“The usage of the word Allah is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity. The usage of the word will cause confusion in the community.”
These were the remarks of the Chief Judge of a Malaysian Court while ruling that only Muslims may use the word Allah to refer to their God and Christians may not use it to refer to theirs. It is pertinent to note that the word Allah has been used by Malay Christians to refer to “their” God for centuries. It is also useful to note that the word Allah is a composition of two arabic words: “al” meaning ‘the’ and “ilah” meaning “God, deity”. So why, when referring to his God can’t a Christian call him Allah? Does a Christian, who happens to be Arabic speaking need to invent a new word in Arabic to refer to ‘his’ God? And why do Christians; followers of the Christ, need to be assured that their God is different from ours?
If I have read the Quran right, even Allah refers to himself as “rab ul alameen“; the God of all universes or the God of all that exists and not “rab ul muslameen“; the God of Muslims. So when our almighty Allah has refrained from such an absurd prohibition how can any one of us go ahead and impose such ludicrous restrictions.
This maybe the decision of an individual but it represents the mindset of many. In a way the Malay court’s ruling is as apt as can be because in fact only Muslims use Allah. How we have demented and distorted interpretations of Islamic teachings to suit our own petty interests is way worse than what this learned Judge has done. It is not a rare occasion when we have used the sacred laws of blasphemy to implicate innocent people in one of the most heinous of verbal or scripted crimes against Islam, often resulting in murder or massacre. From amongst us a class of Muslims holds education for women prohibited – motive therein being to keep them in invisible cages and not introduce them to reason or rationale. In our very country people have used Islam to marry their daughters to the Quran; a concept unheard of in religious teachings, for the sole purpose of keeping their priced ancestral properties within their hold. Many of us have seen an individual struck with a lust fueled urge to marry a second wife and deny his first her rights and use Islam to justify this injustice. And I am sure many of us have had the pleasure of meeting that one person who justifies all his/her derailments from the teachings of Islam with the popular Quranic verse from Surah Al Bakra part of which translates ‘there is no compulsion in Islam… ‘.
We need to be reminded that one of the most critical of battles against Islam is being waged from amongst its own followers. Yes! Islam does tell us to preach our religion so that others may follow the right path but to preach you need to first KNOW; a precondition most commonly and conveniently ignored.