Sunday, January 12, 2014

Allah the polemic must stop

Im unhappy. I think Father Lawrence is wrong.. As a man of cloth it is better to be humble and to choose words carefully. Your statement infuriated the Malays although right factually but wrong morally.Christian consist only 9.2% of the population. In the Peninsula it would be far lest about 7% as most are in East Malaysia.Since the Malays/Bumiputra consist 60% of the population and bear in mind 75% of the Malays in a recent study cannot accept Allah to be used by non Muslim so using the right word is needed. Father Lawrence should have said that in congregation where many of them are from Sabah anf Sarawak the church must be given the leeway to use Allah but where the churches where many from the peninsular then Tuhan is used. This is more palatable. It is not about your rights in Article 11 or the 10 point agreement or even section 9.

It is about maintaining peace and harmony. I never like religious bigots be my own or others. I have stated many times on this issue I would not repeat again. But I do agree with Azmi Sharom's article. I am sad the continuous demonizing of the Christian in the religious class which I attended must be arrested. The crusades and others were the symbol of hatred of the religious mullah, sadly most of the aid helping the Muslim world comes from these heathens and I am appalled that Malays can buy the idea that we are constantly under threat by them where they are only 7% of them in Peninsular. Below are all the articles for my readers to read

Religion and the law

State Legislations pertaining to Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Islamic Religions

