The Case For God – Part 4

The apex court of Malaysia, the Federal Court, has ruled in favour of the Appellate Court to deny the Christian Herald Weekly the use of “Allah” in its articles instead of “God” or “Lord”. Four out of the seven bench members voted to uphold the ruling by the Appellate Court while three dissented. While many jumped saying that it was an unfair decision, I did not see one person noting that one of the dissenting members is a Malay and a Muslim.

The ruling brings to a closure a divisive episode that began in 2006 that led to several unnecessary reactive incidents in early 2010 due to a High Court decision in favour of the Christian Herald Weekly. While BigDog argues that the apex court’s ruling upholds Articles 3(1) and 11(4) of the Federal Constitution, many think that it is their right to use Allah in reference to God.

Let me quote what was said as part of the judgment delivered:

‘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.’

Many including outsiders such as Francis X Clooney SJ in his article entitled “Is Allah Not Our God? – America Magazine (Catholic) tried to argue for the Catholics in Malaysia without understanding the history behind this ruling and how Articles 3(1) and 11(4) of the Federal Constitution came about.

Perhaps, I may need to point out to Mr Clooney as well as uninformed Malaysians that while in the Peninsular Malaysia the use of Allah and several other words are regulated by various laws, they are not regulated for use in the Sidang Injil Borneo’s Bibles for the people of Sabah and Sarawak. Even in Indonesia some Christians use “Allah” – and this is all due to historical reasons.

In my blog post entitled The Case For God, I wrote about the history of the usage of “Allah” in Christian literatures:

Let us remember one thing. Malaya (Peninsula Malaysia) was never colonised as a whole by the British, save for Penang, Malacca, and Singapore, while Sabah and Sarawak came under direct British colonial rule. Penang was acquired through a deal to lease the island made between the British East India Company and the Sultan of Kedah; Malacca was acquired from the Dutch through the Treaty of Bencoolen; and Singapore was included in the Treaty of Bencoolen by making the severely weakened Dutch to not object to the British occupation of Singapore. The people of these three places, together with Sabah and Sarawak, became British subjects.
Through treaties with the Sultans on the Peninsula, the British helped administer the State of the respective Sultans, while the Sultans remained as the supreme head of these sovereign states. The administration of Islam came under the purview of the respective Sultans as the protectors of the state’s religion.

So, why does Indonesia have Bibles that use the word Allah to describe God?
Unlike Malaya, Indonesia was a nation of conquered people. Hello! Remember the Dutch? When Douglas MacArthur met Emperor Hirohito, he purposely stood next to the Emperor to show the Japanese people that the Emperor was not a demi-God. Victors get to do as they please, and this is probably the same case as the Ladang Rakyat issue in Kelantan. The Dutch conquered parts of Indonesia beginning in 1595, and as part of its attempt to call the Malay diaspora in Indonesia to Christianity, the Book of Matthew was translated into the Indonesian language in 1629; and where the Dutch set foot, other religions were formally prohibited although Chinese temples as well as mosques remained in existence.

Missionaries, too, made headway in Sabah and Sarawak, converting the populace to Christianity. Sir Stamford Raffles recommended to Rev. Thomas Raffles (Buitenzorg, 10th February 1815, Mss. Eur. F.202/6) that Borneo be given vigorous campaigns by the missionaries as “the island is inhabited by a race scarcely emerged from Barbarism.

This does not mean that the Malays were free from attempts to proselytize them. In fact, Raffles, in a letter to his cousin in 1815 mentioned how “Religion and laws are so united” in Muslim dominated areas that the introduction of Christian beliefs will bring about “much mischief, much bitterness of heart and contention”.

Raffles contended that Christianity must be packaged in a new form and be conveyed to the Muslim majority through a gradual approach. The “pagans”, on the other hand, required no stratagems. His methods include the establishment of missionary schools where the Malays are taught to read and write in their own language. Then he set up printers to publish books in Malay. Missionaries were largely responsible for this effort with the help of local agents, and the most famous of these agents was a chap called Abdullah Abdul Kadir who is better known as Munshi (Teacher) Abdullah. He and other Munshis taught Christian missionaries the Malay language. His role went beyond that and became the first Muslim in South East Asia to translate the Bible into the Malay language, that he became the target of his contemporaries who called him Abdullah Paderi (Pastor Abdullah) among other things.

