Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Not Urgent for Herald to Use 'Allah'

This is my third article regarding the issue. To date my colleagues have yet to ask me about the 'Allah' issue in Malaysia.

It's either they can't be bothered with it or simply too 'afraid' to discuss the matter with me.

I second the former.

That is the difference between people in the UK and Malaysia. Many Malaysians, still 'afraid' to SPEAK UP.

Instead of speaking up, discussing the matter level-headedly, some chose to torch the churches and suraus.

Malaysians, are still young to handle some issues with 'hikmah', eventhough they are suggested to do so by religions.

Today, I will try to underline a solution for this issue. It has been dragging for years already. When the matter became a lot worse with places of worship being burnt, the best thing many of our so called great leaders did was blaming each other.

Some leaders were quick enough to visit those places with some goodies and words of support, others, politicised the issue hoping to get a run of political mileage.


Right, solution! Let us be as practical as possible. You guys want to discuss about it, conduct an open dialogue, thats fine, but please get someone who is impartial and non-partisans. I am quite sick already with people politicising the issue. It's like cancer! Even if you have to invite politicians, it's fine but make sure he/she's not a politicKING/QUEEN.

In my humble opinion, I don't see it is urgent for Herald to use 'Allah' in their Bahasa Malaysia version. The argument of Christians in Sabah and Sarawak have been reading 'Allah' in Herald cannot be used to indicate some sort of urgency. The reason why Christians in Syria, Egypt and other parts of the Middle East have been using 'Allah' for thousands of years is simply that they are Arabic speakers.

There are also stories of the pagan Meccans and Egypt Copts (Christians) referring their God as 'Allah' during Muhammad's (PBUH) time. This is simply because they were arabic speakers.

Herald wants to use 'Allah' in their Bahasa Malaysia version, not Arabic version.

Therefore, it is not timely for Herald to use it since millions of Muslims and small number of Non-Muslims in the Peninsula object to it. Malaysia then hit the headlines around the world for the wrong reason over this avoidable issue. Herald, NOT using 'Allah' in their Bahasa version will definitely ease the tension. The Christians, shouldn't feel as if they lost their 'Allah' and should never be angry about it. Herald BM in East Malaysia, can continue using the word 'Allah'.

Thing is though, I must ask, how many Bibles are written in Arabic that is available in Malaysia?

Situational point of view, unlike Muslims in East Malaysia, Muslims in the Peninsula are not comprehensively informed about the usage of 'Allah' by Eastern Malaysian Christians for decades. Of course there is a huge difference in opinions and it will take decades as well for the people in the Peninsula to absorb it. Thus, it is quite normal for the Muslims in the Peninsula to be strongly against it.

I personally think since the East Malaysians are not Arabic speakers, why bother using an Arabic word for God when you have Tuhan in Bahasa? However, since the Christians in the East has been using it for decades, I dare not take that away from them.

Now, I must ask the Muslims in Malaysia, when you read the Asma ul-Husna, do you find 'Allah' in the 99 names of Allah? When I was 8, I asked my ustazah how come 'Allah' is not included in the Asma ul-Husna? Of course she couldn't answer such a big question. It took me years only to realise that Allah is not the name of God in Islam but rather, Allah is what Arabic speakers call God, the Creator of the Universe and everything inside it.

However, since the Holy Quraan was sent down by God, through Jibril the Angel to Muhammad (PBUH) in Arabic, of course the word 'Allah' is more fond with the Muslims. Hadiths are also written in Arabic and to be fair, this is why the Muslims in Malaysia thought 'Allah' is exclusive only for Islam.

Again, Allah is a standard Arabic word for God and is used by arabic speaking people particularly from the Abrahamic faiths. Since Islam accepts the four Holy Books of Taurat, Zabur, Injil and Al-Quraan, we should not object the people who are reading the Torah (Taurat), Psalms (Zabur) and Bible (Injil) in ARABIC using the word 'Allah'. (even though it is arguable the similarities between each of the books from Islamic and non-Islamic point of view).

I know some people who claim to be 'Moderate Muslims' (MM and MM for example) or 'Liberal Muslims' (when there's no such thing as those since Islam always promotes moderation through the concept of Wasatiyyah) would welcome the idea of Herald using 'Allah' in their Bahasa version IMMEDIATELY, but for me, it is not a wise thing to do. The situation will not agree to it and it's impossible to change their mindset in one night.

