In the light of the “Allah controversy” the Malay/ Muslim equation in Malaysia is facing fresh scrutiny and analyses – many of them prejudiced verging on racist; some racially biased; a few objective and analytical!

When there are ideological differences among people of different religions, there are bound to be divergent views and opinions understandably biased towards their own particular faith and beliefs. When there are socio-cultural differences each group veers towards its own mores – its distinctive practices, customs and traditions, its own ancestry and legacy. For we are born into this world not on the pure, white slate that our religions teach us to believe, but with the multifarious religio-cultural baggage of our families and communities. This is the stark reality!

I believe being racial is instinctive; being partial to one’s race , community, culture and religion is natural; being biased without prejudice in an informed manner is civilised.  We do after all grow up in an environment very much nurtured by our particular set of norms and values. Our thinking, conduct and behaviour conform to certain patterns influenced by the wisdom of those that came before us. This is the basis of society and culture!

In the animal world it is natural for like species to flock or herd together by virtue of shared instincts, characteristics, features, habits and habitat! In the animal kingdom, fleeing from predators and oftentimes warding off their attacks intensifies the herd instinct and consolidates the defence mechanisms in the animals. Animals in the wild are fiercely territorial, even house pets jealously guard their space against the incursions of their owners.

What more humans who have innate mental capacities to think and reason! With education, exposure and experience these become acutely sharpened and serve to moderate the emotions.

In the “Allah impasse” we are witnessing the Muslims in Malaysia jealously protecting their territory against the incursions of the Christians! The majority of the Muslims in Malaysia wonder why the word “Allah” which has developed  in Islam as the sacred, inviolable concept of God is being wrested by a Christian newsletter partial to the use of Allah for God in the Bahasa Indonesia translation of the Bible.

The Malays in Malaysia who, by reason of history, culture and decree, are Muslims wonder why the word Allah which is the all-encompassing concept of the Almighty in their Islamic Malay culture is being “hijacked”  by Christians for whom the concept of God is substantively different. Although there are overlaps in the  theological bases of Islam and Christianity, in the history of the two religions and their prophets, each has emerged as distinct creeds with a multitude of adherents throughout the world.  Within each religion, too, has developed different interpretations of the  rites and rituals and the rules governing them. One thing however remains constant , unchanging and unchangeable – the Unity in the Islamic concept of God and the Trinity in the Christian concept of God. While the concept of a universal God is inherent in both religions, His manifestations and worship are different in each. Similarly, the manifestations of God in the other religions are distinct!

It is no wonder, therefore ,that the Malay Muslims who adhere to a conservative  understanding of  the sanctity of Allah in Islam are unhappy with the borrowing of the term by the Christians. In their traditional understanding Allah is not merely the name for God but an all-encompassing concept of God and His many attributes in Islam.  The more liberal Muslims in Malaysia whose emphasis is that there is only one God for all religions choose to adopt a more accomodating stand and see nothing wrong with the Christian borrowing.

As in the animal world  where there are species and sub species, in human  society there are groups and sub groups. each highly protective of their human rights of freedom of speech and expression, and defensive of their opinions and viewpoints. The less educated, exposed and experienced with little ability or opportunity to articulate their frustrations over what they perceive as an affront to Islam resort to the physical means of attack as their line of defense.

The current controversy has resulted in  a fresh round of Malay bashing by the liberal Malays as well as by other Malaysians on the more conservative Malay Muslim believers. The latter  are being  seen as rigidly orthodox in their Islamic beliefs and unaccomodating in their relationship with the people of other faiths. What is intriguing in all of this is that the very liberals who have instituted the challenge in court and argued that the use of the word Allah is their historical right supported by their modern day right of the freedom of speech, are relatively silent in the discourses that have ensued in the mainstream media and on the internet.  

It appears as though the Malay Muslims alone are to blame for being emotional in defending their religion and cultural territory. It appears as if  the Malays alone are responsible for creating the interreligious unrest and interracial tensions that are emerging in the country.

It appears that once again the mores which have been determined by birth and  nurtured in the socio-cultural milieu are being challenged by groups claiming a more liberal and democratic understanding of them. It appears that  the Malay Muslim equation which has been accepted in the spirit of the Federal Constitution is proving to be the subject of snide racism and intellectual bigotry and as the punching bag for the people who are intent on seeing the Malays fall from their socio-political heights.

The saddest thing is that the Malay Muslims themselves are being pitted against one another at  the urgings of those eager  to prove their own supremacy.


20 Responses to “”

  1. 1 mekyam
    January 19, 2010 at 3:56 am

    hi tin lim,

    i just commented at another blog that sometime when there are too many voices, as is the case with this “Allah impasse” [i like this term of yours a lot!], adding to the din is not really adding value to one’s “din”.

    from where i’m sitting, no one seems to be listening or trying to see the other side’s point of view, much less being interested in coming to an understanding. there are just outshoutings, name-callings and innuendoes. what have been passing for discussions are nothing more than either religious or intellectual oneupmanships.

    if this were a household and those were kids squabbling, this would be when the parents would shout “ENOUGH!” and all parties were sent off to their rooms without supper. it is sad that msia is like a home without responsible adults at the moment.

