Monday, 18 January 2010

the word of god

actually, on the word god itself. again, my disclaimer that i'm not a big person on these kinds of issues. but some things just stand out like a horrible, festering wound on a sore thumb. with leprosy.

as you might have guessed, the current topic that's all the rage is the use and abuse of terminologies on godliness in a certain south-east asian country. barring the specifics, to save myself from any future repercussions, i apologetically incline you to use google and search up some resources and references for yourself.

the crux of the matter, though, is fairly simple. as far as i can chronologically put together, here's what happened:

christian church uses the word Allah in reference to god, specifically meaning the holy trinity (this is open to debate, but let's go with it for now). 'muslims' (which in accordance to my interpretation, actually means, said country's muslims, and of specific race), are outraged. lawsuit ensues to make the word Allah specific and privileged for said religion/race/nationality combo. lawsuit fails. retalliation, which results is burnings of churches, schools and various other organisations.

now, my two cents on the whole issue.

first cent: no. just effing no. no matter what the reason you had to start off with. no matter what justification you put forward. nothing gives you the right to burn down churches or schools. or anything else, for that matter. holy war? religious obligation? self-proclaimed crusade? vigilante justice in the name of god? just no.

f*ck. that. sh*t.

if you're going around doing this in an attempt to glorify your god / diety / absence thereof etc., then you're just doing it wrong. unless your religion or ideology promotes such violence, then we're open to some debate. but as it stands, islam is a religion of peace. so get it right.

second cent: who can use the word Allah? ok so this is something more interesting to discuss, as compared to burning bridges. let's go back to what islam has to say on the issue to begin with: apparently (as i am no authority on the matter, but i have friends who are), the usage of the word Allah by non-muslims is allowed, as long as they're not causing ambiguity or slander to the concept of a one, true (islamic) god. this is fair enough.

as for the church's use of the term, well they weren't referring to the Allah as per the quran, and so i can see if someone argues that this constitutes said ambiguity. furthermore, there is (somewhat unsourced) doubt cast upon their motifs of doing so in the first place, and accusations fly that there may be misleading of islamic youth to be converted by certain missionaries. ok, i can buy that. if that's indeed the case, than by all means, these churches have been something i'd consider underhanded. borderline unethical, but i guess any type of preaching has its variations of such.

so, to bar them from continuing this, i can see the appeal in denying non-muslims the use of the word Allah. if it were in false or misleading reference.

this is very touchy and definitely open to debate. as a cousin of mine aptly put into question, what about all the indonesians who have been using the term in reference to any god, such as christianity does in indonesian bibles? touchy issue. it's all about cultural and social acceptances and standards. i disagree with the practice of mashing up religions to the extent of making them blend together, creating a new one, such as the case in many parts of indonesia. not because i'm against the blending of people, but i think there has to be a stand where people can tell the difference between this and that, and it's no longer too ambiguous for children and third parties to make a snap assessment of who and what someone is (as respects to religion and practices). well, let's not complicate things, that's for another day. the point here is, certain customs already accept the (mis)use of Allah or Yahweh or Jesus whatever have you, and it is okay for them. is it okay for malaysians? this is something for the populace to decide, but my stand is that, no, don't complicate things especially for people who aren't in the knowhow.

my beef, though is with the 'populace', which in this case is the malay/muslim/malaysian community (or as i refer to them, tripleMs, sometimes quradrupleMs, if they're also male). 3Ms are the majority. stop abusing it. there's so many examples i can pick of said abuse, that it's not even funny anymore. what gives you the right to decide what's 'in the interest of your people' without consulting the other races / religions that constitute 'the people' beforehand? what level of ego and arrogance has become of you, such that you find it not only permissible, but your right to trademark a word (Allah) to your religion? and even worse, not just your religion, but to your race, apparently, as it seems that in said country, if you're not malay and muslim, you might as well not be either. for posterity, the word Allah is itself not an 'islamic' word. not in origin, not in use, not in specificity.

the arabs never laid claim to the word, and to an extent encouraged the use of the word to refer to any monotheistic god, such that (in my romanticised interpretation) religions could come together in better understanding. true, this necessitates a certain level of assumed knowledge, but this is not the point of discussion. what is the point, and better yet, beside the point, is the fact that some 3Ms are fighting for the privileged use of the word, and to what ends?... as i discussed with many people, it may have stemmed from the fear of ambiguity and misleading, but the fight has taken on a hydalisk zombie jesus head of its own and is now just a horrible bastardisation of the cause. with possibly no substantial ends being fought for. and this distresses me gravely.

at the end of the day, i guess, it's up to the muslims, be them 3Ms, 4Ms or otherwise, to decide, beside what's legal, what is socially and culturally acceptable in said country (i refuse to say religiously, as to me, it is beyond any doubt what the islamic stance on the issue is). to deny such a simple, benign gesture, though - is this really in line with a 'one malaysia' concept? where people can't use the terminologies in rerefence to god, that another might have? what's next, colour coded shoes by race, religion, and gender?

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