JP chief Malakun: Drop using word “Allah”
KOTA KINABALU: Council of Justice of Peace Malaysia president Clarence Bongkos Malakun is asking Christians to take stock and drop using the term “Allah” in the interest of national security and public order.
He believed the Catholic Archbishop, Murphy Pakiam, had already made a good point for the “Herald” on the constitutional rights of the non-Muslim religion to use the word “Allah” by winning “the first round at the court”.
“It is now perhaps the right time for us Christians, in particular Catholics, to take stock of the situation and in the interest of national security and public order to willingly drop the use of the word “Allah” in order to pacify the feelings of our Muslim brothers who were angered by the High Court ruling,” he said.
“Instead of insisting the right to use the word Allah, the Catholics should just use Tuhan or Tuhan Yang Mahakuasa. We should not argue that Allah is commonly used by Christians in Indonesia or Egypt or Yemen. “We are not in Indonesia nor in Egypt, Iraq or in Yemen. We are in Malaysia and so we should follow what is justifiably sensible law or rules in Malaysia,” he said. “Let us therefore allow our Muslim brothers to have exclusive use of the word ‘Allah’ so that for all eternity, we can all live in peace and harmony in Malaysia.
“The Home Ministry may then allow the Herald to live in peace. The Holy Bibles, if already printed with the word “Allah” can always be replaced and perhaps the Government can consider giving special allocation to replace them.
“The Home Ministry should also consider giving the church authorities permit to print the Holy Bible in Bahasa Malaysia, which had caused the Christians to buy Bibles from Indonesia in the first place because they could not easily get them in Malaysia,” he said.
He said non-Muslims in Sabah may validly argue that they had been using the word “Allah” even before Malaysia was formed.
“But after having seen the latest burning of some churches in West Malaysia, we should now quickly come to terms with the matter and come up with a solution without wasting time to wait for the Court of Appeal verdict.
“The Christians must understand that our Muslim brothers are angry because they feel that the word Allah is traditionally used in Malaysia to refer to the Islamic concept of God.
“Allah to them is perceived to be radically different from the ‘God’ that the Christians venerate and adore,” he said.
Malakun said he was aware that many fellow Christians would disagree and perhaps “start to condemn me” but “if we are really true Christians, we should be forgiving, reasonable and peace loving people”.
“Why do we fight over a word? What do we really gain by winning the legal battle to use the word Allah? Why do we really need the court of law to grant us the right to use of the word Allah?
“Did our Father in Heaven ask us to go to the court in order that His name be officially confirmed or endorsed by the courts as Allah?
“Did not the Lord Jesus say somewhere in the Bible that we should be forgiving, merciful and kind to our fellow human beings and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves?,” he said.
Malakun, who is also the Chairman of the Institute for Development Studies (Sabah-IDS) doubted whether the followers of Christianity in Malaysia would suddenly decrease or increase by 10-fold if the church can no longer use the word Allah.
“We sometimes hear people spontaneously shout Puji Tuhan! or Praise the Lord! in the church. They never say “Puji Allah!”. “If the Government decides that non-Muslims should not use the word Allah then we should just try and comply without going to the courts.
I do not think that many of us became Christians in the first place, simply because the court of law decided that for us,” he said.
Having understood the Muslim concept of God or Allah, he said the Christians should be willing to reconcile for in Malaysia it is enshrined in the Constitution that Islam is the official religion.
“The ultras will gain strength if we push too far on the issue and if the reasonable and liberal Malay leaders are out, things can become worse as what happened in Iran after the Shah was pushed out of power,” he said.
Malakun sympathised with the Judge who was first assigned to hear the case and also the Judges at the Court of Appeal and perhaps later at Federal Court level, who have to make a decision either for or against their respective belief or religion.
“We should consider the difficulty faced by the Federal Government, as well as by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as head of Islam, as well as the various Rulers who are pressured by their subjects to make a stand on this Allah issue,” he said.
Towards this end, he urged the Catholic Church to be careful not to be seen as leading the “fight” against the Government while the rest of the Christian denominations as well as the Hindus and the Buddhists are officially not joining in the court case.
“The Archbishop must be careful not to be used or prodded from the back.
If anything goes bad, the Catholics in Malaysia would be blamed but if there is any good coming out of the situation, the silent ones might also claim the same benefits for their own group,” he said.
If the Christians could agree to forgo the use of the word “Allah”, he believed there would be a lasting peace and understanding between the various faiths in Malaysia.
“The Federal Government under Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will surely be beholden to the Christian leaders for their willingness to compromise and assist the Prime Minister as well as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in solving one very sensitive and explosive issue,” said Malakun who joined is a member of Upko led Bernard Dompok.
tunku : full compliments to datuk clarence. like he said this issue should not have been brought to the court. he had pointed out all the points so left me nothing much to say more. we hope that this issue will be settle behind close door and not in the court. let us live peacefully and move on.the government too should assist in the reprinting of the Bibles like suggested by datuk clarence.we hope all the leaders will sit down together to resolve this issue asap.