SIB Church fails bid, judge ‘bound’ by Herald ruling
(Free Malaysia Today) – Sabah’s Sijil Injil Borneo church today lost its long court battle challenging the seizure of three boxes of children’s religious books which contained the terms ‘Allah’, ‘Baitullah’, ‘Solat’ and ‘Kaabah’. The books, in Bahasa Indonesia, were seized by the Home Ministry from the Low Cost Terminal in August 2007.
In December 2007, SIB president Jerry Dusing filed an application for a judicial review to quash the ministry’s decision to seize the books as well as the withholding of delivery of two other titles under the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984 (PPPA).
This morning the Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Zaleha Yusof ruled in favour of the ministry. Zaleha ruled that she was bound by the recent Court of Appeal ruling which held that the term ‘Allah’ was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice.
Referring to last year’s ruling against the use of the word by Catholic weekly The Herald, Zaleha said: “Although the ruling was limited to the Herald all the learned judges ruled that the use of Allah is not an integral part of the practice and faith of Christianity. The lower courts are bound by the decision of the superior court, so the seizure by the Home Ministry is not unconstitutional.”
That is what the court ruled today. But then that is what the law says or how the law is interpreted and, as I have said before, the law can sometimes be an ass (donkey). In fact, under the Federal and State Constitutions, the Rulers are heads of religion (Islam) and may therefore issue a titah (royal decree) orfatwah (religious decree) through the Mufti in all matters related to Islam.
So let us not discuss those legal/constitutional matters. Let us instead explore what Islam or the Qur’an has to say about the matter of Christians using Allah in the Bible. Maybe we can ignore the legal or constitutional arguments regarding Christians using Allah in the Bible (just for purposes of this discussion) and talk about the Qur’an instead.
In the Qur’an, chapter 12, verse 111, it says that what Allah (through Prophet Muhammad) is revealing (hence it is called the Revelation) is not a new message but a confirmation of the Scriptures before that. In fact, the Qur’an, in chapter 13, verse 39, suggests that all Scriptures come from a single book concealed in heaven called Umm al-Kitab or the Mother of Books.
Some scholars are of the view that the Qur’an is not an independent book or a book to be read in isolation but is a book that has to be read alongside the Torah and the Gospels. In fact, for the first 200 years of Islam, Muslims read both the Torah and the Qur’an together. The Torah was part of Islam (at least in the beginning). And hence it is not strange that Muslim customs, traditions and laws are similar to Mosaic customs, traditions and laws (except for the doctrine of the Trinity which the Qur’an specifically rejects and which is not James’s, the brother of Jesus Christ’s, teachings anyway).
Going by this, Islam accepts the earlier teachings of Moses and Jesus as part of the Abrahamic faiths or the Semitic religions. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are not three religions but three parts of the same religion. And Allah is the God of all ‘People of the Book’, not just the God of the Muslims. In that case, the Jews and Christians, too, can call their God by the name of Allah. In that case, also, why can’t the Christians use Allah in the Bible when Islam says that Allah is the God of the Christians and that the earlier Holy Books are also the books of Islam?
This argument is further strengthened in chapter 3, verse 84, of the Qur’an, which says:
Say: “We have believed in God, and that which has been sent down on us, and that which was sent down on Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Prophets who were raised in the tribes, and that which was given to Moses, Jesus, and all other Prophets from their Lord; we make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims.”
In this verse, the Qur’an clearly says that there is no distinction (difference, division, dissimilarity, etc.) between Islam and the teachings of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Jesus, and all the earlier Prophets before Muhammad. Hence Allah is the God of all People of the Book since the beginning of time. Allah is not specific to just the Muslims and Islam does not have monopoly over Allah or over the name ‘Allah’.
No doubt Muslims believe that the Revelation (the Qur’an) is the final Revelation. But the Qur’an does not abrogate or replace the earlier Revelations or previous Scriptures. The Qur’an just makes them complete. Hence the Qur’an can be regarded as Version 3.0 of the earlier Scriptures that we can call Version 1.0 and Version 2.0 if you wish.
The Qur’an makes many references to ahl al-Kitab (ahli kitab in Malay) or ‘People of the Book’. And Islam allows Muslims to eat meat from animals slaughtered by the ahli kitab. In other words, meat from animals slaughtered by Jews and Christians is halal. You do not need Muslims to slaughter a cow or chicken before you can eat that meat.
Some Muslims (in particular the Malays) will argue that only Muslims will go to heaven and kafir (infidels) will go to hell. The Qur’an disagrees with this. In chapter 5, verse 69, of the Qur’an, it says:
Surely, be they of those who declare faith, or be they of those who are the Jews or the Sabaeans or the Christians – whoever truly and sincerely believes in God and the Last Day and does good, righteous deeds – they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.
Where does it say only Muslims go to heaven and that the other People of the Book are infidels? It says:whoever truly and sincerely believes in God and the Last Day and does good, righteous deeds… will have no fear, nor will they grieve. And it mentions the Jews, the Sabaeans and the Christians.
The problem is, because of the later wars between the Christians and the Muslims (in particular during the Crusades) the other People of the Book came to be regarded as infidels. This was how later Muslims came to view things. This is not how the Qur’an sees it. But because most Muslims do not really follow the Qur’an but follow later ‘traditions’, their perspective of the other People of the Book changed over time. This is also true regarding the real meaning of Jihad, which we will talk about in another article.
So, my conclusion is, Christians (plus Jews) can use Allah as the name of God (in fact, MUST use Allah as the name of God) and hence there is no reason why the Bible cannot also use Allah as the name of God.
Okay, fellow Muslims, now start whacking me and call me sesat (misled), jahil (ignorant), a deviant, and so on.