A rose by any other name would smell as sweet
|Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com|
Call me murtad (apostate), I don't care. Call me syirik (polytheist), I don't care. Heavy accusations in Islam, these two. I hope the accusers have the necessary proof, evidence and criteria to do so.
I, an official Muslim, hereby publicly declare that I have no problems with other religions aside from Islam using the word Allah to refer to God.
Most of the times when I write my column, it is to address a readership that is as wide and as general as possible without targeting too specific a group.
But this week, I am writing to Muslims in particular (err, but if you are an infidel, you can still continue reading!), and especially Malay Muslims.
As Muslims, we are obligated to believe in the existence of the prophets and this includes the prophet Jesus, who brought to the world Christianity, and even Moses who brought Judaism.
As a Muslim, we are also obligated to believe in the existence of the holy books and this includes the Bible which taught Christianity and the Torah which taught Judaism.
And, when we believe in all this, we also have to believe that all Abrahamic religions come from one God, and in Arabic (the main language of Islam's Quran) the word is Allah.
So, when an argument is made that Christianity and Islam are two different religions, no one can deny it. It's true. These are two different religions.
But when it comes to God, both these different religions refer to the same God. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet (oh crap, did I just objectify God as a rose?).
Ahh, how I wish this simple explanation isn't so cliché. Unfortunately, it is. It is a simple explanation that has been preached so many times over so many years.
And why do some Malay Muslims still choose to ignore this? I believe it is because they are stupid, ignorant and just plain arrogant too.
I once shot a short documentary on this same issue many years ago. I interviewed lots of people, from the editor of the Herald, to Islamic scholars, and members of the public.
What hit me the most was a comment made by a Malay Muslim man who looked to be in his late 20s or early 30s walking along the streets of Taman Tun Dr. Ismail in Kuala Lumpur.
He said that he knows Allah is just an Arabic word for God. He knows that the Malay word "Tuhan" also means the same thing.
He also knows that in many parts of the world, the word Allah is used by many other religions including Christianity, and this is particular true in Arab-speaking countries.
"But in Malaysia, the word is used by Malay Muslims and it should be exclusively for Malay Muslims. I don't care!" he says as a matter of factly.
I really don't want to be judgmental. But tell me honestly if that comment by that Malay Muslim man doesn't reek of "please judge me negatively now!"?
So it's obvious that the reason why Christians cannot use the word Allah is not religious at all. It is not stated anywhere in the Quran, nor has it been mentioned by the prophet Muhammad.
Then, what is the reason? From everything that I've observed regarding this matter, I have to say that in my humble opinion as a loud-mouthed journalist and columnist, the reason is political.
In my humble opinion, it is a way for Malay Muslims to show that they are the dominant race and everyone else who are not of that status should be put in their places.
It is sad to see this happening, but I think that I still have faith in Malaysia and the Malaysian people in the grander scale of things.
For every stupid, ignorant and arrogant Malay Muslim out there, there are even more rational, intellectual and moderate thinking ones.
The country needs to be inclusive to ensure proper progress and developent. Its serves no positive purpose isolating other fellow Malaysians based on race and religion.
Malaysia does not belong exclusively to the Malays or to Muslims. And neither can a particular word in a particular language.
Get real people. Do you think that God even gives a damn what word in what language people use to refer to him or her? - October 18, 2013.
*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.