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05 Sep 2013

Muslim Consumer Association (IMCA) is a non-profit organization registered in
Malaysia and having a council of Muslims NGOs from all over the world.
We refer
to the report published in The Star Friday 23 August 2013, which contained the
statement by Ms Ratna Osman of SIS Forum Berhad .

She remarked in the reaction to the Court of Appeal dismissal of the church
application, that Malaysia is the only country that has such restriction . We
find that this is factually wrong, and just to mention a few, Brunei and Saudi
Arabia also have similar restrictions. As a responsible international
organization, IMCA view the Malaysian Church bodies’ insistence to use the Islamic
supreme name for the Lord Almighty, Allah with concern.

We ask
what is the motivation of the Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM), The
Christian Federation of Malaysia and the National Evangelical Christian
Fellowship in doing so. Is it to state a divinely ordained fact that they
believe in, as is normally the case with those who love and adhere to the Truth
as all God fearing men do, or are there other objectives behind this move?

We find that amongst others the Greek Orthodox Church disagrees with such usage
as seen in the following quote:

“Unfortunately, we have all too frequently
attempted to “contextualize” our sharing of the gospel –at the risk of
diminishing the value of the church spiritual heritage.
The loss of such a precious spiritual
heritage in our efforts to communicate the message of Christ diminishes the
real potential of accumulated spiritual experience” ( Gabriel Habib , the Greek
Orthodox director of the middle east Christian Council letter to many Christian
leaders;  1987)
We note
that Christians have been trying to convert the Malays to Christianity since
Vasco de Gamma; Albuquerque and St Francis Xavier without much success. Prof
Mohamed Ajmal bin Abdul Razak Al Aidrus quotes G.E.Marrison (1957) in the
Muslim World : a quarterly Journal of Islamic studies.. vol XLVII
the Malays, the Church of this land must ever wear an immigrant and foreign
aspect; without the Malays, the Church cannot claim to be true to its universal
message; without the Malays, we are only partially serving the ideal of the
unity of all men in Christ”
Not that
the Church has not had other successes, as demonstrated by the cases of Azlina
Jailani( Lina Joy) and Aishah Bokhari(Felicia). Prof Mohamed Ajmal Al Aidrus
ask “Is the permissibility of the use of the word Allah one of the
opportunities Christian evangelists has been waiting for?” Is this insistence
to attract and invite feeble minded Malay Muslims to Christianity as shown in
Azlina’s and Aishah’s case?
At this
point it is vital to explain the name Allah,
as far as Muslims are concerned. This is best explained in the declaration of
faith for Muslims, i.e. La Ilaha Illallah. That there is no god but Allah. Here the Arabic word for “God” is
ilah, and the name of the Supreme
Being is Allah. It is a name, usage
of which entails recognition of the entity of the Supreme Being, who exists
without being made to exist, and who begets not and neither is begotten. Allah is not just a word, but a name. It
is a name divinely ordained, i.e. that He, the Lord of the Universe calls
Himself by that name, Allah. Hence,
Ya Allah Ya Tuhan ku is Oh Allah, oh my God.  Being that Allah is a proper noun that defies translation.
To use
this name without qualification, when the usage carries another meaning is
tantamount to pollution to the name itself and disrespect to the Almighty Lord
of all beings, for it is His Name that one is polluting.
It is
also disrespect to the adherents of those who subscribe to the sanctity of that
Name. To our mind, how everybody calls their Lord, is based upon what is
divinely instructed and not what they choose.

We belief that each set of beliefs have concepts and names associated with
these divine teachings, that must surely carry consistent and not misleading
meaning in any language. In any religion, the name of God is sacred. Hence the
adherence to these names in its original religious terms and meaning should be
the norm of truthful and sincere preaching.

