KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — Jasin MP Zulkifli Ismail today proposed an amendment to the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967 to include a specific explanation on the usage and the meaning of the word “Allah” to refer to God in Malaysia.

The Opposition lawmaker said doing so will enable the authorities to regulate the use of the word and prevent misunderstanding.

“The amendment should not be seen as a choice but as a must and compulsory.

“This is in light of worrying situations of apostasy and deviant religious teachings,” the PAS politician told a press conference in Parliament with Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin present.


The word “Allah” is a thorny topic in multi-religious Malaysia where its Islamic authorities insist its use is exclusive to God in the Muslim context even though other religions like Christianity and Sikhism also use it in their holy books to refer to their Gods.

Quoting several passages from the Quran, Zulkifli claimed that using the word “Allah” in a way that is not in line with the Islamic faith is the same as attacking the religion, which would cause disharmony among the people.

Earlier, inside the Dewan Rakyat, Zulkifli’s motion to debate the matter during today’s parliamentary session was rejected and he was advised to file an appeal if he was dissatisfied with the decision.


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yesterday said the Conference of Rulers is expected to consider this October the issue of non-Muslims’ use of the word “Allah” in Malaysia, after an advisory council to the Rulers discusses the same issue this August.

The “Allah” issue returned to the limelight, after news emerged on May 15 that the Malaysian government had withdrawn its appeal in the Jill Ireland case.

In March 2021, the High Court in Jill Ireland’s case quashed the Home Ministry’s December 1986 ban on the use of the word “Allah” in all Christian publications in Malaysia, declaring the December 1986 directive as unconstitutional and unlawful.

The Malaysian government on April 18 dropped its appeal against the High Court’s March 2021 decision, with subsequent explanations that it was because the December 1986 directive was inapplicable and that a more comprehensive directive would be studied.

The Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) recently said a Sabah church — Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) — had on April 25 dropped a similar lawsuit on the December 1986 directive on the word “Allah”, as a “reciprocal” act to match the government’s withdrawal of its appeal in Jill Ireland’s case and for the sake of national harmony and unity.

Both court cases were sparked by the government’s seizure of educational and religious materials meant for the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Jill Ireland’s personal use and the Sabah church’s own children, due to the use of the word “Allah”.

With the dropping of both cases, there are now no longer any outstanding court cases in Malaysia involving the local Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christian community’s use of the word “Allah” in publications for Christians.

The word “Allah” is Arabic for God and had been adopted into the Malay language, and had been used for generations and hundreds of years by Malay-speaking Christians in the country — especially the natives or Bumiputera community of Sabah and Sarawak and Orang Asli in the peninsula — in the practice of their religion and professing of their faith.