Monopolize the name of Allah?

Barkat Charania, MD.

How about monopolizing good deeds instead as a possible remedy of all our troubles in this world.

This is how I think it can work:

We should have every human being pledge something very simple. Regardless of our religious affiliation if all of us undertake to follow the teachings of “Ten Commandments” that are taught to us by our own religious heads, peers or parents, I believe we will have this world full of peace, compassion, tolerance and respect. This includes even the atheists, who do not believe in God as believers do, but they surely have a training of knowing the difference between good and bad and the responsibilities that we shoulder while living in groups called “societies”. And I dare say, if this pledge is extracted from the violent terrorists, we may perhaps have similar results also. We will have them agree to search inside them, as to what have they been educated by their “religious” peers as a moral lesson on interpersonal relationship with other human beings.

Reading most of the history of the world we realize that majority of disputes, rivalries and wars arise with religion as the foremost cause, the others being money and land.

I am writing this article because an interesting news item caught my eye that in Malaysia an argument is ongoing for over past quarter century. Muslims insist that the word “Allah” is for Muslims only and the Christians are forbidden that. This sounds too petty, but you may get surprised that the issue has caused demonstrations, violence and vandalizing!

Let me give you some details of this issue in Malaysia as I have found from my research;

Monopolize the name of Allah?

Muslims

Historical Background:

Some of us must be aware of the debate about use of name Allah by non-Muslims in Malaysia. Let me give you some historical perspective of this debate, with update until June 2014:

1986: A local ban was place based on a fatwa in the state of Selangor of Malaysia over the use of four words by Non-Muslims, viz. “Allah”, “Kaabah,” “Solat,” and “Baitullah”.

1988: The ban was made into a state law

2006: Catholic weekly paper Herald used the word Allah since 1995 in its Bahasa Malaysia edition. They were asked by government to stop usage of word Allah.

2007: Arson and vandalizing of Church properties occurred having the name of Allah on them.

2008: The Catholic Church sought a judicial review in the matter of use of word Allah.

2009: Lower court ruled that the Catholic Church had the constitutional right to use the word Allah in its newspaper; The Government of Malaysia appealed the decision and in March the ban on use of word Allah was fully gazetted as law in all the states of Malaysia

2010: The court reversed their order and asked Herald not to use the word Allah pending appeal by the government

2013: An appeals court reinstated the ban in October.

2014 June: Malaysia’s three judge panel of highest court has ruled in favor of the ban on Christians using the word “Allah” to refer to God

2015 Jan: Federal Court rejected the Catholic Church’s bid to hear its appeal on its constitutional right to use word “Allah”

The Issue:

Some Malaysian Muslims think that Christians should not use the word Allah. They are of the opinion that Allah is the name of Muslim God and it may be used to confuse Muslims who may likely go astray.

Opinions of Muslim Scholars:

Tariq Ramadan is the Oxford University professor of contemporary Islamic studies. He was hailed as one of the top 100 global thinkers in 2012. He sent the above tweet.

On Nov 2, 2013, Tariq Ramadan tweeted: “Why do we get emotional when others use the word #Allah?” Ramadan asked on his Twitter account, @TariqRamadan handle.

Here is the copy of his tweet:

tariqramadan-600X390_600_392_100

He added: “It is because of an inferiority complex that the word Allah is monopolized. How about monopolizing good deeds instead?” “There is only one God. My God is your God. Allah is not just the God for Muslims”, he says.

Adnan Oktar, a prolific Turkish writer, who writes under the name ofHarun Yahya, also urged Putrajaya (Downing street of Malaysia) to reverse its ban on the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, saying the decision was “based on illogical and theologically unacceptable reasoning”.

Dr Reza Aslan, another American Muslim religious scholar, who has written two books on Islam and one on Christianity, also opined that the word “Allah” was merely an Arabic term for God. “Allah is a construction of the word al-Ilah. Al-Ilah means “The God”, Aslan told in a radio interview.

Datuk Dr Mohamed Asri Zainul Abidin, a Malaysian Islamic scholarhas similarly said that the Quran allows and even encourages non-Muslims to address God as “Allah”, as long as they are referring to “The Supreme Being”.

Dr Shamsi Ali, the chairman of Al-Hikmah Mosque in Queens, New York, said to restrict the worship of God by any faith would be “degrading His greatness”. He further said, “I do believe Allah is God and God is Allah. And God belongs to every single human being, either that human believes in him or not.”

Discussion:

  1. We must all remember the essence and objective of basic principles and directives like “Ten Commandments” of all religions. They all unanimously direct us to be Humanitarian and live in peace and cooperation with all living creatures.
  2. Compassion for all is central message of all religions, as we understand.
  3. If we do not create unnecessary issues from any religion out of no where, we will have no quarrels, no frictions, no wars no miseries, sorrows or sufferings. We will have peace and prosperity guaranteed.
  4. We must all spend our energies to solve the present issues amicably and guarantee each other safety and equity of justice.

Conclusion:

We all must ponder over this. If we start taking hard position on such issue, when will we be able to give time to those sober, serious and critical issues facing us in this new world?

All Muslims and everyone from all other religions also must develop compassion for every other human being. Issues such of use of word Allah is far too frivolous to waste our energy and argue about. Instead let us pledge to be good human beings.

May Almighty God, Allah or The Supreme Being, whatever The Name, lead us all onto the right path and keep us in peace regardless of religion that we follow. Ameen..

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