Hornbill Unleashed

November 17, 2013

Selangor stand on Allah needs urgent clarification

Filed under: Politics,religion — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Herald AllahBob Teoh

The statement by Selangor Royal Council secretary Hanafisah Jais yesterday that the use of the word Allah in the Bible and in the Bahasa Malaysia edition of the Catholic Herald be stopped immediately needs urgent clarification as it raises concern over the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion.

Hanafisah is reported to have said the statement was released after the Selangor Sultan consulted the Selangor Royal Council on Monday.

The decision is made based on Section 9 of the Non Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation against Muslims) Enactment 1988, which classifies use of certain words and expressions of Islamic origin without the state’s authority as a religious offence in the state. Allah is one of these words.

The statement also referred to a decision by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council which was gazetted on February 2010, barring non-Muslims from using the word Allah to refer to God.

The first legal issue is that the usage of the Al-Kitab, or the Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia Bible and the word Allah are matters under the constitution and federal laws. Islam is a state matter under the respective sultans.

Pronouncements and gazette orders made by the respective state Islamic Religious Councils apply only to Muslims in these states and not on federal laws.

The question of whether the Herald can use the word Allah is determined by Federal laws, specifically, the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. It is not under the purview of any state Islamic Religious Councils or state laws or fatwas.

This much is clear and implicit from the High Court of Kuala Lumpur judgment of December 31, 2009 as well as the Court of Appeal judgment of October 14, 2013.

The question of usage of the Al-Kitab Bible is also to be determined under Federal laws, in particular, the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) which has been replaced by the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.

The Al-Kitab was banned by the Mahathir administration in 1981 by a gazette order issued under the ISA on December 2, 1981, but was subsequently amended to a restricted ban by another ISA gazette order on March 22, 1982.

Under the Najib administration, the Al-Kitab is allowed to be freely used in Sabah and Sarawak while in the peninsula, it can be used if the words “Christian publication” and the symbol of the cross is embossed on its cover. This was a Federal Cabinet decision made in 2011, known as the 10-Point Solution, during the Sarawak state election campaign period.

The Court of Appeal judgment did not set aside the “10-Point Solution” neither did it make any order on the Al-Kitab.

Article 3 (1) of the Federal Constitution clearly states: “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”

Article 4 (1) states: “This Constitution is the supreme law of the Federation and any law passed after Merdeka Day which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”

Article 11 (1) spells out the constitutional guarantee that “Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it, and among other things, the right manage its own religious affairs.

This right includes the right of Christians to decide for themselves questions about Bible translations including rendering the English word God as Allah. No state or federal authority has any power or right over the exclusive ecclesiastical authority that lies solely to the Church of Malaysia guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and mandated by Holy Scripture.

Clause (4) refers to State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan, Federal law to control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.

In view of the constitutional provisions and guarantees, the statement issued by Selangor Royal Council secretary, Hanafisah Jais, needs urgent clarification to ensure that constitutional provisions are sacrosanct precisely in the manner envisaged by the framers of our Federal Constitution. –

1 Comment »

  1. If religious authorities in the Middle East, which has long been the cradle of Islam, have expressed their views that prohibition on the usage of Allah by non-Muslims has no basis in Islam”, and there is no compulsion in Islam, why are our rulers imposing their views on their non-muslim subjects?

    Comment by Will — November 18, 2013 @ 11:05 AM | Reply

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