  2. 2 harum manis
    January 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Indeed, being racial or protective of one’s own kind or interests is not wrong. But being excessive about it is wrong. Certainly, being protective to the extent of encroaching upon the interests of others is not tolerable.

    The problem is often the determination of what constitutes excessive, what becomes an encroachment of others’ interests. Similarly, how do we define reasonableness and get others to accept that definition in the context of the present situation.

    Yes, there’s the law and the courts interpreting the laws. But lawyers would agree that however water-tight the Constitution or an agreement is, there are always loopholes, grey areas or points of dispute. There’s the old saying that an agreement is worth only the paper it is written on.

    Recourse to the law can be up to the stage of the Federal court, the final court of appeal. But irrespective of whoever wins in the end, ill will, sour taste and irresponsible acts happening along the way would have hardened people’s feelings – much more than animosity at emotionally charged football matches bring. It can be detrimental to peace and order in a significant way.

    The courts should not have been used in the first place. The political masters should not have allowed that to happen. They should have called the party(ies) concerned to a dialogue. Tun Dr Mahathir did that during his time. He said he had a Tan Sriship conferred on Archbishop Pakiam, presumably in recognition of his willingness to exercise restraint at that time and avoided public confrontation.

    Attempts could have been made to call him for a dialogue prior to the Herald filing a law suit over a year ago. Such attempts could still be made even now, in the interest of national security. I’m hoping that this is what TS Muhyiddin meant when he mentioned “on-going dialogue” and advised a “wait and see” stand.

  3. 3 ninitalk
    January 20, 2010 at 10:17 am

    This is where a Royal Commission on Inter Faith and Inter Religious Understanding is in order to consolidate the views and findings of the courts (civil and syariah), Muslim and Christian religious leaders and scholars, the Inter Faith Council, NGOs, and the public.

    Barring the PM and DPM the other politicians should just shut up, even the Minister with the law portfolio.

  4. 4 ninitalk
    January 20, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I’m sharing with you the interesting debate raging in my FB notes:

    Srikanth Siva Well written but I disagree especially the part where you wrote “….and as the punching bag for the people who are intent on seeing the Malays fall from their socio-political heights”

    I hope this analogy makes some sense to the discussion above.

    What do you think brought down the status of University Malaya from a highly ranked university in the 70’s to what it is today? Do you think people criticize this downfall because they want to see Malays fail? UM and National University of Singapore started at the same time, but see where each are…. See More
    Pakistan and India started as a nation at the same time, see where each are.

    Basically what I am trying to say is you are doing it to yourselves. We voice out to help, but you see it as a threat to your religion and race. Some give up and migrate.
    8 hours ago · Nigel A. Skelchy Very very well written Kak Halimah. I take your point. I still however disagree.

    The people who have fared best in this world are the ones who can adapt. And include. And embrace.

    Those who can’t will jealously guard what they feel to be “theirs.” … See More

    One is taken from a point of view of optimism and one from a point of anxiety. Decisions based on anxiety are never, never good ones. “Oh let’s just let the Malays/Chinese/Indians have their way or there’ll be more trouble.” That’s like pandering to a temper tantrum.

    From a rational point of view, the judgement is detailed, exhausting, and poiints to all sorts of precedence that is FOR Non-muslims using the word “Allah.”

    I can’t speak solidly for others, but as Malaysians I still feel that we’ve adopted such a “each to their own” attitude that the different races don’t even understand each other anymore and as humans we fear what we don’t understand.

    I don’t think Malays (not muslims now) are rigid and conservative. I feel that WE, the non-muslims haven’t explained well enough what the word “Allah” is for. And sometimes it needs to be repeated ad nauseum. And even then, in a democracy you might not have EVERYONE agreeing with you.

    I feel (and this is not just my thought) that there is a genuine anxiety amongst Malays that the non-muslims are here to proselytize and to take away what is their’s when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

    The truth is as a non-muslim I’m not here to TAKE AWAY what is yours by right and by decree. I’m here to practice my own religion which DOES HAVE precedence attached to it. And has justifiable grounds. If we allow this to go unresolved WE (and I mean this as ALL Malaysians) will forever be held hostage to those who would resort to violence to resolve issues. WE will lose the very fabric of the society that we want. Peaceful, harmonious, able to discuss things like this rationally instead of turning to the race card every time someone get’s upset. Which is, by the way, what happens now.

    And that truth is what needs to be spoken. Rather than retreating into a “win lose” situation that will benefit no one!

