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Friday, January 22, 2010

‘Allah’ Row in Malaysia: Why Christians Have Greater Rights to Use ‘Allah’

Article By M. A. Khan
Publish On Friday, 15th January 2010


In Malaysia, Muslims are waging a raging, and potentially dangerous, campaign to own exclusive copyright to use the word 'Allah'.
The controversy has been brewing since 2007, when Muslim fanatics protested against the use of ‘Allah’ to denote ‘God’ in Christian literature and publications. The Malaysian government, to appease the fanatics, banned the Catholic Herald, a Malaysian Catholic weekly, for using the word ‘Allah’. Dr. Mahathir Muhammad, the longest-serving Malaysian ex-premier, under whom Malaysia underwent progressive Islamization, supported the ban. To him, the word ‘Allah’ belongs to Muslims alone.
It’s worthy noting that Christians in Malaysia have been using the word ‘Allah’ in Malay-language Bibles since the 1800s.
The Catholic Herald initiated a legal battle not only against the ban on its publication, but also on its age-old right to use the term ‘Allah’.
Authorities in Malaysia confiscated 15,000 copies of the Bible from Christians in late 2009 for containing the word ‘Allah’.
And, as of latest, Malaysian High Court overturned the ban on Catholic Herald on December 31, 2009. It also ruled that it was the constitutional right for the Herald to use the word “Allah”.
The ruling that literally allows non-Muslims to use ‘Allah’ enraged Muslims and the ruling party activists.Dr. Mahathir, leading a backlash against the court ruling, wrote: “The solution to the controversy will not be achieved by making an appeal to the court. Such a sensitive issue cannot be solved through law.”
He added that non-Muslims “may use it on banners or write something that might not reflect Islam”, thereby, potentially inflaming Muslims’ anger.
Such statements—some inflammatory, others mixed—by the ruling party politicians and ministers, including the current Prime Minister and Home Minister, unraveled days of protests setting the stage for a huge demonstration on Friday, January 8, 2010. Surprisingly, the Home Ministry, on the one hand, overruled the High Court ruling on Wednesday, January 6, while also approved Friday’s mass demonstration on the ruling.
And, at the end of the demonstration, as generally occurs all over the Muslim world, fanatic Muslim mobs burned down three churches. On Saturday another church was attacked, while two more on Sunday, bringing the total number of churches to six. It’s probably just the beginning unless the Christians relent on their demand.
Similar to Muslims’ claim of exclusivity to use ‘Allah’, ever since I left Islam and started writing critically of Islam, I have been told, too often, by angry Muslims to give up my Islamic name.

The question is: What exactly constitutes an Islamic name?

Being born and raised as a Muslim, my first name is of Persian, middle name of Arabic and last name of Mongolian/Turkic origin. Which of these languages was an invention of Islam—that is, invented by Allah, Muhammad or a Muslim? The answer, irrefutably, is “none”.
None of the languages we humans speak today were invented by Islam. Instead, they have Pagan roots. We, the ex-Muslim and humanists, who believe in complete equality of all humans with their diversity in ethnicity, language and culture, have a greater right to inheritance to secular human innovations, such as any modern-day language, than do Muslims.
It is not for us ex-Muslims to give up our names, given by our parents; instead, Muslims, who believe in exclusivity, should invent a new language or naming system and use them than shamelessly demanding copyright on something, to whose creation and evolution, they, their prophet, Muhammad, or their God, Allah, have made little or no contribution.The same goes to Muslims’ claim of exclusivity to the right of using the term ‘Allah’.
The term ‘Allah’ was not created by the Islamic God, or Muhammad or any Muslim. The Pagans of Arabia had been using ‘Allah’ to denote ‘God’ for hundreds, probably for thousands, of years before Islam’s birth.
Muhammad’s father’s name was Abdullah (Abd-Allah), meaning ‘slave of Allah’, while his greatest opponent in Medina—repeated labeled as “hypocrite” by Islamic Allah in the Quran, although he was a great humanist—was also named Abdullah (Abdullah ibn Obayi). This proves beyond doubt that it is from pre-Islamic Pagan usage did Muhammad incorporate the term ‘Allah’ into Islam.
What is important to realize is that it is Christians, now being barred from using the term ‘Allah’ in Malaysia, who have greater rights to its use than do Muslims. It is because Christians, who had penetrated into Arabia centuries before Islam, had adopted the term ‘Allah’. In other words, Christians of the Middle East have been using ‘Allah’ to denote ‘God’ since centuries before the coming of Islam. Middle Eastern Christians continue to use ‘Allah’ as well as Arabic names today.
Given that Christians adopted the term ‘Allah’ before Islam’s birth, they onviously hold greater legal rights to its use than do Muslims, definitely much greater than Malaysian Muslims, who were forced into Islam very late (16th century onward). If anything, it is Muslims, who must relinquish the use of ‘Allah’, or Arabic name. Instead, they have or are, absolutely shamelessly and illegitimately, putting an ‘Islamic seal’ of copyright on them.
And here lies Islam’s debilitating impact on human beings, who turn Muslims. When a people do not create a thing, but demand copyright over it—that too, with violence—it kills their urge to creativity. Such people can never be creative and contributory to society. And this fact is so glaringly in display in the Muslim world by its backwardness in every sphere of human development and progress.
Here also lies the fact as to why the Islamic world is turning to humanity’s worst nightmare. Muhammad usurped innovations of others into his creed, and, at the same time, violently coerced those people into Islam, or exterminated them.
It affects humanity in two ways: first, forcing the otherwise creative people (non-Muslims) into Islam through coercion turns uncreative, while exterminating them straightaway reduces the world’s creative pool of brains. Humanity, and its progress and development, thus, become stunted, a victim.
We have seen, in the post-colonial Islamic world, as a continuation of Muhammad’s legacy, the pool of creative non-Muslim peoples are being reduced through coercive conversion or migration, thus, turning Islamic world into a barren desert in terms of creativity and contribution to civilization.
And Muhammad’s violent legacy is also turning the world’s Muslims into an increasing violent lot.
When we see violence by Muslims over their illegitimate claim to use ‘Allah’ to the exclusion of others occur in a country like Malaysia, the ‘alleged’ beacon of Islamic moderation, modernity and progressiveness, writing is clearly on the wall as to where humanity is heading to.
We are heading into an Age of Barbarism. Much of the Islamic world is already there with worsening trends, while the rest is heading there through rapid Islamization.

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