Allah issue: Christian Federation of Malaysia responds


One thing that many people do not realise is that East Malaysian indigenous and Orang Asli Christians constitute 60 per cent of the church in Malaysia and many of them use Bahasa Malaysia.

This is a CFM statement reacting to the Court of Appeal’s decision to bar the use of the word ‘Allah’ in the Malay-language pullout of the Catholic Herald weekly in Malaysia:

The Christian community in Malaysia is gravely dismayed and very disappointed by the decision of the Court of Appeal to uphold the power of the Minister to ban the use of the word Allah in the Herald publication. In a wide-ranging decision, all Christian publications in Bahasa Malaysia would appear to be affected by this ruling.

By stating that “the name ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity” the court has totally ignored the position of our East Malaysian Bumiputra and Orang Asli Christians, who constitute 60% of the church in Malaysia and who are Bahasa Malaysia-speaking.

In particular, by holding that “the welfare of an individual or group must yield to that of the community” and applying this principle to freedom of religion, this decision is yet another erosion and infringement of the constitutional protection to the freedom of religious communities to profess and practise their faith and to manage their own affairs.

In what would appear to be a re-reading and re-interpretation of Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, it would now appear that a minority religion can only be practised and professed in Malaysia to the extent that it does not upset the “peace and harmony” of adherents of the majority religion.

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The Bahasa Malaysia-speaking churches have been using the word Allah both before and after the independence of Malaya and the formation of Malaysia. The use of the word Allah by the Malaysian churches had not been an issue all these decades.

However, the various authorities in this country, by making an issue of it and by what would appear to be selective action or inaction, have only encouraged and fuelled further misunderstandings, mistrusts and brokenness between the Muslim and Christian communities. This will only further undermine the unity of Malaysians.

Despite this very negative development, the Christian Federation of Malaysia reminds all churches in Malaysia to always look to God and to pray for wisdom and guidance for all involved as to the next steps that they should take.

We welcome the fact that the decision of the Court of Appeal does not appear to cover the use of the word Allah in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, the Al-Kitab.

We expect our Honourable Prime Minister and the Cabinet to continue to honour the 10-point solution with respect to the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, the Al-Kitab. We shall, therefore, continue to use the word Allah in our worship, liturgy, prayers and educational materials of the church.

As Malaysian Christians we are committed to our beloved nation and our love for Malaysia remains steadfast and we continue to respond with love and not in hatred as we face this on-going trial and tribulation.

Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng
Chairman and the Executive Committee
The Christian Federation of Malaysia

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  1. Questions:

    1) Are the East Malaysian indigenous and Orang Asli Christians become LESS Christians if they read the Bible in Malay which used the word ‘Tuhan’ (which is the correct translation of Malay language of God)?

    2) Are the East Malaysian indigenous and Orang Asli Christians become MORE Christians if they read the Bible in Malay which used the word Allah?

    3) It is not a disgrace in the image of Christian when you have to use the word ‘Allah’ in your translated Bible which is widely known in Malaysia as the One God, who has no son or wife, and the only God for the Muslims. I cannot imagine translating the Quran for example, for the people in India and use the name of the Hindu Lords to replace mine, for the sake of the local people to read and understand? For me, it’s an act of apostasy! You’re just dragging down Christianity!

    We can all live in peace and harmony when we tolerate each other. If Christian truly promotes peace, I dare you to leave the Muslims in Malaysia with their ‘Allah’ and you can have your Bible with ‘Tuhan’ or whatever other terms you deemed fit according to your faith. That is sufficient and most correct from the language aspect!

    To use ‘Allah’ is incorrect for the Bible, and the reason that it is for the East Malaysian indigenous and Orang Asli Christians is very lame, because I believed they do not call their object of worship before this as ‘Allah’ in the first place, and they can perfectly understand the word ‘Tuhan’. Unless you are willing to state that Allah is One, there is no God but Allah, and Allah begets not; Nor was He begotten. Then, I must welcome you to read the Quran as you have started to become a muslim! (one who submit to the will of One God).

    • To A Muslim.

      Shamefully not one lawyer in Malaysia, supposedly the bastion of “religious freedom and tolerance” has been able to express the real outrage of the use (or abuse) of the word Allah for a purely political reason than you have herer. And for that I congradulate you. It brings a sigh of relief to my mind and the minds of those many others who also see this issue as a form of Muslim baiting.

