THE ALLAH CONTROVERSY series...
(in chronological descending order)
1. Be Strong and Courageous
2. The Allah Issue: Round 2
3. The Allah Debate: Moderating Principles
4. The Debate: Allah or Are There Alternatives?
5. Names of God in the Bible
6. A Brief Survey of Views Expressed in the Allah Controversy
7. Testing Times
The arson attacks against a number of church premises in the Klang Valley and elsewhere in the country on (and after) Friday, January 8, are a cause for concern. They came on the heels of the High Court's decision to allow The Herald, a publication of the Roman Catholic Church, the use of the word Allah. The High Court's decision has upset many Muslim individuals and NGOs; and they staged protests throughout the country after Friday prayers on the same day that three of the arson attacks were first detected.
It is comforting to note, though, the chorus of condemnation against the attacks that was uniformly voiced from across the spectrum of the political divide - from the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers right through to the opposition figures. Even some of the leaders of the Muslim NGOs have voiced their opposition against the attacks. It is hoped that saner minds will prevail and that this insane streak of violence will be (and can be) nipped in the bud. Otherwise, the country may be in for some turbulent times.
The contest and debate surrounding the use of the word Allah has to be resolved sooner than later. While one group sees it as having (or wanting) to have exclusive proprietary rights to the use of the word, others have a different opinion. Historically, etymologically, and religiously, the word in its original stems is not exclusive to any particular group. Language, as we know it, has evolved and been shared by many kindred ethnic groups that today, we speak of families of languages; and Arabic is one in a family that has common ancestors in many of its words with other kin languages. Today, words not only evolve within but jump across family boundaries with lightning speed. One can speak cheese and another cheesee and both will understand one another even though they are speaking in two totally unrelated languages.
The attempt, for reasons best known to the powers that be, to legally or administratively proscribe the word Allah from being used by groups other than Muslim in this country, arguably, rests on a very thin bare bark. Yet, the notion of proscribing words or names is not without any precedent. Try using McDonald in your signboard outside your cafeteria and you will soon receive a lawsuit from you know who. You get my drift, dont you?
But as matters stand, we are in for some testing times. It is in these times that our Christian faith will be exposed for what it is. Will it be the tooth-for-tooth madness; or, will it be the love-your-enemies-and-pray-for-those-who-persecute-you grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Matthew 5:38ff.)?