Malaysia poised to enact partial ban on Bibles with ?Allah' [CWN]

Malaysia’s federal government has drafted guidelines that would ban the importation of Malay-language Bibles in which God is translated as “Allah” into the more populous part of the …


They already just ruled that the Catholic newspaper could not use Allah for God so I guess it is not surprising that this would be next.
Muslims need to learn to be tolerant. We need to pray for the Christians in Malaysia.

I hope Christians in Malaysia know that it isn’t the Bible that makes a Christian. But how one worships the One True God. Unless the gov’t cracks down on how Christians worship then there will be worse things to be concerned about. :eek:


What if Jesus had spoken Arabic rather than Aramaic? Would it be illegal to import (into Malaysia) a Bible that transcribes, into the Malay writing system, the sounds that Jesus spoke?

Matthew 27:46
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

According to a number of sites, including Wikipedia, the saying “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”, (or in Saint Mark’s version “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani”), was originally Aramaic.


The news article omits essential information because the focus is on sound rather than meaning.

“Allah” is a representation (in the most commonly used writing system for the English language) of the Arabic-language spoken word for God.

What is the difference in meaning between the written words in the Malay language that may be used in Bibles imported to Malaysia, and the written word in the Malay language that corresponds to “Allah”?

According to the BBC, in an article from June 2014 about a decision made by the Supreme Court of Malaysia …

People of all faiths use the word Allah in Malay to refer to their deities.

Christians argue they have used the word, which entered Malay from Arabic, to refer to their God for centuries and that the ruling violates their rights.

Malaysian authorities say its use by Christians could confuse Muslims and lead some to convert to Christianity.


Malay authority may not be well versed in history of the use of Allah from time long before Islam. It’s not clear if it is a fact that “confusion” leads to conversion. Odd Imo.


Are they controlling language or they trying to distinguish between Allah and “God”, to me this seems to me that the Muslims are espousing a different God than they one true God that Christianity knows

I think they want Allah to strictly be used by Muslims and the “property” of Islam - not to be shared with Christians.

So would this mean that their god is different from or God?? just saying

I am talking about the word itself.

Christianity teaches the trinity which Islam sees as blaphemous because they don’t understand the concept of the trinity. We believe in One God also, but don’t believe that.

Hi 7 Sorrows, I expected that sooner or later I would need to briefly explain the political background for this supposedly religious views of the Malaysian authorities.

Malaysia comprises 51% Malay, 15% natives of Borneo, 25% Chinese and 9% Indians. Malays, according to the agreement made at independence by the leaders of the 3 main ethnic-based political parties, are to be accorded political power while Chinese & Indians will be granted citizenship. Malays are defined in the constitution as fulfilling 3 criteria: speak Malay language, are Muslims and follow Malay customs.

Why are Malays insecure
Malays, who have only recently form >50% of the population (due to their higher birth rate) have always been insecure of being a minority in ‘their own country’. Now, based on the constitutional definition, a Malay must be Muslim and it follows that if a Malay converts out of Islam, he/she is no longer a Malay (yes, go figure out how one can change one’s race which the rest of us see as inherited from our parents). The Malay population then reduces and if it happens on a large scale, threatens the 50% threshold. Hence, the fears of Malay nationalists regarding Muslim apostasy among Malays.

So why do they fear Christianity?
Muslims form 60% of the population, with Christian being only 10%, Buddhists/Taoists/Chinese folk religionists about 20%, Hindus 7%. But Islam has additional protection under the constitution in that they can convert others (and often do so using inducements, undue influence, etc), other religionists cannot evangelise a Muslim. Despite this, Christian missionaries have emerged more successful in the race to convert animistic natives in Malaysia (yes, there are Malaysians who are more ‘indigeneous’ than Malays). Understanding this, the govt placed muany restrictions on Christian missionary activities, including our schools, where we build our churches, our publications, etc etc etc.

Where does the word Allah comes in?
Malay nationalists, including those in govt, are afraid that Malay Bibles with the word Allah can be used to convert the Muslim Malays against the law, even though there has been no evidence uncovered after decades of them claiming so. Somehow, the Muslim Malays can get confused with the word Allah in the Bible and can become Christians as a result. Ditto regarding the sight of a cross on the church can cause Muslim youths to lose their faith (Go figure what it says about their religious education).

The problem that 60% of the Malaysian Christians are natives, who worship in Malay. So they need their Malay language Bibles, which have contained the word Allah for centuries. And the govt relies on the political support of these same natives to stay in power (at the last elections, the opposition won only 40% of the seats with 52% of the popular vote due to gerrymandering, etc)

I hope this clarifies the situation.

Hi Martin, sorry have been away for the better part of a year, being busy and all.

I take your point but I must point out that it is easy to say that until you stop to think of the parallel:

What if a (hypothetical) Protestant govt says that you cannot call the mother of Jesus, Mary because Mary is not a goddess but Catholics pray to her. If Catholics use Mary to call the mother of Jesus, Protestant youths may get confused and start praying to the mother of Jesus as well.

Of course, one can say that it doesn’t matter what name we use for the mother of Jesus, but when you stop and think about it, isn’t it utterly ridiculous? No need for me to list down the arguments of logic, I hope.

More ominous is the point of constitutional rights. Isn’t what I call my God an internal affair of my religion and if the govt starts making decisions on the internal affairs of my religion, (1) isn’t it enroaching on my rights; (2) where will it end? And why should I change my practices and that of my forefathers because of the whims of the govt of the day.

It may be easy for non-Malay speakers to ask Malay speakers to not worry if they have to change their practices of centuries & focus on the essentials, but how would you feel if you are required to use another name for the mother of Jesus?

I can only ask for your prayers and that as you pray for us, you bring such a reflection into your prayers.

Thank you for that detailed information. It is quite confusing to an American so I am sure I won’t remember it all.
So what word will they start using instead of Allah? Has a decision been made?

Oh back in 1986, they very condesendingly gave us a list of words to be used as alternatives. (Actually, Allah is not the only word banned for non-Muslims. And because religion is a state matter, different states have slightly different list of the 30+ prohibited words. Very confusing.) Of course we rejected it as an intrusion into the internal affairs of a religion, rights of which are protected in the constitution.

The word they suggested is ‘Tuhan’, which we have reserved for use as ‘Lord’. So, ‘Lord God’ is rendered as ‘Tuhan Allah’. But using their suggested alternative, it becomes ‘Tuhan Tuhan’, which in Malay would mean the plural ‘gods’. Definitely not acceptable to us, but maybe they think we pray to 3 gods …

God bless you. I will keep the Christians there in prayer as I pray for the Christians in Africa and the Middle East. It sounds like you have a long road ahead of you.

Good information there JK. Tuhan Tuhan surely doesn’t work. However, I think it was Marina Mahathir though that said Muslims and Christians believe in one God. I saw that article somewhere. An interview about 4 years ago. So I can understand who frustrating it can be for Christians in Malaysia.



Its not just Marina Mahatir. I expect most Malays accept that Christians believe in one God. Its just a few fringe Malay nationlists who try to split hairs to split the nation.

I like this point a lot.

It made me thing of a God vs. G-d debate. You can cover the “o” all you want, but you’re still typing about God and haven’t changed the meaning or intention in any way.

That said, Islam trying to ban Allah in bibles is just wrong.

Glad to know most Malays can see through these fringe groups. :slight_smile:


Did the Supreme Court of Malaysia ignore the evidence, and find some pretext to reach a conclusion dictated by the above political considerations?

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