      Yes, the East Malaysians may form a large part of the Christian population. But there are many more things in Christianity and about being Christian that is being deliberately avoided by Christians and the Chinese community in particular about this debate. (See Nutgraph an almost exclusively Chinese run anti government rag).

      Christians do not focus on things like charity, forgiveness, tolerance and forbearance or respect for the law because the vast majority of them are guilty of practising the exact opposite in this debate. Instead they rely on provocation, using Christ as a political tool and fig leaf for their failings and insist the community be put at risk because of one word. And as father Lawrence recently made clear, they will disobey the law.

      It was they who took the debate to court. When the judge Lau Bee Lian in the lower courts gave them what they wanted in her decision, she became “that brave judge” “a great judge” but not a bible bashing proselytizing one … Not disclosed.

      But when a higher court of the court of appeal overturned that decision, it was reported by Christians everywhere that it was a decision by “Muslim judges”. So much for fairness and religious tolerance.

      During the time of the white Rajah Brooke and his family who ran East Malaysia like a personal fiefdom, the Christians there also sang God save the Queen (and the King before that) at the end of their religious services. Their liturgy also consisted of prayers for the King or Queen of England (head of the protestant and Churches of England). That practice ended after independence and no one was the worse off for it. So too with the word Allah, it may have been placed in their bibles by the White Rajahs or other foreign imports over time. Now that they are no longer part of that world it is not wrong to ask them to jettison that word or excise it from their bibles. That time has come and gone.

      This whole sorry saga began with Azlina Joy. If she wanted to become a Catholic based on her belief why did she want to provoke Malays and Muslims by making a big hue and cry about it? If it was truly her faith and her god then it would not have been the subject of provocative media stories to bait the Malays. She was set up and allowed herself to be used as a prop for the Catholic church whose members worldwide are dwindling because of their good Christian works like paedophilia amongst the clergy.

      Government has an obligation to act and to act swiftly and decisively if the laws of Malaysia are to have any impact on its people. The governments intervention initially was constitutionally sound. There was the clear exception to “free speech” and “religion” that arose when the Allah issue became controversial. The constitution makes no provisions for who started what. It is clear that when a threat to peace and good order arises, government has a right and an obligation to intervene to stop the mischief whoever started it and for whatever purpose.

      There are no absolute freedoms anywhere.

  2. The malays in Malaysia somehow interpret Islam very differently from the rest of the world.
    Strange indeed!

    • The Catholics in Malaysia interpret Catholicism in much the same way Malaysian lawyers interpret their constitution. To suit themselves.

      When you say Islam do you mean the Shia form of Islam, the Turkish liberal or Turkish conservative Sunni brand of Islam? or do you refer to the Wahhabi sects of Saudi Arabia and now Chechenya? Or is it the Ahmdis of Pakistan and Kashmir? or is it the Hashemites of Jordan or Iraq? or is it Alawite Islam of Syria or perhaps also Iran?

  3. Well what can I say, you Christians in East Malaysia have never treated your fellow Christian brothers in West Malaysia on equal terms because of your … “Bumiputera” status. Fact is I was once refer to as a “Keling” by a Kadazan-Dusun guy who worships the same Jesus as I do and goes to a Roman Catholic church, during a trip to Kota Kinabalu.

    Today (others) are slowly sucking your rights way. First they make sure that Christian leaders such as Stephan Kalong and Donald Stephan are removed from power and replace with Muslim leaders. Then they bring in the hordes from Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistans and some of the Malay … from West Malaysia in large numbers into your territory to ensure that you will become the minority in your own land.

    Well I can forsee one day in places like Penampang, a mosque will be build, alcohol will be ban …

    The best part none of your PBS and UPKO leaders have anything to say nor have they been supporting the Herald struggle all the while because of their selfishness to think that such issue will never creep into East Malaysia. Well mah man Zulkifli Nordin is gonna change all that.

    Keep on fighting for your “Bumiputera” rights as for you that is more important than your faith in Jesus. You the Christian in East Malaysia are the biggest bigot for forgetting that God created all man the same. Well it doesn’t matter, someday many of you will leave that faith … (?)

    • Its all about horses for courses. Nothing stays the same. The bottom is falling out o that loose raft of opposition leaders and groups in Malaysia. Empty rhetoric, half baked arguments and self indulgent racists and undemocratic swill blaming government demanding a standard they themselves are found lacking in.

