Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for January 4th, 2010

Is God Allah?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 4th January, 2010

An unholy row has broken out here in Malaysia about whether non-Muslims have the right to refer to God as ‘Allah’. A local Catholic publication, The Herald, did so, causing protests from some Islamic groups, but a judge then upheld the right of non-Muslims to use the word Allah within their own community. However, sensitivities in this multicultural, multifaith society are such that the matter has now gone all the way up to the Prime Minister, who is appealing for calm, while a fatwa has been issued by some Islamic leaders saying that ‘Allah’ is a to be used by Muslims only. As a Quaker, I confess I find such religious exclusivism baffling, to say the least. And as Islam recognises both Judaism and Christianity as ‘Religions of the Book’ — and indeed recognises most of the same prophets — I cannot see how anyone can argue logically that God is different depending on whether you call Him God or Allah or Jehovah. But this is clearly an argument that is going to run and run.

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