Monday, October 21, 2013

The Allah Controversy: A Ten Point Solution by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

The Controversy over Kalimah Allah should never have gone to Court. An adversarial system of adjudication which pits one side against the other cannot resolve satisfactorily complex disputes that intersect notions of religious and ethnic identity.

In fact, the controversy which has burdened us for almost three decades is more about protecting identity than about preserving the sanctity of a hallowed term. It is fear about how identity would be undermined if what is perceived as an exclusive religious symbol is usurped by others that has triggered a strong reaction from the Muslim majority. Christians and others who have taken a position against Muslim sentiment are also motivated to a great extent by the prevailing ethnic divide in the country.

Expectedly, the stances adopted by some politicians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, have exacerbated the situation. Because issues of identity are at the centre of politics and power in our multi-religious, multi-ethnic nation, they are hoping to reap a harvest from the Kalimah Allah controversy. In the process, society is becoming even more polarised along religious lines.

This is why politicians and religious leaders should desist immediately from misconstruing the Court of Appeal decision on the use of Kalimah Allah in the Catholic weekly, The Herald, which has no bearing upon other Christian publications or the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible.  It is wrong of them to demand that the ban on the term in the Catholic weekly be extended to Sabah and Sarawak where it has been used in daily prayers in churches for more than a hundred years. Since the Catholic Church is appealing against the decision in the Federal Court, all individuals and groups should allow the judicial process to take its course.

More important, Prime Minister, Dato Sri Mohd Najib should assure everyone that he is determined to uphold the letter and the spirit of the ‘10 point solution’ that he had signed on 11 April 2011 in which he spelt out his commitment to the exercise of the freedom of religion of the Christian minority within the context of the Malaysian Constitution. It is a significant document in the shape of a letter to the Chairperson of the Christian Federation of Malaysia because it provides guarantees to a minority that resonate with the tradition of Muslim Rulers protecting the position of Christian and other minorities that harkens back to the Prophet Muhammad’s (may peace be upon him) celebrated treaty with the Christians of Najran. Christians in Malaysia should at the same time see the 10 point solution as an arrangement which expects them also to understand and empathise with the feelings of an extraordinarily accommodative majority community which has genuine concerns about its identity. For these reasons, highlighting the 10 point solution at this juncture would help considerably to reduce the prevailing mistrust and suspicion between the majority and minority communities.

In the ultimate analysis however what really matters is not who uses the term Allah but whether all of us are willing to strive to the utmost to perform those good deeds which alone demonstrate our love for Allah.


Anonymous said...

Dear Anas,

Christian SIB only use bible bahasa indonesia after oktober 1928 not hundreds ago.. other churchs does use bible in bahasa indonesia and therefore problem of usage Kalimah Allah does not arise.
You must understand there are competition to get new members between SIB and Catholic. Since many Malaysian(not muslim) cannot understand in English therefore the Catholic churchs need to use Bahasa Malaysia as what SIB Church been doing. So you know now what the real reason of why Catholic church want to use Kalimah Allah. please last sentence of SIB statement below...

In October 1928, three Australian missionaries, Hudson Southwell, Frank Davidson and Carey Tolley set sail from Adelaide and arrived in Sarawak a month later. Together with a timber merchant by the name of Alexander Henderson, they established a base on the little-known island of Borneo and started the Borneo Evangelical Mission, now known as Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB).

In the early years, the three pioneering missionaries had to adapt to a massive cross-cultural shift besides tackling snake infested jungles and mountainous terrains. They also had to contend with the steamy hot tropical climate as well as tropical diseases such as amoebic dysentery and malaria. In spite of all these obstacles, the three missionaries pressed on.

After mastering the Malay language and the local native dialects, the missionaries began sharing the love of Jesus to the indigenous people of Sarawak. For many years, the labour was hard and the fruits were scanty. It was said that Carey Tolley prayed so much on his knees over the map of Borneo that calluses began to develop on his knee caps!

As the years passed by, God rewarded their perseverance and hundreds and thousands of natives turned to the Lord, first in Sarawak and later in Sabah. They forsook their old ways of head-hunting and getting drunk on tapai (rice wine). The change was so dramatic that it even caught the attention of the Raja Brooke of Sarawak. Previously, they were drunk before dawn with tapai, now they are drunk before dawn with the Holy Spirit.

To date, SIB has over 500,000 members in Sabah and Sarawak making it ( the largest Christian denomination in Malaysia next to the Roman Catholic Church.)

Anonymous said...

Chandra's proposed solution can never be adopted as his views are slanted towards those in power. This happens as he does not want to lose the benefits that comes along with those stands. An academician who falls below a certain standard becomes an ordinary even if he carrys the title Professor. Chandra should stop cheating himself and others. Many of his admirers have discarded him and he needs to be sponsored by the government to stay relevant.

Anonymous said...

There is a better and a single point solution to this issue now the court of Appeal has handed it s decision down.

Ignore the decision at your own peril. There can be no exceptions to sanctions for breaching the law.

Whatever the penalty prescribed by law for breaches of laws with respect to this issue it has to be inflicted with full force where a breach continues.