Malaysia’s ex- long serving Prime Minister has risen the temperature and tension on the Allah issue by stressing that the term Allah is exclusive to Muslims in Malaysia a few days ago. He said that the term was not used by the Christians years ago and he even accused that the term is used to surreptitiously convert Malay Muslims to Christianity.
My arguments are, firstly the term was not used by the Christians years ago because the sermons in churches were in other languages such as English and Chinese. With the formation of Malaysia, there are now many natives from East Malaysia who are Christians and not able to understand the sermons, especially in English.
By the way, Malay Nationalists who Mahathir would love to include himself, insist on the Malay language to be the national language of this country and so the churches embrace this national language policy by giving the sermons in Bahasa Malaysia.
There are thousands of Christian natives of East Malaysia working in the peninsular especially in vibrant Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. And so his argument about the term of Allah has never before been used, lacks a sense of progressiveness. We are in the 21st century now and we have the East Malaysian states with us. We move with the time.
Secondly, the paranoia about Muslims in Malaysia being converted to Christianity is really outdated and irritating. There is that clause about non-proselytisation of Muslims, which has been in place after Independence from the British in 1957. Christian groups are fully aware of this prohibition. They are not going to sacrifice what they already have and be foul of the authorities. It is already 56 years since Independence, how many Malay Muslims have been converted to Christianity?
Thirdly, this excessive fear of Malay Muslims converting to other faiths is a wasteful obsession engaged upon by insecure people. For a start, faith is a private matter. And on top of that our country’s Constitution spells out what a Malay is and it is difficult to just convert and made yourself public without being ostracised and brought to Shariah Court and forcibly made to repent and spend time in jail etc. It is not that easy for Malay Muslims in Malaysia to convert openly and so why the brouhaha about others calling God, Allah? It just doesn’t make sense.
Dr Mahathir, I respect you and love you as an outstanding Malaysian PM and a leader with an astute mind as evidenced by my previous postings on you and I am hard pressed now trying to reconcile your present stance on the Allah issue in these late stages of your life. You should be uniting us and not alienating us. Do not waste your 22 years of great service to this country on this issue. I recall that the great Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did remark on the great sin of the people who sever relationships (silaturrahim). What you are doing now is severing inter-religious relationships of Malaysians.
You are a great man but your greatness is tarnished by your insistence on this issue of faith. I pray to Allah swt that you be shown the right path in your capacity as an elder, dare I refer to, “statesman”?