The Jais raid on the premises of the Bible Society of Malaysia has put into focus the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment 1988 of Selangor.
THE Jan 2 raid by the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) on the premises of the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM), in which 331 copies of Malay and Iban Bibles were seized, has brought to national attention a piece of state legislation hitherto unknown to many Malaysians – the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment 1988 of Selangor (Selangor Enactment).
So far, Jais has argued they were empowered to do so under Section 9 (1) of the Selangor Enactment, which prohibits any non-Muslim to use in writing or speech any of 25 words or any of their derivatives and variations, as stated in Part 1 of the Schedule, pertaining to a non-Islamic religion.
The 25 words are Allah, Firman Allah, Ulama, Hadith, Ibadah, Kaabah, Kadi, Ilahi, Wahyu, Mubaligh, Syariah, Qiblat, Haj, Mufti, Rasul, Iman, Dakwah, Injil, Salat, Khalifah, Wali, Fatwa, Imam, Nabi andSheikh.
Section 9 (2) also prohibits a non-Muslim to use 10 expressions of Islamic origin set out in Part II of the Schedule, including Alhamdulillah and Insyallah.
Non-Muslims can, however, use the words and expressions by way of quotation or reference.
Jais contended that Section 9 (1) had been contravened because the Malay and Iban Bibles contain the word “Allah”. Further, they were entitled to arrest without warrant the BSM chairman, lawyer Lee Min Choon, and manager Sinclair Wong as section 11 provides that all offences and cases under the Selangor Enactment are deemed to be seizable offences and cases under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), that is, offenders of seizable offences can be arrested without any warrant of arrest.
A fortiori, as this is a law passed by a state legislature, it has the force of law and quite rightly it can, therefore, override the 10-point solution decided by the Federal Cabinet and communicated via the Prime Minister’s letter dated April 11, 2011 to the Christian Federation of Malaysia.
Apart from section 9, the Selangor Enactment also makes it an offence for any non-Muslim to:
> influence or incite any Muslim to change his faith (Section 4);
> subject any Muslim minor to influences of a non-Islamic religion (Section 5);
> approach any Muslim to subject him to any speech on or display of any matter concerning a non-Islamic religion (Section 6);
> send or deliver any publications concerning any non-Islamic religion to a Muslim (Section 7); and
> distribute in a public place any publications concerning a non-Islamic religion to a Muslim (Section 8).
To date, 10 states have passed similar enactments with almost identical provisions except for the penalties and the words and expressions stated in the Schedule (see the table). Effective July 20, 2007, Kelantan has imposed the most stringent punishment, which includes mandatory whipping for all offences. The Johor State Enactment does not contain any schedule, but it imposes a blanket ban on the use of any “words of Islamic origin”.
There is no equivalent federal law for the federal territories except for section 5 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act, 1997 (Act 559) which makes it an offence for any person to proselytise a Muslim to a non-Islamic religion. Act 559 has no similar provision like section 9.
In fact, in October 1999, then Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who was also Marang MP, tried but failed abysmally to move a private member’s bill titled the Control and Restriction of Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions (Federal Territories) Bill at the Federal parliament.
It is interesting to note that the attempt received vociferous opposition from Barisan Nasional parliamentarians, especially the non-Muslims. This was rather a risible response because, at that time, similar enactments had already been passed in nine states (other than Perlis), including those governed by Barisan unless the non-Muslim state legislators had been caught unawares.
To the best of my knowledge, only one person has been prosecuted and convicted under such law. Krishnan a/l Muthu was charged in 2002 and convicted under Section 4 of the Pahang State Enactment for trying to convert a Muslim to Hinduism and was fined RM1,500 and jailed for 20 days (Public Prosecutor v. Krishnan a/l Muthu (Magistrate Case No. MA-83-146-2002)).
Further, no such similar enactment has been passed in Penang, Sabah and Sarawak. However, a fatwa with regard to certain words being exclusive to the Muslims may have been issued under the Administration of Religion of Islam (State of Penang) Enactment 2004 but it does not bind the non-Muslims.
Generally, non-Muslims have no problem with sections 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 because the offences deal with a non-Muslim’s specific acts of propagation to a Muslim. They only take issue with section 9 because the offence has been created without any act of propagation whatsoever by a non-Muslim. In other words, by law, certain words and expressions now belong exclusively to the Islamic religion. There is no problem if such words are indeed not used by other religions. Conflicts have now arisen over the use of the word “Allah” because Bahasa Malaysia speaking Christians and Sikhs also use it to describe their God.
Hence, the constitutionality of section 9 has been called into question in that the relevant state legislatures have no competency to enact section 9 for the following reasons:
> Article 11(4) and Paragraph 1, List II of Schedule 9 of the Federal Constitution only allow states to pass law to control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among Muslims. To put it in another way, Muslims may propagate the Islamic religion to non-Muslims but not vice versa. But the states do not have the power to make laws controlling or restricting, let alone prohibiting, the use of certain words and expressions without any act of propagation.
In other words, a state law can only be enacted to proscribe a Christian from delivering a Bible which contains the word “Allah” to a Muslim, and not if the former uses the same Bible for his own personal belief.
> Section 9 is also contrary to Articles 3(1) and 11(1) which confer on every non-Muslim the fundamental right to profess and practise his own religion in peace and harmony. Article 11(3)(a) states that every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs. A Malaysian’s right to freedom of religion is further entrenched under Article 12(3) which provides that no person shall be required to receive instruction in or to take part in any ceremony or act of worship of a religion other than his own.
> It is also against a person’s right to freedom of speech under Article 10. As regards whether Parliament can restrict the right to freedom of expression over the use of such words on the grounds of national security under Article 10(2((a), reference can be made to the case of Minister of Home Affairs v Jamaluddin Bin Othman, 1989.
In that case, Jamaluddin was detained under the repealed Internal Security Act, 1960 on the ground that he had participated in a work camp and seminar for the purpose of spreading Christianity and, as a result, converted six Malays to Christianity.
The High Court ordered his release. When the matter went up for appeal to the then apex court, the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of Malaya Tan Sri Hashim Yeop Sani said: “We do not think that mere participation in meetings and seminars can make a person a threat to the security of the country. As regards the alleged conversion of six Malays, even if it was true, it cannot in our opinion by itself be regarded as a threat to the security of the country.”
> Article 4 (1) upholds the supremacy and paramountcy of the Constitution in that any law which is inconsistent with it shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.
Having said that, Section 9 is still a valid law unless repealed or amended by the respective state legislature. In the alternative, anyone can challenge its validity but he must first obtain leave from a Federal Court judge under Article 4 (4) unless the challenge comes from the federal or state government.
It is now apposite to point out that under Paragraph 1, List II of Schedule 9 of the Constitution, the Syariah courts have no jurisdiction over non-Muslims. It follows the CPC shall apply in the arrest of any non-Muslim under the State Enactment.
This is correctly reflected in section 11(5) of the State Enactments of Johor, Pahang, Perak and Negri Sembilan and section 12(5) of the Kedah State Enactment in that anyone arrested under these State Enactments must, without unnecessary delay, be handed over to the police or taken to the nearest police station and the provisions of CPC shall apply.
Similarly, as all the State Enactments do not have any express provision relating to search and seizure and because only CPC has application to non-Muslims, it is illegal for Jais to enter BSM’s premises and seize the Bibles without first having obtained a warrant of search from a magistrate under Section 56 of the CPC.
I must hasten to add that no non-Muslim can be charged in a Syariah court. He has to be prosecuted in a civil court. If he is to be charged in a civil court, then only the Attorney General will have a say in the prosecution under Article 145(3) of the Constitution. If he is charged or convicted or jailed by a Syariah court, then the non-Muslim offender is entitled to seek remedy from the civil court under section 25(2) and the Schedule of the Courts of Judicature Act, 1964 which empower the civil High Court to grant various orders including the writs of habeas corpus and prohibition (see Abdul Rahim bin Haji Bahaudin v Chief Kadi, Kedah, 1983)
The above explains my opinion of the legality of the Jais raid. But frankly, I do not think the Allah issue can or should be resolved through the courts. In terms of enforcement, the hard copies of the Malay and Iban Bibles can always be seized, but the soft copy is still easily available for download through the Internet. It is, of course, axiomatic that Pakatan state governments should also observe the 10-Point Agreement albeit Barisan-controlled states are expected to do so.
If our founding fathers could set aside their differences and achieve independence through social consensus, I see no reason why current political leaders from both divides do not have the same political will and gumption to come to grips with an issue which has now threatened our national cohesion.
Perhaps if we only had a royal council of inter-faith leaders akin to the presidential council set up under the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act of Singapore, it may be the way out of this religious stalemate.

