No translation for ‘Allah’, Nik Aziz insists


(MM) – Non-Muslims should not translate God as “Allah” in their holy books, PAS’ Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat reiterated as he waded into the latest interfaith flare-up over the right to use the Arabic word.

The Islamist opposition party’s spiritual adviser said the word God in non-Muslims’ holy scriptures could better be translated into “Tuhan” (Lord) instead, Malay-language daily Sinar Harian reported today.

“But the problem now is because there are people who want God to be translated as ALLAH, this is not correct, God means Tuhan, it doesn’t mean ALLAH, ALLAH is different, tuhan (god) is different, there are too many gods, some people make possessions god,” the former Kelantan Mentri Besar was quoted as saying in a sermon in the state yesterday.

Nik Aziz repeated the PAS Syura Council’s stand that the English word for God cannot be translated as “Allah”.

The Syura Council, the religious arm of PAS, had in January last year decided that non-Muslims could not use the word “Allah” in their holy books.

After the Syura Council made known its decision, Nik Aziz also said in the same month that those worshipped more than one god should not use the word “Allah”.

The word “Allah” is viewed as exclusive to Islam by some Malaysian Muslims, who also proposed that non-Muslims — especially Christians — use the Malay word “Tuhan” for God instead.

However, the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) — an umbrella body of churches nationwide — has pointed out that the word “Allah” could not be replaced with “Tuhan”, as both words have different connotations in the Christian faith.

CFM had also pointed out that any attempts to replace “Allah” in the local translation of the phrase “Lord God” in their bible would create an “absurd situation”, where the resulting phrase “Tuhan Tuhan” would indicate plurality and create the impression that Christians believe in many gods.

Earlier this month, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raided the Bible Society of Malaysia and seized over 300 copies of its Malay and Iban language bibles, which contain the word “Allah”, deepening the religious lines that resurfaced following last October’s Court of Appeal ruling barring the Arabic word to non-Muslims.

It also complicated Putrajaya’s 10-point solution that was introduced in 2011 to allow Christians the continued use of bibles in the national and other native languages even as the legal case dragged on.

The ongoing legal dispute between the government and the Catholic Church over its right to print the word “Allah” in the Herald’s Bahasa Malaysia section is pending before the Federal Court, which is set to hear arguments from both sides on March 5 before deciding on whether it will hear an appeal by the Catholic Church.

Christians make up close to 10 per cent of the Malaysian population, or 2.6 million.

Almost two-thirds of them are Bumiputera and are largely based in Sabah and Sarawak, where they routinely use Bahasa Malaysia and indigenous languages in their religious practices, including describing God as “Allah” in their prayers and holy book.