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Islam and Pluralism ( 10 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Malaysia: All in the name of Allah

By Gwynne Dyer


The row over a Malaysian High Court’s decision allowing non-Muslims to refer to god as ‘Allah’ is getting ugly. The Government must stop playing along with Islamic extremists

In the late-1980s, when I was in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, a friend suggested that I drive out into the desert near Jubail to see the oldest extant Christian church in the world. And there it was, surrounded by a chain-link fence to keep casual visitors and foreign archaeologists out. Experts who saw the site before it was closed said that the church was built by Nestorian Christians, and was probably used from the 4th to the 9th century.

Its existence embarrassed the Saudi Government, which prefers to believe that Arabia went straight from paganism to Islam. But it confirmed the assumption of most historians that Christianity was flourishing in the Arabian Peninsula in the centuries before the rise of Islam. So what did these Arabic-speaking Christians call god? Allah, of course.

I mention this because last week the Malaysian High Court struck down a three-year-old ban on non-Muslims using the word Allah when they speak of god in the Malay language. The court’s decision was followed by firebomb attacks on three Christian churches in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday night, and on Friday protesters at mosques in Kuala Lumpur carried placards reading “Allah is only for us.”

Prime Minister Najib Razak condemned the attacks on the churches, but he supports the ban on Christians using the word ‘Allah’ in Malay and is appealing the High Court decision.

“We...have the right to use the word ‘Allah’,” said Rev Lawrence Andrew, the editor of the Herald, the newspaper of the Catholic Church in Malaysia, whose use of the word in its Malay-language edition triggered the crisis. Parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang simply observed that “The term ‘Allah’ was used to refer to god by Arabic-speaking Christians before Arabic-speaking Muslims existed.”

Of course it was. Arabic-speaking Christians predate the rise of Islam by 300 years, and what else were they going to call god? The word ‘Allah’ is a contraction of the Arabic definite article al- and the noun ‘ilah, which means god. In parts of ancient Arabia it once referred to the creator-god (who was not the only god), but for a very long time it has meant the one god.

This Arabic word was imported into the Malay language by converts to Islam, which arrived in the region several centuries before Christianity. All ethnic Malays are considered to be Muslim under Malaysian law, but there are numerous Malay-speakers, especially in northern Borneo, who are Christian and not ethnically Malay. They also use the word Allah for god.

What’s the harm in that? Why are Malaysia’s Muslims so paranoid? The real paranoia, alas, is ethnic.

Malaysia is an ethnic time-bomb that has turned itself into a peaceful and prosperous country by a huge effort of will. The original population was mostly Malay, but under British rule huge numbers of Indian and Chinese immigrants were imported to work the mines and plantations. By independence, Malays were only 60 per cent of the population, and much poorer than the more recent arrivals. They resented the past, the present, and the probable future.

After several bouts of savage anti-Chinese and anti-Indian rioting, the country arrived at its current, highly successful compromise. The Malays dominate politics, but the Chinese and the Indians thrive in trade and commerce — and most people understand that they are ultimately in the same boat, which is called Malaysia.

The state spends a lot of money to raise the living standards of the Malays, and gives them preference for university places and Government jobs. They haven’t done badly out of this deal, but nevertheless they feel perpetually insecure. Since they are all Muslims, while few other Malaysians are, they also feel their religion is under threat. Some respond by being aggressively intolerant of minorities.

Not all Malays behave this way. Major Muslim organisations, including the Islamic political party, PAS, have agreed that the other “Abrahamic religions” — Christians and Jews — may call their god Allah in Malay. But it’s getting ugly, and it’s high time for the Malaysian Government to stop playing along with the extremists.

The Christians, Hindus, animists and others who make up 40 per cent of Malaysia’s people pay higher taxes, in the sense that they subsidise the poorer Malay/Muslim majority. Few of them will ever convert to Islam, but they are not its enemy either. Malaysia has achieved a fragile but workable compromise that gives its people a good life. It should not endanger it so frivolously.

