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Jewish Journal

Malaysian Christians can call God ‘Allah’

by Brad A. Greenberg

January 8, 2008 | 10:47 am

This is good news:

A Roman Catholic newspaper has reported the Malaysian government has reversed its decision to ban the publication over its use of the word Allah, easing tensions that had strained racial harmony in the multiethnic country.

In a surprising turnabout, the government renewed The Herald weekly’s 2008 permit without any conditions, said its editor Rev. Lawrence Andrew. Internal security officials declined to comment. All publications in Malaysia require a government permit, which is renewed annually.

The government had said that Allah, an Arabic word for God, can only be used by Muslims. Officials feared that using Allah in Christian literature would confuse the Malays and draw them to Christianity.

Malaysian Christians said that Allah that was used by Christians before Islam was established. Even in Malaysia, Malay-speaking Christians have used the word Allah for generations. Allah also means God in Bahasa Melayu, the language of Malays.

Though Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the God of Abraham, there are clearly differences in how members of those faiths understand Him, which I would say actually means they believe in different representations of the same One God. Other amateur theologians argue that members of the Abrahamic faiths believe in a different Creator. Assuming the former is true, should Christians call God “Allah?”

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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