I REFER to Dr Patricia A. Martinez’s comment on the Allah issue under the heading “Let the facts speak for themselves” (The Star, Feb 6). The writer accuses those who disagree with her of propounding “misconceptions” and “lies” as facts but fails to produce any convincing evidence.
The word Allah is not a commodity over which there can be proprietary rights. Any dispute surrounding its usage is not amenable to the judicial process.
The term Allah carries with it a meaning, a concept. The Islamic concept of God is not only different but opposed to the Christian concept.
In Islam, God is one, unique, neither begets nor begotten and the term used to denote this concept is Allah. Over 1.2 billion Muslims throughout the world understand Allah in this sense.
On the other hand, Christians believe in the Holy Trinity – God the Father, His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. They believe that God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to redeem mankind from their sins.
For Muslims, the Christian belief would amount to the highest form of blasphemy. Muslims believe Jesus (Nabi Isa), was a messenger like Prophet Muhammad who brought a message from God as guidance to humankind.
The writer and her fellow Christians should seriously consider the implications of the use of Allah conveying two conflicting concepts in a multi-religious society.
Imagine what would happen at a meeting attended by Malaysians of all faiths if a Christian speaker quotes the following from an Indonesian Bible: “Karena begitu besaar kasih Allah akan dunia ini, sehingga Ia telah mengaruniakan Anak-nya yang tunggal, supaya setiap orang yang percaya kepada-Nya tidak binasa, melainkan beroleh hidup yang kekal.” Would not a practising Muslim perceive this as a provocation and an insult to his belief?
So, why not be sensible and use a different term to denote the Christian concept of God? Dr Martinez argues that Allah was selected to denote God because most words for religion in Bahasa Malaysia (BM) are from Arabic.
This argument is untenable as there are also many Sanskrit words in BM and Bahasa Indonesia. An appropriate one – Bhagavaan, Brahma - could be chosen to denote God in the Bible. In fact, Brahma embodies the concept of Trinity, three aspects of God as the Hindus believe.
Dr Martinez leans on Munshi Abdullah to claim that it is impossible to use only “Tuhan” in the Bible in Malay.
But this can be overcome by using the Sanskrit word Brahma. Her example “I am your Lord and your God…” can be translated as “Saya adalah Tuhan dan Brahma kamu”.
The word Allah came into use in the Bible in this region after it was translated into Malay and Bahasa Indonesia by the Dutch colonialists.
This colonial heritage need not be continued when it can create confusion and misunderstanding among Christians and Muslims. There is nothing to prevent the 64% BM speaking Christians” to continue to pray in BM” and “for churches and clergy who look after them to continue to do so”.
Malaysia is one of the most tolerant countries in the world where the religious rights of minorities are well protected.
Let us be thankful for the peace and harmony we have enjoyed for over four decades here and not sacrifice them by making irresponsible demands.
Abdullah Ismail Secretary General Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organisation The STAR Home Opinion Letters 08/02/2014