“I don’t know whether the basis of the government’s ban on the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims is political or religious. But if in today’s age of globalisation we are stopping people of one religion from using the words ‘belonging’ to another, I don’t know where we are heading.”
This was among the question raised today by Malaysian Gurdwara Council head, Harcharan Singh following reports of the UMNO government’s ban against allowing the use of purportedly ‘Islamic’ terms e.g. ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdulllah Mohd Zin announced on 3 Jan. that the cabinet had disallowed Catholic publication Herald from using the words Allah (God), solat (prayer), Kaabah and baitullah (House of God) in its weekly’s Bahasa Malaysia section. Abdullah, who oversees Islamic religious affairs, said the prime minister had directed him to clarify the matter so that the public would not be confused. “One of the reasons given to uphold the restriction is because that it has long been the practice of this country that the word Allah refers to God according to the Muslim faith,” said Abdullah, according to The Star.
“It was only proper for other religions to use the word God and not Allah when referring to their God in respective beliefs,” Abdullah added.
For centuries, Sikhs have used the words ‘Allah’ to refer to God as well as the Arabic terms ‘iman’ and ‘ibadat’ for faith and worship. “We have used the terms Allah and Rahim (Most Merciful), for example, extensively in our writings and in our prayers to refer to the One God. The word Allah is used in our main holy scripture.”
“Sikh gurus in India have used these terms for centuries, they have become part of the Punjabi language, and we are still using them today,” said Harcharan. “In addition to these words, we also use the terms ‘iman’ and ‘ibadat’ among the many other words (that are used by Muslims),” added Harcharan, whose organisation represents Sikhs in Malaysia.
“If the word Allah has been banned for use by non-Muslims, what’s going to happen to Sikhs and the practice of their religion?” he asked.
Why la, the UMNO government always dip their pinkies into these issues of personal spirituality? Leave the people alone to deal with their relationship with God! Go and focus on the business of government! Your mandate given in 2004 was not to become the official mullah of Malaysia!