It is interesting to note, however, that Raffles never once attempted to convert Malays in the Federated and Unfederated Malay States where the Sultans rule and guard the interest of the religion of Islam. This is because it would be foolhardy to anger the Sultans whom the British had a treaty with, by undermining the sanctity of Islam by converting their subjects. In the case of Raffles, he only focused his efforts on those who are British subjects.
Here we see the subtle tactics of the Christian missionaries during Raffles’s times, and the Malay lackeys who colluded with them. We can see the similarities in events of nowadays. But the above is also why we have Allah in the Bibles of Indonesia and Sabah and Sarawak, but not in Peninsula Malaysia.

And the above continues to be protected and respected in Sabah and Sarawak by the 10-point agreement which also includes the immigration right to refuse entry to any undesirable persons that the Opposition has said is a violation of their rights.

What does the above history have to do with modern-day Malaysia where history should or suggested be forgotten?

In my later post entitled The Case For God – Part 3 I wrote about the attempts to proselytise Muslims which is in contravention of the Federal Constitution:

As mentioned in the previous installment, too, I find the argument that Allah is the common denominator for God in this region a joke. The common denominator in the Indo-Malay speaking world would be Tuhan instead of Allah. However, Allah is the term that is inside the Quran for as long as time can remember. I cannot say the same for the Bible as it no longer reflects the Old Testament. Anyhow, you cannot find the name Allah inside the Old Testament. Just a Hebrew name that does not even resemble both the Arabic and Roman spelling of Allah. Even so, Elohim as called by the Jews, refers to The God that has no Son, nor an equivalent called the Holy Spirit. Mind you, even the Jews are totally against the concept of deifying a human being. I am sure my wife’s Iban relatives who are Christian would understand the term “Tuhan” without any problem since Bahasa Malaysia is derived from the Malay language, and the term for God in Malay is Tuhan.

We have seen the subtle tactics of missionaries of those days in the first installment and how their modus operandi is now refined by present-day missionaries. This blogger had had the opportunity to meet up with Muslims proselytized during the month of Ramadhan of 2012 and was told of the very fine and subtle methods used to proselytize Muslims in Malaysia. Back in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Malay people were not only bombarded with the Malay Bible, but also Christian publications in Malay such as Buletin Ariffin, Cermin Mata, Sahabat and Warta Melayu. Little has changed, but made only better. Recently, Johor’s Department of Islamic Affairs, together with the Home Ministry, confiscated 250 Christian literature in the Malay language. Imagine these books having titles such as Kaabah, Mengenal Rasul and Wahyu Illahi. With the state of Johor having around 58 percent Muslims, 2 percent Christians, and 40 percent other religions, who were these Malay literature targeting? Ibans? Christians? Chinese? Read more about the attempt to proselytize Muslims in BigDog’s post.

So, what about the use of Allah by Christians in Indonesia, Egypt etc.?
Tell me how good has that been for Indonesia and Egypt? How well do the Muslims and Christians get along in those countries? The very reason we do not have beheading of Christians in Kelantan or lynching of Muslims in Sarawak is because we do not step on each others toes.

I also wrote the following:

So is “Allah” an integral part of Christianity? I argued on this when the Appellate Court decided against the High Court ruling:

When the Turks charged at the British lines during the Battle of Gallipoli, they cried “Allahu Akbar.” The British soldiers retorted, “Come and get your Allah here!”
If the same British soldiers are here now, they would be utmost disappointed that the Christians in Malaysia now want to accept Allah – the name of the God they believed to be false – as the special noun to replace the word “god”.
Why am I still on this issue? Some lawyers now say whatever decree the Agong issues, is not binding for non-Malays and non-Muslims.
Fine. The Malay Rulers may not have intrinsic powers left apart from dissolving or withholding a cabinet or state assembly, appoint a Prime Minister or a Menteri Besar, and protect the religion of Islam and Malay customs. I shall not dwell too deeply into this but my friend SatD has written a very good piece on this in his blog Pure Shiite.
What is most important is that when the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) confiscated those Bibles containing the special noun “Allah”, they were acting on the provisions of Section 9 of the Selangor Shariah Criminal Enactment which prohibits the use of 25 or so Islamic words and nouns in non-Muslim publications. You will be committing a crime merely by having one in your house or car, let alone propagate one to a Muslim (or more).
What does the Shariah enactment have to do with non-Muslims, you may ask. Everything! It is NOT an Islamic law, it is a State law! Actually, it is a State Criminal Law! And a state criminal law applies to all be they Muslims or otherwise. And it is a STRICT LIABILITY law! Like I said, you have one, you break the law!
You constitutional law sexperts may also argue that the law is unconstitutional. It may be so. But it is the state law until and until a Constitutional court decides otherwise.
Oh, cry foul all you want and claim that the Apellate Court judges were all Malays. This is the part that I do not understand. All these challenges to the decision of the Apellate Court may be a norm to some of you common criminals and petty lawbreakers; the judges may not even hazard to act against them but the person who should be taking action, the Attorney-General, should. It is in contempt of a court ruling. What does that tell me, a layman? The A-G is simply useless for allowing lawlessness become a norm.
When Muslims cry foul to the Christians saying that “Allah” is an integral part of Islam, it is because the concept of trinity is an antithesis of the “Oneness” of Allah. The special noun refers to The God, One and Only God. Not a God that needs a trike to be able to “stand.”
The Christians lashed back saying that the Muslims should not tell them what is integral and what is not to them, saying that Allah is integral to the Christians. Else why quarrel over the special noun?
The word “integral” means something that if not present, does not complete something. Like tyres to cars.
Let me ask them this: if “Allah” is integral to the Christian faith, does this mean that the Popes, for 2,000 years, all the way from St Peter Petrus, have gotten it all wrong?
Maybe those adamant to use the special noun “Allah” can now shout to the Pope to come get his “Allah” here.

Allah: The Son and the Crescent

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I wrote a posting early November 2013 on the issue of evangelism and the evangelical efforts to bring Muslims to accept the Trinity concept ( The Herald of Glad Tidings: Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa ).

Discovered on the Internet today is this article on Christian Today that speaks of the Allah issue and how Christians have made headway in getting Muslims to accept that Allah, or God, that is worshipped by the Muslims, is the same as the Trinitarian god worshipped by the Christians.

Go back to my article above after you have read this one and decide for yourself if subtle evangelism is not real:

Christianity Today: The Son and the Crescent

The Herald of Glad Tidings: Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa

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I write this as a warning to my Muslim brothers and sisters. No matter how you conduct your life, you should never compromise your attestation to Allah being the True One God, and that Muhammad is His Messenger through whom His message was delivered to complete what started millenniums before.

The issue of the use of Allah in the Herald has been resolved…well, more or less. I still see on my timeline some people still tweet about it, or have it as part of their Facebook status. I see the occasional Christian politician from Sabah still trying to flog a dead horse by crying foul over the issue although the ruling does not affect Christians of Sabah and Sarawak; while many others who do not understand the history and reason behind the permit to use of Allah in Bibles and Christian literatures in Indonesia, Sabah and Sarawak but not in the peninsular should read my previous writings on this issue:

The Case For God

I also wrote about the word to describe God in Malay in The Case For God Part 2, and I wrote on the subtle ways to undermine the faith of Muslims in the peninsular. You may say that the issue of faith is petty, but if you have met, as I have, Muslims whom have proselytize, you would be shocked to see the numbers and where they are originally from, and with what background.

If I mention the name Joshua Massey I am sure many Malaysian Muslims do not know who he is. I don’t know who Massey is either but that is the pseudonym of a Christian missionary who has written many articles on how to minister Christianity to the Muslims. Among the articles he has written include Should Christians Use Allah In Bible Translation?

In this article, Massey concluded that it is necessary to use Allah in Bibles and not to discard such easily redeemable terms, but to fill them with Biblical meaning. The more a Muslim’s understanding of Allah is informed by the Scriptures, the more Biblical their theology of God will become. Filling familiar words with new meaning, rather than tossing them aside as irreparable, is something the church has wisely done from the beginning.

Of course, in a non-Arab speaking Muslim country, it would be a lot more difficult to penetrate the Muslim community to spread the gospel. Enter the C5: the so-called liberal Muslims who, amongst us, have been saying that it is a small matter for others to use Allah to refer to God. C5 is a category among a spectrum of Christians ranging from C1, referring to those missionaries who set up churches and conduct masses and prayers in the missionaries’ original language, to C6 – those who still retain their Muslim identity and never reveal their faith to Muslims. This spectrum was introduced by a missionary who writes under the pseudonym John Travis. Like Massey who lives amongst Muslims in Asia, Travis too has spent a large portion of his life living amongst the Muslims.