The writer is a senior lawyer. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

10 points, sultan’s decree and the raid

Luke Rintod | January 11, 2014
Last Thursday's raid by Jais throws a spotlight on the increasingly untenable policy of having parallel civil laws and syariah laws in a multi-religion society like Malaysia.
Recently, various news reports on the confiscating of Bibles translated into Bahasa Malaysia have repeatedly referred to the so-called 10-Point Resolutions adopted in April 2011 to ease fears among Christians about the Islamic agenda of government agencies and certain leaders in the Barisan Nasional coalition.
But what exactly are the 10 points?
When Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Idris Jala, a Christian of Sarawak origin, announced the 10 points in April 2011, it was met with mixed reactions with Christians mollified and some Muslims feeling betrayed.
But the Federal Cabinet led by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was trying to show an even hand and gain points ahead of general election that were due to be called by 2013.
This issue began with the tussle of ownership over the Arabic (or Aramaic/Syriac) word ‘Allah’. Many Malaysian Muslims believe the word belongs exclusively to them and non-Muslims cannot use it.
The Christians argue that no one can own the word Allah and everyone is free to use it. The Sikhs explained that their holy books also contained the word ‘Allah’.
But hardline Muslim groups like Perkasa and similar groups mushrooming in the peninsula continued to agitate and there is currently a standoff.
Along with the word Allah, these groups are also demanding that some 30 other Arabic words are also off limits to non-Muslims.
This has caused moderates to point out that such a stance would prevent non-Muslims from singing the Selangor state anthem which contains the phrase “Allah lanjutkan usia Tuanku” which translates as a plea to God to prolong the life of the state sultan.
To make it worse, Selangor Sultan Idris Sharaffudin Shah, decreed that all non-Muslims in his state could not utter the word “Allah” and scores of others including “firman”, “iman”, “kaabah”, “rasul”, “solat” and several others.
Though there has been talk about challenging the validity of the decree in a court of law, no one until now has dared to do so.
And so the focus switches to the cabinet’s 10-Point resolution.
10-Point Resolutions
In essence the 10 points outline or attempt to elaborate the inherent provisions of freedom of religion in the Federal Constitution.
They clarify how Christians in Malaysia are free to practice their religion with caveats on evangelism especially among the Muslim community.
The 10 points solution, signed and documented by Prime Minister Najib Razak states:
Bibles in all languages can be imported into the country, including Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia.
2. These Bibles can also be printed locally in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
3. Bibles in indigenous languages of Sabah and Sarawak such as Iban, Kadazan-Dusun and Lun Bawang can also be printed locally and imported.
4. For Sabah and Sarawak, in recognition of the large Christian community in these states, there are no conditions attached to the importation and local printing of the Bibles in all languages, including Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia and indigenous languages. There is no requirement for any stamp or serial number.
5. Taking into account the interest of the larger Muslim community for Peninsula Malaysia, Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia, imported or printed, must have the words “Christian Publication” and the ‘Cross’ sign printed on the front covers.
6. In the spirit of 1Malaysia and recognising that many people travel between Sabah and Sarawak and Peninsula Malaysia, there should be no prohibitions and restrictions for people who bring along their Bibles and Christian materials on such travel.
7. A directive on the Bible has been issued by the Chief Secretary (KSU) of the Home Ministry to ensure proper implementation of this cabinet decision. Failure to comply will subject the officers to disciplinary action under the General Orders. A comprehensive briefing by top officials, including the attorney-general (AG), will be given to all relevant civil servants to ensure good understanding and proper implementation of the directive.

