Muslim NGOs support Church’s right to use ‘Allah’

IRF chief Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa said that IRF, SIS and IKRAM had organised forums to stimulate discourse, but noted that they had only achieved limited success.

Malaysia
Jul 09 2014, 2:50 PM
Muslim NGOs support Church’s right to use ‘Allah’
SIS programme manager Suri Kempe.

Supporting the Christians’ right to use the word Allah, Muslim NGOs like Sisters in Islam (SIS), the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) and Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia (IKRAM) are conducting intellectual discourses and have taken to social media to spread awareness on the issue.

The Catholic Church’s battle since 2009 over the use of the word ‘Allah’ in their weekly publication ended on June 23, after the Federal Court dismissed its leave application to appeal the ban.

“Yes, it is possible for Muslims to voice their support for the Christians, and Muslims have been doing that – most visibly on social media. There’s been an outpouring of voices who have critiqued the Federal Court’s decision,” SIS programme manager Suri Kempe said.

IRF chief Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa said that IRF, SIS and IKRAM had organised forums to stimulate discourse, but noted that they had only achieved limited success, and their impact was mostly felt in urban areas such as the Klang Valley and Penang.

On its Facebook page, SIS shares articles and quotes that run contrary to the rigid views of Islam most Malaysian Muslims are accustomed to.

“SIS has also been using our social media channels as a platform for discussion, which is essential for people to understand the issue and formulate an opinion,” Kempe said.

Farouk said that their efforts to support the Church’s right to use ‘Allah’ were an uphill battle, as most Malaysian Muslims had been taught from young only one interpretation of Islam.

“The thing is, their ideas are simple. The Malays, they don’t want to think so much. They want a simple answer: halal or haram,” said Farouk. “They are very orthodox and conventional in their understanding of Islam, they don’t understand the discourse of the 21st century.”

“The challenge is to educate the masses. But it’s getting difficult, because most materials and discourse are in English. And here we have the government trying to prevent certain English books from being translated into Malay. They are basically trying to curtail the freedom of information among the Malays and create a society that is streamlined in its thoughts,” said Farouk.

The Muslim NGOs were commenting on the suggestions of United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, in a telephone interview with The Malaysian Insider that moderate Muslims and intellectuals get on board to lend weight to the church’s fight to use the word Allah, as the ban undermined Islam by turning Allah into a personal name of the Islamic God.

Source: The Malaysian Insider