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Religious freedom: Christians forbidden to pray to Allah

2 October 2008
The Malaysian government has been trying to stop Christians from praying to Allah, and insisted that the name should be reserved for exclusive use by Muslims. Yet Christians have been praying to Allah since before Islam existed.
clipped from www.iht.com
A Malaysian church has sued the government for banning the import of Christian books containing the word “Allah,” alleging it was unconstitutional and against freedom of religion, a lawyer said Thursday.
The Sabah Evangelical Church of Borneo is also challenging the government for declaring that the word “Allah” — which means God in the Malay language — can only be used exclusively by Muslims, said the church’s lawyer Lim Heng Seng.
Dusing said Christians in Sabah on Borneo island have used the word “Allah” for generations when they worship in the Malay language, and the word appears in their Malay Bible.
“The Christian usage of Allah predates Islam. Allah is the name of God in the old Arabic Bible as well as in the modern Arabic Bible,” he said, adding Allah was widely used by Christians in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Indonesia and other parts of the world without problem.
blog it

I realise that this report is a bit dated, but someone posted it in response to a discussion in which someone who claimed to be Christian was also saying that Christians shouldn’t pray to Allah, and insisted that Allah was not “the God of the Bible”, because “Allah” did not appear in the original biblical texts in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

It seemed a strangely illogical argument, because “God” also doesn’t appear in the texts in the original languages, and if it is forbidden to use the name of God in languages other than Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, then the English “God” would be excluded just as much as the Arabic and Malay “Allah”.

Anyway, those who argue thus probably find themselves in agreement with the Malaysian government.

I wonder if that is still the view of the Malaysian government, or if their position has changed since the article was published.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 3 October 2008 2:51 pm

    I just wonder how praying to Allah fits in with the goal of conforming to the image of Christ – the goal of Christianity.

    A tolerance-diversity thing?

  2. 3 October 2008 5:10 pm

    A tolerance-diversity thing?

    Possibly.

    As on the day of Pentecost, when each of them heard the message in their own languages.

    The Holy Spirit’s very own tolerance-diversity thing.

  3. e4unity permalink
    3 October 2008 8:58 pm

    Steve-
    The latest edition of “Mission Frontiers” which is dedicated to a movement to Christ within Iran, has a great article on the use of Allah by christians. It presents a very strong argument and points up the difficulties with language (words) in general in mission work.
    A pdf file for an earlier version by the author, Rick Brown is here at his site:
    http://www.contextualization.info/system/files/sites/default/files/Brown_2006_IJFM_Who_Is_Allah.pdf

    John Paul Todd
    e4unity.wordpress.com

  4. 4 October 2008 1:21 am

    I’ve actually run into people online who say that “God” is a false god, and that we should only pray to YHWH. As a consequence of this, they claim that Christ should only be called YHWHshua. According to them, “Jesus” is derived from “Zeus”, and anyone who calls him that is secretly worshipping Zeus. (If any of them actually know Greek, I’d be astounded.) I think they claim “God” is some other ancient Levantine idol, too.

    Needless to say, they’re nuts. They’re generally affiliated somehow with the “Sacred Name Movement.”

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