    • Karma Chameleon you sound like a typical arrogant, hyper sensitive Indian from West Malaysia.

      …”Christians in East Malaysia have never treated your fellow Christian brothers in West Malaysia on equal terms because of your … “Bumiputera” status”. If Sabahans were really like what you described here, then why are there so many of your kind relocating to work in Sabah and getting married to local Dusun, Kadazan girls?

      Because you people were tired of being trampled on … in peninsular? Because the Sabahan locals treat your kind (and definitely OTHER ethnic groups) WAY BETTER and WITH MUCH RESPECT compared to the way YOU GET TREATED in the peninsular?

      During numerous visits to local clinics in Sabah, I have met many Indian medical officers from peninsular who were rude, pushy and arrogant.

      I am from Sabah and during my two years working in KL, I have experienced firsthand the crude, cunning and arrogant manners of (some) Indians. Even some Indians dislike their own race over there due to obvious reasons.

      Yes Bumis from Sabah and Sarawak will continue to FIGHT for our birthright as long as Malaysia exists.

      For someone like you, you can continue to wallow in your pathetic situation as the smallest minority with MINIMAL RIGHTS in the peninsular or should I say, country.

      If you really worship Jesus as you claim, then I would suggest instead of bashing the people of Sabah and wishing them ill will based on one or two bad incident, have a good look at your heart.

      I hope God almighty forgives you for your statements and you find peace in your heart.

  4. The organized Religion God so Fickle-minded that he send 3 books .. and forever divided mankind(?).

    rajraman. Some of the biggest misconceptions that many non-Muslims have about Islam have to do with the word “Allah”. For various reasons, many people have come to believe that Muslims worship a different God than Christians and Jews. This is totally false, since “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for “God” – and there is only One God. Let there be no doubt – Muslims worship the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus – peace be upon them all. However, it is certainly true that Jews, Christians and Muslims all have different concepts of Almighty God. For example, Muslims – like Jews – reject the Christian beliefs of the Trinity and the Divine Incarnation. This, however, doesn’t mean that each of these three religions worships a different God – because, as we have already said, there is only One True God. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim to be “Abrahamic Faiths”, and all of them are also classified as “monotheistic”. However, Islam teaches that other religions have, in one way or another, distorted and nullified a pure and proper belief in Almighty God by neglecting His true teachings and mixing them with man-made ideas .

    Since Sabahan and Sarawakian use the name of God as “ALLAH” before UMNO came to power and become more Islam then Islam the words “ALLAH” belong to every Organized Religion followers.Same God different name only.Nothing to confused or try to copyright the words “ALLAH”

  5. Muslim and Christian are actually praying to the same God. All over the Muslim world the Christian are allowed to use the word Allah. It is only the Malay Muslim in Malaysia that does not it to be used. Hahah are they trying to impress upon Allah that they are more faithful. My goodness. A surau was demolished when other religious pray in it. Isnt that ridiculous. Well they must not buy any non muslim houses or stay in a hotel room and bed that have been used by non Muslim or they must throw away the plates used by non muslim. Oh goodness gracious me these religious idiots

    • You mean of course all over the Arab world. In Pakistan Christians do not use the word Allah. In Bangladesh another large Muslim country the Christians do not indulge in the use of the word Allah in their liturgy. In Khazakstan, Turkey, and in the Uighur region of Sinjiang province in China the Christians do not use the word Allah. So which Muslim world is this you speak of. And why would the Catholics of Malaysia want to use the word Allah alone when it is a sensitive issue likely (and proven) to cause disquiet and disharmony likely to lea to a public order situation?

      The Sikhs and Hindus the Buddhists and Taoists are content to us their own terminology when it comes to referring to God why should the Catholics use seek to be so provocative?

      For centuries they would not allow their hundreds of millions of non Latin followers use their own language to say the mass. Thy insisted on Latin inspite of the masses not understanding the liturgy in Latin. Why did they not change it all to Bahasa when they could instead of insisting on the solitary one word which causes disquiet?

      Yang unfortunately yours is typical of the Chinese combative abrasive mentality seeking to bait others which is a mentality that has infected the Catholics as well.

  6. I would love to see the malaysian govt now to stop the use for all Christians and Jews in the world and make it exclusively theirs.