For the impounded Bibles in Kuching, Gideon, the importer can collect all the 30,000 Bibles free of charge. We undertake to ensure the parties involved are reimbursed. The same offer remains available for the importer of the 5,100 Bibles in Port Klang, which have already been collected by the Bible Society Malaysia (BSM) last week.
9. Beyond the Bible issue, the government wishes to reiterate its commitment to work with the Christian groups and all the different religious groups in order to address inter religious issues and work towards the fulfillment of all religious aspirations in accordance with the constitution, taking into account the other relevant laws of the country. In order to bring urgency to this work, the prime minister will meet the representatives of the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) soon to discuss the way forward.
10. The Christian ministers in the cabinet will meet on a regular basis with representatives of the various Christian groups in order to discuss their issues and work with the relevant ministries and PM in order to resolve them.
More questions than answers
The issue here and now is are these 10-points recognised by all government authorities at state and federal level?
Questions are being asked if they are even being upheld by members of Umno and those closely allied to the party.
The 10-points state that Sabahans and Sarawakians and even Peninsula Malaysians living in the two states can carry the unedited Al-Kitab even without the warning “For Christians Only” stamped on it.
But Selangor has now made it an offence.
The Selangor Jais (Jabatan Hal-Ehwal Islam Selangor) emphasised this point when they recently raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) office to confiscate over 300 Bibles and detain two of its officers.
The raid throws a spotlight on the increasingly untenable policy of having parallel civil laws and syariah laws in a multi-religion society like Malaysia.
The danger here is there are groups bent on unilaterally detecting religious policies in the country.
Rule by decree as promulgated by the Sultan of Selangor in this instance is a case in point.
Does this mean that the practice of parliamentary democracy is under threat in Malaysia?
The Selangor case is an eyeopener. Legal experts say that since Islam is under the jurisdiction and leadership of the Sultan, he has every right to make such decrees.
But then again, in Malaysia, a sultan does not govern in isolation. He is supposed to be guided by the supreme law of the land – the Federal and State Constitutions.
Even in this, the Federal Constitution takes precedence except in the states of Sabah and Sarawak.
In the case of the Borneo states, any amendment or new provision in the Federal Constitution that affects the status of the two states should have the express consent of the legislatures of both but this has often been overlooked.
The Federal Constitution expressly provides for every citizen the freedom to practice their religion. All laws that transgress this are illegal.
If the respective state legislative assemblies refuse to act then a petition in a High Court to seek for such laws to be declared ultra vires the Federal Constitution can be made and therefore nullified.

Now who will come forward?

