KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 ― Datuk Ibrahim Ali has slammed Arab scholars who criticised the Court of Appeal’s ban on Christian usage of “Allah” as ignorant, saying that not everyone in the Middle East, Islam’s birthplace, understood the religion well.
The Perkasa chief also blasted Western critics as having vested interests, while accusing detractors from Indonesia, a country with the largest Muslim population in the world, as worse than the Arabs, pointing out that some Muslims in the neighbouring country even consume pork.
“Why should we be bothered if there are Arab countries or Indonesia criticise the Malaysian courts on the Allah issue. Don’t think that every Arab knows or understand Islam. That there is no one ignorant there.
“Those (from the Arab world) that support the US are socialists and Christians. So when we say Arab we must consider who is talking, in the media that belongs to who and which Arab? Don’t be easily swayed by what they said,” Ibrahim told The Malay Mail Online yesterday.
On Indonesia, Ibrahim said: “The same can be said about Indonesia...it is far worse. Those who don the ‘songkok’ are not necessarily a Muslim...there are those who consume pork. It’s all possible in Indonesia”.
He further pointed out that even though Indonesia has a large Muslim population, it has so far produced very few respected Islamic scholars.
“So why should we follow what others say?” he said.
Perkasa is one of the most vocal groups calling for the Arabic word to be barred to non-Muslims here.
Iranian-American religious scholar Dr Reza Aslan said recently that the Court of Appeal’s ruling barring non-Muslims from referring to God as “Allah” showed Malaysia’s folly.
The ruling was also censured in several international publications, such as Indonesian daily Jakarta Post, which wrote an editorial yesterday that “those who claim exclusivity to God undermine their own faith, and inadvertently or not, preach polytheism”.
International current affairs magazine The Economist pointed out that Christians in the Middle East commonly refer to God as “Allah”, and called the court verdict an “unhelpful contribution” to religious discourse between Muslims and Christians.
Nesrine Malik, a commentator with UK newspaper The Guardian, wrote last Wednesday that the appellate court ruling was as “ridiculous as the UK passing a law saying that ‘God’ was a Christian designation, and therefore other religions had to find their own words for their own deities”.
She also said that the Muslims’ claim of a monopoly on “Allah” was paradoxical as it creates separate gods for separate religions, thus directly contradicting Prophet Muhammad’s message.
But Ibrahim argued that Malaysian Muslims should not heed the criticism.
“We have our own laws, rules and culture. That is why we don’t need to entertain and care about what those on the outside say, what else if coming from Arab countries which are in chaos themselves,” he said in what appeared to be a reference to the turmoil in Syria and Egypt.
“Malaysia is great, my beloved country,” Ibrahim added, ending his text message to The Malay Mail Online.
On Monday, the Court of Appeal ruled against a 2009 High Court decision allowing the Catholic Church to refer to the Christian god with the Arabic word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia section of its weekly paper, the Herald.
The court adjudged the usage of the word “Allah” as not integral to the Christian faith and said that allowing such an application would cause confusion in the Muslim community.
The Catholic Church has said that it will make an appeal to the Federal Court, the country’s highest court.