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Islam In Malaysia, Uproar Grows Over Use Of Word ‘Allah


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
In Malaysia, Uproar Grows Over Use of Word ‘Allah

In Malaysia, Uproar Grows Over Use of Word ‘Allah’ - NYTimes.com

Published: January 10, 2010

BANGKOK — An uproar among Muslims in Malaysia over the use of the word Allah by Christians spread over the weekend with the firebombing and vandalizing of several churches, increasing tensions at a time of political turbulence.

Police officers inspect damage at the All Saints Church in Taiping of Perak state, Malaysia, on Sunday.

Malaysian Christians prayed at a temporary location after their church was set ablaze by the unidentified attackers in Kuala Lumpur.

Arsonists struck three churches and a convent school early Sunday and splashed black paint on another church. This followed the firebombing of four churches on Friday and Saturday. No injuries were reported, and only one of the churches, Metro Tabernacle in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, suffered extensive damage.

The attacks, unlike anything Malaysia has seen before, have shaken a country where many Muslims are angry over a Dec. 31 court ruling that overturned a government ban on the use of the word Allah to denote the Christian God.

Though that usage is common in many countries, where Arabic- and Malay-language Bibles describe Jesus as the “son of Allah,” many Muslims here insist that the word belongs exclusively to them and say that its use by other faiths could confuse Muslim worshipers.

That dispute in turn was described by some observers as a sign of political maneuvering as the governing party struggles to maintain its dominance following its worst setbacks in national and state elections last March.
Some political analysts and politicians accuse Prime Minister Najib Razak of raising racial and religious issues as he attempts to solidify his Malay base. In a difficult balancing act, he must also win back Chinese and Indian voters whose opposition contributed to his party’s setback last year.

“The political contestation is a lot more intensified,” said Elizabeth Wong, a state official who is a member of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat. “In Malaysia the central theme will always be about the Malay identity and about Islam. The parties come up with various policies or means to attempt to appeal to the Muslim Malay voters.”

In an interview, the main opposition figure, Anwar Ibrahim, implied that the government was behind the current tensions. “This is the last hope — to incite racial and religious sentiments to cling to power,” he said. “Immediately since the disastrous defeat in the March 2008 election they have been fanning this.”

The government has appealed the December court decision and has been granted a stay, and the dispute has swelled into a nationwide confrontation, with small demonstrations at mosques and passionate outcries on the Internet. More than 180,000 people have joined a Facebook group called “Protesting the use of the name Allah by non-Muslims.”

The tensions are shaking a multiethnic, multiracial state that has attempted to maintain harmony among its citizens: mostly Muslim Malays who make up 60 percent of the population, and minority Chinese and Indians, who mostly practice Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism.

About 9 percent of Malaysia’s population of 28 million people are Christian, most of them Chinese or Indian. Analysts say this is the first outright confrontation between Muslims and Christians.

But race has become a staple of political discourse in recent years, and religion has been its vehicle, said Ooi Kee Beng, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

“Religion has become a much more useful tool for parties who depend on playing on ethnic divisions,” said Mr. Ooi. “They find it difficult to talk about racial issues but possible to talk about religious issues. We are seeing the result of that political opportunism over the last two decades.”

The line between race and religion is blurred in a country where the Constitution equates Muslim and Malay identities, said Jacqueline Ann Surin, editor of The Nut Graph, an analytical Malaysian news site that covers political Islam extensively.

“Malaysia is peculiar in that we have race-based politics and over the past decade or so we have seen an escalation of this notion that Malay Malaysians are superior,” she said. “That has been most apparent from consistent attempts by the U.M.N.O. leadership to promote the notion of ‘ketuanan Melayu,’ or Malay supremacy or dominance.” The United Malays National Organization is the full name of the governing party.

“So it’s a logical progression that if the Malay is considered superior by the state to all others in Malaysia, then Islam will also be deemed superior to other religions,” she said.

In a widely quoted speech last Thursday, Razaleigh Hamzah, a former finance minister, said the governing party, founded on a formula of communal power sharing, “had ossified into what appeared to be an eternal racial contract, a model replicated at every level of national life.”

He called the March election “a watershed in Malaysian politics” as the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition lost its dominating two-thirds majority in Parliament and lost five states to the opposition.

“The entire political landscape changed overnight,” Mr. Hamzah said, and left the formerly invincible Malay-based party seeking to redefine its electoral base and its political rationale.

