The Scientific Indian

Confused about Allah

This news at the beebs.

A Catholic church in Malaysia which prays to Allah has prompted a court case over who can use the word.
Muslim leaders say Islam should be the only faith to use it, saying its use in other faiths could lead to confusion and conversions.

The medieval argument to own god’s name has taken a modern twist: that of trademark ownership. I don’t think there is a legally sound case here. But, this is in Malaysia and things may be different there.


  1. #1 Sherene
    May 25, 2009

    This seems to me to be a matter of semantics, really. It’s preposterous that a religion can claim to own the word for God in a language.

    On a similar note, I remember feeling rather disconcerted in a church in Kashmir while attending a mass in Urdu, because it sounded like much of it would have been the same in a mosque. But I didn’t see why that should be an issue so I could wrap my head around it after a while – but I imagine a lot of people might have caused a furore over it.

  2. #2 The Ridger
    May 25, 2009

    This is what happens when you call your god by his job description instead of his name. Christians in the US have the same confusion about the word “god” – it’s not their god’s name, either.

  3. #3 Russell
    May 25, 2009

    Speaking in English, that makes some linguistic if not legal sense to me. There are a variety of gods, and in English, the generic god is written as an improper noun, with a lower-case “g.” Words like God, Allah, G-d, and so forth are names, usually capitalized, for specific gods. The religious believer’s notion that there is a God that every religion recognizes is demonstrably false. The notion of some that they aren’t using their god’s name by spelling it G-d is equally absurd.

    But I don’t know a thing about Malay. 馃槈

  4. #4 Rob W
    May 25, 2009

    I don’t imagine it will lead to ALL that many conversions, seeing as how that’s illegal in Malaysia.

    But I won’t be surprised if that priest ends up in some hot water, anyway. Malaysia is going through some odd times lately.

  5. #5 Gabriella
    May 25, 2009

    I attend the church in question. The issue is that Malays insist that Allah is a Malay word (which it’s not…it’s Arabic, and means God). Even if it was Malay, they don’t understand that the God we worship in church is the same Allah they worship (in a purely historical sense). Christians in Arabic-speaking nations call God Allah as well, so what earthly reason can they have to object to our using it? And by that logic, should the use of the word Amen not offend them as well? It’s nothing but a half-baked, uninformed attempt at domination, nothing more, nothing less. The priest in question, by the way, has been in hot water for quite a while actually, but this is his pet peeve.

  6. #6 Rob W
    May 25, 2009

    Quoted for truth:
    It’s nothing but a half-baked, uninformed attempt at domination, nothing more, nothing less.

    It has nothing to do with any *actual* concern about confusion, or even disrespect of Islam… it’s just one more way to try and keep the non-Bumiputras/non-Muslims in their place.

    As for how it’ll go in the courts — I’m certainly not making any bets.

  7. #7 DD
    May 25, 2009

    If the bible in the church uses ‘Allah’ rather than ‘God’ or ‘YHWH’ or ‘Elohim’, it might be acceptable?

    But if the priest is ad libbing it, that would probably ruffle feathers both in and out of the church.

  8. #8 fafa
    May 25, 2009

    The make a clear pictures to everybody,.Allah is not the name only use by Malay in Malaysia. But is a name of Gos in Al Quran also. Why other religion, esp christian do not use Jesus as a name of god. why make confusion to everybody, which later will make young generation confuse which is which?.

  9. #9 Gabriella
    May 25, 2009

    Because, fafa, in the Bible Jesus is NOT the name of God the Father; it is the name of God the Son. God (Allah) sent his son Jesus to the world. So no, we cannot use the name Jesus to mean God in all situations; only in those referring to the Son. In all other countries in the world, God is referred to by the word for ‘God’ in the local language…which is perfectly acceptable, is it not, especially when the God we speak of is one and the same, the God of Ibrahim and Ismail? As for the question of language, a wikipedia check reveals this interesting nugget of information:

    The term All膩h is derived from a contraction of the Arabic definite article al- “the” and 始il膩h “deity, god” to al-l膩h meaning “the [sole] deity, God” (ho theos monos).[4] Cognates of the name “All膩h” exist in other Semitic languages, including Hebrew and Aramaic.[3] The corresponding Aramaic form is 讗直诇指讛指讗 始臄l膩h膩 in Biblical Aramaic and 軔馨軤艹軛艹軔 始Al芒h芒 or 始膧l艒ho in Syriac.[10]

    Which, literally, means that in the original, untranslated scripts of the Bible, God was referred to as Allah/Elaha. Now may I ask what the controversy is about when all the church is doing is using the name of God written in the original manuscripts of the Bible? And may I ask why this ‘controversy’ isn’t being solved by anyone with a semi-functioning brain and internet access?

  10. #10 DD
    May 25, 2009

    Perhaps ‘Khuda’ is more acceptable, since it derives from the same source as ‘God’. It also rhymes beautifully with Buddha, Judah, and those magical taboo-reinforcing words in English ‘Woulda-Shoulda-Coulda’ like a song.

  11. The Kannada name for the Bible is ‘Sathyaveda’ or the True Veda.

    It’s interesting watching people of different religion fighting for the the other’s minds.

  12. #12 DD
    May 26, 2009

    #3 “But I don’t know a thing about Malay.”

    In Malay, God is Tuhan; probably linguistically derived from the same source as Khuda (Farsi) and God (English) and Gut (Germanic) and Bog (Russian), probably from Khalde/Haldi (Urartu-Lidya now Armenia-Anatolia) of the 10ka planter-pastoralists after the last Ice Age) which is probably also the linguistic source of El, Eloi and Ilah and contractive derivatives. Linguistic neo-adaptations due to geographic expansion before the advent of the written word and isolation of communities in impassable valleys typically produced dialectical differences, eg. vocal vs written Chinese. In the scientific, anthropological sense.

  13. #13 Russell
    June 5, 2009

    God is love, you cannot deny we need God to overcome our differences and create them that we will reach perfection.

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