Malaysia rules 'Allah' for Muslims, bans Christian use of the word.KUALA LUMPUR Kuala Lumpur (kwä`lə lm`pr), city (1990 est. pop. , Jan. 4 Kyodo
The Malaysian government has ruled that no religion except Islam can use the word Allah to denote God, the Star reported Friday.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdullah Mohamad Zin, who is in charge of Islamic affairs, was quoted by the newspaper as saying the Cabinet decided to restrict the use of Allah to avoid confusion.
The battle over who has the right to use Allah was earlier sparked by a local Catholic weekly newspaper, the Herald, which translated God as Allah in its Malay language Malay language: see Malayo-Polynesian languages.
Austronesian language with some 33 million first-language speakers in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, and other parts of Indonesia and Malaysia. section.
The government had threatened to withhold renewal of the Herald's 2008 printing permit unless it scrapped the Malay language section.
On Dec. 28, three days before the Herald's old permit was to expire, the government ostensibly os·ten·si·ble
Represented or appearing as such; ostensive: His ostensible purpose was charity, but his real goal was popularity. backed down and issued the new permit.
Herald editor Lawrence Andrew said in a statement last week the letter of approval did not place any restriction and included permits for all languages, including Malay.
The Herald, a tabloid with a circulation of 12,000, carries its articles in English, Malay, Tamil and Chinese. It is read mainly by the country's 850,000 Catholics.
Abdullah, however, clarified that the restriction on Allah, an Arabic word for God, is still in place.
''One of the reasons given to uphold the restriction is because that it has long been the practice of this country that the word Allah refers to God according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Muslim faith,'' the Star quoted him saying.
''The use of the word Allah by non-Muslims may arouse sensitivity and create confusion among Muslims in the country,'' he added.
Three other words -- Solat (prayer), Kaabah (the Sacred House) and Baitullah (House of God) -- are also prohibited from use in other religions' publications.
Besides the Herald, the Evangelical Church Evangelical Church: see Evangelical United Brethren Church. of Borneo, based in Sabah State, had earlier been prevented from importing Christian books from Indonesia because they contained the word Allah.
Defending their rights to the use of Allah, both the Herald's publisher and the Evangelical Church of Borneo filed legal suits against the government.
Their contention is the word predates Islam and Christians in other countries such as Egypt, Indonesia and Lebanon have been using Allah to refer to God.
Some 60 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people are ethnic Malays who are born Muslims.
The others -- mostly ethnic Chinese, Indians and indigenous groups in Sabah and Sarawak -- are mostly Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs or Taoists.