There is a reason why many Malaysian Muslims are prejudiced to it.

-Why there is a need for Herald to use the word 'Allah' at such an untimely manner?

Some has labeled these people as 'Islamic extremists' and even UMNO-paid agent provocateurs. (I am not referring to the arsonists -these people should be ISA-ed ASAP).

I have to agree with these so called 'extremists' at some point.

It is not urgent and Herald is not having it in Arabic anyway.

And most importantly, most would object to it.

Some stats update:

Malaysian-Facebookers against the use of 'Allah' by Herald = 199,242. (76%)
Malaysian-Facebookers in support of Herald using 'Allah' = 62,284. (24%).

Jeg Hui

Friday, January 08, 2010

Peace be upon all of you

I think everyone should know by now that Islam is a religion of peace, and Al-Qaeda and other terrorism acts around the world is unislamic.

Islam teaches us not to solve issues through violence and also Islam teaches us to respect other people's religion.

When Muslims greet each other, we say "Peace be upon you". However, the term is also not exclusive for the Muslims.

Oh please don't go fight for the use of 'Assalaamualaikum' pulak! I am pretty sure everyone can use the greet as it promotes peace, as demanded by Islam.

I am furious with the way some people react to the issue of 'Allah' being used by Herald's BM version. I am NOT a fan of street demos, but yesterday, 10 demos were conducted peacefully at several mosques and I say kudos to them.

For a moment, today I feel a bit ashamed to call myself Malaysian as I thought the news I saw were from our neighbouring country. Churches were torched and I thought I will never see that happening in Malaysia in my life.

I am calling everyone to be calm. I do hope my humble advise is heard by the people eventhough I am just a nobody.

It is a sad day for Malaysia and thank God noone was hurt or killed.

To the politicians, please stop politicising by blaming each other. For the sake of the people, put aside your craze for popularity and power and do the right thing.

To Herald, I hope you can see now the effect of disregarding the sensitivity of millions of Muslims in Malaysia. You must remember that the Muslims in the peninsular and the East Malaysia understand differently regarding the concept of 'Allah', and do you ask yourself, is there really a need to use the term when people in the Peninsular are not READY?

To all Muslim brothers and sisters, always refer to the holy Quraan and Hadith, and you will know you should always stay calm.

To all Non-Muslim brothers and sisters, there is a need for us to understand each other and build bridges, not quarelling and bickering over sensitive issues. It is evidently clear that the gap is still very, very huge and it will take time for us to actually realise perfect mutual understanding.

Let this be a lesson for all of us. Everyone is at fault. I am not here to say 'I told you so' but when politics, insensitivity, anger and chauvinism are put aside, we will always do the right thing.

We SHOULD always do the right thing.


Concerned Malaysian,

Jeg Hui

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Most Malaysian-Muslims are in Support of the 'Allah' Ban for Herald

The title might be misleading for some, or rubbish for the hardcores but realistically speaking, it is a fair one.

I am here not to take sides, but it is alarming to see the figure you can find from a Facebook Group claiming themselves to be against the use of the word 'Allah' by Non-Muslim groups. The group, calling themselves "Menentang Penggunaan Nama Allah oleh Golongan Bukan Islam" now has 94,005 members and the number is still growing. (as at 6th January 2010, 1024 hours London time).

As a comparison, the Prime Minister's Facebook has 69,163 fans after 2 months in operation, Anwar Ibrahim has 34,194 fans after almost a year and 1Malaysia with 59,783 fans.

I am not being political but when I mentioned these comparisons, it is because they will indicate relevant statistics.

Unless you are from Planet Zargon, it is fair to say it is hard to find supporters of Anwar Ibrahim are also supporters of Najib Razak. Leaving out 2.5% as statistical error, the group has easily dwarfed the number of Muslims in support for Anwar or Najib combined. The 1Malaysia group on the other hand, provides indication of how the members can be more serious about the issue than the national's propaganda.

Browsing through the members of the group, I can say about 98% of them are Muslims. Sceptics might say it is due to over-emotion, racism and prejudice but the large number indicates what these Muslims actually believe all their lives and supporting this group is a way to protect their knowledge of Islam.

It is an acid test for both coalitions, Pakatan Rakyat for the 'Ketuanan Rakyat' concept and Barisan Nasional with their 1Malaysia concept. Both, have expressed their opinions on the matter but unfortunately, both have been hypocritical about it.

