Anwar Ibrahim is firm that Pakatan Rakyat will allow non-Muslims to use the word
KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said that Pakatan Rakyat was firm in its decision that non-Muslims were allowed to use the word “Allah”.
“Pakatan Rakyat in the past meeting looked through the statement made by PAS president [Hadi Abdul Awang] carefully and we took the stand that we agreed to give room [for Allah to be used by non-Muslims], but to also remind people to not misuse it,” said Anwar.
“So we follow what the PAS president says. And if he does not revise that statement, then that is Pakatan’s decision.”
He was referring to a statement by PAS president Hadi Awang after the opposition pact’s presidential meeting on Jan 8.
Hadi had said that “Allah”, which is written in the Quran, is special and cannot be translated properly to other languages.
“That’s why Muslims of all races refer to God as Allah. So non-Muslims can use the holy word although it may not reflect the original meeting,” Hadi had said.
But the PAS Syura Council said last week that non-Muslims should prevent the use of the word “Allah” in translations of their religious text.
“Translating the word God or Lord from any non-Muslim religious texts to the word Allah cannot be allowed because it is wrong from the aspect of meaning…. therefore, it has to be prevented,” PAS spiritual adviser Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said in a statement.
Commenting on this, Anwar said: “I’ve read the PAS Syura Council’s statement. Its concern is the problem of the term ‘Allah’ used for other purposes, and that is probably where there is a difference of opinion…”
But he said the difference of opinion was small and the issue as a whole had been interpreted differently by various Muslim scholars.
He also added that some of the concern expressed by the Syura Council had its basis.
“They [Syura Council] are worried that [the term "Allah"] would be used to confuse Muslims or would be twisted by some quarters. If such cases happen… then action must be taken.”
‘Bible-burning call extreme’
But Anwar said Ibrahim’s call to burn Bibles with the word “Allah” last Saturday in response to alleged proselytisation efforts was far too extreme and should be condemned by all.
“We could protest… if there is evidence… Christians are trying to proselytise a Muslim, we can bring the matter up to court,” he said.
“But to burn or threaten to burn what Christians feel is their holy book is an extreme act and should be rejected by all Malaysians, including Muslims,” he said.
On Saturday, Ibrahim had reportedly said: “Muslims must unite to protect their religion. They must seize those Bibles, including the Malay editions, which contain the term Allah and other Arabic religious words, and burn them.”
But Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hasan Syed Ali said last night that Ibrahim’s message had been misconstrued and that the latter was merely urging Muslims who received Jawi-scripted Malay Bibles to “burn them”.
This was in reference to a police report lodged several days ago for the alleged distribution of English Bibles containing Jawi script and the word “Allah” to high school students in Jelutong.
“Perkasa is only bringing up the issue to provoke the people’s sentiments. It is a political ploy…meant to satiate the appetites of the stressed-out Umno,” claimed Anwar.
He also said Barisan Nasional’s inaction over Ibrahim’s controversial call showed how weak its leadership was.
MIC strategy director S Vell Paari and MCA central committee member Loh Seng Kok have flayed Ibrahim and Perkasa over the issue, but the top leadership in the ruling coalition has yet to comment on it.
The Bible-burning issue appears to have come to a head after the discovery of a flyer urging Muslims to attend a “festival” to burn Malay-language Bibles this Sunday at the Bagan Luar Municipality field in Butterworth.
The programme was planned by a previously unknown group called Pasukan Bertindak Anti Bible Bahasa Melayu.
The flyer reads: “Our children and grandchildren will end up being apostates if you want to wait for our impotent government to act.
“To Muslims who have copies of al-Kitab, bring them over to make our Bible-burning session merrier.”