June 23, 2014
Malaysian Federal Court Bans Usage Of The Word "Allah" By Non Muslims

Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country has banned the usage of the world "Allah" for god by Christians and people following other religions in the country, reports BBC. The controversial case, which was first bought in to the legal circles of Malaysia in 2007 had become a major bone of contention between the Muslims and the minority Christians of the island nation resulting in multiple cases of violence across the country. However, this latest ban on the world Allah is likely to bring closure to the issue because the ban has been issued by the highest court of the country. Although the proponents of the removal of the banning could appeal against the ruling.

The much controversial issue has its origins in 2007 when Malaysia's Catholic-church owned newspaper, The Herald used the word Allah to refer to god in their articles. It was common for people following other religions to also use the world Allah to refer to their deities. According to Malaysian Christians, they have been using the world Allah to refer to god as part of their culture - for centuries. They said that the world Allah came from Arabic and entered the Malay language centuries ago and had by now become a part of their culture. They also argued that not allowing Christians to call god Allah violates their rights. However, this was banned by a court ruling prior to 2007. Another court overturned that ban in 2009 and Christians were allowed to use the word Allah again. Now, the highest court has overturned the last 2009 judgment by the lower court.

The Federal court has ruled that it agrees to the earlier ban on the usage of the word Allah by non-Muslims. It says that the usage of the word Allah by non-Muslims and could result in confusing some Muslims and they might convert to Christianity. A seven-member panel handed out the judgment 4-3 to dismiss the challenge by the Christians of Malaysia.

The editor of the Herald newspaper which had appealed against the ban, Father Lawrence Andrew said he was "greatly disappointed" by the judgement. He opined that the judgment "didn't touch on the fundamental rights of minorities". Muslim activists in the country have however welcomed the decision. According to S Selvarajah, one of the lawyers for the Church, "It's a blanket ban. Non-Muslims cannot use the word Allah," he told AFP.

Malaysia, which is already reeling under the loss of the MH 370 aircraft now has one more issue of national importance to ponder about. Do you think the ban of the usage of the word Allah by non Muslims is correct?

[Image Via Bing]