Monday, 02 March 2009 07:43am
MARCH 1 – Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the Pas spiritual leader and one of the country’s most respected Muslim leaders, said today that non-Muslims should be allowed to use the word “Allah.”
But he said it was up to the federal government to decide whether to allow its use by non-Muslims.
“I do not want to interfere in this matter. Let the federal government decide,” he was quoted as saying by the national news agency Bernama in Kota Baru today.
The Pas leader was responding to the intense debate over the Catholic newspaper Herald’s law suit against the federal government’s decision to ban the use of the word “Allah” in its publication.
Yesterday, the Home Ministry rescinded a government gazette issued a day earlier which allowed the conditional use of the word in Christian publications.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said a mistake had been made and the government’s ban remained in force unless the courts decide otherwise.
The government had recently ordered a ban on the Herald’s Malay edition until the court makes its decision, as part of conditions for it to be allowed to continue publishing in English, Chinese and Tamil.
Muslim groups have been up in arms over the Catholic newspaper’s use of the word “Allah” and were particularly upset when the ban was rescinded on Friday.
These Muslim groups have argued that allowing Christians to use the word “Allah” would cause confusion among Muslims.
They are also suspicious about the intent of Christians, with some accusing churches of trying to use the word “Allah” to convert Muslims.
However, the Catholic Church says the word “Allah” is being used by its members, especially those in Sabah and Sarawak, who are fluent only in the national language.
They also contend that “Allah” is the accurate translation for the word “God” as opposed to “Tuhan” which they use to mean “Lord.”
The church has also pointed to the fact that the word “Allah” is also used by Christians in the Middle East and in Indonesia.