SHAH ALAM, Oct 12 — Non-Muslims cannot be forced to exclude the word “Allah” when practising their respective faiths, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said today, ahead of Monday’s highly-anticipated court decision on the protracted dispute between Christians and Muslims here.
But the Islamist leader stressed that although there was nothing wrong with non-Muslims using the Arabic word, it should not be misused or misinterpreted.
“There is no law that does not allow other people to use the word ‘Allah’ but if they interpret it wrongly to Muslims, they need to answer because Allah means he is the only god to be worshiped,” Abdul Hadi told reporters after launching the seminar on implementing Syariah laws in Malaysia at the University of Selangor.
“We can only use his laws but if they use the word Allah, but they don’t use his laws, that’s not right either,” he added.
The much-awaited decision on whether or not the Catholic weekly publication The Herald can use the word “Allah” will be delivered by the Court of Appeal on Monday.
Today, the Marang MP said using the word “Allah” include upholding his rules and laws and that it is not for Muslims to ban the word among anyone outside of the religion.
“It is not about writing the word, and putting it on a mountain and not allow others to use it, it is not about that, but uphold the laws, that is what it means for Muslims.
“For non-Muslims, we can’t force them on what they want to do in practicing their religion, as all humans have the instinct to believe there is god,” he said.
Hadi stressed that “Allah” is an Arabic word that cannot be translated into any other languages, unlike the word god.
“That is why the word ‘Allah’ is very sacred,” he said.
Two days ago, the churches of Sabah and Sarawak banded together to insist that prohibiting Christians from calling their god “Allah” violates the 1963 Malaysia Agreement upon which the country was founded.
They said they will continue to use the Bahasa Malaysia Alkitab, together with the word “Allah”, even if the government wins the appeal on Monday.
The appellate court in August ruled in favour of allowing the government’s appeal against the 2009 High Court decision, which has been at the centre of frosty interfaith ties in the country over the last three years.
The 2009 High Court decision, which upheld the Catholic Church’s constitutional right to use the word “Allah” in its weekly publication had shocked Malaysian Muslims who considered the word to be exclusive to Islam.
It also led to a string of attacks against houses of worship, including the firebombing of a church.