“Christians won’t stop using Allah”

(The Nut Graph) THE attacks on Malaysian churches were a shocking way to start 2010. The unprecedented violence made headlines internationally as the foreign media pulled apart Malaysia’s carefully constructed image as a moderate Muslim nation. Following the attacks, there have been calls for Christians to drop their claim to refer to God as “Allah” for the sake of national harmony.

Metro Tabernacle Church in Kuala Lumpur was attacked on 8 Jan 2010 (Pic courtesy of Sivin Kit)

But should Christians back down on calling God “Allah” when they have been using “Allah” for centuries? How do Christians feel in the wake of the attacks? How should they respond?  

Council of Churches of Malaysia Youth Moderator and executive council member Chrisanne Chin and Bangsar Lutheran Church pastor Rev Sivin Kit shared their views with The Nut Graph on 11 Jan 2010 in Petaling Jaya. Kit is also co-initiator of Christian advocacy website The Micah Mandate.

TNG: Why do Christians have to use “Allah” to refer to God in Bahasa Malaysia? Why can’t it be substituted with “Tuhan”?

Sivin Kit: It’s historically evident that Malaysian Christians have been using “Allah” to refer to God in our Bible translations and publications since before Independence. From the perspective of Bible translation, it is consistent with translation methodology and principles for “Allah” to be translated as God in Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia. For Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians, referring to God as “Allah” is part and parcel of the fabric of their faith life.

What is your response to the suggestion that “Allah” be used by Christians only in Sabah and Sarawak, but not in Peninsular Malaysia?

Chrisanne Chin: That’s not viable. East Malaysians come to Peninsular Malaysia to study and work. They ask for Bahasa Malaysia churches services because that’s the language they’re comfortable with. They also use their Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia bibles which translate God as “Allah”.

Kit (Courtesy of Sivin Kit and Ong Eng Jee)
Kit: Once we go down that path, it will raise the question of what 1Malaysia really means. Christians in Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia referring to God in different ways creates an awkward situation. It does not solve the problem. In fact, it would create even more confusion.

Read more at: “Christians won’t stop using ‘Allah’”