I had to scratch my head just a little today when I read a BBC report that says the government of Malaysia has decreed "that the the word Allah can only be used by Muslims."
Allah merely means God in Arabic and I am absolutely dumbfounded by the audacity of the Malaysian government to claim that Muslims have sovereignty over the use of the word.
The report says that the Herald, the newspaper of the Catholic Church in Malaysia, and The Sabah Evangelical Church of Borneo have taken legal action to challenge the ministerial ruling.
The government has not yet made an official statement regarding the ban or the legal challenge.
Parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang contends that the ban is "unlawful".
He added that "The term Allah was used to refer to God by Arabic-speaking Christians before Arabic-speaking Muslims existed ... "
I would take the issue one step further and say that in terms of Islamic law (Sharia) this ban is absolutely un-Islamic.
My thinking is prompted by the repeated versus in the Qur'an that define the believers to be Jews, Christians, the Sabians, and anyone who accepts the divine authority of God.
In addition, there is not one single verse in the Qur'an that gives the right to any Muslim to decide who can and cannot refer to God as Allah.
In fact, Muslims accept that there are 99 names, or attributes, that are used to refer to God. Allah is only one of those names.
Among the other names, or attributes, that are used to refer to God/Allah are Ar Rahman (Beneficent), Ar Rahim (Merciful), Al Aziz (Almighty), for example.
The Malaysian government has made a mockery out of the religion that presses Muslims to live with compassion and acceptance.
There is no place for this kind of misguided buffoonery inside of Islam.
The Qur'an is very clear about the fact that there is only one God/Allah, the God/Allah of all, and there can be no meandering from this injunction for whatever reason.