Sunday, January 12, 2014

ALLAH CONUNDRUM: Why should Malaysian Muslims be special?

  ALLAH CONUNDRUM: Why should Malaysian Muslims be special? Written by Kim Quek

Through a half-page advertisement in the mass circulating newspaper Star on Jan 11, The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) defended the stunning raid and confiscation of over 300 Malay and Iban Bibles from the Bible Society Malaysia’s (BSM) premises, executed by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais).

However, Mais’s entire justifications for the raid and seizure of Bibles are either  misinterpretation of a law by itself defective, or outright lies in stating the facts.

Mais President Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa in the statement described the raid as “inspection and investigation”.  He said Jais’s action was in response to public complaints regarding the publication of the Malay Bible (Al-Kitab), “wherein the name ‘Allah’is in the Bible which if proven is an offence under Section 9 of the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment 1988 of Selangor (hereinafter referred to as 1988 Enactment).”

Adzib said the investigation was needed to determine whether such publication containing the word “Allah” has contravened Section 9 of the 1988 Enactment.  And the enforcement of such law was meant to “prevent the propagation of other religious doctrine or belief amongst the Muslims”, and therefore it should not to be interpreted as interference into the practice of other religions.


But Section 9, which prohibits the use of ‘Allah’ and 33 other Arabic words and phrases irrespective of whether these words are used in proselytizing to Muslims, is ultra vires the Enactment’s own preamble which clearly states that the entire purpose of the Enactment is to prevent proselytization of Muslims as provided under Article 11 (4) of the Federal Constitution.

Section 9 is also ultra vires the Federal Constitution Article 11 (2) & (3) which guarantees full freedom to practice and manage one’s religion with the only proviso under Article 11 (4) which allows state governments to enact state laws to restrict the propagation of other religious doctrines to Muslims.

In other words, the only possible restriction to religious freedom under the Federal Constitution is the freedom to proselytise to Muslims. Any other restriction, including dictating what a religion should not do, is a breach of Article 11 (3).

Hence, Section 9 of the Selangor Ordinance 1988 is hopelessly defective and inoperative in law as it indiscriminately bans the use of these prohibited words without considering whether these words are actually used to proselytise to Muslims.

Moreover, the wording of Section 9 is such that an offence is only committed through the act of delivering public speeches or making public statements.  Possession and storage of publication, as in the case of BSM, is definitely not an offence under 1988 Enactment.


Mais President Adzib also claimed that Jais was merely “inspecting and investigating”, but this is clearly a blatant lie, as the 15 Jais officers accompanied by police, without any search warrant, threatened with aggressive language to break into the BSM premises if denied entry, and carted away all the 300 over copies of Bible and arrested BSM’s President and its manager, who were later released on police bail.  If the purpose was really to check on the book, wouldn’t it have been sufficient to just ask for a copy of it? Why threaten the owners and confiscate all books and arrest its top officials?

Adzib also tried to support the Jais raid by bringing in the Selangor Fatwa Committee which had earlier issued a fatwa prohibiting the use of Allah by non-Muslims. The simple answer to that is: fatwa is not applicable to non-Muslims as they are not subject to Syariah jurisdiction.  Islamic authorities cannot dictate to other religions what word to use or not to use in their religious practice.

Adzib further sought support from the recent Court of Appeal ruling on “Allah”, but that wouldn’t help either, as the judgment only upholds home minister’s banning of the Catholic weekly The Herald from using “Allah”.  Such ban has certainly not been extended to the Bible.

It is clear that all the justifications put up by Adzib are either flawed in law or false in fact.
Hence, Jais is clearly guilty of illegal entry, robbery and wrongful arrest.
It is amazing how the proponents of the “Allah” ban could remain recalcitrant in the face of overwhelming world opinion – in particular the Islamic world – that expressed disapproval or puzzlement or even ridicule at the Malaysia government’s unique action to prohibit non-Muslims from using a word universally accepted as the name to call the Almighty God. Especially when Allah was used by Arab Christians and Jews to call God long before the founding of Islam, and the Koran also readily accepted the practice of sharing such name with other religions.

Have these proponents of the ban ever given serious thoughts to why all the one thousand and four hundred million Muslims in the world have no qualms about other religions using Allah, with the exception of perhaps a few millions in Malaysia?
Why should these few million Malaysian Muslims be so special?

Are they so sure that their conviction is grounded in the Holy Quran? - MAILBAG

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  • Eugene Kl · Top commenter · Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    I think it is only the UpNo Muslim and not all Muslim in Malaysia.
  • John Ng · Top commenter · King George V School, Seremban
    Pathetic. Pathetic.
    The Selangor state government must also bear some responsibility.
    The show is over. Please return the Bibles and everything illegally seized to BSM.
  • Dominic Ho Kim Hui · Top commenter · St. Joseph's Secondary School, Kuching
    This issue here got nothing to do with the religion and in this case Islam. The core issue is the Malay themselves. From young and during most of their forefather time, their mind is imprint with the word Allah to mean their Muslim God. Knowingly or not they must understand other Christian natives are also using Allah as their God for a very long time. There was`nt an issue at all then. Why is there an issue now ? Even if there`s any disagreement, if should`nt have gone to the current extent where threats of all sort are being mentioned. One must realize the issue surfaced after the Shite and Suni problem came into fore coupled with the huge debts our country is facing. It is clearly a diversion of these two and using the word Allah to just them. One must take into account how the vast majority of Muslims around the world feel about it. The more they come up with all the excuses to stake their claims , the more they are pushing themselves to the corner . It is a very silly move indeed !
  • Jimmy Ng · Top commenter · Taiping, Perak
    UMNO just wanna grap everything ! They are just feeling insecure and will do anything to confuse the people. Ala why like that?