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.


fadhli said...

well written. i looked at the facebook group and i don't mind them to have the opinion to support the ban, but the alarming thing is the arguments used by most of the wall posts i read are just ridiculous and immature.

criticisms based on good points and laying them out reasonably, i agree with. but criticising with no substance and being a bit too paranoid about everything, i do not.

Jeg said...

you are right.

but we must also know how young and misguided people can be, be it Muslims, Christians, Buddhists or Jews.

Malaysians are still far behind despite the fast growing internet community when they can refer to valuable sources when making judgment.

Kan bagus kalau semua orang pandai berfikir macam kamu. But that is only in the perfect world.

Anonymous said...

It seems strange that suddenly this issue is brought up when the word Allah has been used by non-Muslims for a long long time.

In Malaysia, we seem to have our own version of Islam and now we also want to make the word Allah exclusive. The word Allah is widely used to refer to God all over the world in many religions.

Many people who are emotional about this issue are not even aware of the history of this word. The suggestion that it may confuse believers is also immature as the confusion can work both ways. At the end of the day it's all about understanding what the word means rather than the word itself. Unfortunately in today's world label seems to be more important than the contents. In my opinion, this whole issue is just a sandiwara created by UMNO in order to win the next GE as they have run out of ideas. Racial and religious issues are the only way to win back voters who are less knowledgeable and informed.

It is sad that Malaysians prefer to harp on such petty issue instead of condemning things like corruption, abuse of power which are more serious issues in the eyes of religions. The outflow of FDIs is only going to get worse and in the end all Malaysians stand to lose.

By the way, the God concept does not exist in Buddhism. Buddha is a man who achieved enlightenment as he has managed to overcome all desires. However, most Malaysian Chinese practise a mixed-form of Buddhism and Taoism or other ancient Chinese religions which are polytheistic in nature.

atom said...

a truly unbiased piece of work. I guess we have to kick start all over again our national building agenda from ground zero. We cant denied the fact that the government had failed miserably on issues pertaining to inter-race & inter-religion. Judging from the fb respond on the said subject, i can safely conclude that the generation engineered to lead Malaysia are utterly wrong, be it Malay or Non-Malay. Thats my personal view, correct me if im wrong.

AZ said...

good piece.
btw, the group grown to the big fat 2ook mark today.

"this whole issue is just a sandiwara created by UMNO in order to win the next GE as they have run out of ideas. Racial and religious issues are the only way to win back voters who are less knowledgeable and informed"
first of all..
must every issue raised must be potiticized?
the issue and main concern here is that.. the translation of the word God.
Be it a member of any political party in Msia, the question arised was that..
the word God = Tuhan in BM. the question is, why should it be translated to Allah?

im neither a politician nor someone involve in politics to begin with, but to solely condemn that it is a sandiwara by UMNO, that will be a little bit too much.
If one can point finger to them, why not point finger to the PKR and PAS fr sparking the issue even worse, when producing statements to agree the word Allah to
be use in bible translations.The issue is simple, avoid the translation of the word God into Allah.
1. we have the word 'tuhan' in our vocab that refers to God in general
2. if one to question why most ppl are senstitive over the Allah as a tranlation of God, since it refers to God in many other countries n such, try changing our first pillar of
rukun negara fr "kepercayaan kepada tuhan" to "kepercayaan kepada Allah". If Allah is just a word and shouldnt be sensitive about, we'll see how many will react and protest to it if it were to be changed.
3. to avoid confusion, why not? it is our responsibility to protect the religion as well. if it can be led to confusion, why let it be..? we cant control what's happening in the other countries, but we can stop it from happening in ours. Why jump together into the rabbit's hole? i dont see why anyone should axe the fact that it can let to a confusion should not be something serious to ponder upon.

just sharing my piece of mind....

atom said...

I just wanna add. Don't you agree that God has not spoken nor taking side at this point of time, right? Why we humble servant of God fight among each other?

I'm here not to make judgement either, as Im not qualified to comment. But do this out of the box. Why cant Muslim/Malay looks at it in a big picture. Can this a sign to the Muslim that this is indeed an opportunity to spread the words of Islam? The beauty of Islam should not be appreciated by Malays alone but those longing/waiting for it. Im firm believer that Islam is a religion of love. Cheers

Gukita said...


You write well. Your suggestion of "they should concentrate on indoctrinating the people of all religions about the 'Allah' sounds very good though not so practical.

The point that you and ALL MUST realise is that, Allah in Islam is NOT just The One True God.. But also Allah Who Has No Partners. This second part does not qualify a Christian God Concept with Allah as is in Islam. So to use Allah as direct equavalent to God as per Christian Literatures will cause goose flesh among Muslims.

Tuhan and Allah is very different. Tuhan was used for deities and was pre-islamic terms, except when used with Capital T. However even so, it falls short of the definition of Allah as per Islamic One and Only God plus the rest of the concept..

Tauhid is the central core of the Islamic religious belief and Allah is THE CORE of Tauhid. So when other quarters was bent on using this exclusive term, it definetely touches on the core sensitive areas of the Malays.. This is NOT POLITICAL AT ALLL... NOT in a 100 years. It is entrenched in the religious belief at its core and hence at the most sensitive part of Muslim psych..

Jeg said...

At the end of the day, we know that Allah is not a name, but Allah is the God we worship, the Creator of the universe.

Allah is not a name for the religion Islam. I can always use God, Allah, Tuhan, Ar-rahman, when referring my Creator.

But of course, in Malaysia, it's not suitable for other religions to use it.. yet.

To settle the case, Herald should drop using 'ALlah' in its BM version.

But what Muslims must know that 'Allah' is not just a name/label.

Bila orang tanya who is 'Allah'?

Baca Surah Al-Ikhlas.