A Malaysian court ruled on Monday that a Christian newspaper may not use the word “Allah” to refer to God, a landmark decision on an issue that has fanned religious tension and raised questions over minority rights in the mainly Muslim country.
The unanimous decision by three Muslim judges in Malaysia’s appeals court overturned a 2009 ruling by a lower court that allowed the Malay-language version of the newspaper, The Herald, to use the word Allah - as many Christians in Malaysia say has been the case for centuries.
“The usage of the word Allah is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity,” chief judge Mohamed Apandi Ali said in the ruling. “The usage of the word will cause confusion in the community.”
The decision coincides with heightened ethnic and religious tension in Malaysia after a polarizing May election, in which the long-ruling coalition was deserted by urban voters that included a large section of minority ethnic Chinese.
Declaration Nostrae Aetate:
3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.