Friday, January 8, 2010

Malaysia and use of word Allah for God

Harsh language followed by unjust action, the burning of churches, has surrounded the debate regarding whether Malay Christians are able to use the word Allah as a translation for the word God. Some Muslims feel that Allah refers to a different God than the Christian God.

That is interesting because I have decreased some of the prejudice against Muslims among Christians by explaining that Allah is the Arabic word for God, and that with the same roots of Adam, and Abraham, that indeed they are the same God words. Now I see that Muslims unravel that mutual understanding because they confuse a linguistic situation of how to share calling on the name of the one God with specifics of Islamic or Christian doctrine.

One God.

The One God called Allah, The One God called God.

Remember, though, that Christians translate the word God into native languages throughout the world. God is the English language word for God.

Christians don't know they are Christians because they worship the divinity spelled G-O-D.

The tradition language of the Catholic Church, Latin, for example, provides the name of the divinity as Deo.

(example: Deo gratias means Thanks be to God in English. )

Followers of The One God called Allah use the word Allah because the Qur'an was given to them in the Arabic language. Thus Muslims have an official liturgical language, Arabic, just as does the Catholic Church, which is Latin.

Thus to be totally accurate in this argument (if you were having the argument with a Vatican official), you are comparing the use of Arabic Allah with Latin Deo.

Because, despite the translations of the Qur'an into many languages, the translators adhered to the word Allah (Arabic) in each translation (for example my English language Qur'an uses the word Allah), and because the only religious imagery of God that is allowed is the inscription in calligraphy of the word Allah, a linguistic word has become holy to Muslims. That is understandable.

However, being understandable does not mean that Muslims can ignore that a different model was not followed with Christianity. Christians did not make the Latin word Deo the word that must be used in every Bible translation. Further, Christians do not make religious imagery of God using his name Deo. So when a Bible is translated into English, the English language word God is used, not Deo, and likewise in every other language.

Because Christians allow religious imagery, which the Qur'an does not for Muslims, Christians have many sources of religious imagery and thus never sanctified the writing of the name Deo. This is a fundamental difference between the practice of Islam and the practice of Christianity, but it does not mean they are different Gods.

I hope that the religion of peace, Islam, will resolve this problem without disrespect, harming people, threatening, violence and, of course, burning down churches. Where are your scholars, who must surely know as much as I do and have just clearly explained here?