    6 hours ago · Azleena Salleh Azhar I have to beg to differ with your definition of ‘orthodox’ and ‘liberal’ Muslims. There are lots of ‘orthodox’ Muslims around the world who accept Christians and Jews using the word ‘Allah’ as part of the fabric of a multi-ethnic, multi-racial society that share the same language and history. In fact, this is pretty much the norm everywhere around … See Morethe Muslim world since the 7th century, even in much more orthodox countries. Except for in Malaysia, where we have started introducing a much more intolerant and unforgiving brand of Islam, which goes against the very spirit of the religion that we are trying to preserve.
    “And say, ‘I believe in any scripture that Allah has revealed. And I have been commanded to treat you all fairly. Allah is our Lord and your Lord too. We are responsible for our acts, and you are responsible for your acts. Let there be no argument between us. Allah will unite us, and the journey is to Allah.'” (Qur’an, 42:15)

    4 hours ago · Ramzi Khoury I will make a point from another angle – that of Arabs who speak Arabic and from Palestine, the Holy Land of Muslims and Christians. This crisis in Malaysia is the talk of town here. Many have approached me, mostly Muslims, with a need to “understand” why. They come with anger, dismay or a smerk on their face. Why is this? Because here in the Arab … See Moreworld, the Arabic word for God is Allah, and it is the word that is attached to the Supreme God of Muslims, Christians and Jews. The word came into Arabic from the very close now-dead language Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ. Christians and Jews over 2000 years ago where using it here before Islam started in the Arabian Gulf. Islam rightfuly used the word Allah because they believe in the same God of the Christians before them. No one has ever before heard of any religion claiming sole rights to that word in our region, and what is going on in Malaysia now is seen as outright rediculous from all angles including the emotional need for protectionism practised by those who have errupted this arguement. It is terrible how they did not bother to do their homework or seek guidance from Muslim clerics all over the world, maybe those whose first language is Arabic.

    3 hours ago · Joyce Garcia Kropp I think this piece is a fine example of how religious intolerance breeds war and continued suffering. The excuses for them are pure rubbish. We are not animals. Those who insist on behaving so should then stay within their pen.

    God is universal– no one can claim the right to the word “Allah” as brilliantly argued by Mr Khoury above.
    Last but not least, I’d like to quote HH the Dalai Lama:
    … See More
    “The more people I meet the stronger my conviction becomes that the oneness of humanity, founded on on understanding and respect, is a realistic and viable basis for our conduct. Wherever I go, this is what I speak about. *I believe that that the practice of compassion and love — a genuine sense of brotherhood and sisterhood– is the universal religion. It does not matter whether you are Buddhist or Christian, Moslem or Hindu, or whether you practise religion at all. What matters is your feeling of oneness with humankind.”

    about an hour ago · Nigel A. Skelchy Joyce, I have to say, I don’t think Kak Halimah is religiously intolerant. She’s expressing the view that culturally Malays use the word “Allah” and takes the view that it is their’s to use.

    She is arguing about it from a cultural viewpoint. As for tolerance, I don’t think she has any problems with Christians who profess their faith in their own … See Moremanner or Buddhists or anything for that matter. Just that the word “Allah” skirts very close to the worldview she has of being Malay and the Malayness of it. It is, I feel, a worldview that is rooted in some anxiety about how her very “Malayness” will be diluted if its used by non-malays(muslims) in Malaysia.

    Therefore, while I think it’s mistaken I must point out that while the points you raise are certainly valid, it doesn’t address what Kak Halimah means exactly. And perhaps does her arguments some injustice. 😉

    about an hour ago · Joyce Garcia Kropp You say she is not religiously intolerant, but argues from a ‘cultural’ point of view that Muslims have no right to use the word “Allah”? How do you define that then? (Fascism comes to mind.)
    You may think that I have done her arguments injustice, and you have a right to that opinion. But I absolutely disagree with such a mindset. And her fear of others using “Allah” because it might dilute her Malayness? Such thoughts are dangerous, and merely fuel the present suffering among Malaysians. Why insist on sticking to and protecting your culture when you can choose to rise above differences and try for oneness of all humankind?

    Again, I refer to the quote from the Dalai Lama.
    Om shanti…. See More

    10 minutes ago · Halimah Mohd Said Thank you my dear FB friends and acquaintances for your comments, brickbats and all. And dear Nigel, thank you for your kind defence of my defence or rather, of my argument.

    I think it’s difficult not to take a stand on the “Allah controversy” in Malaysia especially when you are a Malaysian, especially when you are a Malay Muslim or a Christian. It’s difficult to be the perfect universal man or a sage like the Dalai Lama and remain completely magnanimous about your understanding of God and the universe.

    At the personal level I’m not at all insecure or anxious about my Malayness or my faith, having studied The New Testament and got a distinction for it when I was at a Convent school. My family and I had no unfounded fears about being converted to Christianity despite the fact that my sisters and I went through the Hail Mary and Our Father prayers at every assembly and participated in the Nativity plays and the Messiah choir. We were after all an urban family and enjoyed an English education. My doctor father volunteered his time to treat the sick Christian orphans…. See More

    But don’t forget that 40% or more of the Malay Muslims are rural and know only what their family and community have nurtured in them. They remain cocooned in their little world and see any incursions as a threat, especially when it involves the ownership of Allah.

    Besides, the Malays are not Arabs whose language is Arabic where the word for God (universal, Christian and Islamic) is “Allah”. In the Malay language there is the word “Tuhan” which better represents the universal concept of God.

    And Ramzi, while I agree that the Malay Muslim and Christian scholars in Malaysia should have conferred with the native Arab speaker scholars of Islam and Christianity you have to also go into the history of Bible translation in this part of the world to know that the past translators and the missions supporting them were not always spiritually innocent or pure. For an interesting explication I urge you to go into the blog of SatD in PURE SHIITE.

