PETALING JAYA: A Pakistani Muslim cleric Younos AlGohar said the Malaysian Appeals Court decision that the word ‘Allah’ is exclusively for Muslims, is syirik.
“The Malaysian court said, don’t use the word Allah. It is our God. Use your God’s name. This sentence is syirik (sin),” said Younos, the co-founder of Messiah Foundation International in a 16:12 minute video recording by Alra TV.
“When you say this, you mean you believe that there is another God? Can you understand how ignorant and short sighted they are?
“It is deplorable and condemnable,” he said.
Younos who currently resides in Manchester, UK, gave his view of the Court of Appeal judgment prohibiting Catholic weekly, The Herald, from using the word Allah in reference to God in its Bahasa Malaysia section.
The decision was made in mid-October 2013 by three judges – Federal Court judge Mohamed Apandi Ali and Appeals Court judges Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim.
The unanimous decision was made by them on the grounds that the word Allah is not an integral part of the Malaysian Christian’s faith. Zawawi said that usage of the word Allah would only serve to confuse the Christians as well as the Muslims due to the Trinity concept practiced in Christianity. The judge had also said that Christian Bibles in the Indonesian, Middle Eastern and Malay languages had erred by using Allah when referring to God in the Bible. Younos however said that the judgment only served to show that “Muslims today do not have any understanding of the Quran”.
“It is so clear that the word Allah can be used by any human being just because everyone is the creation of Allah.
“There is no other creator. So why must you ban people of other religion from using God’s name?” he said.
He criticised the three judges and the authorities as being “highly ignorant, shortsighted and prejudiced.”
In November 2013, Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah decreed that ‘Allah’ could not be used by non-Muslims in the state. Recently, various states have also started to enforce respective state enactments barring non-Muslims from using ‘Allah’ and a list of other Arabic words deemed to be Islamic.
This led to more than 300 translated Malay and Iban bibles being seized by the Selangor Religious Department (Jais) from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) premises on Jan 2, 2014.
Younos said the judgment is a form of “tyranny” and represents the wrong mentality of Muslims worldwide. He added that the perception of some Muslims that Allah is equivalent to the Muslim god is untrue.
“Putting limitations on God to be God for Muslims is wrong. “Arabic is not the Islamic language. Some people who are ignorant think that it is the language of paradise,” said the cleric.
He explained that the reason the Quran was revealed in Arabic was because it was the language that Prophet Muhammad understood.
“Allah is referred to as God to all mankind. This is personified in the term ‘Rabb al-Amin’ instead of Rabb al-Muslimin (God to Muslims),” he explained.
Not the first to condemn the judgment, Younos is joined by others, including the American Muslim theologian Reza Aslan who described the Malaysian court judgment as “a tragedy”.
An appeal has been filed against this judgment and the Federal Court is scheduled to hear the leave application next month.