Selangor ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah today said that the ban prohibiting non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” would remain in place in the state despite the recent High Court ruling permitting Christians in the country to use “Allah” and three other words in their religious publications.
In a statement, he said “Allah” is a sacred name for Muslims and can only be used to refer to the Almighty God.
“However, if the word ‘Tuhan’ is used as a translation for ‘God’, I have no objection,” he added.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled on March 10 that Christians can use the words “Allah”, “Baitullah”, “Kaabah” and “solat” in their religious publications.
Court of Appeal judge Nor Bee Ariffin, sitting as a High Court judge, said this in allowing a judicial review application by Sarawak native Christian, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill.
In her application, Jill Ireland had sought among others a declaration that it is her constitutional right to have access to Christian publications in the exercise of her rights to practise her religion and right to education, as provided for under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.
She also wanted the court to declare the home ministry’s 1986 circular banning the word “Allah” in Christian publications as unconstitutional and unlawful.
Nor Bee in her ruling held that the 1986 directive by the home ministry barring the use of the four words was filled with illegality and irrationality.
“The use of the words would not disrupt public order,” she said, adding that the words could be used by the community for teaching purposes as they have been in use for more than 400 years.
But Sultan Sharafuddin said his stand on the matter is in line with the 2014 Federal Court ruling in the case of Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur vs the home ministry as well as the fatwa or religious ruling on Feb 18, 2010 stating that the word “Allah” cannot be used or equated with God for religions other than Islam.
He also ordered non-Muslims in Selangor to abide by the ban on the use of “Allah” as provided for under the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988, gazetted on July 7, 1988.
“What use is it being the head of Islam in Selangor if I fail to guard the sanctity of the name Allah and the religion of Islam from being tainted by those who have their own agendas?
“I have always urged my people to respect the religious beliefs of others and to refrain from touching on religious sensitivities that could damage unity in the state.
“If Muslims can respect those of other religions by not interfering in their religious affairs, I urge non-Muslims to also respect Muslims especially in the use of the name ‘Allah’ which is of great importance for them.”