    And Siva, your analogy unfairly pitches the University of Malaya against the University of Singapore because as you very well know the demographics are different in each country. And the politics, worlds apart!

    Azleena I’m using “orthodox” and “liberal” in the context of the Malay Muslims in Malaysia. Well, my Muslim frienda in Turkey are orthodox but they eat pork and consume alcohol. An American Imam would eat at a non-halal restaurant in Malaysia but the orthodox Malay Muslim Imams will definitely not!

    Instead of being dismissive of the context of the Allah impasse in Malaysia what is more helpful are suggestions on how to come to a compromise accepted by all.

    9 minutes ago · Halimah Mohd Said And Joyce -for all your professed tolerance you put such strong words into people’s mouths!
    about a minute ago ·

  5. 5 ninitalk
    January 21, 2010 at 12:39 am


    Sophia Bloo Blob simply put : we have to learn to agree to disagree…or at least that’s the authorities should encourage us to do, rather than say nothing at all.

    4 hours ago · Joyce Garcia Kropp What compromise are you asking for? “Allah” belongs to all. Malays don’t own that copyright.

    Singapore is successful because it keeps a vigilant eye over religious tension, and promotes harmony among its multicultural population.

    My apologies if I hurt you. That was never my intention. I’m sure you practise kindness. Those strong words come from my mouth but never forced on anyone else’s. I disagree with your kind of protectionism that borders on extremism and I can’t accept it nor even want to understand it. (So let’s just agree to disagree.)… See More

    First, the burning of churches, then this fatuous controversy over who gets to use “Allah”. I pray that Allah watches over Malaysia and makes sure it does not suffer the fate of Iran.

    But you’re right: It’s all about (false) Pride and Prejudice.

    Om namah shivaya.

    4 hours ago · Sophia Bloo Blob Joyce, Halimah is a good friend of mine and believe me she is as far away from being an extremists as is possible. She is also a linguist and an academician and therefore notes the tones and subtleties underneath the use of words.

    What is happening in Malaysia now is that the Christians in our entire history has never wanted to use the word Allah until now. Those who are educated or exposed to other cultures and have lived in other countries will try to understand but the average rural Malay won’t.

    Everyone has a different view point. There is no right and wrong, not that easy to just reduce the whole argument into a black & white one. What we need is for everyone from extremists, radicals, moderates, liberals, conservatives, etc, to understand that this matter must be discussed and clearer explanations given as to FOR or AGAINST…. See More

    It’s not those who have given their opinions here whom we have to worry about, but the ones who have no patience with such discussions or debates like this one.They do not have the benefit of a Western education.

    3 hours ago · Aman Shah Khalid Discussions on the word ‘Allah’ here had been quite intensed. In the mass media we heard some comments from many politicians who also contradicted each other. What I am actually waiting for are the opinions of the Islamic religious scholars to openly make their point on this matter. I heard on a local radio last Friday an Islamic religious scholar … See Morecategorically stated by quoting verses from the Quran that the word ‘Allah’ is universally used by all religions in this world….in fact it was used even before the coming of Islam. That is the kind of brave statement that the rakyat want to hear. I beg to disagree here when someone argued that the average rural Malays in Malaysia will not be able to accept the truth…..if it is from the verses of Quran the rural Malays are the first to abide to it!

    about an hour ago · Shariman Yusuf Joyce, The grass is always greener on the other side…while we must totally condemn the church attacks and go after these extremists, I would like to put things into perspective a little, especially to those fond of bashing the country and highlighting how wonderful things are elsewhere. Take a look at the UK and Ireland, where there is intolerance even between Christians, Catholics and Protestants. So many innocent lives have been losts in numerous attacks (like the pub bombings) and people assassinated (like the Queen’s uncle). Beyond that, mosques have been attacked in the UK and the US, no doubt in retaliation to the terrorist attacks in those countries. As an example, please see below:


    The bottom line, nothing can justify such behaviour although we see them everywhere, even in the most so-called civilized countries. We have to educate, be tolerant and respectful of each other, and at the same time be very firm and take decisive action to weed out these extremist elements. But those who are too quick to bash and judge the country, I think, are not being fair to the country and its people. I, for one, would not simply condemn the UK if I see such attacks and lump the people into one boat…. See More

    Coming back to the issue, Allah in Arabic is not exclusive to Islam…no problem. In Bahasa, however, is that the translation when the universal word for God in Bahasa is Tuhan? We are not talking Arabic here. If nobody wants to talk and reach a mutually satisfactory understanding (what compromise, you said!) in the spirit of a multi-racial/religious/cultural country, well let the Courts decide (ALL THE WAY to Federal as I am sure it will end up there) according to the law of the land.

    Now, a point on law and a system of democracy. You could disagree with the law, but it reflects the democratic will of the people (who elect Members of Parliament whose duty is to legislate) and the Courts will have the duty to administer and interpret legislation. If the will of the people is to have gay marriages like in Holland contrary to Christian teachings, then as much as you may disagree at a personal level, that is the will of the people which is part of the law of the land. And laws can change as the will of the people change i.e. once upon a time, soft drugs were illegal in Holland but not today. Whether it is logically, scientifically, linguistically, religiously, medically correct or not, if that is the will of the people, so be it, it is the LAW.