it be a mad house, if Hindus were to call Vishnu Jehovah, or Indian Christians
calling the Father, Son and the Holy spirit Vishnu, Vishnu and theVishnu (which
one is Vishnu, or all three are Vishnu?) and Muslims calling the Lord as
Lord Buddha? What about the Chinese calling the name “Jesus” while praying to
“Kuan Yin”. Solely on the argument of human rights, each group would have the
right to use whatever name they so choose, and this right, on the basis of
human rights alone, must be respected. The argument that it is a Constitutional
right can also apply to all groups of people. (Rev Hermen Shastri Sec Gen of
the Council of Churches of Malaysia argues “we shall continue this practice
(using the word Allah)  … a right
guaranteed to us in our Federal Constitution (Article 11) and we call for all
parties to respect it”
 Merely on this viewpoint of “rights”, it would
surely be a grand mess.
Dudley Woodberry in Contextualization
Among Muslims Reusing Common Pillars (Published in International Journal of
frontier Missions, Volume 13:4 , OCT-DEC 1996) says:
for example, is of Christian Syriac origin and was in use long before
Muhammad’s time.43 Wahy
is at least etymologically related to Jewish-Aramaic and Christian Ethiopic
words and is used by the
 in page 174 he says :The first part of the
Muslim confession of faith (shahada—“I bear witness that there is no god
but God”) is based on verses like suras 37:35/34 (“There is no god but God”)
and 112:1-2 (“Say, ’He [is] God, One [ahad]. God the Alone”). The
wording, as Hartwig Herschfeld50 indicates, is apparently based on the shema’
in Deuteronomy
(“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One [ahad] Lord”)
suggest that the name “Allah” has a Christian Syriac origin, thus justifying
the usage by current day Christians, is not an argument that is qualified.
Surely the modern day Christian can use the name Allah, if they adhere to
“Deuteronomy 6.4; that the Lord our God is One Lord. We are sure that if the
Christians revert back to this original concept that God is One, He begets not,
nor is He begotten, and this is consistently held in the Christian faith, no
Muslims would object, as it is a Reality. Surely if the Christian is to use
this name in all of its printed material, and submit wholly to The One Lord
(Deuteronomy6:4) ( not trinity) , there cannot be any objection.
Al Aidrus commented that there is an argument that the name Allah had been used in the Malay bible
272 years ago. This argument is an affirmation of the acts of an oppressing
colonial power who did not consult or respect the local Muslims, who as
colonisers, did as they pleased including raping the country pillaging Malayan
national treasures and literary works and artifacts. By putting forth such an
argument, the church  condones such acts
of brutality and unjust behavior, that is indeed in contradiction to the
Christian maxim of “love thy neighbor”

We are
also concerned that the Christian church is only demanding to use the Name “Allah” in material that is in Malay.
They are not going to use this name in all their publications and in all

Prof Al
Aidrus states “It should be pointed out here that in the translations of the
Bible in China and India, where there are millions of Muslims, too, priests did
not use Allah, rather they settled on
the words “Sheng Fu, Sheng Zu, and Sheng Ling and in the Tamil Bible, the words
Suthan, JesaPa and Parisutha Avi for The Holy Father, the Holy Son and the Holy
Spirit respectively”
then, is the motive of such move to demand the use of Allah in the Malay Christian material?
we see that the Christians have developed and created the Arabic bible,
initially  not with  Quranic Arabic, and later improved to be  Arabic of the Quran. Now this bible is filled
with verses that starts with Islamic “ basmallah” and end with sadaqallahul
a’zim (a term used by Muslims). When one hears this bible being read, a lay
person would think that it is the Quran. We are aware of churches in Indonesia
being called “RUMAH JEMAAH ALLAH” and the existence of a college that teaches
Christian priests Arabic and the Arabic bible in Indonesia.
In the
Middle East there is a radio station that reads this Quranic Arabic bible on a
daily basis.
Why have
the Christian churches resorted to this kind of approach in their faith and effort
to spread their faith? Is such an approach merely for practicing Christians, or
is such contextualization meant to attract non Christians to Christianity?
Upon our
examination of the Christian faith and practice, we see that this concept of
contextualization, i.e. to present the faith in a manner that can be accepted
by a society by using terms, symbols and concepts that are peculiar to that
society, is common in Christian methods and beliefs.
research shows that even the concept of “trinity” could have been  “  a
concept conceived at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD during the reign of the
Roman emperor Constantine. The European; amongst others; have a history of a
‘three in one religion at the heart of ancient European pagan faith” (To see
Cassaro’s collection of ancient European “icons-of-three,” which he
claims illuminates this prehistoric “three-in-one religion,”
http://www.deepertruth.com/trinity) It is possible that the inclusion of the
concept of Trinity is to make  
Christianity more easily acceptable to the early European.
In his
paper “The Trinity and Contextualization. Rev Ralph Allan Smith writes to
rebut  the idea above.
Ralph Allan Smith writes There is more, however, that needs to be said.
The development of orthodox
Christian Trinitarianism involved the rejection of the “traditional,
centuries-old, much-used, one can almost say Catholic, concept of the
pre-existent Christ as the link between an impassible Father and a transitory
world, that which made of him a convenient philosophical device, the
Logos-doctrine dear to the heart of many orthodox theologians in the past, was
abandoned.”[31] The pro-Nicene theologians, in other words, changed the
doctrine of the Church and changed it radically.
 In the process, they carefully rejected non-Biblical elements that had
inadvertently been introduced into the Church’s tradition and laid the
foundations for a much broader and fuller expression of the Biblical worldview.
This kind of activity goes beyond the notion of linguistic contextualization.
We can see in the Church Fathers the kind of self-examination and self-judgment
that Conn refers to as de-contextualization. They purged themselves of
anti-Christian elements in their thought and created a whole new theological
language out of borrowed words.
Ralph Allan Smith writes On this view, contextualization is merely an effort to
communicate effectively to people who speak different languages and view the
world in a different manner from those with a European cultural background.
This may include restating basic Biblical truths in language that sounds odd to
the Western ear, but there is neither an attempt to change nor an approval of
any who basically change the message of the Christian Gospel itself.
Let us
examine a simple example of the process of contextualization.
We see
absorption of European pagan belief in the form of Christmas and Santa Claus.
Today we know that it is a lie to associate the birth of Jesus with Christmas(
there is no biblical; i.e. from the Aramaic bible; or historical evidence to
back this claim that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ), as we
have been told and sung to by Christian for so long. We know of St Nicholas of
Myra and the fabled association of Christmas to him and that for many years;
Europe celebrated the feast of St Nicklous on Dec 6.
It is
however held by some scholars that the legend of St Nicklous as a gift giver is
in part pagan; from pre-Christian sources; The Teutonic god of Odin; had a long
beard. Others attribute “long beard” to the German god “Thor”. Thor had a long
white beard; and rode into the air in a chariot drawn by two white goats.
What is
certain is that Santa Claus is not a biblical figure; neither does the
celebration of Christmas have any direct biblical reference.

