Friday, January 08, 2010

The Allah question in brief and the situation now

Some of you might have heard in the news about the happenings in Malaysia. In short, the native language of a large number of indigenous Christians is Malay which, as a majority of the Malays of the Muslim faith, has a lot of Arabic words. In the Bibles of the Malay language used by these native Christians (as early as the 1800's), the title Lord God is rendered as Tuhan Allah. And Allah is frequently used to refer to God the Father.

Allah as you all know is the name of the god of the Muslims. And my position on the equivalence of the Muslim and Christian God is pretty clear. There is none and though the words are the same, when a Christian uses Allah, and a Muslim uses Allah, they refer to different entities. Please refer to my post, "There is only one God and Jesus is His Son" for more details.

Anyway, this longstanding use of Allah was recently forbidden in the Catholic Herald, a weekly publication which also appears in the Malay language. Non adherence was threatened with a revocation of the publication permit. So the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, as the publisher of the Herald, challenged this decision in court and, the legal and historical facts being presented, won the case.

Ignorant of these facts, the majority of Muslims think that the Christians are only now beginning to use Allah to refer to God and think this will confuse Muslims and are madly and irrationally angry, as Muslims often get. And so, things like the burning of Churches occur. May protest marches are also being planned. But the majority of the people have no clue of what is actually going on or what the issue is.

D0 pray for us in Malaysia and may the Lord Jesus return soon. Maranatha.

Fire attack fails in PJ church

By Debra Chong

PETALING JAYA, Jan 8 — A Catholic church next to the Assunta Hospital here came under attack early this morning, just hours after another church in nearby Kuala Lumpur was torched.

Roman Catholic church officials said some homemade explosives were lobbed into the Church of the Assumption in Jalan Templar at about 4am.

“It did not explode,” said Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of Catholic paper Herald.

Lawrence was himself informed of the incident through a text message sent out by Assumption parish priest Father Phillips Muthu.

“Someone threw homemade kerosene explosives into Assumption Church, Jalan Templar, Petaling Jaya at 4am. Am going to Police later. Earlier the Metro Tabernacle was burned in Desa Melawati, media has filed story,” said the message forwarded toThe Malaysian Insider.

This is the second such reported attack on a church in the last 12 hours.

A Protestant church, Metro Tabernacle in leafy Desa Melawati, was torched at around midnight.

The fire took out the church's administrative office, which is housed on the ground floor of its three-storey premises.

Eyewitnesses recounted seeing several people on motorcycles stopping in front of the church and smashing the glass windows to pour flammable liquid and igniting the blaze.

Church officials have reported the attack to the police.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Mohamad Sabtu Osman said it was too early to link the attack on the church to Muslim protests over a High Court ruling allowing the weekly Herald to publish the word “Allah” to refer to God in the Christian context.

“'We are still investigating,”' he is reported to have said.

Mohamad Sabtu also warned Muslims not to take part in planned protests at several mosques in the Klang Valley after Friday prayers.

The mercury is expected to rise and all fire stations have been put on the alert.

The police have also tightened their nightly patrols around churches in the past week following the High Court ruling on Dec 31.

KL church torched

Policemen at the scene after the fire. - Picture courtesy of Metro Tabernacle

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — A city church in the leafy Desa Melawati suburb was set on fire at midnight as police warned angry Muslim groups not to protest a controversial ruling allowing Catholic weekly Herald to use “Allah” in its national language section.

The attack on the Metro Tabernacle A/G, an Assemblies of God church in Jalan 4/4C Desa Melawati, completely gutted its administrative office on the ground floor. There were no reported injuries in the midnight attack.

Police have yet to identify the attackers and no one has claimed responsibility for the attack which could be related to anger over the Dec 31 court ruling. The judgment has been suspended pending government appeal.

According to an eyewitness who had just finished a drink at a coffeeshop located directly across the church, three or four persons on two motorcycles stopped in front of the church.

"They proceeded to break the glass panels on the ground floor before pouring some flammable liquid and setting off a fire," said a statement issued by the church.

The church is housed in a three-storey shoplot with the office on the ground floor. Church officials have lodged a police report over the incident.

Earlier in the night, the judiciary website was defaced and later taken offline.

The Metro Tabernacle is not affiliated to the Roman Catholic Church which had challenged a 2007 order to stop using “Allah” to describe the Christian God in the Herald's Bahasa Malaysia section.

The Herald is tightly circulated among the mainly Muslim country's estimated 850,000 Catholics who worship in English, Mandarin, Tamil and Bahasa Malaysia.

The Roman Catholic Church had agreed not to object to suspend the judgment out of "national interests" as Muslim groups objected to the ruling and threatened to protest.

The groups have organised protests after Friday prayers at two mosques in Kuala Lumpur today despite police orders not to proceed.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his cousin Home Minister Datuk Hishamuddin Hussein have backed the right to protest within mosque grounds to the chagrin of many who have been previously detained at opposition gatherings.

Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur police chief Mohamad Sabtu Osman said it was premature to link the attack on the church to the protests over the Allah ban.

