It was during the massive hullabaloo over the Agnes Monica’s “Allah Peduli” (Allah Cares) song several years ago that I began to wonder what was it that a mellifluous song with estimate duration of five minutes was possibly capable of annihilating the entire basis of faith one had been holding on to in his/her entire life.
While others were voluntarily recruiting themselves to join the self-styled crusade against what was claimed to be a subtle means of proselytisation, I on the other hand had just determined to embark on my journey to, not just know, but find the best way possible to fall in love with my Allah, whoever She or He may be or belong to. Trust me at once, that this very journey was never an easy experience. Never once it was – and that was simply because, to my sheer consternation – there appeared to be more than just one Allah that I had known all along!
A disgrace to the historical scheme of things
The current decision of Their Lordships at the Court of Appeal in the “Allah” case holding that the exclusivity of the word “Allah” has to belong strictly to Muslims is an atrociously researched verdict as it essentially ignores the historical matrix that entails the material span within which the word “Allah” has been used in reference to the God of Christianity, or of Sikhism for that matter.
One must not shudder at the fact that the word “Allah” has always been a word that one uses while referring to his God. That is to say, the word “Allah” and “God” have been used interchangeably for so long even before the existence of Islam. People, irrespective of their religious beliefs within the Islamic region worldwide, with our Malaysia being an exception to the ubiquitous practice; have been referring to ‘Allah’ in a wealth of instances – Bibles, hymns, poems, and other spiritual writings for over nineteen centuries.
It is worth noting that while the issue of translation of the word ‘Allah’ has been a very hotly debated topic amongst non-Arabic speaking countries, Muslims in the Arab region have no misgiving whatsoever in letting their Arab Christian brethren refer ‘Elohim’ and ‘Theos’ as Allah. Subject to correction, many scholars believe that Allah is the Arabic cognate of the Biblical Aramaic, thus serving as a generic word for God constantly used throughout the Old Testament.
Lest they forget, those who ruthlessly brandish their tasseled ebony swords in the name of Jihad against those whom they accuse of trifling with the God of Islam might want to refresh their historical memory that Prophet Mohammed was fathered by a man, Abd-Allah which is an Arabic translation for “The Servant of Allah – God”, who was obviously not a Muslim, many years before the birth of the Prophet or Islam was even revealed to the Prophet.
Salus Populi Suprema Lex vs Quod ad jus naturale attinet, omnes homines aequales sunt
Many have spoken rather ferociously about the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984, so I shall spare the readers of any more acerbity. My focus is purely one of jurisprudential concern.
Justice Mohamed Apandi bin Ali, in his judgment, quoted en passant a maxim of ‘Salus Populi Suprema Lax’ which denotes the safety of the people being the supreme law and ‘Salus Republicae Suprema Lax’ which signifies the supremacy of the law founded upon the safety of the state. Further His Lordship held that these two maxims do co-exist and are relevant to the doctrine that the welfare of an individual or group must yield to that of the community, citing the Article 3 (1) and Article 11 (1) of the Federal Constitution that, according to His Lordship, must never be read in isolation.
As much as His Lordship emphatically urges that these maxims must yield to the community, I sincerely implore my brethren to not yield to eternal intellectual oblivion. My concern is of course not without justification.
I argue that the ‘safety of the people’ must not, without fail, rubbish the attribute of inclusiveness of the people in the country in its entirety and no amount of exception should be warranted. This means to say, that the maxim seeks to include EVERY single individual as opposed to one group of people whose interest happens to outweigh the other.
Even if His Lordship was to have it on his mind that the concept of ‘safety of the people’ had signified the latter, I argue that, as Malaysia puts the Federal Constitutional on the highest legal pedestal, such contemplation would, in essence result in a major constitutional diversion, simply because it insults the cardinal concept of equality that is deeply ingrained within the our constitutional framework, not favouritism.
It would perhaps, work effectively in the British legal system where the Parliament, in upholding the concept of parliamentary sovereignty make enact any laws with due consideration of the safety of greater number of people at the expense of the minority as it seems fit with complete disregard to its Constitution, thereby leading to an understanding that preferential treatment may, in some way or another, be justified in the name of national security. In another word, such concept, insofar as Malaysia in concerned, is unconstitutional ab initio.
My sincere conjecture suggests that His Lordship might have inadvertently overlooked to consider yet another maxim of ‘Quod ad jus Naturale Attinet, Omnes Homines Aequales Sunt’ which seeks to advocate that in proper administration of the law, fair and equitable treatment of all individuals under the law must always be maintained. Hence, the maxim is only best suited to our Malaysian constitutional scheme of things as it is in absolute congruence with Article 8 of the Federal Constitution that speaks of the crux that lies behind the maxim in totality.
Might we all be reminded that constitutional supremacy, not popular belief, has to be the order of the day?
‘Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself’ – Hermione Granger
It is very disturbing indeed that the so-called legal martyr against Christianity is pursued on the basis of fear for confusion amongst Moslems. As a Muslim, must this not appear as an insult rather than insulation?
The exclusivity of the ‘Allah’ strictly to Muslims for fear of faith apocalypse does not, at all help increase one’s level of piety if what ensues at the end of this unnecessary tussle is nothing but perpetual anathema to each other. It only serves as an affirmation to an already ubiquitous belief that Muslims can be as frail as being capable of destruction just by a single word. It is a surprise that we nonchalantly give a nod to such assertion, thinking that it would make us a better learned adherent, when in actuality, we are just a bunch of blind adherents. Worse still, such dishonesty is occasioned by none other than those in our midst.
Does the fear portrayed by way of repetitive utterance of the word escalate our level of piety any higher than the understanding of the word itself? And more importantly: Do we actually fear ‘Allah’ – the word, or the Allah-ness of ‘Allah’, the Creator of the entire creation? I wonder.
For believers, many seem to have not been heedful of the fact that fear for ‘Allah’, must include fear for any actions that could invite Her or His wrath. As Muslims, what could possibly put us in greater comfort when our brethren are deeply hurt and not helped to mitigate their hurt?
At the risk of the fallacy of relative privation, there are other more important issues that need to be urgently addressed than a battle over the ownership of one word. In fact, I personally doubt it is even an important issue to begin with.
There is oodles of Mulsim women who have been waiting for years just to get a divorce from their abusive and polygamous husbands who never appreciate the spirit of Surah An-Nisa’ (4:129) on the issue of fairness. Many ex-convert wives dread the enforcement of the Shariah law that deprives them of their children when they choose to revert to their faith of origin.
Never forget at once the immeasurable amount of predicament that the other minority groups have to suffer when their access to justice is often turned a blind eye on, because, well, they are a minority – and the whole lot of majority seem to be profoundly engrossed with fighting over a word that many often utter but know almost nothing about the spirit behind such utterance.
All because we never choose not to care, forgetting that Allah, whoever She or He is, never stops caring.
*** We took this article from MalaysiaToday.COm.