Mariam Mokhtar: The word “Allah” has been made a political tool

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Islam is supposed to be a tolerant religion, but sadly, the actions of some of its followers give many people the impression that Islam is intolerant.

The uproar, and the racist and extremist comments on social media emanating from the recent High Court Ruling, which meant that Allah is no longer banned from use by Christians, has helped to disprove that Islam is tolerant.

Some Malays have called for churches to be closed in Malaysia, which they wrongly refer to as “Tanah Melayu”.

For decades, gullible Malays believed the spin by the race-based and religion-based parties in Malaysia, namely Umno-Baru and PAS, which warned them that Malays needed protecting and Islam needed defending.

Malaysians, in particular the Muslims who believed the spin of the politicians, only show us that their faith is very shallow.

During the first tenure of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, non-Muslims were banned from using 20 words, including ‘Allah’. Decades later, the ban continues to divide us. Some of the other banned words are Al-Kitab, Firman, Rasul, Iman and Ibadah.

The non-Malay can never win. If he does not speak Malay, he is told off for lacking patriotism; but many, like the bumiputeras of East Malaysia, use words like “Allah” in prayer. However, the ultra-nationalists attack them for insulting Islam, or for attempting to convert Malays, to Christianity.

So, if Malaysian society has rejected Bahasa Melayu, it is only because of government policy. The language, like race and religion, has been used to divide Malaysians and control our behaviour.

Look at what 63 years of Umno-Baru misrule has done to the Malay mind.

Many Malays are told that looking at the cross on the roof of a church, the wall of a chapel, a school badge, a football jersey, Bible or car emblem, will make him Christian. Are Malays that gullible? Why haven’t Buddhists, Hindus or atheists turned into Christians, just by looking at the cross.

Worse still, even dogs are killed or maimed and illustrations of pigs in books and magazines are defaced. Why are Malay minds so easily corrupted?

Malaysian Christians, in peninsular Malaysia, were banned from using the word ‘Allah’, because the authorities claimed that its use would confuse Malays and make them convert to Christianity.

One outcome from this ban was the creation of bad blood between east and west Malaysians, which has also helped to fan the flames of secession.

Another outcome made the Malaysian mullahs a laughing stock. So, why don’t the more intelligent and moderate Malays/Muslims educate their more impressionable Malay/Muslim friends?

If a Malaysian cannot speak Malay, he is criticised. If the bumiputera, for example Ibans, were to pray in the national language – Bahasa Malaysia, they would be condemned.

It appears that the national language and Article 11 of the Malaysian constitution, which protects the right of the individual to freedom of religion, are not compatible. Is this what the Umno-Baru and PAS politicians want us to think?

When will some forward thinking Malay politician start the new narrative that there is nothing to fear when the Christians, who have been using Allah for many centuries, are not the problem.

The problem lies with our politicians and religious extremists. They cherry-pick certain issues from their religion and race, like the ‘Allah’ word ban, and Ketuanan Melayu.

A Malay who supports the use of the word “Allah” by Christians will be accused of being a traitor to his race and religion, and of being manipulated by non-Malays. He will also be told that he knows nothing about Islam because he did not study Islam at university.

If Islam in Malaysia is under threat, because of one word, “Allah”, people will feel contempt for Malays.

If the Muslims are reviled, blame the government of Malaysia. Blame Umno-Baru, PAS and the hypocritical Muslims who keep quiet, when crimes and injustice are perpetrated by Malays and Muslims, who take revenge when others use the word “Allah”. – Rebuilding Malaysia