Malaysia

Non-Muslims must not use ‘Allah’, says Selangor Sultan

Shipments of the Alkitab were blocked or confiscated at ports before the government finally bowed to pressure and released them in 2011. – File picShipments of the Alkitab were blocked or confiscated at ports before the government finally bowed to pressure and released them in 2011. – File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 – The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah is shocked at Lim Guan Eng’s remarks over the word “Allah” and has called for an emergency meeting with state Islamic religious officials to bar non-Muslims from using the Arabic word for god, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) said today.

In December 2009, the High Court ruled that the word “Allah” was not restricted to Muslims and the Catholic Church had the right to published the word in the Malay section of its weekly newspaper, Herald.

“His majesty the Selangor Sultan has made a decision and decreed that the word ‘Allah’ is a sacred word specific to Muslims and is structly forbidden to use by any non-Muslim religion in Selangor as stated in a fatwa and gazetted on 18 February 2010,” MAIS secretary Datuk Mohd Misri Idris said in a statement.

Mohd Misri (picture) added that Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had issued a similar decree three years ago when the “Allah” issue first erupted and regretted that his statement was taken lightly.

He also said the Selangor Ruler had instructed MAIS and the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS) to take firm action against all groups, including non-Muslims, who continued to question the state fatwa.

He pointed out that the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment restricting the use of the word was passed in the state assembly 25 years ago and enforced in July 1988. 

He said the state law was also in keeping with Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution governing the spread of non-Muslim doctrine.

“Section 9 of the Enactment strictly forbids the word ‘Allah’ to be used by non-Muslims in any matter related to their religions. 

“Those who breach this provision can be charged and sentences meted out against them,” he said.

The Selangor Sultan also chided those who would use Islam for political purposes and warned them against destroying the existing peace enjoyed by Malaysia’s multireligious community, Mohd Misri secretary said.

Further information on the state laws and fatwa regarding the use of the word “Allah” can be read on its website, he said.

The “Allah” storm was reignited recently when Lim, the opposition DAP’s secretary-general, raised the controversial “Allah” issue in his Christmas message urging the federal government to lift its ban on the word published in the Malay bibles shipped in to Sabah and Sarawak, who form the bulk of Malaysia’s 9.2 per cent Christian population.

In recent years, the Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug-of-war over the word “Allah”, with the latter group arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim god.

Shipments of the Alkitab, the Malay-language Bible catering to the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Bumiputera Christians, were blocked or confiscated at ports, before the government finally bowed to pressure and released them in 2011.

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