    Personally, I would rather we talk on something like this

  6. 6 ninitalk
    January 21, 2010 at 7:35 am


    Azleena Salleh Azhar I agree with Aman, we shouldn’t be lowering our expectations of the rural Malays and raise the bar for others. For a helpful suggestion, how about the political, religious leaders and social activists educate the rakyat and teach them the fundamental principles of religious tolerance? Which is not an alien concept to Islam, but has been practiced … See Moreby Muslim civilizations up until these recent modern times. This can only bring positive change to our country, unlike the current ‘solution’ that has only increased tensions and differences.

    6 hours ago · Joyce Garcia Kropp Shariman, please don’t get me wrong. I have Malaysian friends who I hold close to my heart. I am not bashing Malaysia– that is furthest from the truth. I totally agree with you and all the others who have professed their opinions on this. — and may I say, so intellectually, intelligently and from the heart.

    But the intellect plays no part in one’s spiritual practice. One has to annihilate the ego to get to the soul. God is in each and everyone of us. To seek advice from the scholars, to my mind, is like reading the bible which, as Ms Halimah pointed out, was edited to the propagandist leanings of the powers that were/be. And might I add that the law and religion must be kept separate?

    I truly am sorry if you misinterpreted the tone of my opinions. And I do apologise to Kak Halimah for sounding judgemental. I do not judge her. (In fact I appreciate and admire her courage to write about this. Whether or not I agree with her rationale is beside the point. Like Ms Blob pointed out, there is no black or white in this.) But I do worry, as you do too, about where this all will lead…. See More

    You may wonder about my right to get involved in this discussion, as I am not Malaysian. Truth to tell, I find it highly enlightening. And all concerns voiced quite encouraging.
    But the most important reason is that I truly believe we are all interconnected. What happens to you will somehow affect the rest of us in the world. You may not believe this, but WE ARE ONE.

    I come in peace. And will exit in the same manner. Bless you all.


  7. 7 ninitalk
    January 21, 2010 at 9:18 am

    A compromise:

    Halimah Mohd Said All is forgiven Joyce if at all you have erred! God knows best but we puny humans strive all the time and in doing so, sometimes get in one another’s way.

    You are right – faith is spiritual but God has given us intellect which sometimes gets in the way! And it’s also true clerics from different parts of the world are also biased in the most informed and intellectual way!

    But extremists who rampage holy places and shout out profanities are not to be tolerated. It is they who must be judged by the human courts in their lifetime and by God in the hereafter!


  8. 8 harum manis
    January 21, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Well said, ninitalk.

    I like your rounding up of the discussion. This and the previous ones that involved varied, even opposing views. I think you make a good moderator or chairperson of important meetings.

    I believe your FB participants will grow (I won’t join in there because I’m an old fashioned fellow) and I hope more of your readers here will join in the discussion on topics you put up from time to time.

  9. 9 ninitalk
    January 22, 2010 at 9:20 am


    Nigel A. Skelchy You know what, one day, I’d love to meet you Kak Halimah. You’ve opened up “your home” here on facebook and taken brickbats flung at you in a civilised, equitable manner and been thoroughly graceful about it. I can only hope to learn from that. 😉

    Today at 10:21am · Halimah Mohd Said And me you Nigel! Yes we do open our homes and our hearts and hope that they will invite nice visitors.

    You are one of the nicest visitors Niger and your heart speaks in a clear uncluttered way! Wonderful!

    Today at 11:34am · Nigel A. Skelchy Aiyo, real mutual admiration society kan? 😉 haha

    Today at 11:37am · Nigel A. Skelchy Oh and thank you 🙂

    Today at 11:37am · Arman Ahmad Aunty Limah.. your tact and diplomacy are admirable

    Today at 3:26pm · Halimah Mohd Said Hi Arman – I think I have to mind my Ps and Qs otherwise I’ll have the whole cyberpopulation at my doorstep! The internet is a huge public space and we have to exercise the right decorum.

    11 hours ago · Arman Ahmad yes it is.. anyhow.. with freedom comes the need to be responsible.. and btw there is no way that you are an extremist.. don’t let them tell you otherwise..

    11 hours ago · Aman Shah Khalid It has been fun voicing our opinions on various topics you posted here. Don’t worry Datin…we are all civil minded and I feel this is the right platform to expess our thoughts aloud!

    11 hours ago · Shariman Yusuf Dear Joyce, not to worry, I can see where you are coming from and understand the position you take.

    I just wanted to add some balance and put things into perspective a little from another point of view.

