A Christian group in Malaysia opposed the suggestion by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) for Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) to produce “an official Malay translation” of the Bible. This, to correct the alleged erroneous use of the word “Allah” to mean God in Christian publications, reports The Malaysian Insight.
The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) said under the constitution, every religion has the right to manage its affairs, as long as they don’t violate public order, public health, or morality.
The issue about the use of “Allah” in Christian materials was brought by a case filed by Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill against the Home Minister and the government. Bill challenged the minister’s decision to seize eight of her CDs containing the word “Allah.”
Mais lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla claimed that Christians in the Sabah and Sarawak states misuse the word Allah. Instead, he suggested, Christians should use “Tuhan” for God in Bahasa Malaysia.
NECF explained that Christian communities have been using the word “Allah.” It added that, “Nobody and no party can dictate how Christians should call their God, in whatever language.”
The umbrella body of Christian Evangelical churches in Malaysia said they are protected by Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. It added that highly qualified Christian scholars, and not a government agency, should be the ones to translate the Bible to Bahasa Malaysia.
According to Free Malasia Today, NECF chairman Rev Eu Hong Seng said, “The Holy Scriptures used by Christians must be translated accurately, without loss, change or distortion of the meaning of the original text.”
The church leader lamented that Mais’ proposal to prevent Christians from using the word “Allah” is “very upsetting.” He added that suggesting a government agency to translate the Bible “only adds insult to injury.”