According to Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, there was never a ban against the word by any Muslim leaders or scholars since Islam was first practised, and non-Muslims' usage of the word was even documented in the holy book of Quran.
"Smua stuju Bkn Islam guna kalimah Allah pd zmn Nabi. Knapa kita haramkn? Islam ala Melayu?" (Everybody has agreed that non-Muslims have used the word "Allah" since the Prophet's times. Why are we banning it? Islam ala-Malay?) Khalid asked in Malay on his Twitter account @KhalidSamad recently.
Khalid was referring to the panelists on a recent forum on the "Allah" row, which video was uploaded to YouTube last week.
Moderated by former Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin, other speakers in the forum included Dr Yusri Mohamad, the president of Muslim NGO PEMBELA, and Assoc. Prof. Dr Khalif Muammar A. Harris of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia's (UTM) Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilisation.
Khalid could not be reached by The Malay Mail Online at the time of writing to elaborate on his series of tweets.
Last Tuesday, the Court of Appeal heard submissions from the church and the government and expects to reach a decision this October on whether Catholic newspaper, The Herald, may continue to use the word “Allah”.
In the forum following the court hearing, Khalid criticised Muslims for trying to turn something which he said was "harus" (allowed) in the Prophet's times into absolutely "haram" (forbidden) now.
"We want to bring the condition and original understanding which was present during the Prophet's times ... Not by defending an inaccurate reality," warned Khalid.
"(Not) by making the Islam that we want to implement in Peninsula Malaysia different from any other place ... There we can, but then here we cannot."
The PAS Central Working Committee member also mocked those who claimed that by banning the use of "Allah" by non-Muslims, Malaysia has become a more advanced Muslim-majority country compared to others which do not do so.
"Is it true that we're more advanced? Or are we trying to change a condition and stance which in the end will confuse Muslims themselves when they recite the Quran?" he asked.
"Why do we insist on making Islam in Malaysia different from the Islam (practised) elsewhere?"
He explained that even the Islamic phrase of "there is no god but God" in the syahada recital -- to declare belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet -- cannot be translated if "Allah" does not mean "the God".
Putrajaya had in January 2010 filed an appeal after the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled a month earlier in favour of allowing the Herald to continue using the word “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia section.
The Catholic Church had in July this year moved to strike out Putrajaya’s appeal, after its patience finally ran out with the lack of progress on the government’s challenge over the decision that has contributed to festering interfaith ties in the country.
A month later, the appellate court ruled in favour of allowing the government’s appeal against the 2009 High Court decision.
Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the case is expected to go all the way to the apex court as neither side is seen as willing to back over the contentious issue.
The Allah row erupted in 2008 when the Home Ministry threatened to revoke the Herald’s newspaper permit, prompting the Catholic Church to sue the government for violating its Constitutional rights.
The 2009 High Court decision upholding the Catholic Church’s constitutional right to use the word “Allah” had shocked Muslims who considered the word to only refer to their God. It also led to Malaysia’s worst religious strife, with houses of worship throughout the country coming under attack.
Christians are Malaysia’s third-largest religious population at 2.6 million people, according to statistics from the 2010 census, behind Muslims and Buddhists.
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