in a Catholic newspaper. There is no objection to this and no reason to make it illegal. This prohibition is against the Qur’an and also human rights. On the condition that people are not defaming sacred values, they may surely state their own point of view and use any word they desire.
Islam is a religion of understanding, peace, love, reason and ease. Muslims should refrain from all acts that would be contrary to these attributes of Islam. This ban in Malaysia is opposed to these qualities of Islam. A ban on the use of the name of Allah would damage the environment of social peace and would not comply with the aspirations of Islam. That would only serve to impair the atmosphere of affection amongst Christians and Muslims. For that reason, what should be done is to abide by the morals of the Qur’an and adopt a peaceful and tolerant approach, and bring up such highly significant points to the forefront so that the courts may rectify this mistaken verdict again by means of the law.