Not long ago here, discussion turned to whether or not it was OK for Christian’s to use the term ‘Allah’ when referring to God. I read today that Malaysian courts have now ruled that it is legal for Christians to use the term ‘Allah’ for God, and this has inspired peaceful protests from Muslim groups. The potential for greater disturbance is noted in the article.
See the complete article in the Sydney Morning Herald.
We had a few points of view here – varying from:
Whosoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. Those who call on Allah or anyone else will perish. The Bible makes this crystal clear.
Allah is just the arabic word for God. When an Arabic Christian prays, they pray to ‘Allah’.
My own view was:
So I don’t have a problem with a Christian praying to Allah, as long as they are not teaching a different understanding about Jesus and the nature of God, His love, and redemption.
For myself, the term ‘Allah’ is one that I could not use comfortably – it doesn’t bring to my mind the God that I worship. (I don’t use the term ‘Jehovah’ either.) But for someone with a different cultural background, this might not be the case. Also, someone may pray that way out of sensitivity to those they are praying with, yet still be praying to God they know in their heart, with that being just another way for them to call Him God. So long as they are still sharing Jesus, it could be an act of love and consideration, which might make it easier for people to hear about Christ.
The Muslims who object to the ruling which was also determined by the Malaysian High Court, had at least two reasons:
- They say the term is an exclusively Islamic word for God and its non-Muslim use would be confusing;
- They fear it will be used in literature to help convert Muslims to Christianity.
The first objection is one that disturbed some of us. I think we found when we looked at it, that historically the term has been used by both Christians and Muslims, depending upon their cultural location and time. Perhaps that is one reason why the the High Court (informed by Muslim scholars) approved the use of the term, though from the article, I can’t tell.
The second objection is probably true, as we’ve already seen examples of ‘Allah’ being used in evangelism; no doubt they are more aware of that than many of us are. Plus the article points to the example of 10,000 Malay language Bibles being confiscated for using the term ‘Allah’ the whole way through.
There appears to be the possibility of adding further restrictions on the manner of use of ‘Allah’ to reduce religious tensions and avoid inflaming anger.
Anyway, I thought this was worth noting, given that we were discussing the issue as a bunch of Christians. Now we can see that the same issue is being discussed within a Muslim community, with the moderates at this point coming out on top.