C5 Muslims do not call themselves Christians. They call themselves the Followers of Isa al-Masih, or Jesus the Messiah. They are the Messianic Muslims who reject any unbiblical Muslim practise, and dare to label Muslim practices barbaric, or against human rights, or restricting women’s rights. Anything and any platform they could use to attack the sanctity of Islam, they would. Do not get me wrong: C5 Christians still go to the mosque to pray, still attain their identity as Muslims, but they will back their Christian friends when attacked by other Muslims, not literal attacks though.

Massey knows that Muslims will not attack, as it is unIslamic to be the belligerent, but will defend to their death their land and faith. So you get the C5s to do the attacks for you, therefore the defenders will then be labelled racists, extremists and other labels already thrown by these liberals. In the words of Travis:

“Some C5 believers adopt Samuel Zwemer’s approach toward Muhammad by affirming all the truth Muhammad brought and never speaking disrespectfully of him. They emphasize that Muhammad was a great statesman and religious reformer, bringing Arabs from pagan polytheism to Abrahamic monotheism. They are quick to add that Muhammad spoke of Isa the Messiah (his virgin birth, miracles and sinless- ness) and acknowledged that the Torah, Zabur and Injil are God’s Word and must be obeyed. When it becomes clear that the Muslim listener is ready for more, they, like Zwemer, share Jesus as Lord and Savior. My observation is that over time, without dictating how new MBBs should view Muhammad, he becomes less and less important to them as they grow in their love and obedience to Jesus”.

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The above is taken from John Travis’s article in the International Journal of Frontier Missiology, telling how a Muslim was befriended by a Christian friend, not to accept Christianity, but to also accept the other Books: a concept not unfamiliar in Islam. Working on this and the other concept mentioned in the Quran that Allah does not make any distinction between His Prophets, they work towards undermining the Shahadah.

Similar modus operandi have been seen here in Malaysia. In one case that involved a friend of mine putting a stop to it, a Muslim factory worker was befriended by a fellow male worker, a Christian. She got pregnant and was shunned by her family. With nowhere to go, her boyfriend brought her to see a priest who showered her with compassion. Her roommate managed to sniff the method and alerted an agency my friend was with, and rescued her. In fact, among the DUMC attendees whom I had met last year all spoke of similar subtle methods. Some had converted over a few pair of jeans, some money, rice, so on and so forth. For me, I blame the Malay/Muslim society for failing to help the needy, or for driving away family members who are in need. I remember one Pusat Pungutan Zakat officer who argued intensely with me, insisted that there were no poor people in Petaling Jaya, until I showed him a squatter village.

But that is the fact of the matter – we Muslims in Malaysia are not caring enough. And Muslims are oblivious to threats, not just from the outside, but from the inside as well. Muslims always think that they are strong, and at the same time allow every attempt to chip away at the foundations of Islam in this country, namely the Federal Constitution, and the institution of the Malay Rulers as custodians and protectors of the religion of Islam and the Malay customs. Every attempt to defend these institutions are being portrayed as acts of racism and oppression of the minority, when in essence it is the 60.4 percent Muslim population is the minority. They are split into three: two one thirds that have nothing better to do but claw at each other, while the other third collude with the evangelists to attack the other two thirds.

I leave you with an extract from a missiology website about the one third that is helping to destroy us, and urge all you Muslims to pause for a moment and think:

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Addendum: 5th Nov 2013

For all those who remember my previous posting on the Allah issue (The Case For God – Part 3, I wrote on Christian publications in Malay in the 19th Century, and how similar publications have made their way into modern-day peninsular Malaysia. One must be wary of religious books bearing Arabic terms that may be representing Christianity but with an Islamic image. I was also informed that in some mosques in this country, as mentioned in Massey’s and Travis’s articles, Arab Christians or Christian Malays have begun preaching to youngsters. Dressed as pious Muslims, they confuse the youngsters using the modus operandi mentioned above.

And I will also be meeting with a Christian friend, who has told me how some of his family members and friends have been actively proselytising needy Muslims in the south of the peninsular. Hopefully this time, I will get to learn more of their modus operandi.