Allah is for All − A Sabah Perspective


But today, the non-Muslim is forced to convert before marrying. This condition no longer creates the same atmosphere of respect as before. 

Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan

I. Introduction 

Religion has never been an issue in Sabah until recently. So has the word”Allah” for God. It is not an issue.

Religion is between God and the individual. It is a personal thing; a personal choice. Many families in Sabah have family members professing different religions and religious beliefs; even in my family, we have Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. There is no problem because we respect each other’s beliefs.

II. Religious Freedom

We believe in religious freedom which has been enshrined in the Fed Constitutions (Article II)


Tiap-tiap orang berhak menganuti dan mengamalkan agamanya…..”

Article 3 (1) also states that…

Islam is the religion of the Federation but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the federation…”

The restriction or ban on the use of the word “Allah” to Christians is, we believe, against the tenets of the Federal Constitution on religious freedom and is tantamount to religious persecution and against human rights.

III. Sabah/Sarawak Have No Official Religion

Sabah & Sarawak have no official religion during the formation of Malaysia. In fact the first point in the 20/18 points minimum conditions for the Borneo States agreeing to form Malaysia is on religion.

Point # 1 : Religion

while there was no objection to Islam being the national religion to Malaysia, there should be no State religion in North Borneo and the provisions relating to Islam in the present constitution of Malaya should not apply to North Borneo (Sabah)…..”

This provision is also carved in stone in the “Batu Sumpah” in Keningau as “Ugama Bebas” in Sabah.

Thus, the confiscation and seizure of the Christian Bibles in the Iban and Bahasa Malaysia languages is considered a provocation to non-Muslims, especially Christians.

We, in Sabah, do not understand why the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia is disallowed and now there is a call from a certain group to disallow Bahasa Malaysia in Churches just because of the word “Allah”. What’s the fuss? We have been using the word all this while. According to an Islamic Scholar (Tariz), the word “Allah”, which means God, and is an Arabic, not a Malay word. It is not the name of God.

IV. Mixed Marriages Common in Sabah

As religion is considered a personal thing, it doesn’t come in the way of personal relationships. It is, therefore, not unusual to see mixed marriages in Sabah, even between Muslims and Christians. Each person respects the other person’s religion. I know of a friend and work-mate who sends his wife to Church on Sundays and the wife sends him to the Mosque on Fridays. I find this uniquely Sabahan. But today, the non-Muslim is forced to convert before marrying. This condition no longer creates the same atmosphere of respect as before. This means religion, when forced upon, creates psychological barriers and tension between individuals which eventually spills over to the community at large.

V. Foundation of Peace and Harmony is Respect

No one can claim the exclusivity of “Allah” or God. “Allah” belongs to all. If you respect God/Allah then we should respect one another as children of God. If we truly practice freedom of religion and freedom of choice, there should be peace and harmony. I believe religions should promote peace, love and understanding among humans, not hate or misunderstanding. The problem is when religion is politicized and religious extremists are allowed to rear their ugly heads.


Religion should not be politicised. Freedom of religion in the Federal Constitution should be respected and practised. Religion and religious beliefs is a personal choice. It should also be respected. Sabah & Sarawak are excellent examples of religious accommodation, respect and harmony, even within a family.

Below are the links to Chinese and Malay renditions:

1. 从沙巴人民角度看 阿拉是全体人民的

2. Allah Milik Semua – Satu Perspektif Sabah