Universities should play role in clarifying ‘Allah’ issue, says Rais

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — Institutions of higher learning should play a role in clarifying the usage of the word, ‘Allah’, by Christians in the country as they are equipped with expert knowledge based on research, as well as a clear understanding of the Quranic text.

Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM) president Tan Sri Rais Yatim (picture) said, through facts and expertise available in a university, the issue could be more clearly presented to the people. 

“At universities, there are experts to argue and put to use knowledge which should not necessarily be on paper. UIAM will attempt to do so and similarly, other universities could also contribute,” he told reporters here today.

He said UIAM needed to come up with an argument based on accurate Quranic text that the usage of the word, ‘Allah’, was only for Muslims.

“At universities, we have the capability to do so, it is just that we seldom speak up to protect our beliefs,” he said after a Maulidur Rasul celebration at UIAM in Gombak here.

Rais said the issue over the usage of the word, ‘Allah’, should have been settled, as Muslims would not compromise with mere political arguments. 

“The word, ‘Allah’, belongs to the Muslims. In the scriptures such as the Psalms, Torah or the Gospel, there is no mention of ‘Allah’ at all... but this must be supported by research,” he reasoned.

Rais, who is also the government adviser on social and cultural affairs, said there was no need to make the issue of ‘Allah’ into a polemic.

The Appeals Court had earlier, ruled that the word, ‘Allah’, could not be used in the publication of Herald. The publisher of the magazine has taken the matter to the Federal Court which is expected to make a decision in early March.

The issue continued to drag on when The Herald editor, Catholic priest Lawrence Andrew was reported to be adamant that churches in Selangor would continue to use the word, ‘Allah’, even though the Appeals Court had issued a ban on the matter.

In a related matter, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) seized more than 300 copies of the Bible in Bahasa Melayu and Iban to facilitate investigations over the usage of the word, ‘Allah’, during a raid at the Bible Malaysia office in Petaling Jaya early this month. — Bernama

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