All right to use Allah

SHAH ALAM: Non-Muslims in Selangor can use the word "Allah" as long as they do not use it to propagate their religion to Muslims, Selangor executive councillor for Islamic affairs Sallehin Mukhyi said today.

He told the state assembly during a question-and-answer session that this is in accordance with the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988.

"Non-Muslims can use the word 'Allah' if it is not misused, such as for propaganda to spread other religions. If 'Allah' is used by a Christian to spread their religion to Muslims, then it is not allowed," he said.

Sallehin, who is also Sabak assemblyman, was responding to a question by state opposition leader Datuk Shamsudin Lias on whether the state government had taken steps to address the "Allah" issue.

He said the state government is acting in accordance with all relevant laws.

The "Allah" dispute has been a thorn in the side of inter-religious ties, with conservative Muslim groups calling for a ban on use of the word by non-Muslims.

Non-Muslim groups and liberal Muslims have opposed the call, and have also criticised the seizure of Bibles at the Bible Society of Malaysia's premises in Damansara Utama on Jan 2 by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais).

In the incident, Jais seized more than 300 Bibles in the Malay and Iban languages that contained the word "Allah".

Catholic weekly the Herald's editor, Rev Fr Lawrence Andrew, welcomed the stand taken by the state government, adding that this is the correct interpretation of the Federal Constitution.

"What the state executive council said is what has been stated in the Federal Constitution – that non-Muslims cannot propagate any religion to Muslims.

"But some people and officials misunderstand this," he told theSun in a telephone conversation today.

Stressing that he cannot comment much on this since the case is still in court, Lawrence said that the state government's move is a good one.