  7. … to join Malaysia in the first place. Brunei was smart and Singapore wake up 2 years later. Sabahan and Sarwakian are still sleeping and will languished if it did not wake up. Brunei did not join because the Sultan does not want to lose its power. Singapore join on equal term as Lee Kuan Yew still governed as Prime Minister and not CM so we have 2 Prime Minister in Malaysia at that time.

    Singapore was allowed to leave Malaysia as the Malay were afraid of losing political power as with Singapore combined the Malay does not form the majority. Even after Singapore leaved Malaysia, the Malay only form a very slight majority.. It is the MCA and Gerakan that have make the Chinese and other non Malay leave that have further dilute the non Malay population. Now Armu is trying to make the Indian Muslim and others such as Indonesia and Bangla as Malay and to make sure that Malays and other Muslim do not leave the country or religion. This is the objectives of M…. Beware let us make sure that Indian Muslim, Bangle Muslim, Sarawak Muslim are consider as Indian and Bangl and Sarawakian and not as Malay

  8. Look out into the sky and see the universe of which the observable universe is 64 billions light years across. Put earth on the edge and we will be 138 billions light years across and again put earth on the edge and we will be 278 billions light year across and so on and on and on………………….. In the immensity we are even smaller than a speck of dust and here on earth we are squabbling, killing and fighting and now we have one idiotic kind fighting just for a single word …

  9. There are no absolute freedoms in the constitution of Malaysia. Lets get that point right in the first place. Lau Bee Lian J’s analysis of the facts and the law before her was skewed and incoherent. She clearly read the bits of the constitution that put a limit on free speech and expression to suit an outcome she may have had in mind that influenced her judgment.

    The use of the word Allah does cause some disquiet in sectors of the community. And where that disquiet is likely in the perception or discretion of the IGP or the government to cause any threat to domestic security, they have a right to act including and not restricted to curtailing the “right” at the centre of that disturbance or disquiet. And thats exactly what the government did.

    The fallacy that somehow the East Malaysians and “Orang Asli” (a patronising term if ever there was one) would be adversely affected in their communication with their God, or fall out of favour with their God from being denied properly the use of the word Allah is perhaps the clearest piece of evidence against the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church in particular in this debate.

    For centuries they engaged and indulged themselves in the use of Latin. Their Chinese and Indian adherents in Malaysia not understanding a single word of what the liturgy meant then. Then all of a sudden they were dragged unceremoniously into the 20th Century (the Vatican) and introduced English into the liturgy. God did not send down any bolt of lightning did he? life went on.

    The English they introduced was an abomination of half Shakespearean half Dickens into the liturgy with Thee, Thou and art. What nonesense Why do the Catholic church continue to stand on ceremony and ignore substance. Instead of loving they neighbours and saying look we will remove the word Allah if it offends. Instead they have dragged themselves and their government through the mud coming out less than clean leaving the world to draw adverse inferences against them and their “Good Christian Conduct” of belligerence.

    A Good Decision. But one won’t hear that from the Catholic side. It was “that brave judge, that brilliant judge, great decision etc” when Lau Bee Lian misinformed herself and delivered her disgraceful judgement in the matter.

    Now the judgement has gone the other way, all we hear is “unfair, racist” and every possible negative especially from lawyers who are meant to know better and act impartially. In Catholicism and Christian jurisprudence therefore a judgement that favours you is a good judgment and one that favours the truth if it against you is not.

  10. The problem is having BM as language of instruction in schools in Sarawak and Sabah, and now the natives there could not understand English Bible.

    Anyway, is it true that the Penang government is taking over RapidPenang bus service from Prasarana?

  11. after watching the situation in sudan on aljezeera, hope we will not degenerate to that situation or to any 3rd world countries in africa.

  12. A once model for islamic countries. Now can’t even copy an arabic word properly. There is only so much we can describe umno. Please give umno some space to parade their stupidity to the world. haha

  13. Condo Lim,
    Obviously your kindergarden teacher was wrong or at least lack of world view.
    The problem is “voilation of rights” and “unconstitutional judgement”.
    It matters not why The Herald wants to use that word, what matters is the right to use the word, as simple as that.
    in a nut shell, the court should and must dispense judgement based on laws and the constituition, NOT to please the feeling of majority. this is fundamental. and yes. it is also as simple as that.

