Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has expressed concern over issues regarding the use of the word "Allah", voicing fear that the situation will become a prolonged polemic which could affect national unity and the well-being of the country if not immediately resolved.
Sultan Abdullah said the polemics over the use of the word "Allah" were not a debate about terminology and linguistics, but related to the issue of the faith of the Muslim community, and that any confusion will only invite disaster.
"My government must harmonise the current situation and, at the same time, place the use of the word 'Allah' in the right context by taking into account national security, the benefit of the ummah as well as my position and the position of other Malay rulers as heads of the Islam," he said at the investiture ceremony of federal awards and honours in conjunction with his official birthday celebration at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Also present was Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.
The king said that any polemics related to religion, if not dealt with immediately, would only fan the fire of enmity between races.
Accordingly, he said that when dealing with such a sensitive issue, all parties should take a wise and orderly approach and be imbued with a high spirit of tolerance.
The king also said that this was in line with the first principle of the Rukun Negara, belief in God, which among others emphasises that the concept of religion is very important in the life of the Malaysian community and should not be used as a basis for disputes and arguments.
Sultan Abdullah said that the sanctity of Islam had been preserved for a long time in the formation of independent Malaysia, and Islam accorded a special status as the religion of the federation, as stated in Article 3 of the Federal Constitution.
"Islam is accorded a special status in the Federal Constitution and this was achieved through understanding and agreement by all parties when the country gained independence," he said.
The Agong said that unity required an effective reception with an open heart, a noble soul and a spirit of loyalty to the king and the country, as well as not questioning, interfering or looking down on the affairs and religious beliefs practised by other races.
"For the sake of unity and the future of the country, any religious controversy must be resolved immediately.
"The spirit of unity needs to be cultivated at home, nurtured with education and the noble values of community life at school and further strengthened at institutions of higher learning."
On May 17, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that the Cabinet had obtained the consent of the Agong to submit a proposal to improve the enforcement of policies relating to the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims to the Conference of Rulers.