-- The writer is a London-based independent journalist.

Source: The Daily Pioneer, New Delhi

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  1. Who Owns Allah


    Salamun Alykum


    God created all languages.  It does not make any difference to God if someone call Him "God" or "Allah" or "Bhagaban".  Sadly, many Muslims belive that Allah is the unique name of our Creator and many non-Muslims believe that Allah is the Muslim God!


    According to the Quran, God Almighty belongs the Most beautiful names.  God creates all the languages - and we can derive His beautiful names from any of these languages. There is no restriction in the Quran, what so ever, in this matter.  However, the Quran only condemns the distortion of God's name by associating idol or idols besides Him. These are the important teachings of the Quran.


    According to the Quran,  God Almighty creates all languages, not just Arabic - "Among His proofs are the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variation in your languages and your colors.  In these, there are signs for the knowledgeable." (Quran 30:22)


    We can derive His Most beautiful names from any languages, Arabic or non-Arabic, as understood from this - "To God belongs the most beautiful names; call upon Him therewith, and disregard those who distort His name.  They will be requited for their sins."  (Quran 7:180) 


    Some of God's beautiful English names can be derived from this English translation of the Quran - "He is the One God; there is no other god besides Him.  The King, the Most Sacred, the Peace, the Most Faithful, the Supreme, the Almighty, the Most Powerful, the Most Dignified.  God be glorified; far above having partners.  He is the One God; the Creator, the Initiator, the Designer.  To Him belong the most beautiful names.  Glorifying Him is everything in the heavens and the earth.  He isthe Almighty, Most Wise." (Quran 59:23-24)


    The Islamic scholars are hypnotized by devil (in Arabic Satan). They invent all sorts of ridiculous issues (hadith, tafsir,,fatwas, etc,)  and successfully diverts millions of Muslims from the very important Quranic issues  to unimportant unQuranic issues !!!!  One of such issue is their  ridiculas invention of not using the name of  "God" but "Allah" for the Supreme Being in the English translation !!!  According to them, "Allah" is genderless but "God" has gender!!!!  


    If you check the traditional English translations by Abdullah Yusuf Ali or M. Pickthall, you will observe this weired phenomenon.  Like many Muslims, they were influenced by so-called hadith or fatwa - they did not translate the Arabic word "Allah" as "God" in anywhere in their translations !!!!  But, the interesting thing is that, God Almighty forced them to use His English name  "God" in their English translations of the Quran despite their wrong judgment !!!!  Please check out their English translations of Sura Nas (Quran 114:2-3) -"...The King of Mankind, The God of Mankind,..." !  The Arabic word "Elaha" is one of the beautiful names of God.  Yusuf Ali and Pickhall did not have any other choice but to translate the Arabic word "Elaha" as God !!!!


    Abdullah Yusuf Ali translated the verse 66:8 this way - "Our Lord ! perfect our Light for us, and grant us Forgiveness: for Thou hast power over all things."  The English meaning for the Arabic word "Rabb" is Lord. But, he did not have any problem using the English word "Lord" for "Rabb" even though the female gender for Lord is Lady !!!! I am wondering where is the rational !!! ???


    The most important Quranic issue is not to distort God's beautiful name by associating idol/idols beside God. Sadly, the Islamic scholars completely overlook this important point !!!!!


    For example, the Quranic Testimony (in Arabic Shahadah) in brief is "La ilaha illa Allah".  This testimony is taught by God Almighty in the Quran.  Prophet Muhammad preached and followed this testimony (7:172-173; 3:18; 47:19; 20:14; 10:90; 37:35-36).  One such verse states - "When they are told, "La Elaha Ellah Allah", they turned arrogant.  They said, "Shall we leave our gods for the sake of a crazy poet?" (Quran 37:35-36)  Sadly, millions of Muslims revert to idolatry after the death of the prophet, added Muhammad's name in the Quranic Testimony and practice this corrupt shahadah daily basis !!!!!  According to the Quran this is call idol worship (39:45; 3:18; 37:35).


