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Dr. Chandra Muzaffar on the 'Allah' controversy

This, in my view, is one of the best responses on the 'Allah' issue. Taken from TheStar's Saturday Business section on Dr Chandra Muzaffar.

The crux of the matter is to understand the underlying concerns of both Muslims and Christians, which sadly is very much lacking in our society today. Resolving the problem isn't just about taking sides. It is not just a matter of whether or not you agree with the term Allah. The problems and solutions are far more complicated and delicate than that. Read on..

How best can Malaysia resolve the “Allah” controversy and find a win-win solution? Suzannah Ayub, Raub

It is important for both sides to be honest and truthful about the underlying issues that surround the controversy. Christians and other non-Muslims in Malaysia should acknowledge the simple truth that for the last 1,400 years, the term “Allah” has been shaped by Islamic theology. This is why in any dictionary or encyclopedia, Allah is defined as “the Islamic concept of God” or as “the Muslim term for God.”

Muslims in Malaysia, on the other hand, should understand that many Arab Christians use the term within their own circles and Muslim theologians in general have never objected to this. Likewise, Muslim jurists and the Muslim masses in Indonesia have not reacted negatively to Christians in their midst using the term “Allah,” a practice which began during Dutch colonial rule. It is partly because of the influence of Indonesian Christianity that Christians in Sabah and Sarawak have been using the term for more than a hundred years. It has had no adverse effect upon inter-religious ties in the two states, which on the whole are relatively harmonious.

Not many Malaysians know that “Allah” also appears in the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. This is why it is not practical, nor is there theological justification, to prohibit non-Muslims from using the term.

What one can do to protect the integrity of the term – which is the legitimate concern of the Muslims – is to prohibit its misuse in the public sphere. That would be a win-win solution.


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