Let me be direct, this is a uniquely Malaysian problem, especially within the Peninsular.
I plea to thinking caring Muslims and Christians to come forward and embrace empathy towards each other and find a workable compromise that is both Christ like and Quranic.
We Muslims must understand the frustration our Christian brothers and sisters have been going through all these years when dealing with the Government (which is perceived as Malay Muslims, as the officers are usually Malays) for example whenever they want to built churches and when dealing with issues regarding their faith.
They are also frustrated and upset over cases involving Article 11(4). Muslims must understand that like us, the Christians see it as their religious duty to spread their creed and they must have found Article 11(4) hindering them from spreading and sharing their religion, as a setback as a good faithful Christian.
Muslims probably would have felt the same if placed in a similar situation.
We Muslims must empathize, how we would feel if each time we are to build a mosque, we have to wait and wait and wait for approvals after approvals. Rasa lah sikit, tak kan tak boleh rasa kot?
In this frustration they retaliated by going to the courts, perhaps to get back at us or just to prove a point. I think these feelings are the real motivation behind the legal redress, not that they are really deeply and are so spirited to call God, Allah. That is why I suggest that this is a uniquely Malaysian problem. You don’t see Christians in the west or elsewhere being so gung ho about using the word Allah as god’s name; in fact, many may even find it repulsive.
On the other hand …
The Christians must understand that while the Quran has no issues about Allah as the universal name of God (read here), the Malay’s understanding and emotional attachment to the word Allah is unique to the Malaysian world. Rightly or wrongly, your Muslim brothers and sisters are deeply hurt as they perceive that you are doing this with bad intentions – to convert their fellow faithful as they do not see you actively wanting to also change all the other Bible translations like English or Chinese making the word Allah a universal name for God.
More so, the Malay Muslims cannot imagine that Allah Yang Esa/Satu now can also be the Allah as part of the Trinity. For example their current worldview cannot fathom words that describe Jesus as Son of Allah .
This is uniquely a Malaysian state of affairs; you do not find Muslims in the middle-east or the west having an issue about it. In fact, they are for it and in history had to fight for the right to use the English word God as a translation to the word Allah!
While you may want to prove a point, the word Allah is ingrained deeply in the Malay hearts as in Malaysia, from young Malay Muslims recite (melafazkan) their belief in God as,
“Aku naik saksi bahawa tiada Tuhan melainkan Allah, dan aku naik saksi bahawa Nabi Muhammad itu Persuruh Allah.”
Meaning there is no God but Allah – Allah being the unique name of God that the Malay Muslim professes. You must try to understand how the language used has formed the Malay Muslim worldview about the word Allah. By appreciating the nuances of the language you will be able to empathize how your Malay Muslim brothers and sisters feel and you will feel the hurt too.
Understanding nuances is key and very important. For example it would be totally nonsensical, painful and hurtful to translate the Holy Ghost in Matthew 29:19 as Hantu Suci just because the word we usually use for Ghost in Malay is hantu– it is not only erroneous but insulting, stupid and totally in a wrong tone.
What is to be done? - CHRISTIANS
My Christian brothers and sisters, may I ask you a favor? Personally I have no issues with you using the word Allah, but there are many who do and obviously there are some among them who are less tolerant and can get dysfunctional to the extent of burning down churches.
Can we please choose to be more Christ like? Remember that “an eye for an eye will only make the world go blind”. Are you being Christ like here? Jesus said,
“You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42)
Did Jesus not teach us to go beyond the letter of the law in our daily lives? Did he not tell us to do away with personal revenge? Did he not model his ministry base on love, care and empathy? Can you not find a compromise?
How about using another name that you are also familiar with? At least till the Malay Muslims relearn that the word Allah is not only for them? I was thinking how about Eloi or Eli instead of Allah? Any Christian who is worth to be call one, would have heard these names many times during Church sermons, that is, when Jesus cried out loud while on the cross, “Eli Eli lama sabachthani?” (Matthew 27:46, in Mark 15 : 34 it is Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani, translated into English as “ My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”).
What do you think? Boleh compromise ka?
What is to be done? - MUSLIMS
My Muslim brothers and sisters …
Firstly, we need to grow up a little and pardon me for using a crude Penang way to say this, “sampai bila kita nak tidok di bawah ketiak Perlembagaan Perseketuan ni?”. We need to have more faith in ourselves and must be willing to be challenge not just in matters of the world but especially our aqidah. Did not the Quran say,
“Men said to them: "A great army is gathering against you": And frightened them: But it (only) increased their Faith: They said: "For us Allah sufficeth, and He is the best disposer of affairs." Quran 3:173
“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested?” Quran 29:2
“Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves; and ye shall certainly Hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that will be a determining factor in all affairs”. Quran 3:186
So, should we really continue to support Article 11(4)? Or should we have more confidence in our capable religious leaders and ourselves in preparing the community with an unyielding and rock-solid aqidah that can buttress any external dakwah? Got confident ka? Can we set a target date to do away with article 11(4)?
Secondly, we need to stop being like a “katak di bawah tempurung.” Get to know the larger world of Islam and understand that in the middle-east even from the time of the Prophet, Jews and Christians call God, Allah. We must learn not to monopolized Allah or the Arabic language. Even “Assalamualaikum” pun ada yang nak monopolize.
Thirdly, we must be always fair and just. We cannot support lopsided laws. If we can preach to others, we should allow them to the same towards us. Tak malu ka? Tak ada maruah ka kita ni? If we do not want them to preach to our followers, than we must stop preaching to their followers too. We cannot practice double standards.
When we do that, others will feel that they are treated unfairly. Sometimes the least enlighten and not so patient ones among them will retaliate in one way or the other. We must make it easy for people of the other faith to practice their ways of life (like building churches, temples, etc) just as we expect them to do the same in countries and lands like India, Europe, etc where they are the majority.
Did not the Quran say,
“Woe unto those who give short measure: Those who, when they are to receive their due from (other) people, demand that it be given in full. But, when they have to measure or weigh whatever they owe others, give less than what is due! ” Quran 83:1 – 3
Allah doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; And when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice … Quran 4:58
“O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do” Quran 5:8
Let’s compromise. Let’s forgive each other, let’s move forward. Let’s trust Allah and have hope. Let’s make this experience a learning one, let’s use our hearts and minds to add value and make things better.
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34
“So lose not heart, nor fall into despair: For ye must gain mastery if ye are true in Faith” Quran 3:139
Let us add value and Peace,
PS: An example of a Muslim –Christian friendship, click here.
Do also read Art's article here and Pah Nur's here
and pleeeeaaasssseee join Marina's petition here