"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The God of Abrahamic Religions is Allah

I find this news from AsiaNews amusing but deeply upsetting. In Malaysia, the Islamic religious councils of seven Malaysian states and the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA) through its Minister-in-Charge Abdullah Mohd Zin had formalized the ban of using the word “Allah” from a Catholic Herald publication.

Their most intelligent reason why they banned non-Muslims from using the word is to get rid of Muslims from confusion. I think if there is anyone who is confused; it’s the council members themselves. They should be given a high dosage of etymological meaning of the word and another prescribed amount of historical facts and a few slaps to wake them up from this ridiculous declarations.

According to Wikipedia the world “Allah” is used by Arab Christians and Muslims alike without distinction. It says that the Arabic Allāh is a combination of al-, the + ’ilāh, god which forms the word.

I can understand that. Although I am not a Muslim but I can read Arabic script well. In their script, there is no distinction between a proper noun and a common noun just like in English grammar. For Arabs reading Arabic script, “god” (if you mean ‘God’) and “god” (if you mean ‘god’) is the same in meaning however it differs when it’s used in a sentence.

Take for example it’s Shahada (what is written in Saudi Arabian national flag), “Lā ilaha illa al-Lāh…” which means “There is no god but God…” would confused Muslims of the term itself isn’t the best reason to ban it from non-Muslim from using it in their publications. Considering historical basis for the word, no one should have the exclusive rights to use the word, not even Christians, Jews and pagans. The council should be lectured severely with their enormous ignorance that there are REAL Christian Arabs who uses the word long before the advent of Islam in the 6th Century better than themselves who aren’t Arabic speakers in that aspect. With due respect to their Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), I am sure he didn’t even invent the word by himself. Even before he was born, his own people have been using the word, even pagan Arabs living in Makkah during his time used the word ‘Allah’ or ‘allah’ in that respect.

In fact the father of their prophet was named “Abdullah” which if we conjugate it, it would mean ‘abd-allah” (slave of god or God) proving that the word itself has been used inclusive of any faith in the Arab world.

According to Wikipedia, “Allah (Arabic: ‎, الله Allāh, is the standard Arabic word for 'God.' While the term is best known in the West for its use by Muslims as a reference to God, it is used by Arabic-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths, including Christians and Jews, in reference to "God". The term was also used by pagan Meccans as a reference to the creator-god, possibly the supreme deity in pre-Islamic Arabia.

To spell the word “Allah” in Arabic, it’s composed of the script alif-lam-lam-alif (a-l-l-a) which all Arabs use regardless of their religious affiliation. Christian Bible uses the word and other catechetical and devotional publications. Christian Patriarchs and Coptic Christians with Muslims surrounding them have no problem with that. Not even an imam could challenge Arab Christians of its exclusive rights on the word. In other words, it’s immutable. They speak the same language and all Arabs knew that, that the word itself has no other translation but ‘god’ or ‘God’ in English.

Further, Wikipedia explains, “It is important to note that according to Muslim teaching, Allah is not only the God of the prophet Muhammad but also the God of Moses and Jesus - and is therefore identical to the divine being of Jewish and Christian sacred history.”

I am sure, even my Arab Muslim friends would agree just as my Arab Christian friends would that Allah as an Arabic term for God has to be free from any ownership not even by Malaysia’s Islamic Council.
Picture Credit: Wikipedia

Further Readings:
Evangelical Church goes to court against ban on using the word "Allah".
Islamic councils against Catholic magazine of Kuala Lumpur: forbidden to use the word "Allah"
Catholic weekly takes government to court over use of the word "Allah"
Islamic Minister countermands order: Catholic weekly cannot use “Allah”

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