All the ongoing hullabaloo about the Catholic usage of “Allah” in their publication of the Bahasa Malaysia edition of the Catholic Herald is quite unnecessary.
The issues involved are actually quite straightforward and easily resolved.
Islam does not prohibit usage of “Allah” by non-Muslims. That is the correct theological stance of Islam. Hence one finds Arab-Christians referring to God as “Allah”.
“Allah” is however an Arabic word. If the Catholic Herald intends to come out with a Arabic edition, then certainly they have the right to publish using “Allah”. If however the intention is to publish in Bahasa Malaysia, then they ought to use the Bahasa Malaysia word for God, which is Tuhan. “Allah” is not a Bahasa Malaysia word.
Why then are Muslims here in Malaysia allowed to use “Allah” since it is an Arabic word and not a Bahasa Malaysia word? The answer is simple. Muslims pray in the Arabic language. They are required to do so. The call to prayer itself is in Arabic. It is standard throughout the world. Christians, except perhaps for Arab-Christians, do not pray in Arabic.
The argument however goes that “Allah” has been used by Christians in Sabah and Sarawak to refer to God for a few hundred years. Long usage of that word does not make it right. Something that is not right does not become right by long habitual use. The Sabahans and Sarawakians ought now to be taught that the correct Bahasa Malaysia word for God is “Tuhan” and not “Allah”, as they had mistakenly thought.
Islam holds as paramount peace and stability in the community. There have been numerous instances in the past where overzealous Christian missionaries have tried misleading Muslims, including Muslim children, by usage of words peculiar to Islam such as “Allah”. Allowing Christians use of “Allah” also opens up the likelihood of it affecting the sensitivities of Muslims, especially when the Christians speak of Jesus as Allah’s son or that Allah is a trinity. These are blasphemous to Muslims.
Holy Qur’an Sura 5 - Al-Maeda (MADINA) : Verse 73
”They disbelieve who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.”
Holy Qur’an Sura 5 - Al-Maeda (MADINA) : Verse 17
”In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary. Say: "Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His Will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all― everyone that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things."
The Catholics here ought to recognize the sensitivities of Muslims and to be respectful of the position of Islam in this country. They are urged to desist from usage of Allah in their Bahasa Malaysia publications which can lead to statements of blasphemy to Muslims being published. I trust that the Catholics too value peace and harmony in society. Should they wish to publish in Arabic therefore, then certainly they have the right to use the Arabic word for God, “Allah”. Since they wish to publish in Bahasa Malaysia however, then they should use “Tuhan”.