Hornbill Unleashed

October 21, 2013

Confusion is a public offence in the making

AB Sulaiman

Many quarters have expressed their shock, dismay and disbelief on hearing the recent ruling on the use of the word ‘Allah’ by the courts; adverse public reaction is still raging.

I do not wish to repeat these strong sentiments here but to offer my one sen’s worth of observation over this same issue. For this I quote the words as expressed by Justice Mohd Zawawi, one of the Court of Appeal judges.

He said that if the word ‘Allah’ is to be employed in the Malay version of The Herald to refer to God, there will be a risk of misrepresentation of God within Christianity itself.

This, he said, was because the Christian conception of God as symbolised by the Trinity is absolutely and completely dissimilar to the concept of Allah in Islam.

“In other words, the potential for confusion is not confined only to Muslims but also to Christians,” he said as reported in Malaysiakini.

If I understood him well the judge seem to be saying that Allah is the name given to the single monotheistic god of Islam. If this same name is used by the Christians then they might be confused for Christians believe in the Holy Trinity of God, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God in other words is not one, but three. Their concept of the Trinity might be muddled, their faith eroded.

More to the point, the judge also inferred that the Malays might be confused as well – how can the one monotheistic Allah become three? This is blasphemy of the highest degree! Their faith most definitely eroded!

To the learned Judge either way, both parties might be confused. And because of this the court ruled that Allah is only meant to refer to the one monotheistic God as perceived by the Malays. What more, Christians are not to use this word at all.

My concern centres on the arguments made by the learned judge. He seems to infer that the Christians might be confused over the contradiction.

But judging from the sentiments expressed in the public domain this is far from the truth. The non-Muslim natives in Sabah and Sarawak do not say so; the Sikhs do not say so. The Christians do not say so. I dare say if a thorough survey is made, the majority of the moderate and liberal Malaysians of other religions of Islam and especially the other religions do not say so either.  It is only the judge who presumed this possible confusion.

Outside the country, the Indonesians do not say so. The Emirates and Middle Eastern Arabs and Persians do not say so, the Egyptians do not say so. Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals everywhere do not say so.

It looks like only the Malay-Muslim in this country who is confused, a remote and isolated island of a confused Muslim community in an otherwise non-confused Islamic sea.

Try to resolve the confusion

My second observation centres on the term ‘confuse’ which means a person is bewildered or mixed up over a thing, place or issue. To me when confused, the only logical way to get out of it is to identify the source of the confusion, analyse it, and then try to resolve it.

Throw it out into the open, be involved in debates, conceptualise and intellectualise over it. Questions like what is meant by the ‘Holy Trinity’ for example should be asked in order to address the confusion objectively, intelligently and meaningfully.

But here there is no such thing. Here intellectualisation is an unknown (or dirty) word. If an idea or thing creates confusion, sweep it under the carpet! Or in this case make a copyright claim over the term ‘Allah’ and outlaw its use by the Christians! How subjective. Objectivity and human rationality is a scarce commodity in the Malay intellect.

Even if objectivity and intellectualisation is applied as seem to be by Justice Mohd Zawawi, he tends to still be subjective not objective.

He says clearly that he wants ‘to protect Islam’. This is another contentious issue, but I’d rather not take it any further in this present writing.

Suffice it is to say that in this country confusion is about to be legislated. More pointedly, creating confusion is to be made into civil (or maybe eventually criminal) offence.

The Malays do not like to be confused. When they are they become disorientated. Their response is not to explain the confusion, to criminalise its possible source, in this case to ‘copyright’ the word ‘Allah’, and outlaw non-Muslims from using it. How bizarre.


  1. Lets just conclude and say the judges were themselves CONFUSED so their decision to ban the word is confusing and causing more confusion. Back to square one!

    Comment by brian — October 21, 2013 @ 2:48 PM | Reply

  2. Bodoland =World most stupid nation … easily confused even by a simple stupid word … they are also handicapped

    Comment by tigerykey — October 21, 2013 @ 1:31 PM | Reply

  3. The concluding remarks confuse for whatever inherent reasons. I dont see the average Malay Muslims really getting upset or murderous. But JAKIM is inflaming Muslims in the mosque to be riotious! In other words Najib Razak as PM does, as JAKIM is under him !

    Comment by Najib nazak — October 21, 2013 @ 1:16 PM | Reply

  4. I believe the Malay Muslims use the Quran and not the Bible to pray and pray in the mosques and not in Churches. What confusion are you talking about. ? Muslims worldwide had never been confused when Christians refer to God as Allah long before Islam and his beautiful name has been used in prayer worldwide without any confusion except in Malaysia.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — October 21, 2013 @ 10:08 AM | Reply

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