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Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Despite royal ban, Pakatan says okay for non-Muslims to use ‘Allah’
By Clara Chooi Assistant News Editor
January 08, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Despite the Selangor Sultan’s latest decree banning non-Muslims in the state from using “Allah”, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) confirmed today its stand on the controversy, insisting that Islam does not prohibit others from using the word.
Explaining the federal opposition’s position, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang told a joint press conference with PR leaders here that Christians and other non-Muslim communities should not abuse the word to spread confusion among Muslims but this did not mean they were not allowed to use the word.
“Islam does not stop those of other faiths from using kalimah ‘Allah’ in their practice, although [in the usage of the word by non-Muslims] it does not refer to the original meaning of the word as according to the al-Quran,” he said, reading from a statement.
When reminded of the Selangor Sultan’s decree this morning, however, Hadi(picture) would not comment further, merely telling reporters that he would not repeat his statement as it should sufficiently explain PAS’s and PR’s position on the issue.
He said further queries should be directed to Umno, as a party that is part of the federal government that could decide on the usage of the word.
The religious leader pursed his lips, however, when it was pointed out that PR runs the Selangor government and the pact’s position on the controversy could be seen as a direct snub to the state Sultan.
PR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was also at the press conference, however stepped in to say that the pact fully endorses PAS’s stand and reminded reporters that the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS), which the Sultan heads, does not represent the views of the state’s PR government.
“MAIS moves freely and has nothing to do with the state government,” he said.
“I think PAS’s statement is clear,” he added, when asked if this meant PR was going against the Selangor Sultan’s decree.
In a statement from MAIS today, the Selangor Sultan expressed shock over DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng’s recent remarks on the word “Allah” and called for an emergency meeting with state Islamic religious officials to bar non-Muslims from using the Arabic word for God.
“His majesty the Selangor Sultan has made a decision and decreed that the word ‘Allah’ is a sacred word specific to Muslims and is strictly forbidden to use by any non-Muslim religion in Selangor as stated in a fatwa and gazetted on 18 February 2010,” MAIS secretary Datuk Mohd Misri Idris said in a statement.
The religious debate was reignited recently when Lim raised the controversial “Allah” issue in his Christmas message urging the federal government to lift its ban on the word published in the Malay bibles shipped in to Sabah and Sarawak, who form the bulk of Malaysia’s 9.2 per cent Christian population.
“PAS is very disappointed at Umno, a party that represents the Malay Muslims and Barisan Nasional (BN), which rules this country, for turning this kalimah ‘Allah’ into an issue... without caring about the misunderstanding that it has created and the tension among our multireligious nation,” Hadi said today.
In recent years, the Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug-of-war over the word “Allah”, with the latter group arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim god.
Shipments of the Alkitab, the Malay-language Bible catering to the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Bumiputera Christians, were blocked or confiscated at ports before the government finally bowed to pressure and released them in 2011.