I’ll keep singing Allah sayyaan

The Selangor government claimed it as unaware of the raid. — Picture by Choo Choy May
The Selangor government claimed it as unaware of the raid. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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JAN 8 — He is often seen in dark robes, colourful beads and a messy turban. With his rugged look and armed with a one-string lute, Sain Zahoor is not your ordinary street singer.

Born in Okara, Pakistan – what was once known as Punjab – Sain sang at functions in his native town before he was given a break to perform at his first ever concert in 1989.

He blew the audience away with his soulful, yet pure voice and his poetic lyrics.

He went on to take the World Music scene by storm and was rightfully named Best BBC Voice of the Year in 2006.

I am a great fan of this Punjabi folk singer who, by the way, is a Muslim. My favourite song by Sain is Aik Alif (One God).

The chorus of the song ‘Allah sayyaan, Allah sayyaan’ (God is great, God is all) often rings in my head. It is my daily mantra to keep me sane.

Let me be clear that I am a Sikh and have not lost faith in the religion I was born into. The word ‘Allah’ is not uncommon in Sikhism as it is mentioned several times in the holy scripture — the Guru Grand Sahib.

This brings me to the widely reported ‘Allah’ issue. Firstly, there was the raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia by the Selangor Islamic Religious Authority (Jais) which saw the seizure of some 300 copies of the Malay language Bible. The Selangor government claimed it as unaware of the raid.

Then there was the uproar after Father Lawrence Andrew insisted the Catholic Church will continue to use the word ‘Allah’. Selangor Umno threatened to protest outside the Lady of Lourdes Church in Klang.

Instead, Selangor Umno and several NGOs gathered at the Sultan Sulaiman Stadium to slam Andrew for  insisting on using “kalimah Allah”. A Malay daily reported among the NGOs present was Persatuan Anak-Anak Polis Cawangan Klang.

Now there is the debate on the 10-point solution issued by the Cabinet in 2011, the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 and Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.

Many had their say on the matter. Some rationale, others unwarranted.

Having the luxury of interacting with Sabahans and Sarawakians, many of them speak their native language and Bahasa Melayu. They were brought up to refer to the Almighty as ‘Allah’.

With the increasing number of our East Malaysian friends now working and living in the Klang Valley, it is only natural for some churches to conduct their mass in Bahasa Melayu – simply to ensure those attending understood what is going on.

The same situation can be seen in many Gurdwara as projectors screen the English translation of verses from the Guru Grand Sahib so that the younger generation could understand better. 

In short, it is just a way for followers to understand their religion better.

Even calling this entire episode as the ‘Allah issue’ is wrong. Since when was God  an issue?

There are better ways of addressing such matters as rightfully said by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“It will be less tense when we can sit down together,” Najib was quoted as saying.

Let’s understand the matter at hand before jumping the gun. Let’s be matured about this. The last thing we need is to politicise this.

I rather not say more and leave you with Aik Alif.


Parh parh ilm te faazil hoya

Te kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na

(You read so many books to know it all, yet fail to read your heart)

Bhaj bhaj warna ay mandir maseeti

Te kaday mann apnay wich warya ee na

(You rush to temples and mosques to play a part, would you dare enter the shrine of your heart?)

Larna ay roz shaitaan de naal

Te kadi nafs apnay naal larya ee na

(You are quick to attack Satan, yet pride is a battle you have not won)

Bulleh Shah asmaani ud-deya pharonda ay

Te jera ghar betha unoon pharya ee na

(You grab for a star you can control but fail to grasp the light in your soul)

Bas kareen o yaar

(Stop it, my friend)

Allah Sayyaan Allah Sayyaan

(God is great, God is all)

Nee main jaanaa Jogi de naal 

(Follow the wandering dervish)

Jo naa jaane, Haqq ki taaqat

Rabb naa devey us ko Himmat

(If you deny the power of all that’s true, God will not grant strength to you)

Hum Mann ke darya mein doobey

Kaisi nayya? Kya manjhdhaar?

(We are lost in this river of self, no boat or streams are of any help)

Bas kareen o yaar

(Stop it, my friend)

Ilm-oun bas kareen o yaar

(Stop trying to know it all, my friend)

Allah sayyaan, Allah sayyaan

(God is great, God is all)

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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