    In the spirit of constructive discussion, I would like to differ with your view that the intellect does not play a part in one’s spiritual path. In Islam, we constantly see Allah appealing to our intellect. We see in the Qur’an many verses where Allah asks us to consider so many of his signs. Again and again, we are asked to think and consider all His signs and creation around us and when we see, our faith becomes strong which helps in our spiritual journey. From the Islamic perspective, faith, intellect and ‘free will’ should reinforce each other and it is these that set us apart from the rest of God’s creation in the animal kingdom…. See More

    On another subject, I am not so sure whether religion and law are all that separate. It is well documented that English Common Law is derived from the Bible. A lot of our values and value systems have roots in the Scriptures we are taught and they are part of the law in many countries e.g. the 10 commandments…

    7 hours ago · Joyce Garcia Kropp Man! Shariman! What are you doing to me? I’ve already bowed out. Let me put this straight: I was raised by strict Catholic parents but always questioned the Catholic do it-or else policy. Had my qualms about a wrathful God from a tender age. I am and always have been a spiritual seeker but struggling with the material girl in me.
    I believe in a universal God. Religion is man-made, and there lies the problems of this world.
    I ask for the help of the Great White Brotherhood which include Mohammed, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Rumi, et al. I have no bias against any religion,( I see them as man’s translations of the Truth and accept their fundamental principles) but I have reached a certain level of spirituality that requires me to connect with my inner soul, wherein lies God. No scholars required.
    In my quest, I have studied most religions to practise this path, and I must admit I falter far too often. But try, I must.
    And please, I am not judging you re your religion. To each his own. This discussion has been very enlightening for me, because I do try to understand where everyone is coming from. I hope you grant me that too…. See More

    I strongly believe in the separation of Church and state, as practised by democratic countries. Your example of English Common Law as derived from the Bible I cannot agree with. I’ve already stated that the Bible has been adulterated, and I don’t adhere to what’s written there. Before they edited Christ’s teachings, Christianity believed in reincarnation. No longer there. It was a tool for political manipulation. The Crusades? An excuse for rape and pillaging in the name of God.
    And, may I remind you that Henry VIII created the Church of England so he could proceed with killing his wives and continue his promiscuity unabated?

    You know, this is the most intelligent debate and I am drawn to everyone sharing of their beliefs … as long as we leave our egos at the door and keep our minds open.

    I have no problems with the scriptures. I believe in
    those that were kept hidden.
    Research St Therese of Avila’s “Dark Night Of The Soul”. I try to understand you; do that for me. Then you’ll know about the need to annihilate the ego to reach your soul. I participated in such a retreat. Awesome.

    Om namah shivaya
    (I bow/salute/speak to your inner soul.)

    5 hours ago · Halimah Mohd Said Dear Joyce – the Malays have a saying “tak tahu, maka tak cinta” which literally means “(you) don’t know, so (you) don’t love”!

    You have shared with us your spiritual journey in search of the TRUTH by delving into the major creeds and have been left still wanting! You have turned to your inner self and find solace in a finer understanding of spirituality! Isn’t this wonderful!

    Yes – our real human quest in life is to seek and find God/ Truth and when we do we are imbued with a self-assuredness and confidence that no one can take away from us…. See More

    Most of us are born into a faith/ religion or are converted into it at some point in our lives. Some accept the teachings of their religion “in good faith” (pun intended) and diligently perform the rituals. Some with the capacity and facility for intellectual pursuits choose go into the holy books and scriptures or by attaching themselves to a group with similar

    40 minutes ago · Halimah Mohd Said …or attach themselves to a group with similar interests.

    This is where the subjectivity in religion emerges and we fight for or defend our beliefs because we are convinced they are the right ones. This is admirable too!

    What we must now cautiously do is to listen and to understand and in so so doing “tahu, maka cinta” [(you)know, so (you) love]. Even if we can’t “love” at least we can “understand”…. See More

    It’s very nice to know you Joyce and share with you our common search for God’s TRUTH in the wake of man’s multifarious interpretations of it. Like you I believe religion is a very very personal quest.

    31 minutes ago · Shariman Yusuf Sorry, Joyce, I thought I would still invite you further into this lively discussion.

    Very interesting path you have taken and please, no offence taken on my part and neither am I trying to impose my views too. All I hope to achieve is better mutual understanding of each other’s position and yes, to each his own, which is the free will I said earlier. This is also in line with Islam: “there is no compulsion in religion” although you may see a lot of compulsion going on (that’s the man-made bit).

    As for the Scriptures, fortunately the Qur’an does not share the same historical development as the Bible. What Prophet Mohamed uttered as revelation from Allah (as Muslims believe) has been preserved from that period until today which is not in question (take a look at the Qur’an coming from that period in the Topkapi museum in Istanbul and compare with what we have today). On the other hand, the Bible, as a collection of various scriptures, was put together centuries later at the Council of Nicea in 367 AD during Emperor Constantine’s rule to develop a mainline Christian view (or some would say his own ‘agenda’) and this is where concepts like the Trinity became official. Even Protestants and Catholics don’t agree on their Bible (Catholics have 7 more books in their Douay version of the Bible)…. See More

    Nonetheless, what you have today in law is a mix of all the agendas ( e.g. you correctly pointed Henry VIII) together with some scripture, I believe. Should we separate the two in future as the way forward? Well, let’s leave that to the democratic will of the people and we can propagate our respective views in this process.

    I will also exit in peace (Salams)…

  10. 10 ninitalk
    January 22, 2010 at 9:29 am

    harum manis – I appreciate very much your comments and insights. Although ninitalk has many visitors they hesitate to comment or share their views. Can you hazard a guess as to why?