    The places of worship (masjid) belong to God Almighty.  We learn from the Quran - "The places of worship belong to God; do not call on anyone else beside God." (Quran 72:18).  Despite this Quranic fact, the Muslim scholars added the name of Muhammad in their Adhan and ignored the Quran (72:18;3:18;2:285).  Today's Muslims display the prophet's name next to God's name on the masjid wall, in their houses and in their automobiles !!!!  The idol worshiping of Muhammad is deeply rooted in the lives of today's Muslims.  Satan used the bait of loving Muhammad and successfully trapped millions of Muslims into idol worshipers of Muhammad beside Allah !!!!!


    Our salat prayers must be devoted to God Alone (72:20; 20:14;13:36;6:162).  One such verse states - "Say, "My Contact prayers, my worship practices, my life and my death, are all devoted absolutely to God Alone, the Lord of the universe." (Quran 6:162)  Abu Lahab, Abu Jahl, and the idolaters of Quraish used to observe salat prayers (8:33-35) and worship Laat, Uzzah and Manaat beside God (53:19-28).  Today's Muslims replace Laat, Uzzah and Manaat with the prophet Muhammad's name  and devote part of their worships by saluting and salwating the prophet beside Allah !!!  Additionally, they  added the name of prophet Abraham in their salat prayers !!!!.


    Today's Muslims consider Muhammad as the source of the religion (prophetic sunnah) beside the Quran, which according to the Quran is idol worship (6:114; 9:31; 12:40; 18:26,109,110;41:6).  One such verse states - "You do not worship beside Him (God) exceptinnovations that you have made up, you and your parents.  God has never authorized such idols.  All ruling belongs to God, and He has ruled that you shall not worship except Him.  This is the perfect religion, but most people do not know." (Quran 12:40)


    Many ignorant Muslims claim that Muhammad possesses power of intercession (in Arabic Shafaaet) despite the Quranic fact that only God possesses all power of intercession (2:48,123,254;6:70,94;7:53;10:3,18,49;13:16;39:44,45;43:86;74:48;82:17-19).  One such verse states - "Say, "all intercession belongs to God."  To Him belongs all sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, then to Him you will be returned." (Quran 39:44)


    According to the Quran, prophet Muhammad was human being like us (18:110), who committed errors like normal human being (4:79; 9:117; 33:37; 40:66; 41:6; 42:52; 47:19; 48:2; 66:1; 80:1-10; 93:7).  One such verse states - "He (God) found you (Muhammad) astray, and guided you." (Quran 93:7).  Despite these Quranic facts, ignorant Muslims believe that Muhammad was created from Light of Allah and was infallible like Allah !!!!!


    The Arabic speaking Christians use the the Arabic word "Allah" and not "God" - and they believe in Jesus as "son of God" or in Arabic "Ibn'  Allah" !!!!   According to the Quran (7:180),  they obviously distort the name Allah by associating prophet Jesus with Allah.

    Can we then reject the Arabic name "Allah" simply because they associate Jesus as "son of  Allah"  (in Arabic: Isa Ibn' Allah) !!!!!????  Absolutely not !


    In the Quran (Quran 59:23-24, 114:2-3),  God Almighty suggests us that one of His beautiful names  is "The King."  (in Arabic Malek). Can we deny God's suggestion for "The King" for one of His beautiful names simply because the female gender for the King is the Queen !!!???  Absolutely not !


    Even before the advent of Muhammad, the idol worshipers attributed sons and  daughters to  Allah (6:100, 16:57, 17:40, 37:149,153;43:16; 52:39; 53:21).  One such verse states - "Yet, they set up besides Allah idols from among the jinns, though He is the One who created them.  They even attribute to Him (Allah) sons and daughters, without any knowledge.  Be He glorified.  He is the Most High, far above their claims." (Quran 6:100).  So, can we reject the Arabic word "Allah" simply because the Meccan idol worshipers associated sons and daughters with Allah and distort or pollute His name  !!!!???  Not at all !


