*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Ruling to allow Christians to use ‘Allah’ challenged by Malaysian government

26 March 2021

ALAMY

The Coat of Arms of Malaysia on a High Court building in George Town last May

The Coat of Arms of Malaysia on a High Court building in George Town last May

A RULING from the High Court in Malaysia, which says that Christians can use the word “Allah” to refer to God, is to be challenged by the government, prolonging a decades-long battle.

The High Court earlier this month overturned a government ban on Christians’ using the word “Allah” to refer to God, in a case brought by a Christian, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, after her CDs were seized at an airport in 2008, as it was found that they contained the word.

Although Malaysia is majority-Muslim, Christian communities are the third largest religious group in the country. They have argued that they have used the word “Allah” to refer to God for centuries, but challenges over their use of it have previously sparked violence and unrest.

Ms Bill launched a legal challenge against the 1986 ban on Christians’ using the word in publications, arguing that it infringed on her right to practise her religion. Last week, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled that she had the right not to face discrimination on the grounds of her faith.

The judge, Justice Nor Bee, also ruled that other words of Arabic origin — Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine in Mecca; baitullah, which means House of God; and salat, which means prayer — could also be used by Christians.

But, last week, the government confirmed that it was appealing against the ruling, after protests at the court’s decision by some Muslims.

In a separate case in 2009, a local Roman Catholic newspaper, The Herald, sued the government after it said that it could not use the world in its Malay-language edition to describe the Christian God.

When a lower court ruled in favour of The Herald, tensions between Christians and Muslims spilled over into attacks on churches and mosques. But, in 2013, the Court of Appeal overturned the lower court’s ruling and reinstated the ban.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available

 

Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available

 

SAVE THE DATE

Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website

 

Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)