Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christians here called God "Allah" four centuries ago

Home Ministry officials in Putrajaya today were stunned to learn that the word “Allah” had been used by Catholics in this country to refer to the Christian God hundreds of years ago.

“I told them that ‘Allah’ had been used in this country because the lingua franca at that time was Malay,” Reverend Father Lawrence Andrew, the priest-editor of The Herald, told The Malaysian Insider.

The priest had met several senior aides to Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein in Putrajaya earlier this evening to clear up the confusion over the Catholic paper’s on-off publishing permit for next year.

Among the staffers present were the ministry’s head of publication control and Quranic texts and two special officers to Hishammuddin, Datuk Lau Yeng Peng and Datuk Michael Chong.

Andrew described the meeting as “cordial”.

During the hour-long dialogue, Andrew took the chance to draw their attention to a Malay-Latin dictionary published in 1631 which showed the translation for “Allah” and a Catholic prayer book published in 1894 brought over from Hong Kong.

The priest related that Hishammuddin’s aides were surprised to learn that Catholics had used the word “Allah” outside the Muslim context over four hundred years ago but declined to comment on the issue, explaining it was beyond their scope.

The church is challenging the home minister’s ban in recent years on it publishing the word “Allah” to refer to the Christian God.

The ministry first threatened to cancel The Herald’s licence last year, effectively shutting down the country’s only Catholic publication.

The High Court here had earlier this week ejected nine Islamic bodies from intervening in the suit.

The fight to decide who can use the word “Allah” to mean what will be heard on Dec 14.

[Source: The MalaysianInsider]

Geronimo's Take: Today is Sunday and it is the day I attend my Sunday morning mass at the SFA Church in Cheras. At the same time, as I purchase my copy of The Herald, I am also comforted by the thought that I shall be continuing to receive my weekly magazine come the new year. Praise the Lord! However, if the government is so adamant in refusing the Church to use the word "Allah", then I believe the Hindus should also protest to UMNO against PROTON using the word "ISWARA" as it is the name of the Hindu God/Diety. I cannot imagine the name of a god being commercialised into a motor vehicle. All I can say, as fellow Malaysians, let us live and let live.


  1. I think that the whole world needs a modern lingua franca, as well :)

    My vote goes to the planned language, Esperanto. I say this as a native English speaker!

    Your readers may be interested in the following video which can be seen at Professor Piron was a translator for the United Nations in Geneva

    A glimpse of the Esperanto language can be seen at

  2. Thank, Brian. I am sure my readers will appreciate this piece of info.

  3. At a time when the Govt. is preaching unity and all that jest, what is wrong if the word 'Allah' is used by any community other than Muslims? Taking religion to such ridiculous measures is sheer stupidity and ignorance. And to think we pay Hishamuddin the mega bucks to be discussing the word 'Allah' instead of doing his job is pathetic.

  4. Hi bnaipal - You are right. If only our leaders focus more on their jobs rather than on trivialities, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in now. Instead of busy over something, we always appear to the world that we are busy over nothing. Just busy, busy, busy, but the end results - ???.