The Fanaticism, Bigotry and Rubbishness of Perkasa

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
I refer to the report of G Vinod’s “Perkasa slams Marina for siding Christians”, Free Malaysia Today, January 6.
Once again, Malaysia is embroiled with a raging controversy and as usual Perkasa is at the forefront of it.
To quote from the above report:
“Perkasa today took a swipe at activist Marina Mahathir for supporting Christians by joining a gathering at a church compound in Klang yesterday.”
I cannot understand and never will I understand the outrageous outlook and preposterous mindset of these so-called religious creatures.
The way they speak, as if they are the only people in the entire land who are so pure and clean, while the rest are dirty and unworthy.
Their nefarious method of splitting the country and plunging the societal harmony of our community to the depths of discord and division is unthinkable, yet since their inception, it seems that their governing spirit is only to wreck havoc to the stability, calm and peace of the country.
If the duly constituted authorities will not do concrete steps to counter the danger pose by this fanatical group and neutralize the poisons and viruses that they are spilling day by day, my fear and concern is that it will further divide us all from each other.
To quote the brilliant words and wise analysis of PAS Central Committee Member Mujahid Yusof Rawa:
“Divergence has become a culture in the way of doing politics here. When you want to divert issue, you just come up with another issue… You come up with seizing the Bible and it drags the whole society to discuss about it and forget about the high cost of living and all that, which is wrong, morally… And a wrong that could, I think, destroy the nation.”
Consider the utterly idiotic pronouncement of Perkasa youth chief Irwan Fahmi Ideris via a blog post in a form of a question:
“What is her motive in showing solidarity with Christians outside a church in Klang yesterday? Is she planning to create another controversy?
“Or is she trying to gain cheap publicity and at the same time criticise the Selangor Islamic Religious Department’s ( Jais)?”
Let us dissect point per point the baseless allegation and stupid words of this so-called youth chief.
Point one:
That creature is asking Marina what is her motive in showing solidarity with the Christians outside a Church in Klang, I am inclined to ask: how about him, what is his motive in criticizing the act of Marina?
There is no point to defend Marina, because the truth is that overwhelming number of Malaysians had come out to concur and to show support with her bold action and so as her companion.
As I’ve stated in my article, “Moderation in name, not deed”, The Malaysian Insider Side Views, January 6:
I commend Marina for her bold and noble act. There is no shadow of doubt that what she did is a clear case of unity in diversity, a struggle for solidarity for the minority Malaysian Christians and a vehement defence of the country’s principle of moderation – which has been under attack these past few days.
Hence, to answer squarely the utterly idiotic question of so-called youth chief let me reply in the categorical sense that Marina’s stance that motivated her action is:
a. to defend the constitutional right of the Christian minority to regard to their religious freedom;
to show that she is a true blue Malaysian;
b. to show that the principles of Moderation and Unity in Diversity are alive and well in the country (albeit under attack) and that in order for these nation’s central and core beliefs to maintain its vitality and force; they should be acted upon not only in words. Hence, undoubtedly, Marina and her courageous companions had shown Moderation in Action and forged Unity that both works and unites, not merely in words or propaganda; and
c. Marina and her companion has shown the whole country that Malaysia belongs to all Malaysians regardless of their race, religion and economic station in life!
Point two: 
To the undeniably baseless and immoral charge that she is merely trying “to gain cheap publicity and at the same time criticise the Selangor Islamic Religious Department’s (Jais)” — all I call say is that, these is totally uncalled for.
For Marina to go to Klang and show their solidarity to the Christian minority is an act of courage that is base on a good character and noble principles.
Marina in my view has shown to the whole nation that she is not only a responsible citizen of this country but also a true-bloodied Muslim woman, who is not afraid of the backlash that may be generated by her firm action that will definitely come from the religious fanatics.
True enough, a day after her action, the fanatics has bombambed her with various stupid, idiotic, slanderous, baseless, malicious and utterly immoral charges and accusations.
Yet, let me state for purposes of the records that in my view, Marina and her companion by virtue of their brave action, which I believe are animated by feelings of love, solidarity and unity has shown not only to the Malaysian people but to the rest of the world, who the true Muslims are and who are the pretenders and the trying hard!
Sad but true!
That so-called youth chief also “said that as a Muslim, Marina should be supporting her Muslim brothers and sisters in defending the holy word Allah from being used by Christians.”
Not content with that, that creature also lamented that:
Marina “as a daughter of a former prime minister who had championed the cause of Islam, Marina’s actions has raised the eyebrows of many Muslims.”
This whole issue is not a question of Muslims against other religion, but rather it is a question of human rights and responsible citizenship.
Marina did not supported the religious minority because she betrays her religion rather by defending those people which in her view are being repressed and oppressed by the powers that be, she has defended the true tenets of Islam.
As she stated:
“We are here to show solidarity with the congregation. A lot of us here are Muslims and we believe Islam is a religion of peace.
“It is not something that we only say (in words), but there must also be action…”
Again on the Question of Allah
No one has the exclusive right to own the word “Allah”. For, in truth and in fact, prior to the advent of Islam, the people of the Middle East have been calling and addressing their God as “Allah”.
“Allah” as a generic and as a religious word does not belong to a specific group of people or specific race. The word belongs to the whole world.
Anyone who says that “Allah” is exclusive to Muslims will betray their idiocy, arrogance, ignorance and religious supremacy.
Malaysia belongs to all Malaysians and the Federal Constitution guarantees every citizen their constitutional right to religious worship.
On the Question of Marina’s Background
It is my take on this issue that Marina’s background has nothing to do with this issue. Her being the daughter of the former premier is a mere historical accident or merely an incidental matter.
If it so happened that Marina is the daughter or the wife of Anwar Ibrahim, does it makes a difference to the notorious and dark minds of Perkasa?
Marina is not her father and her father is not her; therefore to reduce the whole discussion with regard to their blood relations is to confuse the whole issue.
On the question of those Muslims who raised their eyebrows
My simple retort is this: what kind of Muslims are those people?
My suggestion to those people is: don’t simply raise your eyebrows, raise also your consciousness, open your hearts and minds, listen and feel the pulse of the whole nation.
Malaysia as a whole must rise up from this whole fiasco!
Malaysia as a nation must junk Perkasa and their likes. They must throw them to the garbage can of history.
Let me quote Marina to give us the obvious answer:
“They talk so much rubbish,” these are the words that she said, “after attending the first meeting of the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC).”

Brave New World

Published: Wednesday January 8, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday January 8, 2014 MYT 7:06:10 AM