Dr. Richard P.
Bucher argues
the truth of the matter is that the modern Santa Claus
is a conglomeration of sources, a legendary being that has evolved over the
years. Along the way, pre-Christian legends, the story of St. Nicholas, Dutch
immigrants to America, Washington Irving, Clement Moore, Thomas Nast, and the
Coca-Cola company, all made their contributions.

What is defined as “Contextualization. Here the good Rev Ralph
Allan Smith quotes 
“Hesselgrave and Rommen select three early representative
1. ‘We understand the term to mean making concepts or ideals
relevant in a given situation’ (Byang H. Kato).
2. ‘[Contextualization is] the translation of the unchanging
content of the Gospel of the kingdom into verbal forms meaningful to the peoples
in their separate cultures and within their particular existential situations’
(Bruce J. Nicholls).
3. ‘Contextualization properly applied means to discover the legitimate implications of the gospel in a given situation. It
goes deeper than application. Application I can make or need not make without
doing injustice to the text. Implication is demanded by a proper exegesis of the text’
(George W. Peters).[10]
According to Conn, we must
subject the “presuppositional framework” itself to the “judgment
of the Word of God.'[14] To contexualize the message of the Gospel into the
language of another culture, we must first remove from our Gospel preaching
those elements that are the results of our own cultural bias. For we, too, are
parts of a cultural matrix that includes anti-Christian elements that inhibit
the ministry of the Gospel to other peoples.
So we
see that Christianity has been using this method of contextualization for a
very long time. It is not about speaking the Truth, of respecting the sanctity
of the Pillars of other Faiths, like in this case, the name of the Supreme
Being “ALLAH”, but as a means to make it seem acceptable for a people with
their own set of belief to accept this set of belief called Christianity.

To make
it more easily acceptable, terms and concepts that are present in that society,
i.e. the society that is being targeted for conversion, is taken and used to
make the Christian belief more readily acceptable.
the creation of the Quranic Arabic bible; the request for the use of the name
Allah is now clearly understood as part of a strategy to Christianise.

leads to the reasonable conclusion as to what the motivation of the Malaysian
Christian churches is, to demand the use of the name ALLAH in their material for the Malay/Muslim audience, and the same
reasonable conclusion for the motivation of creating the bible in Quranic
Arabic, or having service on Friday (as it is happening in Indonesia), instead
of Sunday.
views that the Malaysian Christian churches demand to use the name “Allah “ is part and parcel of this
contextualization strategy long used, a strategy used to influence Malay
Muslims to convert. IMCA  affirms that it is not our intention to
belittle the Christian belief.
IMCA now
humbly asks the God loving Malaysian Christians, to reconsider their stand in
the usage of the name “Allah”, and walk the path of Christian righteousness. We
are confident that Christians believe in the strength of their faith, and the
righteousness of their faith, they should present it as it is, without
packaging it into more palatable terms and concepts for non Christians.
We ask that the Christians who claim to be righteous people who profess the
Truth, to be sincere with the Truth. “The Christian if they wish should think
of introducing into the Malay Vocabulary the Aramaic word of address for God
that Christ himself purportedly used: Eloi, Eli, Eloah, Elohim,Yahweh or
Jehovah.” (Prof Al Aidrus)

Sincerity demands that they find a solution to this problem on the basis of Truth
and Reason. We ask that they stand down their request; and retract their
action, all in the name of RIGHTOUSNESS. We ask that they remain firm and
consistent in naming the concept of the Supreme Being as mentioned in the
Aramaic Bible, not what they prefer. For the Aramaic Bible is the basis of
their belief.
today has too much problems as it is. We are faced with so much suffering,
hunger, killing, and fighting. It would be more beneficial for all God loving
souls to focus our efforts for the betterment of mankind. Respect for each other’s
ethos and belief’s would result in less conflict in a world already filled with
so much pain. We ask for PEACE.

Let us all work together for PEACE in the Name of the Lord.

Sheikh Kareem
Muslim Consumer Association
Lumpur 5 Sept 2013