    • The only way the Appeal Court could have reversed the decision is saying that Article 11’s the right to restrict propagation of other religion include “can confuse Muslim” even though there is no evidence. In other words the assumption of guilt is potential AND without evidence.

      The ruling only shows that judges are so bad even just technically..How any judge could read potential violation without evidence as right to violate constitutional guarantees are the minds of those trapped in medieval period.

  14. At the source of this is the HATE politics of Mahathir – the BTN, the wrecking of institutions, breaking the Malaysia agreement including treason.

    Given what has been ruled, its clear the Malaysia Agreement is no longer valid …

    I have always said that the politicians of Sabah and Sarawak got their priorities wrong in demanding more equitable development. Its a dependency that should not have happened. By now, especially in Sabah, they should have learned from Singapore about the evils of dependencies …

  15. Might as well Throw Out the Rukun Negara Belief in God and replace it Belief in God that UMNO Creates and Dictates how you belief…… + time to Revert back to English Medium of Educataion as too many Malay-English words used can Confuse many……and Lets start Agenda 2020….Migrate to Sabah- Sarawak……

    • The state anthem of Johor and Kedah has reference to Allah.
      Does that mean that non-Muslims now cannot sing these state anthems?

  16. The word Allah attribute to which one in christianity?…the father, the son or the holy ghost? This is very confusing…Allah is One and the only One..nothing is comparable to Him..He begetteth not nor was begotten.

  17. Since kindergarten, we knew english word ‘god’ = ‘tuhan’ in Malay–FACT. Just don’t know what the fuss about this court case. And also since kindergarten, at least in West Malaysia and in GLOBAL Muslim community, ‘Allah’ word is for Muslims specifically–FACT. What’s the problem now ??? Some bright souls please explain the rationale behind this court case.

    Please, no more ‘Federal vs State’ or ‘BN vs PR’ argument here. I did talk to many people. Most of them just don’t care or understand about it. What’s the problem ???

    • Condo, I do not blame you as you are obviously a West Malaysian. Allah has been used by Christians in Sabah long before Malaysia. The issue is not about whether ‘Allah’ is a Muslim God or not. The issue is about the UMNO/BN Government infringing on the rights of Christians. It may be Allah today, tomorrow we may have to give up eating pork, praying in churches etc. You may not be aware but Christians have difficulty getting permits to build churches even if they own the land and have the money to do so. Think of your children and grandchildren.

    • The problem is politics and how to get extreme as possible to make sure they get the Malay and muslim votes and how they are afraid of losing political power especially those who profess muslim but are not really malay but wanted to be Malay

  18. It’s incorrect to say that the East Malaysians use Bahasa Malaysia(or Bahasa Indonesia) in their churches.Instead local dialects are widely used.For example Iban dialect is used when the mass is for the Ibans.And the Orang Ulu preferred to use their own dialects to conduct their mass/prayers.BM may be used in cases where various and different etnic groups come together.But again English is a better choice.

    • The use of the local dialects in churches is not as regular as Bahasa Malaysia. In my church, the local dialect is used at most 6 times a year, whereas Bahasa Malaysia is used every week.

  19. Although i don’t practice any Organized Religion but looks like UMNO copy rights exclusively for them.They are more Malay than Malay ( although some of them celup Malay?) and now they are more Islam than Arabs.

    rajraman. Thousand of years the words “ALLAH” use by the Arab speaking nation although they are divided by 3 books.The words “ALLAH” is mother tongue for Arabian regardless their believed. UMNO now must tell the non Muslim Arabs “ALLAH” is a forbidden to be use by them.

    Anil a question for you since you are one of the followers of organized religion – am i going to hell when i am dead since i am the free thinker or infidels as your religion terms me? ( i need your honest answer).

    My mind and soul fly like a bird – freely from this Organized Religion Slavery.

    • No, I don’t think you are going to hell and I don’t think of you as an ‘infidel’, far from it. It is between you and God. And it is lovely if your mind/soul soars like an eagle.

      • Thanks, you one of the rare of the rarest followers of the books.

        rajraman. Human have many sickness in their brain and heart – Jealousy of others but this thing i don’t have at all from young.I am freeman from Organized Religion Slavery but extremely sad that a Religion who supposed to spread piece but forever fighting each other since the day of “Walking Prophets”.

        Selamat Hari Raya Haji to all Malaysian.I celebrate all festival directly or indirectly because I am Malaysian.


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