Divining the laws in faith

by azmi sharom
As the debate on religious freedom can transcend legal arguments it should also be seen from a theological perspective.
READING the news in the past few weeks has evoked many feelings. But chief amongst them, for me at least, is the profound feeling of sadness.
Sadness that acts devoid of common decency and compassion are supported not only by a sizeable portion of our society, but also by government agencies.
I am of course speaking about the recent attacks on the Christian community over the use of the name of God.
I could raise the fact that Article 3 of our Constitution guarantees ev­eryone the right to practise their religion peacefully. So, if the Christian community have been using the word Allah for God, in a peaceful manner, in respectful worship, then it is their right to do so.
I could also point out that the Constitution does allow lawful limitations on religious freedom. It states that there can be control of the propagation of religion to Muslims.
This provision is very clear: if state or federal law prescribes it, then nobody can propagate any religious teachings to Muslims, without due authority.
There are laws in Selangor which prescribe such control. But these laws can only be used if there is non-authorised propagation to Muslims. Raiding a premises and taking away Bibles is utterly wrong because there was no act of propagation being done.
I could raise all these legal points until I am blue in the face, but the fact remains that it is not legal niceties which are the issue here.
Malay Muslims in this country are not going to be convinced by Constitutional legal arguments.
For many, this is a matter of faith and their community leaders have told them that it is wrong for non-Muslims to use Allah when describing God. To say or think otherwise would be a sin.
This mind-set of simply obeying a person with a hint of religious authority is something I am familiar with.
I was after all raised a Muslim in this country. But to understand the mind-set is not the same as agreeing with it.
I am loathe to tell anyone what to think, but here I would like to humbly ask the Muslims reading this, those who have not made their minds up one way or the other, to please look at the Quran. There is no theological basis for banning anyone from using the word Allah. Nowhere in the holy book does it say that “Allah” is exclusive to Muslims.
In fact Surah 22:40 (Al-Hajj) states that the name Allah is used in all sorts of houses of worship: mosques, churches, monasteries and synagogues.
And just because a figure in authority gives an opinion, it is merely that, an opinion. A fatwa is a person’s opinion; it is not the word of God.
There are many opinions on this matter. The ones being made by the faith leaders in this country are not the only ones.
People have been given minds in order to think for themselves. It is a feature of Islam that there is no priesthood; there is no papacy, no middleman between people and God.
There is instead a presumption, right from the beginning that all people take responsibility for their own faith and their own learn- ing.
And when studying this issue, when seeking out alternative opinions, ponder this: Is Islam a religion which condones the attack of other faiths? Is it a religion that is so small in its worldview that it can approve of one community claiming the term for God for itself? Is Islam so lacking in common decency and compassion?
I don’t think it is and I will not be accepting any opinion that says otherwise, for a religion without the decency to respect other faiths, without the compassion to not attack other faiths, would be in my view a very poor thing indeed.

> Azmi Sharom ( is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

Perkasa Youth slams Marina Mahathir for siding with Christians on ‘Allah’

January 6, 2014
(MM) - Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir should have joined Muslims in demanding exclusivity over “Allah”, Perkasa Youth said today when condemning her role in a rally showing solidarity with Christians at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Klang yesterday.
Pointing to her previous outspokenness on lesbian, bisexual, gay and trasngender issues (LGBT), the youth wing of the Malay rights group also cast aspersions over the intent of the daughter of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in joining non-Muslims yesterday in a show of support for the church that had been expected to come under protest from Muslim groups.
“Did she intend to spark another controversy or simply to seek cheap publicity and at the same time issue a statement to condemn [Selangor Islamic Religious Department]?
“As a Muslim, she should be with other Muslims to defend the name of Allah so that the sacred word would not to be used by Christians, to which Father Lawrence, editor of the Herald publication proudly asserted that the Christians will continue to use the word Allah,” Perkasa Youth chief Irwan Fahmi Ideris  said in a statement today.
Irwan also said that as a Muslim and the daughter of Dr Mahathir, who has fought for Islam and is patron of Perkasa, Marina’s actions would invite suspicion from Malaysians, especially Muslims.
“I wonder where she places her faith and if she agree with non-Muslims using the word Allah.
“Perkasa Youth strongly condemns Marina Mahathir’s actions,” he said.
Yesterday, churchgoers at the Klang church were pleasantly surprised when Marina turned up along with some 20 non-Christians with flowers in hand during the Sunday morning mass, instead of protestors from Malay groups and Umno Selangor who had threatened massive protests outside Selangor churches for what they claimed was an attempt by Christians to usurp the exclusive right to calling their God “Allah”.
The planned protest failed to materialise when the groups decided instead to rally and remain at the Stadium Sultan Sulaiman.
There, Marina also said that the word “Allah” “belongs to all”.
“If we believe that God is one, then the word is for all,” she said.
Marina, who is also a member of the newly-formed National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), said the council will discuss the “Allah” issue today.
Aside from the threatened protests, the Bible Society Malaysia was also raided by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) and police on Thursday. Over 300 copies of the AlKitab Malay language bibles and Bup Kudus Iban versions were seized while two BSM officials were arrested.
Temperatures have risen of late over the so-called “Allah” row that remains unresolved four years after it shocked the nation and led to the worst religious strife in the country’s history.
The ongoing legal dispute between the government and the Catholic Church over its right to print the word “Allah” in the Herald’s Bahasa Malaysia section is still pending before the Federal Court, which is set to hear arguments from both sides on February 24 before deciding on whether it will hear an appeal by the Catholic Church.

