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321 Bibles seized by Malaysia’s Islamic authorities

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Islamic authorities in Malaysia seized 321 Bibles from a Christian group because they used the word Allah to refer to God, signalling growing intolerance that may inflame ethnic and religious tension in the Southeast Asian country.

The raid, which took place Thursday in capital Kuala Lumpur, comes after a Malaysian court in October ruled that the Arabic word was exclusive to Muslims, most of whom are ethnic Malays, the largest ethnic group in the country alongside sizable Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities.

That ruling then overturned a court decision that allowed a Roman Catholic newspaper printed in Malay, the country’s national language, to use Allah.

The change has heightened concern that religious authorities, which issue rulings for Muslims and operate alongside civil courts, now have more legal muscle.

‘Allah’ controversy called a diversion

Analysts say new rulings that affect non-Muslims could be a way of deflecting anger against Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government from poor Malay Muslims over subsidy cuts likely to force up electricity, gas and sugar prices.

On Thursday, the top Islamic authority in the richest and most populous state of Selangor seized the Malay-language Bibles from the Bible Society. The society said authority officials escorted two of its officials to a police station to make statements after which they were released on bail.

“We were told that we were under investigation for breaking a Selangor state law banning non-Muslims from using the word Allah,” said Bible Society of Malaysia chairman Lee Min Choon.

The raid is a marked escalation from the occasional seizure at border checkpoints of Bibles imported from Indonesia. It was the first time Islamic authorities have entered premises belonging to a Christian organization to carry out a raid.

Christians from Malaysia’s rural states of Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo, who have used the word Allah for centuries, have moved in droves to Selangor and other parts of peninsular Malaysia in recent years to look for work.

No unauthorized use of ‘Allah’

The main political party within Najib’s ruling coalition, the United Malays National Organization, said its Selangor members would protest at all churches in the state on Sunday against unauthorized use of the word Allah.

“There are laws in Selangor and there was a decree by his Royal Highness the Sultan. So what they are doing is carrying out the Sultan’s decree,” Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President Muhyiddin Yassin was quoted by media as saying.

“They are not doing anything against the law.”

The Sultan of Selangor, one of nine sultans who serve in turn as titular Malaysian head of state, decreed last year that non-Muslims must refrain from using Allah in Bibles. He asked Muslims to unite against “bad elements” that misuse the word.

The increasingly assertive stand by holders of the largely ceremonial office show that Muslim leaders have become increasingly vocal about their role in defending Islam.

In 2010, arsonists firebombed several churches over the initial ruling that allowed the Catholic newspaper to use the Arabic word. Two Malay men were found guilty for setting fire to one of the churches.

cbc news


  1. Gary Pharis says:

    Personally I think any translation of the Bible that uses Allah is in obvious and heretical error. The name of G_d is quite clear in Scripture – Moishe asked and was told,” I am that I am.” Of course there are other names that expound upon upon G_d’s attributes, such as Immanuel: God is with us. Using Scripture that uses a translation of G_d as Allah is akin to the Philistines receiving Scripture with the name of G_d being Dagon. Makes no sense.

  2. Mr. Melendez says:

    let us continually pray for our persecuted brethren!

  3. If you search the etymology of religious words you will discover that just as Jehovah is a corruption of the cryptic word YHWH (given by God as a delibrate tetragram in the Old Testament) which challenges the speaker to reverence the Holy Name of the ONE and ONLY true God, so the word Allah is a corruption for the Hebrew, Elohim. Although the “come lately” scholars of Islam have it in the reverse. I say “come lately” because the word Elohim was used 4,700 years before the corrupted word “Allah” from the prefix “EL” was used to denote the God of Mohammed.

    The word used over 6000 years ago in the text of Genesis one and two is Elohim, which is a uniplural for the Godhead, “Elohim said, Let US…” (Gen. 1:6, 26). The Creator is called Elohim-God 35 times, and the the expression changes to “LORD-God;” (except for Satan and Eve calling Him “Elohim” 3 times) found 18 times (2:4 to 3-23). Lord is from JHWH which we take to be a reference to Yaweh in the Godhead.
    We take the name YHWH to be a prophetic reference to Jesus-savior. Abraham did not know God by this NAME (Ex. 6:3).Elohim, it seems is more connected to God as Father and Creator, whereas Yaweh connects to Jesus, God the Savior.
    Muslims are taught to make a fuss over Father Abraham, but Elohim-Yaweh makes a distinction between Abraham’s more illiterate understanding of God as Elohim “EL”, and Moses’ more progressive enlightment in understanding the Creator God by His NAME Yaweh.
    Because the Jews blasphemed His Name, and taught the Gentiles to do likewise (Romans 2:24), the Holy Spirit chose the Gentile-Greek name THEOS for God in the New Testament. The purpose for this is that Yaweh would die for all Gentiles, and Gentiles would learn to trust HIm. Therefore, the NAME YHWH is now understood as Jesus, Savior to all the world.

    How unlearned are the scholars of Islam. I am certainly not a renowed scholar, but a local Imam of my town accepted the challenge to debate the merits of Mohammedanism against the merits of Christianity. We resereved the auditorium of a local college and set the date and started the pre-publicity. When a Christian professor of our local university heard of it he told the imam I had engaged in over ten debates in America and abroad, he backed out at the last minute. We cancelled the debate. In their closed circuits they speak lofty and fluently on how superior their religion is, but when faced with the consensus of broad scholarship and an “exchange of ideas in an open debate forum”, they are like Elijah’s enemies, “They answered him not a word!”

    Nothing is more indicative of their defeatist attitude of “Ever learnng yet never coming to a knowledge of the truth”, than there deplorable misunderstanding of the origin of the word “Allah”, a corruption of “Elohim”. This defeatist attude is agumented even further by the fact that no one can be saved unless they understand the MEANING of and the NAME “Yawshua” (Acts 4:12, Phil. 2:10).

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