The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) has hit out at Putrajaya for dropping its appeal against a high court decision allowing Christians to use the word "Allah" in their religious materials, saying the federal government had acted unilaterally without consulting it as a stakeholder in the longstanding issue.
Council chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof also disputed the claim by Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution that the decision to discontinue the appeal was more to do with administrative matters.
"Mais is of the view that the case is not only related to administrative and security issues, but also involves the faith of Muslims and the administration of the Islamic religion which is vested under the powers of the ruler as the head of religion," he said in a statement.
On March 10, 2021, the High Court ruled in favour of an application filed by a Sarawakian Christian, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, who said her constitutional rights were violated when Christian religious material containing the word "Allah" were seized by the home ministry in 2008.
The ruling was followed by an appeal filed by Putrajaya, then under the Perikatan Nasional government headed by Muhyiddin Yassin.
Yesterday, Saifuddin said the decision to withdraw the appeal against the ruling had more to do with an administrative issue, while Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said the move would not affect the prohibition on non-Muslims outside Sarawak from using the term "Allah" in their religious materials.
Mais said despite its status as a "friend of the court" during the appeal process, it had not been consulted by Putrajaya on the latest decision.
It said all parties including politicians should respect the status of the Selangor sultan as the head of the Islamic religion, and to heed the state's Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 which bans the propagation of religions other than Islam to Muslims.
"As authority for administration of the Islamic religion which is responsible for protecting the faith of Muslims in Selangor, Mais stands firm and upholds the decree of the Sultan of Selangor dated 23 March 2021, which prohibits the use of the word 'Allah' in Christian publications in the state," it added.
Mais' statement today adds to the protests from Muslim groups and leaders, including former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who earlier today said the government should have allowed the court to solve the dispute.
Anwar in a statement today said the government will propose steps to "strengthen the enforcement of policies" regarding the use of the word "Allah".
"The government will always uphold the Federal Constitution, especially Article 3 regarding Islam as the religion of the federation, with other religions allowed to be practised in peace," he said.
In a similar note, Selangor Menteri Besar Amiruddin Shari said Putrajaya's decision would not affect the current policy on the use of the term "Allah".
"The state government firmly protects the interests and sensitivity that religious beliefs should be respected without undermining the harmony and unity that has been built, which is the foundation of Selangor," he said.