    I therefore post selected topics in my Facebook Notes and somehow in this selective space my FB friends and acquaintances are more forthcoming. People just open up and articulate their innermost thoughts!

    I have half a mind to compile them and send a pack to the National InterFaith Council when it is established. Public input and the voice of the people must be heard!

  11. 11 harum manis
    January 23, 2010 at 8:48 am


    Hazarding a guess I will, though by no means analytical or logical, or even correct.

    Perhaps it is because they get somewhat intimidated, at least awed, by your good writing, clarity of thought, your high values, your strife for the best. For example, you dare to write about corruption when nobody else does. On these matters I think one should not compromise.

    Another good writer I find interesting and useful to read is Ideotique blogspot. He apparently started some months ago but faces the same problem of lacking comments though I believe he has a fair number of visitors. Even the blog belonging to Nuraina A Samad, the editorial boss of New Straits Times, is not so well commented when compared to Rocky’s Bru which belongs to the editorial boss of the Malay Mail. The latter has blogged for many years and chooses popular topics, especially news about irregular activities by controversial personalities. At times he merely copy-pastes articles, giving short introductions.

    I notice that those well-commented blogs are those that link themselves with other blogs, especially the well-established and popular ones. I’ve read comments from relatively new blog owners asking permission of the more established ones to link or place them on their Blog Roll and such, even expressing a wish if they could be included in the Roll of the more established blogs. I’ve seen them “linking” statements made in one blog to those in another by some IT system whereby readers press the word “here” and the relevant page of the other blog automatically appears. All these widen readership and attract more comments. I suppose all these work on the basis of reciprocity and you might want to try them.

    Of course in general, the less the moderating, the greater the tolerance for the language and the substance of comments, the more comments bloggers get.

    I won’t go into the various kinds of blog readership that exist these days. But perhaps the kind who loves to read your writings are those who have become cynical of so many things in the country that they would rather just read than leave comments as well. I don’t mind to be proven wrong in this because I do want to see greater participation by those having traditional values of right and wrong in discussions on where the country is heading.

  12. 12 harum manis
    January 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm


    In my last comment I forgot to respond to your idea of compiling those thoughts at your FB and sending them to the InterFaith Council. It is a good idea. Why not, do it. Nicely compiled including your own thoughts, which can be full and comprehensive.

    For those, allow me to recommend that you read the articles and comments in two blogs: Pure Shiite and Jebat Must Die. The first one has its own style of writing but I see those blogs carry quite detailed arguments, complete with the historical, linguistic (may be compared with yours) aspects of the word Allah, but more importantly, the history of the use of the word in Nusantara and the Bible translation efforts carried out in this region, their purpose, etc. It would be good if what you submit incorporate some of the views stated in those blogs as well.

  13. January 26, 2010 at 12:59 am

    I like your drawing a parallel with animals’ territorial instincts etc and I think there is some basis for saying those instincts were on display in this case.

    However, having explained the source of the animal-like reaction, how do we explain why we chose to act on those instincts in this instance? Afterall, we no longer act based on ancient instincts alone.

    The other apect of this issue that you’ve not touched on is this: How could something relatively simple like this be allowed to go so horribly wrong in a society where the ruling party controls virtually everything?

    There shd have been discussions, negotiations and compromises. And if that fails, we know this government has the ability to strong-arm its opponents into submission, as it has done with so many others in the past. Why didn’t this government continue to abuse its powers to squash this issue or its opponents, but instead allowed it to deteriorate to the mess it is today? I find it hard to believe that the government, which has managed to squash higher profile cases, could not squash this one.

    The Herald may or may not have a case. But it is being used by UMNO for a another purpose. And it most certainly is not to clarify a religious question.

  14. 14 harum manis
    January 31, 2010 at 7:50 am


    I agree with you that there should have been discussions and dialogues. But I disagree with the suggestion that “this government continue to abuse its powers to squash this issue or its opponents”. That statement presupposes that the Government has been doing that and you have not given facts or instances when such were done in the past.

    Neither do I agree that The Herald case is “being used by UMNO for a another purpose”. KDN took action because of complaints from the people. It was The Herald who took the matter to court.

    I’m not an apologist for the Government or UMNO – I’m not a member of either. But I’m afraid you would need more than what you said above for readers to believe you.

  15. 15 ninitalk
    January 31, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Thank you harum manis for your very helpful analysis!

    Yes when Rocky first put me on his blog roll and established a link (which I haven’t learned to do) to one of my postings, the traffic shot up like crazy. But it has kind of levelled now as readers select what topics interest them and the writing style(s) they prefer.

    I don’t moderate comments at all except to delete spam or funny formats that come through. My commenters write very well and offer insightful analysis for which I’m very grateful. I really do not want to encourage loads of speculation, gossip or slander which I’m obliged to approve if I want more comments. So for the moment the visitors I get are the readers I invite to share with me their grouses and unhappinesses as well as their joys and satisfaction with the things that happen on this good earth including Malaysia.

    I’m sure you agree that our common goal is to build rather than destroy!

