How long more does Umno intend to use religious issues to incite hatred among people of different faiths, using Pakatan as the scapegoat?
Jeswan Kaur, FMT
In 2011 “statesman” Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the country belongs to the Malays and the non-Malays should feel indebted for being allowed to call Malaysia home. And in between many other events had transpired that echoed the racist sentiments of Barisan Nasional’s dominant partner Umno.
Now, barely a week after the new year of 2013 was heralded, the issue of “Allah only for Muslims” has cropped up once again. And like previously, this time too warnings have been issued to the non-Malays to stay out of “Malay affairs”, with Selangor’s Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah further widening the gulf between the non-Malays and Malays of this country.
The Sultan on Jan 8 reiterated that non-Muslims are forbidden from using the word “Allah”, a decree he first made on Feb 18, 2010, the justification being that “Allah” is a sacred word for Muslims.
Bewildering as it may be, the decree is not sitting well with the rakyat. Is Sultan Sharafuddin not aware that the word “Allah” has been used by the Sikhs and Christians for a long, long time or for that matter Arab Christians have been using the term “Allah” for over 600 years before the Muslims began doing so?
The word “Allah” is used 12 times in the Sikh holy scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, by Sheikh Farid, Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan Dev while Sant Kabeer has uttered the word 18 times.
And still Umno continues to live by its fallacy that only Muslims have the right to use the word “Allah” despite the fact that the term has been used by the Sikhs and the Arabic-speaking Christians of Syria and the rest of the Middle East.
On what grounds has the ruler played both judge and jury, issuing a decree that is nothing but a wedge when it comes to fostering harmony between Malaysians of different faiths. The decree also makes the country a laughing stock among the more tolerant and accepting nations.
The “Allah exclusive for Muslims” controversy is a confirmed recipe for disaster, no thanks to unenlightened minds and the racist flames being stoked by unscrupulous Umno politicians.
It is frightening to see the shallow mindsets occupying positions of authority in Putrajaya. One of them is senator Mashitah Ibrahim, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Not only is Mashitah all for the decree by the Sultan of Selangor, she is also wondering why non-Muslims are so adamant in wanting to use the word “Allah”.
Mashitah’s historical understanding of the original use of the word “Allah” speaks volumes; that explains why she made the most ridiculous of suggestion that non-Muslims who are only too eager to use the word Allah best convert to Islam.
Time to get rid of deadwood in BN
The manner in which BN has handled the “Allah and Muslims” issue reflects its conceit in not wanting to recognise the rights of the non-Malays. To belittle and lambast the non-Malays over the “Allah” issue has put paid to all speculations that BN has post-2008 eaten the humble pie or that it has turned over a new leaf.
Otherwise, how dare the BN MPs claim monopoly over the word “Allah”, crying instead that the entire issue has been politicised and blown out of proportion by the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
For Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar Radin, those who use the word “Allah” to mean God were out to instigate the rakyat and were violating the Federal Constitution. Looks like, he too, needs a lesson or two on understanding the historical perspective of the word “Allah”.
The truth is neither Mashitah nor Bung Mokhtar, or any other leader for that matter has absolute control over the use of the word “Allah” by the non-Malays. Little surprise that the “on then off then on again” fiasco surrounding the use of the word “Allah” has left a senior clergyman unhappy.
Bishop Paul Tan, head of the Johor and Malacca diocese, said the Sultan of Selangor’s role was to protect Islam and not to make rules for people of other faiths.
“We non-Muslims have our own heads. Besides, our country is a constitutional or parliamentary democracy, not a theocratic state, that is, Islamic state. Our Federal Constitution protects the rights of all our people, not only Muslims,” Bishop Paul told FMT.