The political uncertainty comes against the backdrop of a flagging economy in a country that once had ambitions to lead the burgeoning economies of Southeast Asia.

In a speech in December, the second finance minister, Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, said, “Our economy has been stagnating in the last decade. We have lost our competitive edge to remain as the leader of the pack in many sectors of the economy. Our private investment has been steadily in decline.”

He called for changes in an economic system that gives preferential treatment to Malays, saying all Malaysians should be given “equal opportunity to participate in the economy.”

At the same time, the country has seen a rise in political Islam along with continuing ethnic and religious tensions.

Hindus have protested the destruction of some temples, and Muslims paraded a severed cow’s head in the streets last November to protest the construction of a new one.

On New Year’s Day, the Islamic morality police arrested 52 unmarried couples in budget hotels — mainly students and young factory workers — who were expected to be charged with the offense of close proximity.

Earlier last year, a Muslim woman was sentenced to a public caning for drinking beer in a hotel. The sentence has not yet been carried out, with the authorities saying they have not found a female trained to carry out a caning.

In this atmosphere, there is a danger that the current furor over religious language will feed on itself, said Marina Mahathir, the daughter of former Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, who is a newspaper columnist and social activist.

“It’s only a few people who are inflamed about it, while the rest of the country is going on as if normal,” she said in an interview. “But if you keep stoking and if you keep giving these people leeway, sooner or later more and more people will think, ‘Oh, maybe we should be upset as well.”’


ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
Jul 14, 2007
By James Bean
Copyright May, 1997, Maine Well-Being Press
The great Sufi mystic Rumi once said, "If you are seeking, seek us with joy, for we live in the kingdom of joy. Do not give your heartto anything else but to the love of those who are clear joy, do not stray into the neighborhood of despair. For there are hopes: they are real, they exist - do not go in the direction of darkness - I tell you: SUNS EXIST!!!"
The mystical utterances of Rumi and other great Sufi Masters speak directly to the heart. They encourage us to see the hidden Light, to discover Divine Secrets, to perceive the Way that lovers can find their Beloved. The Sufis, through their poems and ecstatic revelations are attempting to share their Secrets with the world, or at least with those discerning souls who find their words to be not only nice poetry, but something much more - soul-expressions coming from lovers caught up in the divine bliss of a higher reality.


Jun 1, 2004
Do Sikhs Proselytize? Now that is something New! :ice: Please elaborate on how Sikhs managed to do that in Malaysia. Perhaps Gyani Ji could shed some light on this.

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
Absolutely NO such proseltyzing takes place in Malaysia. IN Malaysia there is a LAW agianst converting Mulsims...everything remotely religious has to carry this notice" FOR NON MUSLIMS ONLY !! ( for example an advertisement by a Church ref a visiting singer/programme etc appearing in the media would have to carry this mandatory notice so that even an unsupecting muslim couldnt wander in there and be converted. ANYWAY IF a Muslim does wnader in..the ONUS is on the Non-Mulsims to get him OUT before he converts. ALL religious publications have to publish this mandatory notice on the First Page so muslims dont read any such even inadvertantly.
2. A lot of Paksitani Muslims do viist Gurdawaras..for FREE MEALS...and many of them do wear "Karas" too to blend in the crowd.....This is becasue in their own Community they have no chance to meet up/chat up females, eat free food and have a good time as in a Gurdwara Crowd. BUT no one ever proseltyzing to them...quite the opposite..
Jan 29, 2010
There may well be many things forbidden in your religion that you 'claim'? But to suggest that every so called follower 'adheres' to the principles laid out is poppy {censored}

I heard a sikh woman poisoned a guy last week and a few weeks before that, a sikh woman had her hand cut off, so pleeez spare me the deeds of good faith bla bla :crazy:


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Zahim ji

Which are the forums that speak out against the oppression of women?

There is one important reality that you have missed in your expression of scorn for the Sikh position on women's issues. Sikhs on a regular basis, in the news, on the Internet, in forums, through mail-groups, through blogs, and in advocacy and outreach organizations take the infringements very seriously. We speak out against such crimes within our own community and never shirk from asking "how can we do better" to right these wrongs. It is called "facing up."

Contrast that with the fatwahs and death threats against members of your faith who have attempted to speak out.

Your last post was deleted. Return to the topic.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
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