Malaysia: no change on use of word Allah

(Photo courtesy Open Doors)

(Photo courtesy Open Doors)

Malaysia (ODM) — On 23 June, Malaysia’s highest court refused the Church’s request to challenge a court verdict that banned the word Allah, or God, from being used in its publication, The Herald Weekly.

The dispute began in 2008 when the newsletter was banned by the Home Ministry of Malaysia from using the word. The Catholic Church contested the rule and won back its constitutional right in 2009, only to lose it again after the Court of Appeal overturned the decision in October 2013.

In several states, Christians are prohibited from using over 30 Arabic words outside the Muslim context. Nine of those words, including Allah, are found in local language Bibles. They are mainly used by believers in East Malaysia, who make up two-thirds of the Christian population.

(Image courtesy Open Doors)

(Image courtesy Open Doors)

Although “extremely disappointed,” the Christian Federation of Malaysia (NECF) wrote in its media statement that it considered the court decision “as being confined to the specific facts of that particular case, and otherwise maintain that the Christian community continues to have the right to use the word Allah in its Bibles, church services, and Christian gatherings in its on-going ministry to Bahasa Malaysia-speaking congregations, as it has done all this while.”

Please pray that the Christian community in Malaysia will remain steadfast in its faith and courageous in the face of prolonged adversity.