Concluding the “Allah” controversy

Instead of running amok all over town over the word, why not Malay-Muslims begin by simply analyzing the meaning of the word in its entirety and then figure out how human beings are taught


Dr Azly Rahman

The nation has been talking about the insistence by the Christians to use the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Melayu Bible. I have contributed to the discussions by writing my latest piece published in Malaysiakini and posted by others elsewhere in cyberspace. Many responses were generated in all of these, showing how important, if not exciting, the topic is. I read most of the comments closely.


I liked the responses and learned a great deal from the diverse perspective to a topic/controversy I consider quite mundane amidst other pressing issues of social realism and what it takes for culture to be enriched. One commentator had insisted that I write on the origin of the word “Allah” and predicted that my study will yield what is already proved in the Quran and the Hadiths that the term is ordained and exclusive to the Muslims, as it is summarized. This view is no different than the insistence pushed forward by a Malaysian religious authority, JAKIM. 
I respect this request and will think about spending time to (still) dwell on this already over-treated issue of genealogy and etymology.
I wonder where I should start – with etymology, philology, or linguistic philosophy as lens? 
Should I start by analyzing the pre-Muhammadan origin of it in the early Babylonian use of “Allah” which corresponds to the god “Bel”, or the Hebrew use of “Elohim”. Or the Aramaic use of “elohi”, or the pagan Arab god “al-Lat’ or the relationship between the sister moon-god, or even “Allah” as commonly used even before Muhammad was born (as we know Muhammad’s father is Abd-allah? Abdullah/Abdillah or the servant of Allah’ to signify the widely used term and not exclusive as how the Muslims, especially the MALAY-MUSLIMS would like it to be used, patented, and even claimed territoriality? 
Islam is a religion of knowledge … and Muslims must be open to those perspectives excavated; there is something called research, even in the origin of the word “god” as it is said in the Islamic scripture:
“Read in the name of thy Lord who created thee … created thee from a clot … and taught thee with a pen/kalam … “ which does not mean … 
“Just follow blindly in the name of Ignorance that is passed down to thee … from your ancestors …. passed down from those hunger for power/knowledge … and taught thee to accept everything as truth as decree shoved down your throat forcefully …” 
Instead of running amok all over town over the word, why not Malay-Muslims begin by simply analyzing the meaning of the word in its entirety and then figure out how human beings are taught by the “kalam” and to think of wherein lie the Form and Appearance in the doctrine of the “kalam.” This would probably have nobody running around for a year, at least, studying something simple yet profound. 
I don’t know. Let us be fair to our two-pound universe sitting on our shoulders and refrain from calling for jihad for everything one disagrees with. 
Christians in Malaysia should be allowed to use the word “Allah” however they please as they see religiously meaningful. I have argued for this in my previous column here and we should move forward to discussing more pressing issues of, say, the preparation for a regime change so that Malaysians can thenafter begin charting frontiers for a more intellectual approach to inter-religious dialogue. As it is now, there is no demonstration of knowledge of the cross-breeding, hybridity, and universal agreement even on the use of to denote and connote the self in relation to much larger Self. 
What do you think? How do you think we should proceed — towards a peaceful resolution? 



While the opinion in the article/writing is mine, 
the comments are strictly, respectfully, and responsibly yours; 
present them rationally, clearly,  politely, and ethically.

AND – VOTE WISELY!!/azly.rahman