  16. 16 ninitalk
    January 31, 2010 at 9:10 am

    You are right adiryakiratas!

    Why wasn’t the Allah issue nipped in the bud before it accelerated into a Christian-Muslim controversy? Why was it allowed to reach a court judgement that has erupted into a public disorder issue?

    If earnest and serious efforts were made to have interfaith dialogues earlier all this could have been avoided. What has happened is that each side has stubbornly stuck to their traditional stands and refused to budge. The extremists on both sides refuse to see a more enlightened reasoning behind the impasse and so have courted a potentially boorish/ boarish outburst.

    And today the DPM has declated an InterFaith Council is unnecessary! Perhaps it is seen as politically disastrous in a country like Malaysia where people are so corruptible – even those with a religious cap on their head!

    To give a “modern” explanation to what is really the primordial instincts of the caveman to ward off predators, I suppose one can say that now humans who inhabit sophisticated dwellings reason out that they are fighting for their principled belief and stand on freedom of religion and speech which underlies human rights, and all that jazz!

    I suppose man will continue to battle it out in the concrete jungles as their (wild)animal counterparts do in the virgin ones!

    Nice to meet a professional writer like you adiryakiratas!

  17. January 31, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    the bottom line is, in the constitution, the official religion is ISLAM. PERIOD.

  18. February 1, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Harum Manis, thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my comment.

    We both agree that the authorities should have arranged for discussions to resolve the issue. However, that they didn’t do it, or failed to do it, or did so without success can only mean 2 things: incompetence or it was part of a bigger strategy. I don’t buy the incompetence argument.

    The government has in the past been able to use its powers to bring matters under control and squash issues. You have asked me to give facts to substantiate my statement. I hope you’re not expecting the “innocent until proven guilty” type of proof 🙂

    I absolutely subscribe to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”. However that does not apply in matters of public policies and administration, and especially in a tightly controlled society like Malaysia where the government is not transparent. It is not reasonable to expect the man on the street with no access to government documents to prove a closed government guilty beyond reasonable doubt. It is asking the ant to fight the elephant. How can-lah? 🙂

    A reasonable way to “prove” the government’s guilt is to look at high profile cases involving government officials which have ended nowhere e.g.the Mongolian model case, the missing planes and engines, deaths of political opponents, corruption cases etc. etc. In cases after cases, the inability to find the guilty party speaks volumes.

    If the government, which is responsible for investigation & prosecution, cannot find the guilty parties case after case, it is either incredibily incompetent, or it is the guilty party. Or both. I don’t see any other verdict. Do you?

    The point I am trying to make is that the government had the power to quietly resolve the Allah issue, but instead allowed it to deteriorate. Why?

    You do not agree that the Herald is being used by UMNO, and I have to admit that I have no hard evidence. But this is politics. Not a murder investigation. Look at who stands to benefit the most from a racially divided country and there’s your smoking gun. If an ex-PM can believe the US stands to benefit the most from 9/11 and therefore must be responsible for it, why is it such a stretch to say that UMNO, which stands to benefit the most from racial tension, is behind this unfortunate turn of events?

    Anyway, thank you for a good discussion. It would have been better if the stakes were not so high.

    Take care my friend.

  19. 19 harum manis
    February 5, 2010 at 3:17 pm


    A short note before I move to ninitalk’s next post.

    I agree with you that there are many unsolved high-profile cases in the country. We need to keep asking about them though not necessarily by pointing fingures or with sweeping statements. I know it’s sometimes unavoidable and the authorities have to admit a lack of efficiency or the will to go beyond the norm. In the absence of a clear policy direction, when the political masters say, “It’s up to the authorities to take action”, it can be difficult for the bureaucrat-authorities as to which way to go. On the other hand, one wonders, for example, why the Independent Police Complaints Management Commission (IPCMC) recommended by the Royal Police Commission of Enquiry during the past administration was not implemented. Specifically, why the Police Officers’ Association strongly objected to the setting up of the IPCMC.

    We have for some time now been reduced to sighing with the words “I wonder why”. Sad, this country.

  20. 20 poobalan kuppusamy
    March 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    to all,my humble greetings.I very interestingly read your writings and I am very happy indeed
    to comment,with your consent,.I was born a hindu,married a catholic,and I am a catholic too.I
    was permitted to retain my hindu name.My younger brothers are bahais,my couson is married to
    a malay muslim girl with their parents blessings,my neighbours are majority malay muslims,I am a musician and have many,many malay musicians and malay female singers as friends…..ONE big happy family.The late M.Shariff and family are my good friends.Another good friend,a strong hindu,the drummer for the late M.Shariff,felled in loved with a malay muslim girl,converted to muslim,took a muslim name and now a very happily married family with two big boys.
    The point is, we are still the same and though we are all over the country,when happen to meet,it is such a joy,believe me. Coming to the topic ‘Kalimah ALLAH’,(Word of GOD),I willingly let the Malaysian muslims the exclusive right to the word,ALLAH.This is with all my heart and joy to my muslim brothers and sisters in Malaysia.I don’t know about you,but for me GOD is everywhere,in every word,in everyone.
    Salam & Peace

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