The meter of religious intolerance is being ratcheted up again, according to this Reuters piece from Al Arabiya TV. Authorities (and mobs) in Malaysia are incensed that the Papal Nuncio to Kuala Lumpur used the word “Allah” to describe God. “Allah”, they claim, should only be used to address the Muslim God. Never mind that for better than a millennium the word “Allah” has been used by Arab Christians.

The situation is particularly tragic as Islamophobes try to argue that “Allah” is a separate sort of god, not at all the Christian or Jewish one. Muslims in Malaysia are helping their enemies by insisting that there’s a difference.

First Vatican envoy to Malaysia sparks Muslim anger over ‘Allah’
Reuters, Kuala Lumpur

The Vatican’s first envoy to Malaysia has opened a storm of controversy by apparently supporting the use of the word “Allah” by Christians, prompting a rebuke from the government and condemnation from nationalist Malay groups in the majority-Muslim country.

The row underlines growing intolerance in the multi-ethnic, multi-religious country following an election in May that deepened the divide between majority Muslim Malays and minority ethnic Chinese, many of whom are Christian.

Archbishop Joseph Marino was summoned to the foreign ministry on Tuesday after his comments last week on the issue.

“Archbishop Marino was advised to be mindful of the religious sensitivities of the host country and that the issue he commented on is still under the Court of Appeal,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Marino, who arrived in the country in April, apologized for any “misunderstandings and inconveniences” his comments may have caused, but some Muslim organizations have demanded a full retraction or the envoy’s expulsion.

July:18:2013 - 05:09 | Comments & Trackbacks (4) | Permalink
4 Responses to “A Rose by Any Name”
  1. 1
    susanne430 Said:
    July:18:2013 - 07:34 

    Interesting! Maybe the difference is that Malaysia isn’t an Arabic-speaking country. Still, it does make the case for our having different gods.

  2. 2
    Jerry M Said:
    July:18:2013 - 10:11 

    This controversy would be foolish if it wasn’t being taken so seriously. Malay has many loan words from Arabic (as does English of course). The usual translation for God in Malay is Allah.

  3. 3
    Saudi Jawa Said:
    July:18:2013 - 12:08 

    My Malay is a bit rusty (ok very rusty), but I believe that Allah is usually used as a reference to the Islamic concept of God. They have another religion-neutral term for God: tuhan.

    That being said, I do not find it healthy that any one should make this sort of distinction. One of the tenets of Islam is that we worship the same God.

  4. 4
    Jerry M Said:
    July:18:2013 - 12:17 

    I don’t know Malay but sites that discuss this issue say the tuhan is usually the word used for ‘Lord’ and Allah for ‘God’. Now that begs the question as to what the word is in the original languages.

    This is so wrong. If Muslims believe that Christians are simply practicing a distorted religion that comes from the same source as their religion, then Allah would be an appropriate term for God (although it is one an English speaker would not use).

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