Priest reveals proof Christians used ‘Allah’ before Merdeka

January 7, 2014

prayer book A prayer book in Malay, published in 1905, containing the word ‘Allah’. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 7, 2014.
By Jennifer Gomez, The Malaysia Insider
A century-old Catholic prayer book is the latest proof that Christians in the Malay peninsula not only prayed in Malay more than 100 years ago, but also communicated with each other and the church in the language, says a priest at the centre of a new “Allah” row in Malaysia.
Catholic weekly Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew said the 1905 publication was a Malay language prayer book and not Indonesian.
“From the spelling of the words, you would see it is old Malay. And you can find the modern translation of the old Malay used in the scripture in the Alkitab,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
title page The title page of the ‘Kabaktian Sahari-harian’ (Daily Prayer) sent to Father Lawrence Andrew. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 7, 2014.
His church and other Catholic churches in Selangor managed to avoid disruption to their Sunday services when planned protests by certain Muslim non-governmental organisations were called off over their use of the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia services.
Andrew said the prayer book quoted the First Letter of Peter, one of the verses in old Malay read:
“Rendahkanlah diri mu dibawah tangan berkuasa Allah itu, sopaia dia angkatkanlah kamu di waktu katemuannha.”
In the Akitab, the verse read: “Oleh itu, rendahkanlah diri kamu ke bawah tangan Allah yang berkuasa, supaya Dia meninggikan kamu pada masa yang ditetapkan-Nya.”
The priest reiterated it was particularly important for Malay-speaking Christians to be able to pray in Malay, especially for those from Sabah and Sarawak who were living in the peninsula.
“There seems to be a general misconception that the use of the word is a new trend in the Christian faith, but that is not true. It has been used for hundreds of years.
“And this prayer book is just one example that Catholics in Malaya were praying in Malay before the British came and English was widely used, alongside Malay by the East Malaysians,” Andrew said.
He said the Malay prayer book was mailed to him by the daughter of its owner not long ago.
In a hand-written note that came with the prayer book titled “Kabaktian Sahari-harian” (Daily Prayer), the sender wrote: “This book belonged to Mary De Silva who was a boarder in the convent at St Anne’s church, Bukit Mertajam, around the year 1919, where this book was used. Now the book belongs to her daughter Lily De Silva who lives with her son in Penang”.
Putrajaya won its case last October against the Herald at the Court of Appeal, which overturned a 2009 High Court ruling that Herald has the constitutional right to use the word “Allah”.
The church is appealing against the decision at the Federal Court.
Despite the court process, tensions have risen in the past few weeks over the church’s use of the word “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia service, leading to the prospect of demonstrations outside churches.
meet Father Lawrence Andrew (second from left) and Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam (third from left) at their meeting with Selangor police chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan yesterday. – The Malaysian Inisder pic, January 7, 2014.
It is understood more than 80 police reports have been lodged against Andrew over his remark that the word “Allah” would continue to be used in Catholic churches in Selangor.
His comments came following a statement from the new director of the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais), Ahmad Zaharin Mohd Saad, who had said that the state religious authorities would write to churches in Selangor asking them to comply with the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation among Muslims) Enactment 1988.
Andrew’s comments resulted in several Muslim groups and Selangor Umno threatening to protest in front of churches in the state on Sunday but the protests were called off at the last minute.
But not before a group of protesters burned an effigy of Andrew on Friday.
Still, the priest in his Sunday sermon, called on his congregation not to fear and to remain faithful to God.

Andrew is to meet Selangor executive councillor in charge of religion, Sallehen Mukhyi, and later he will have his statement recorded by Selangor police.

Yesterday, he accompanied Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam for a meeting with the Selangor police chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan over the recent religious conflict involving the Catholic church and several Muslim groups. Today, Andrew will have his statement recorded. – January 7, 2014.