    We can  find the use of "Allah" not "God" in the Arabic Bible.  We can find the use of "Ishwar" not "God" in the Hindi Bible.  An Arabian Christian use the word "Allah" not "God" when he/she calls God.  An American Christian who speaks English use the word "God" for  Allah.  Sadly, the traditional English translators of the Quran are influenced by hadith or fatwas and used the Arabic word "Allah" instead of English word "God" in their English translations, which only give the false impression to the English speaking people that "Allah" is an Arabic God or a Muslim God !


    Using the word ":Allah", "Khoda", "God", "Bhagoban" - it all depends on the circumstances.  For example, it is logical to use "Allah" or "Khoda" in the Bangla translation of the Quran for Bangla speaking people.  It is logical to use "Bhagoban" in the Hindi translation of the Quran for the Hindi speaking people, and "God" in the English translation of the Quran for the English speaking people.


    What is the logic that one has to call ones Creator with a foreign language like Arabic !!!???  In a lot of non-Arabic speaking countries Muslims are forced as children to read the Quran in Arabic and still as adults read the Quran in Arabic, but they do not understand a single word of what they read.  What good is it to read the Quran in Arabic like a parrot without understanding its meanings or like a donkey carrying valuable books !? - "The example of those who were given the Torah, then failed to uphold it, is like the donkey carrying great works of literature.  Miserable indeed is the example of people who rejected God's revelations.  God does not guide the wicked people." (Quran 62:5)


    Last but not least, this is one of the many reminders of the Quran - "God is the One who created you.  He is the One who provides for you.  He is the One who puts you to death.  He is the One who resurrects you.  Can any of your idols do any of these things ?  Be He glorified.  He is much too exalted to have any partners." (Quran 30:40) 


    Thank you and may God guide me,


    Muhammed Irtaza


     [33:62] God's Sunnah is unchangeable 

    [39:23] The Quran is the best Hadith


    --- On Mon, 1/11/10, Mike Ghouse <> wrote:

    From: Mike Ghouse <>
    Subject: MuslimAgenda :: Who Owns Allah
    Date: Monday, January 11, 2010, 10:42 PM


    Who Owns God?


    To the People of Malaysia


    Mike Ghouse

    The Malaysian Government may consider setting up a commission to figure out who owns Allah. From what I know, no one owns the word "Allah" nor does any one own "Allah". I can have one of the seven billionth (# of people) piece of God without asking permission from any one. And each part would be fulsome seven billion. You are welcome to steal my piece, I still would have it; owning one piece is like owning whole of the God.

    Same formula applies to the other names of God be it Yahweh, Krishna, Allah, Ahura Mazda, Wahe Guru, God or any other name one can imagine to call on the creator. God probably would be embarrassed if he figures out that we believe him to have limited linguistic comprehension, and that he only understands Hebrew, Sanskrit, Pali, Avesta, Aramaic, Latin or Arabic. Quite! Let him know not.

    Perhaps, one single event led to the other and the whole cosmos came into being. Whether it is evolution, creation or big bang, the fact of the matter is we exist. Thus the concept of oneness of creation, oneness of the humanity and oneness of the people translates into Oneness of God, One all loving God. Our Atheist friends don't have to call that thing God, just call it the causer of evolution, creation or the big bang; or don't call any thing, he has no problems with it and I know I don't.

    I hope you find the answer in various ways of praising your version of the lord; your lord, my version and every one's lord; the same causer and sustainer of the creation. Whatever way works for you is good, why should it matter how you worship? Your devotion to the creator is your own, it won't interfere with my life and it should not worry us a bit.

    God has not signed a secret deal with you to tell me that your way is the right way, you quote the Qur'aan, I will quote the Vedas, Bible, Torah, Avesta and other books or my native friend may quote his/her traditions. None of us is wrong, each one has his or her own version and all versions produce the same result; acknowledging something higher, immortal than us and that we have be humble, and humility eats up arrogance and brings conflictlessness among the people. That is what the kingdom of heaven is all about or may be more per you, and that is fine with me.

