The Court of Appeal's decision to prevent The Herald from using ‘Allah' in its Malay publication as a reference to God has ruffled Christians - especially in Sabah and Sarawak - and non-Muslim groups.

NONEIn the aftermath of the decision, an East Malaysian archbishop has said that Christians in Sabah and Sarawak will worship 'Allah' and even challengingly asked the authorities, "What are you going to do about it?"

Gerakan became the first BN component party to come out with a statement on this matter - insisting that the opinions of all BN component parties should have been sought before the government took a stand on such matters.

Here is what various religious leaders and also politicians had had to say about the decision today:

Archbishop Bolly Lapok, chairperson of the Association of Churches, Sarawak:

NONEFor an outsider (the judge) to say the use of word 'Allah' is not integral is utterly irresponsible and grossly demeaning. 

The church does not need an apologist from outside to decide what is integral or not integral to our faith.

It (the decision) is repugnant to the universal common sense.

In the meantime, Christians in Sabah and Sarawak will continue to reverently worship this 'Allah' till kingdom come, and we are asking the government, "What are you going to do about it?"

Sarawak Ministers' Fellowship:

The Christian community at large in Sarawak is suddenly returned to a situation where every bumiputera Christian is under the potential threat of being deemed a lawbreaker or facing arrest. 

Their offence would be committed by merely addressing god in their own language, a practice they have adhered to for hundreds of years.

The court decision also breached universally subscribed jurisprudential principles.

(We) appeal to all Christians to remain calm and not to resort to rash statements or acts in reaction to the court decision.

A Vaithilingam, former president, Malaysia Hindu Sangam:

The Muslims shouldn't fear the non-Muslims. If Christians use the word 'Allah', will that impress Muslims to convert to Christianity?

mccbchst religious society conversion pc 220409 vaithilingamIslam is well protected by the constitution. Non-Muslims are not allowed to preach to Muslims, but Muslims can.

Who is going to read The Herald? Only Christians. Who is going to go to the churches? Only Christians. Are the Muslims going to come to the church?

I am very disappointed with the decision which did not consider that non-Muslim bumiputeras have used this word for generations and there is a reasonable population of them.

I hope the Federal Court will give due consideration to the fact that non-Muslims have used this word (Allah) for generations.

Tan Keng Liang, Kedah Gerakan Youth chief:

NONEIt's a fact that Christians, in particular those in Sabah and Sarawak, have been using the word 'Allah' for a very long time.
Any decision by the government should take this into consideration.

If this issue continues without an amicable solution, it may create friction between the Christian and Muslim community in our country.

The government should always consult with all BN's 13 components before making any material decisions. 

The views of all communities in Malaysia must be taken into account before being endorsed as a national policy.

Malaysia Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST):

The MCCBCHST is shocked and dismayed by the Court of Appeal ruling today that the Christian weekly The Herald cannot use the word ‘Allah' in their publications to refer to God.

What is more appalling is the reason given is that it comes within the scope of being prejudicial to public order. How could this be, asThe Herald is only meant for circulation among Christians?

What is prohibited by Article 11(4) (of the Federal Constitution) is that no religious doctrine or belief can be propagated among persons professing the religion of Islam.

The usage of the word ‘Allah' all over the world and in West Malaysia over the past 200 years has not caused any confusion- why only now it may cause (confusion) in Malaysia?

The court's finding that the usage of the world ‘Allah' not being an integral part of the Christian faith is astounding.

NONEOne of the disturbing part of the decision appears when judge, Justice Mohamed Apandi Ali (left), interpreted Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution to mean that the word "peace and harmony" in the act is to protect the sanctity of Islam and to insulate against any threat faced or any possible and probable threat to the religion of Islam.

The Herald case, the publication is only meant for Christians. There is no threat or suggestion of propagation of it to Muslims.

Hiherto the words peace and harmony have been interpreted to mean that other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony.

Article 3(4) states that nothing in Article 3 derogates from any other provision of this constitution. This means Section 3 cannot be employed to curtail any other provision in the constitution, including Article 11 relating to freedom of religion.

The Supreme Court in Che Omar Bin Che Soliv P.P (1988) had held that Article 3 does not affect other provisions of the constitution and if it was intended, then the constitution would have stated that any law contrary to the injunction of Islam will be void.

Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM):

In a wide-ranging decision, all Christian publications in Bahasa Malaysia would appear to be affected by this ruling. By stating the name ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity, the court has totally ignored the position of our East Malaysian Bumiputra and Orang Asli Christians, who constitute 60 percent of the churches in Malaysia who are Bahasa Malaysia-speaking.

This decision is yet another erosion and infringement of the constitutional protection to the freedom of religious communities to profess and practice their faith and to manage their own affairs.

In what would appear to be a re-interpretation of Article 3(1) of the federal constitution, it would now appear that a minority religion can only be professed and practised in Malaysia to an extent where it does not upset the "peace and harmony" of adherents of the majority religion.

This (decision) will only undermine further the unity of Malaysians.

We expect the prime minister and the cabinet to continue to honour the 10-point solution with respect to the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, the Al-Kitab. We shall, therefore, continue to use the word Allah in our worship, liturgy, prayers and educational materials in the Church.

Bishop Dr Thomas Tsen, president of the Sabah Council of Churches:

It is not fair to say that using ‘Allah’ would confuse Muslim practitioners.

No, we have always called our father in heaven ‘Allah Bapak’ or the Lord God ‘Tuhan Allah’... this is something that is very dear and deep in our hearts and cannot be changed. It is our right to choose how we want to worship our God.

We are sad and disappointed when we heard this current ruling. Although we have prepared for it in our hearts and mind, we feel that this is something which is confusing to the people... it challenges the government’s sincerity to see our people united.

It is not consistent with the 10 points agreement.

We just pray for justice to be done.

~ Malaysiakini