Sunday, January 3, 2010

Out of Loop but not out of Vigilance

I haven't been reading the news lately. Neither have I read any prominent blogs. I just can't stand the political innuendos. I'm off politics and out of loop. Politics gets me too riled up and eventhough other writers have told me I write best when I'm provoked, I don't think I can stomach my sarcastic self much longer. Do I have to be sarcastic to write? Maybe.

Isn't writing a route to self-discovery? Well, I knew I've always been sarcastic and cynical and though it fuels my writing in general and works best for politics, it does not always bring out the best in me. But I won't give up sarcasm and even if I did want to, it wouldn't happen since I'm still watching House M.D. and there hasn't been THAT much character depelopment even after he was released from psych ward. *Sigh*... sarcasm lives on!

I did read however on the court ruling, allowing the use of the name Allah by other religions, in this case it was a Church. (Again, if that news is STALE, then it's my fault). How do I feel about this?
Neither a politician nor a scholar, I believe these types of disputes are what hold back the country in developing into a progressive and open minded nation. Even more so, the segregation of the races and religions that spark this type of controversy, enhance the segregation, causing even more disharmony and encouraging prejudice between the racial lines. Not to mention that the different communities of different faiths are also held back in their own respective development. Honestly, that's just plain pathetic.

Instead of carrying out the laudable tenets that each faith champions, which more or less cover tolerance and kindness, they are bickering about the use of the name Allah and who it rightfully belongs to. This is just one of the sad examples of how they bicker about the differences between faiths, rather than celebrate the similarities between the belief systems.

In my humble opinion, Allah is the Arabic word for God. Granted, it is not the direct translation, because "Allah" can't be made plural (unlike "gods") and neither can the name imply a gender (unlike "god" vs "goddess"). It also can't be written with a small A, unlike the small g in god. There is one Allah and none unlike.

At the same time though, Allah is used by Christian Arabs in the Christian Bible. So to say that "Allah" belongs solely to Muslims is inaccurate. However, note that the Christian Arabic Bible is written in Arabic, and not in Malay or English or any other language. So why would a Malaysian Church insist they want to use the name Allah as God in one of their publications that is not written in Arabic?

In the wider scope of things, the use of the name Allah by other faiths in Malaysia could be seen as poaching, i.e., poaching Muslims by falsely representing a Christian publication as an Islamic one.

I remember reading a comic strip that was written by a Christian in Malay and if unsupervised, a child reading the strip could easily believe the message it was conveying, and of course the message in the strip was: Prophet Jesus (may Allah be pleased with him) was indeed the son of Allah Ta'ala.

To understand why this would happen, one has to be reminded of the poor lines of segregation this country has. Malays are Muslims, Chinese are Buddhists, Indians are Hindus, etc... and a small portion of Chinese and Indians are Christians. This is the general case. So a Malay publication would inevitably be a Muslim publication. This comic strip was written in Malay and it certainly looked intended for the Malay readership, more specifically, a Malay child, who - by default -would be Muslim.

The same would surface if a Muslim saw the word "Allah" in an article / journal / book. They would automatically assume it's an Islamic piece and without vigilance, could be grossly misinformed with respect to its contents.

So now that this particular Church has been granted the right to substitute God or Tuhan with "Allah," Muslims just have to be a little more vigilant when reading different publications. And there is never harm in being a little more vigilant in anything we do.

I just wonder how it will work out though. Allah, like I mentioned is only one, and grammatically in Arabic, it can not be made plural - so how does this work with the concept of trinity? I have never read the Arabic Bible so I would now know. But it would certainly be interesting to find out.

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