"I Only Wanted To Make Peace With My Christian Friends" - Marina Mahathir

Published on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 09:12
Marina Mahathir at 'Our Lady of Lourdes' Church a few days ago. Pic: Marina Mahathir at 'Our Lady of Lourdes' Church a few days ago. Pic: "I JUST went there (to the church) to ease the fear among us regarding this issue, was I wrong?" asked social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir.
The daughter of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said she is saddened with the allegations saying that she agreed with the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims, and that they say that it is the liberal Islamic movement.
Members of the public especially Muslims condemned her actions yesterday when she joined in a gathering in front of 'Our Lady of Lourdes' church in Klang.
However, she said, she only wanted to make peace with her Christian friends so that there will be no more disputes.
"Why must this issue be brought up? I came simply to give moral support and brought the flowers as a sign that I'm sincere in being friends with the Christians," she told mD.
Earlier, a local news portal reported that apart from bringing flowers, Marina also defended the use of the word Allah in The Herald publications although the Islamic authorities and the court forbid it.
Her action seems to trigger controversy and deemed as a cheap ploy to seek publicity when she condemned the raid conducted by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS).
Referring to the raid, Marina insisted that JAIS was acting overboard when they seized the Bibles.
"There are better ways to deal with this issue. JAIS' decision to take the Bibles is wrong... they acted too harsh. How would you feel if someone seize your holy book," she asked ruefully.
ALLAh Issue creates wrath from many. Filepice: antarapos.comALLAh Issue creates wrath from many. Filepice: antarapos.comPreviously, Jais raided the Bible Society of Malaysia's office in Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya, confiscated more than 300 Bibles in Malay and Iban languages and arrested two of the society's leaders.
Brian Yap, 30, described the raid as unfair and considers it as a form of violence against Christians.
Brian, who is Christian, said JAIS should respect the church and any other house of worship in Malaysia.
"Our Constitution allows freedom of religion, and personally I feel that JAIS must respect us as much as they respect the Muslims".
He added that in any other context, the Christians should understand that this issue will not be prolonged if Father Lawrence had not brought it up.
Previously, Father Lawrence Andrew said the Catholic churches in Selangor will still continue to use the word Allah in its weekly mass conducted in the malay language even after JAIS had sent them notices prohibiting the use of the word by non-muslims.
Brian hopes that the issue will be resolved as soon as possible for the sake of both religions.
"If this goes on, it will affect the image of both religions (Christianity and Islam) and I fear that it will become an extremely sensitive issue," he said.
Following the incident, Wira Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) strongly condemned Marina Mahathir for defending and showing solidarity with the Christians in a rally yesterday.
Mohamad Syafiq Iqbal Mohamed, 25, said the raid was timely as it can prevent the book from spreading, hence causing confusion for the Muslims' faith.
He said in the Federal Constitution, Article 11 Clause (1), it was stated that 'Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion' and in Clause (4) 'State law and in respect of the Federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam'.
Pic: beta.malaysiakini.comPic:"They can't use the word Allah in the Bible considering their weekly Catholic publication The Herald was prohibited by the Court of Appeal from using the word Allah to refer to God.
In fact he says in Article 11 (3) 'Every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs' which means the same as that done by JAIS.
"What JAIS did was according to the Constitution, in fact, in the Selangor Enactment (Control Distribution to Muslims) Enactment 1988 was also emphasised in order to avoid confusion among Muslims.
"For me, Jais has the power to manipulate people's movement against Islam. They did it to protect the religion of Islam. What is wrong with that?" he added.
However, for Deepika A / P Padukum, 26, a discussion between the two religions' leaders (Muslim and Christian) is the best way to resolve this issue.
"To my knowledge, this issue has long been metioned and even the court's decision has been made, but still no one is satisfied with any of it. As a Hindu, I too want everyone to come together."
She said the leaders must also play a role to provide information to the community on this matter without inserting the political element.
Deepika added that the issue of the word Allah is very sensitive and there should be a sense of respect among religions.
"They (the leaders) should 'walk the talk' to appease Muslims and Christians, and be honest so that others may understand the real situation without any disputes later on," he said.
According to a report in a portal yesterday, the first meeting by Majlis Perundingan Perpaduan Nasional (MPPN) regretted JAIS' raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) because it violated the 10-item solution made by Putrajaya with Christians before.
National unity council. Pic: National unity council. Pic: In accordance to that, MPPN asked Putrajaya to ensure that all parties comply with the 10-item solution made in April 2011.
Chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman said Putrajaya should also take immediate action on the issue of national unity because it is an important issue.
"We are asking the political parties' leaders to ensure that this issue will not repeat so that there is no more tension between the multi-ethnic people in the country," he told reporters after chairing the meeting in Kuala Lumpur today.
Samsudin refers to the January 2 raid by JAIS at the BSM office and seized more than 300 Bibles in Malay and Iban versions.
MPPN is a multi-party body established by the government to protect the unity among the people.

Now, MBPJ’s turn to ‘harass’ BSM

Alfian ZM Tahir and G Vinod | January 7, 2014
MBPJ officers conducted a check for illegal extensions at the premises of the Bible Society of Malaysia today but denied it was an act of harassment.
PETALING JAYA: Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) said the check by Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) officers at its premises for illegal extensions today is an act of harassment.
Two MBPJ officers turned up at the BSM office in Damansara Kim this morning to check for illegal renovations and extensions at 9am.
BSM general secretary Reverend Simon Wong said he did not allow the two women officers into the office.
“I consider this an act of harassment,” he said.
When contacted, Petaling Jaya mayor Alinah Ahmad said the check was a routine one for illegal renovations and extensions and denied it was an act of harassment.
“It has nothing to do with the recent raid conducted by Jais,” she said.
Selangor Local Government and Research Committee chairman Teng Chang Kim said he was not aware of the check by MPBJ officers.
BSM is scheduled to call for a press conference later today on this matter. Separately, DAP’s Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua is also slated to hold a press conference following his communication with MPPJ over the visit.


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