KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 6 — Lawmaker Datuk Hasan Ali warned today the country’s main non-Muslim interfaith council against adding more fuel to the “Allah” debate that has already inflamed tensions nationwide, a day after the group accused Selangor’s Islamic authority of attempting to curb their religious rights.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) has yesterday chided the Selangor Islamic Council (MAIS) and a former top judge for trying to control the rights of Malaysia’s religious minorities in the tussle over “Allah”, which they said was unconstitutional.
“Rightly, the MCCBCHST which is represented by those with authority and learned in the nation’s social culture should not pour oil on fire that is starting to flare.
“The wisdom that is in the MCCBCHST leaders should be used properly to determine the peace and harmony that have been and is being enjoyed will continue to be enjoyed by future generations,” the Independent Gombak Setia assemblyman said in a statement today.
Hasan also urged the council not to involve itself in “unhealthy political games” but to advise the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) federal opposition, which supports the right of non-Muslims to call their gods “Allah”, which many Muslims here believe is exclusive to Islam.
“It is suggested the MCCBCHST should not entrap themselves in unhealthy political games.
“They should instead take a positive attitude and find the best way, or at least, advise the Pakatan Rakyat political leadership to be reasonable and to study if their actions for short-term political gains can guarantee a peaceful racial and religious relation in the long run,” he said.
The president of right-wing Malay group Jalur Tiga (Jati) lashed out at the interfaith council, saying it had failed to take into account that non religious adherent, including Christians, had never applied to use the word “Allah” for their gods.
“The MCCBCHST should understand that the federal and state governments, including the Islamic bodies have never tried to control non-Muslims or disturb their religious practices,” he said.
Hasan, a self-described champion of Malays and Islamic, said the “Allah” row only started recently, in the run-up to Election 2013 and questioned the motive for non-Muslims to demand to the right to call their gods by the Arabic word.
“Only recently with GE13 approaching, the Allah issue is being raised which to this day has never been explained the real motive behind that application,” he said.
While he acknowledged that Christian Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak had the right to use the Arabic word to refer to their god, as they had been doing so for a long time, he insisted that such use should not be allowed in peninsular Malaysia.
“What is happening is an attempt by those irresponsible to go against existing limits by asking for the word Allah that is the exclusive right of Muslims to also be used by non-Muslims,” he said.
“This is in truth an unhealthy practice that can cause tension among races and religion,” he added.
The “Allah” row, which first erupted shortly after Election 2008, is again in the spotlight in the run-up to Election 2013 and is threatening to drive a wedge between non-Muslims and the Malay-Muslim community who form 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 28 million population.
Sikhs also use the word ‘Allah” in their holy book, but Christians in Malaysia make up just under 10 per cent of the total population, and most of them hail from Sarawak and Sabah where worship is conducted in Bahasa Malaysia or their native languages that use the word “Allah” to refer to “God the Father” in the Christian belief of god as a trinity.