''We are still investigating,'' he told the Associated Press. He also urged Muslims not to participate in the planned protests, adding that police would be stationed at mosques to monitor the situation.

Police limit gatherings in public to five people and usually take tough action, including using tear gas and chemically-laced water from water cannons, to disperse protests.


Gallivanter said...

Ignorance plus herd mentality are recipes for disaster.

Der Herr Alipius said...

I just read today that another three churches were attacked in Malaysia. I pray for you. Please, keep us informed of what's going on. It is important to have voices like yours that report off the beaten track of the mainstream media.

Jeff said...

Let me explain why I disagree with you about Allah and God.

I think you are making a mistake in analysis.

Imagine two people in a house and a car outside in the driveway.

You ask those two people what is outside in the driveway.

Both answer: "A car".

Then you query them: "Describe the car for me".

One person describes the car with perfect accuracy.

Another has mistaken ideas about the car--seriously mistaken ideas.

But both are talking about the same car.

A person can be mistaken in serious ways about God but still believe in God: the only God there is.

It makes sense to say "Is God loving?" That means, "Is the One True Creator of the Universe loving or not?"

Asking that question is not nonsensical. There is one right answer and one wrong answer. But getting the answer wrong means that you are wrong about God. Not that you are talking about something else besides God.

You don't have to be right about God in order to be talking about or trying to seek or offering worship to God.

A child who thinks God is a big man in chair in the clouds is wrong about God. But he is not "worshiping a different God."

I don't think this is necessarily true about Hindus. If you believe in many gods, not One God, you are talking about something different.

But the answer to the question: Is there someone Who created all that is and sustains it in being? is Yes. And the answer to the question: Who is that being? is God.

The one and only God. To whom Christians offer perfect worship and Muslims offer very imperfect worship.

I can give the same answer in paraphrase to Muslims that Our Blessed Lord gave to the Samaritan woman:

"You Muslims worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Church".

John 4: 22.

Andrew said...

Jeff, the car is an inanimate object. So your analogy might work. But take ur analogy and imagine this:

Imagine two people in a house and a MAN outside in the driveway.

You ask those two people who is outside in the driveway. The first person goes out and sees the man who identifies himself as Uncle Jeff and his son is in the car and they want to see you.

The first person comes in and says "It's your uncle Jeff, with the son".

You ask the second person and by this time, since you asked so many questions, your uncle Jeff has left, fuming =)

And another guy comes along who also happens to be your uncle and who also happens to be called Jeff. And the second person says, "It's your uncle Jeff, the single one with the limp.

Then you query them: "Which uncle Jeff is it?".

Person one describes uncle Jeff and his kid perfectly. Person two describes single uncle Jeff with the limp.

So, clearly, both are talking about different people here. Both are uncle Jeff, but are in fact different people.

In sum, Jeff, the car is an inanimate object. God is not. God revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and then thru Jesus and we understand Him to be Trinity, God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Allah of the Muslims also revealed himself, but as a solitary god with no Son. Therefore, they are different entities.

Jeff said...

I think the comparison is inapt.

The Catholic Church teaches infallibly in the documents of the First Vatican Council that God can be known by reason alone. Faith is not necessary.

But Faith is necessary for belief in the Trinity. The Trinity is a revealed doctrine.

A person who did not know about the Trinity would be IGNORANT of a truth about God. But if he tried to worship a non-Trinitarian God, he would not be worshiping a different God.

A monotheistic Jew in Jesus time--or today--who DENIED the Trinity would not be worshiping a different God. He would simply be WRONG about God. And perhaps innocently so.

A person who thinks that the Creator of the Universe revealed Himself to Mohammed in the Quran is WRONG. WRONG about God. But He doesn't thereby worship a different God.

It's far from unintelligible to say, "When I was a Jew, I didn't believe in the Trinity or in the Incarnation. But I loved God. Gradually, I came to realize that Jesus was His Son and that He was Triune."

This is a perfectly reasonable statement that any Christian could endorse.

Is there a word for the personal creator of the universe and of humanity, the Lawgiver and Judge for all mankind? Of course. The word is "God".

And as Christians and Muslims agree, there is only One God. We both worship Him, though Muslims do so in a flawed manner.

Andrew said...

Question. Do we take the Muslims on their word or do we assign meaning to their words?

According to Muslims and their prophet, their god specifically revealed to them that he has no Son and that the Christians are mistaken in worshiping a Trinitarian God. Their god revealed Islam as a correction of that error and on the true nature of God. This is post-Jesus and post-Christianity.

Muslims clearly believe that their God is not the Trinitarian God of the Christians. Do we take them at their word?

This is different from a pre-Jesus Judaism or the Judaism of today. Because of progressive revelation, the Trinitarian nature of God is revealed thru Jesus. Judaism does not accept this revelation.

But Islam, a post-Christian religion, thinks of itself as a correction of that revelation.

According to the Bible, 1 John 2:22, we read that 'Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist--he denies the Father and the Son."

What then can be said about Islam and their prophet?

Anonymous said...

Just one word: STUPID.