Allah Berfirman…

“Sebab Allah berfirman: Hormatilah ayahmu dan ibumu; dan lagi: Siapa yang mengutuki ayahnya atau ibunya pasti dihukum mati’”

Now my Malay speaking friends, be honest. How many of you read the above verse and immediately thought that it came from the Quran? Or at least had something to do with Islam?

Well, if you did, then you’d be mistaken. The above was, in fact, taken verbatim from the Indonesian translation of Matthew 15:4 from the New Testament.

When someone is speaking in Malay and mentions Allah, we take it for granted that they are talking about the God of Islam. We don’t think about it or wonder, “which Allah are they referring to?”. It is automatic, much like how it is when someone mentions Allah when speaking English. Which is why I’m genuinely puzzled when some, like Marina Mahathir and Khalid Samad, scoff when fellow Muslims argue that the use of Allah by Christians to refer to their God would cause confusion.

In the Indonesian AlKitab, Exodus 23:24

You shall not bow down to their gods or serve them or do after their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break down their pillars and images.

translates to:

Janganlah engkau sujud menyembah kepada allah mereka atau beribadah kepadanya, dan janganlah engkau meniru perbuatan mereka, tetapi haruslah engkau memusnahkan sama sekali patung-patung berhala buatan mereka, dan tugu-tugu berhala mereka haruslah kauremukkan sama sekali.

Maybe this  makes sense in Indonesian, I don’t know. But in Malay, it certainly doesn’t, because the word “allah” simply doesn’t exist in the Malay lexicon. The correct translation surely must be “tuhan-tuhan mereka“. So if “god” is “tuhan”, then shouldn’t “God” be “Tuhan”? Of course it should, and to everyone, except perhaps the CFM and NECF,  it is. Remember the first article of our Rukunegara?

To me, when deciding whether it is appropriate for Christians to translate God to Allah in Malay, the fact that the Arabic word for God is Allah or how Leijdekker translated it some 400 years ago isn’t really relevant. What matters is what the term means in Malay today as spoken by the people who speak it every day. And for the vast majority of Malay speakers, the meaning could not be clearer: god is tuhan, God is Tuhan and Allah is the name of the God of the Muslims.


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