KUCHING, March 11: Special assistant to Chong Chieng Jen, Abdul Aziz Isa agreed that the word “Allah” should not be exclusively used by the Muslims but everyone regardless of their religious convictions as historically the word has been used by both pagan and Christians even before the coming of Islam.
According to him, the word “Allah” occurred in both pagan and Christian pre-Islamic inscriptions as before the coming of Islam, the Meccan religion has been using the word “Allah” as the supreme deity of the tribal federation among the Quraysh community and it was used as a designation that consecrated the superiority of Hubal (the extreme deity of Quraysh) over the other gods.
“However, there’s no iconic representation of Allah that is known to have existed as there is only one god in Mecca religion that did not have an idol. Even Muhammad’s father used the name ‘Abdullah’ which means ‘the slave of Allah’.
“Since Islam came after Muhammad, and Muhammad’s father’s name was Abdullah, it shows that the word “Allah” existed before the coming of Islam.
“Therefore, who are we to deny the usage of the word Allah to be used by the non-Muslims in this country where it has been proven in history that the word itself has been used before the coming of Islam?,” he said in a statement today.
Aziz thus applauded the latest ruling by the High Court which allowed Christians nationwide to use the word Allah and three other Arabic words of “Baitullah” (house of God), “Kaabah” (Islam’s holiest shrine in Mecca) and “solat” (prayer) in their religious publications for educational purposes.
“The ruling quashed a three-decade government ban on Christians using the word Allah in their religious publications.
“It clearly upholds the freedom of religion as enshrined in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution which among others stated that ‘every person has the right to profess and practice their religion and subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.
“There is no such power to restrict religious freedom under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. Religious freedom is absolutely protected even in times of threat to public order,” he emphasised.
Aziz, who is also DAP Batu Kitang chairman, pointed out that Arab-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths such as Christian and Jews have been using the word Allah to mean God and to date, the Christians have no other word for God than Allah.
He shared that even the Arabic-descended Maltese language of Malta, whose population was almost entirely Catholic, used “Alla” for God.
Many Christian denominations in the Middle East, he added, have been using the word Allah for more than 2,000 years such as Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem (Palestine), Maronite Church (Lebanon), Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria (Egypt), Syriac Orthodox Church, Syriac Catholic Church, Ancient Church of the East, Assyrian Church of the East and Chaldean Catholic Church.
“In fact, the Arab Christians uses the word Allah in their ritual prayers, for example, Allah al-ab (God the Father), Allah al-ibn (God the Son) and Allah arruh al-quds (God the Holy Spirits).
“Even the Arab Muslims never proclaim the word Allah exclusively for the Muslims. In fact, the Arab Muslims have never denied the rights of the Arab Christians to use the word Allah. Thus, why do we need to act more “Arab” than the Arabs themselves?,” he asked.
Aziz, who came from a family of two religions of Islam and Christian and raised by his maternal grandparents who are still Anglican, pointed out that his Islamic faith was never weakened even though his grandparents have been reciting their prayers in Iban using the word “Allah Taala” for the past 32 years.
“We live in a world of diversity and all religions should co-exist in our society. We should live in peace and harmony without fear of our faiths been swayed. Most importantly, we should have mutual understanding and respect for each other. I always believe that there is no race that is inferior and no religion that is superior,” he added.
Aziz believed that the polemics over the term “Allah” can be peacefully resolved if all parties that were involved agree to understand, respect and abide by the country’s regulation on Islam and other religions.
“Article 3 and Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, clearly state the guideline on handling the matter, which gives due rights to everyone involved.
“Although it has been established that Islam is the official religion, Article 3 also states that other religions could be practised in peace and harmony, in any part of the Federation,” he reminded.
As such, he viewed that it was high time to turn the negative situation into a positive one, by making room for discussions that would allow for better understanding among Malaysians.
“Let us prove that this feud between Muslims and Christians is pointless, and that we will not be easily used for narrow political gains,” he said. — DayakDaily