Non-Muslims can use the word 'Allah' in Penang, says Guan Eng

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said even though there is no ban on the use of 'Allah' in Penang, it generally wasn’t used by the Christians here because it is not the local culture. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said even though there is no ban on the use of 'Allah' in Penang, it generally wasn’t used by the Christians here because it is not the local culture. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Dec 12 — Non-Muslims can use the word “Allah” in Penang as the enactment banning the use of the word cannot be enforced on them, said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

The Penang lawmaker said it is clearly stated that the Administration of Religion of Islam (Penang) Enactment 2004 applies to Muslims only.

“Even if it mentions that non-Muslims can’t use these words, it is not enforceable because this enactment only applies to Muslims and is only enforceable on Muslims,” he said.

He said the state government had not passed any law to allow the enactment to apply on non-Muslims.

A list of 40 words, including Allah, Solat, Ulama, Soleh, Mufti, Iman, Surau and Nabi, were decreed as exclusive to Muslims by the Penang mufti and enforced in 2010 as provided under subsection 48(3) and (4) of the Administration of Religion of Islam (Penang) Enactment 2004.

“The Allah issue doesn’t arise here in Penang because those in Penang perform their prayers mostly in English, Chinese or Tamil,” he said.

The Allah issue mostly affect East Malaysian Christians who pray in Bahasa Malaysia.

Lim said even though there is no ban on the use of “Allah” in Penang, it generally wasn’t used by the Christians here because it is not the local culture.

The DAP secretary-general was responding to a statement by MCA’s Ti Lian Ker demanding Penang rescind the ban on the 40 words under the enactment.

Ti had reportedly asked why the Pakatan Rakyat led state did not remove the ban on non-Muslims to use the 40 words when it has 30 out of the 40 seats in the state legislative assembly.

The use of the word “Allah”, an Arabic word to refer to God, has become an issue of contention and disputes between the Muslims and Christians in the country.

The word is deemed by Malaysian Muslims as exclusive to Islam despite the word being used by the Christian Bumiputeras communities in Sabah and Sarawak for decades.

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