    The phrases like No God, One God, Many Gods, One family or Vasudeva Kutumbukum is all about peaceful co-existence of diverse people as one family. If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

    Since I am a human like you and happen to believe in one of the 250 versions of God, let me share my version of that creator with you and I invite you to share your version right here in the comments section. Remember we create God in our own image, so there are at least 7 billion versions of the same God, and he (she or it) loves every which way we bow to him, acknowledge it and respect her.

    My version is Islamic, still the same God.

    The symbols in this article are the name of God, "Allah" in Arabic, as a Muslim I won't lock the unlockable God in words or in picture; it is not a being and is certainly not containable. No one's version is complete to the other, but given our limitations we create him in our own image, a deeper image en-carved in our imagination that is inexplicable and invisible like the pain in the neck.

    The Qur'aan starts with this verse:
    Translation by Mohammad Asad

    1:2 All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds,
    Alhamdu lillahi rabbi alAAalameena

    ????????? ????? ????? ????????????? (1:2)

    In this instance, the term "worlds" denotes all categories of existence both in the physical and the spiritual sense. The Arabic expression rabb - rendered by me as ',`Sustainer" - embraces a wide complex of meanings not easily expressed by a single term in another language. It comprises the ideas of having a just claim to the possession of anything and, consequently, authority over it, as well as of rearing, sustaining and fostering anything from its inception to its final completion. Thus, the head of a family is called rabb ad-dar ("master of the house") because he has authority over it and is responsible for its maintenance; similarly, his wife is called rabbat ad-dar ("mistress of the house"). Preceded by the definite article al, the designation rabb is applied, in the Qur'an, exclusively to God as the sole fosterer and sustainer of all creation - objective as well as conceptual - and therefore the ultimate source of all authority.(By Mohammad Asad, Quran Ref: 1:2 )

    Here is how the last chapter begins :

    114:1 SAY: "I seek refuge with the Sustainer of men,

    :[Allah:seek refuge with Him] [Allah's attributes:Cherishe r and Sustainer] [Mankind]
    Qul aAAoothu birabbi alnnasi

    ???? ??????? ??????? ???????? (114:1)

    The most important aspect of quoting both the first and last chapters of Qur'aan has a purpose in it. Both verses do not address Muslims exclusively, in turn they address the whole cosmos and the human beings.

    Allah is addressing all of us in the book; he made sure that he did not address one people to exclude the other. He may have been motivated by the fear that some other God may take away the unclaimed people, so he was smart enough to include everyone from the beginning to the end. I am sure he used the same strategy in all his books, be it the Vedas, Bible, Torah or any book or just through the oral traditions that our brothers and sisters in native and earth based traditions follow.

    God belongs to all, we don't need to own him (her or it), let him remain the creator and owner of our lives and let us call him whichever way we can.

    The Neocons Muslims (Equal and opposite counterparts of Neocons in all faiths) need to be happy that the Christians and Sikhs want to keep "Allah" as one of the names of God. Indeed, the Arab Christians also call the creator Allah. Perhaps it is the same word Ilahi Jesus used to use in Aramaic.

    Allah is God's name in Arabic. Allah, the creator and sustainer has no problems if we call him Yahweh, Ahura Mazda, Buddha, God, Ishwar, Mahavir, Wahe Guru or Allah. Let's not limit the capabilities of God to a language and a religion. He is the creator and sustainer of all worlds.

    As a Muslim I welcome everyone to call God with his name in Arabic – "Allah" with equal devotion and honor. Quietly and peacefully this would be the response of over 99% of Muslims in the world. It is time for us to appeal the majority of Muslims in Malaysia to help those few lost brothers.

    Mike Ghouse
    Dallas, Texas. USA

    By Student of the Quran
  2. date 12 January 2010 14:14
    subject Malaysia: All in the name of Allah, - 12 Jan, 2010

    It seems that the news reported in your newsletter is fabricated by Mossad agents.

    By Alex James