Dan sesungguhnya telah Kami berikan hikmat kepada Luqman, iaitu: "Bersyukurlah kepada Allah. Dan barangsiapa yang bersyukur (kepada Allah), maka sesungguhnya ia bersyukur untuk dirinya sendiri, dan barangsiapa yang tidak bersyukur, maka sesungguhnya Allah Maha Kaya lagi Maha Terpuji." Surah Luqman:12

Monday, January 4, 2010

Malaysian court rules Christians can use 'Allah'

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's High Court on Thursday handed down a landmark ruling by overturning a government ban on the use of the word Allah, or God in Arabic, in the weekly Herald, the Catholic Weekly run by the Roman Catholic Church.

The court ruled that Christians have the constitutional right to use the word Allah in reference to God.The Kuala Lumpur High Court also said a government ban on non-Muslims using the word was illegal.

Christian group hailed the ruling as a victory or freedom of religion in the Muslim-majority country, where the issue has become a symbol of religious grievances of minority groups.

Reverend Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of The Herald, welcomed the court ruling saying the judgment upheld freedom of expression and religion in the country.

“This also means that the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking community of the Christian faith can now continue to freely use the word ‘Allah’ without any interference from the authorities,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur today.

The court was ruling on a lawsuit filed by Malaysia's Roman Catholic Church in late 2007 after the government blocked non-Muslims from translating God as Allah in their litrature.

Government authorities had insisted that Allah is an Islamic word that should be used exclusively by Muslims to refer to God, and its use by other religions would be misleading.

But the High Court said its ruling on Thursday that the word Allah was not exclusive to Islam, and that an existing ban by the Home Ministry was illegal and void. The court ruled that the Herald newspaper was now permitted to use Allah to refer to God in its Malay-language articles.

The court decision put to rest a year-long legal battle between the Catholic church and the mainly Muslim government, which ruled that the word Allah was prohibited in any non-Islamic publications in order to avoid 'confusion' among Muslims.

The government's ban on the use of the word in the Herald, the country's main Roman Catholic newsletter, prompted minority religious groups to argue that the Arabic word is a common term for God that predates Islam and has been used for centuries as a translation in Malay.

Malaysia's constitution declares it a secular state but with Islam as its official religion. About 60 per cent of Malaysia's 25 million people are Muslims.



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