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I was shocked to read (The Tablet, 28 June) that Malay-speaking Christians are once again forbidden to use the word “Allah” for God. Do the authorities not know that Arabic-speaking Christians have been calling God Allah for 2000 years and without any objections by Muslims? Just because the word is Arabic does not make it sacred or give Muslims exclusive rights to use it.
In fact, before the advent of Islam, “Allah” was used not only by Christians but also by the pagans of Arabia. Today, Arabic-speaking Christians like myself still use it when we pray to God, read the Bible, attend our Eastern liturgies and hold our daily conversations. If “Allah” has been part of the Malay vocabulary for many generations, why can the Christians over there not continue using it?
In addition to possible ignorance of the above facts by the authorities, the reason given by them, namely that using “Allah” for God by Christians “could confuse Muslims and entice them to convert” is truly laughable. At the same time it is also sad because it manifests prejudice and discrimination towards Christians in Malaysia.
Dr. Joseph Seferta, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands