Over the weekend this news story came out:
(CNN) — Authorities in Malaysia have seized more than 20,000 Bibles in recent months because they refer to God as “Allah,” Christian leaders said Thursday.
The seizures have fed fears among minority groups, which see signs of encroaching Islamic fundamentalism in the predominantly Muslim but multi-racial country.
“There is a growing sense of Islamic assertion, yes,” said the Rev. Hermen Shastri, general-secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia. “There is some concern.”
The Bibles were written in the country’s official language, Malay — in which the word for God is “Allah,” as it is in Arabic.
However, Malaysia’s government says the word is exclusive to Islam.
Its use in Christian publications is likely to confuse Muslims and draw them to Christianity, the government says. So it has banned use of the word in Christian literature.
“Malay has borrowed from Arabic, just as it has from Sanskrit and Portuguese,” Shastri said. “We have maintained the community has the right to use the word.
“But I think this has ignited a cause in the Muslim communities, who are interpreting it as a siege on Islamic beliefs.”
A Home Ministry official directed requests for comment to the ministry’s Publications and Quran Text Control Department, which enforces the ban. An employee there redirected calls to a spokeswoman, who in turn asked CNN to call the Home Ministry back. Calls to other departments were similarly redirected.
A Roman Catholic weekly newspaper, The Herald, is challenging the ban in court after the government threatened to revoke its license for using the word in its Malay edition. Hearings on the case have gone on for two years.
“We quote it as it is. We cannot change the text of the Scripture,” Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew told CNN last year. “I cannot be the editor of the Bible.”…
Can you imagine the uproar if 20,000 Qur’ans had been seized by a “Christian” government? And for what? Using the common word “God”! In Malaysia the courts have ruled that only Muslims can use the word Allah, even though the standard word for God in their language is…Allah! Ostensibly the reason given is that Muslims might be “confused” by non-Muslim use of “Allah.” Imagine that!
Meanwhile, if you support and subscribe to such organization as Voice of the Martyrs, and Barnabas Aid (as I do!), you hear daily of those being imprisoned, beaten, wounded, and killed, for the name of Christ. Yes, sometimes those being imprisoned are imprisoned by Communists, as in Vietnam, for example, and South Korea. Sometimes Hindus are doing the attacking, as in portions of India. There is persecution of evangelicals by Roman Catholics in southern Mexico. But the vast majority of the time those beheading, slashing, raping, and imprisoning, say the five daily prayers and loudly scream “Allahu Akhbar!” while engaging in these activities. I am thankful for those Muslims who condemn these things, but I have noticed something that is frightening, sad, and instructive: those voices are found only in nations with the smallest Muslim minorities, such as the US. Once Islam becomes the predominant religious and political system in a culture (and make no mistake, it is both), the calls for moderation and freedom become silent. In fact, those who would dare to call for such things find themselves imprisoned, or worse. Where are the voices in Saudi Arabia today? Egypt? Pakistan? Can “moderate” Islam survive Islam’s rise to power in a culture? These are vital questions.