Because statistics revolve around the theory of large numbers, based on the Facebook figures (yes, you can learn a lot from FB), it is fair to say that most Muslims are against the usage of 'Allah' in Herald. Since Muslims make up about 60% of the Malaysian population, it is safe to say most Malaysians are in support of the ban. For that, Pakatan Rakyat has ignored the voice of the majority for this case, even if the majority comprises of mostly from one community. What happened to bringing back the power to the people?

Barisan Nasional on the other hand wants to promote unity through mutual understanding with their 1Malaysia concept. So why did they have to apply against the stay of execution of the High Court's decision when they should concentrate on indoctrinating the people of all religions about the 'Allah' as the One True God for All concept?

I don't write to please people. I don't write to become popular. I write simply to share my humble views with the people. I must admit I myself found it a bit confusing when this case actually appeared a few years ago. However, after a deep research on the 'Allah' concept, I agree on the part that Allah is God, in Arabic term and Allah belongs to everyone, not just the Muslims.

Saying that though, we have to look at the reaction of the people and it is quite clear most Muslims in Malaysia are against the usage of the term.

The question is, why?

Many politicians will politicise this issue and that is fair because it's the only thing they are good at. Come again? No, read again. I did not generalise and I used the word 'many', not 'most' or 'all'. However though, I am confident to say MOST Muslims in Malaysia still think 'Allah' can only be used by Muslims. I do not blame them though as I myself was never taught about the definition and the concept of 'Allah' during all Islamic Studies classes I joined during my younger days.

Thanks to Wikipedia, it is all clear now. But of course Rome was not built in one day, it will take many, many years to 'undo' these misinformation that has been planted in the minds of Muslims in Malaysia through the 'Pendidikan Islam' syllabus. There's nothing wrong with the syllabus. The concept of 'Allah' as the God for all creatures not just for the Muslims is simply not highlighted there. Scores still think 'Allah' is the Muslim God, 'Jesus the Nazareth' is the only Christian God and Buddha is the Buddhist God when all these thoughts are wrong altogether.

When these Muslims are misinformed, the thought of a Christian Daily (Herald) to use 'Allah' for the Bahasa Malaysia version would leave a bad taste. It is normal for people to protect all the knowledge and beliefs they carry all their lives. It is also natural to be prejudice. Some might think Herald is just trying their best to lure fellow Muslims to convert to Christianity when the Bahasa Malaysia version use the word 'Allah' instead of the norm 'Tuhan'.

For the peninsular people atleast.

Christians in Sabah and Sarawak have been reading the Bahasa Malaysia version with the word 'Allah' in reference to God. Of course it is a shock for the Peninsular people to accept something which is very uncommon to them. That is normal.

All this while, Islam is taught in Bahasa Malaysia and what if an Islamic daily wanted to use 'Jesus' in reference to the Messenger of God, not the 'Son of God', according to Christians belief. Naturally, (oh please don't lie) the Christians will find it hard to accept if the Islamic daily was to freely use it publicly, writing on their coverpage 'JESUS IS NOT GOD' and repeating it again and again and again...

What happened to sensitivity?

Al-Islam snooping in the Church to look out for Muslims who convert to Christianity? Feel free to be angry! That is insensitive if you ask me.

Herald using 'Allah' for their Bahasa Malaysia version despite anger from the Muslims. That is insensitive if you ask me.

So let us be fair.

Again, I don't have a real solution for this debacle. But let me suggest a few things. First, for now, Herald should not be allowed to use 'Allah' in their Bahasa Malaysia version because the people rejecting it and why do you think it is a BIG ISSUE at the first place? It is simply because most Muslims if not most Malaysians are against it.

Secondly, in the years to come, please include the concept of 'Allah' as the One True God, The God for All, because Allah creates every single thing in this universe and for that, Allah is the One God for All, not just the Muslims in the Pendidikan Islam syllabus.

Thirdly, it is very very clear how Malaysians, be it Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists etc do not actually know each other very well, if not are sensitive towards each other. We need to do more campaigns on promoting understanding and respect among each other.

Wallahu'alam and good day to all.

p/s: the number has now grown to 97,177 since I last checked. A jump of 3,172. Thats a lot in the Facebook-Malaysian world.

Do the hardcores still think these people are UMNO-paid cybertroopers?

Jeg Hui.