There's a right rumpus going on in South East Asia at the moment. Traditionally the Christians of Malaysia have referred to the great "I Am" as Allah rather than God. As Allah means God and, in theory, they are the same Allah/God this should lead to slight ambiguity at times but not an interfaith slanging match. However, Muslims in the region have decided to go all Coca Cola over the Christians' adoption of the name of their only one god and have got all legal and penal over it to the point of changing their national law to try and force their Christian neighbours into screaming "Oh, God!" rather than "Oh, Allah!" when they drop something on their foot. The quality of the debate, especially the pronouncements coming from the Muslim camp, is up there with the most pathetic examples of rhetoric that grace the output of Fox News or come out of the mouths of the talking heads of Anglican Mainstream. Take, for instance, this statement from one Islamic big wig:
From THE NEW STRAITS TIMES:
Muslims are reminded that allowing other religions to use the word Allah is not an act of tolerance but a sign of weakness as this allows the sovereignty of Islam to be challenged. The Imam of Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah mosque, Firdaus Subhi, when delivering the Friday sermon prepared by Selangor deputy mufti Datuk Abdul Majid Omar last week, said Muslims must think about the long-term ramifications of allowing it to be used in Malay bibles. It would suggest that all religions were the same, and eventually, this would give rise to religious pluralism.
"Do we want to see a family where the father is a Muslim, the mother a Christian and their children free to embrace other religions?" he said in a special Friday sermon to explain the concept of the word Allah," he said.
And then there is this.
From MALAYSIA TODAY:
|Ibrahim Ali (M.P.) Malaysia - "Respect my sensitivitah!"
Cartman (Spoiled Brat) South Park - Respect my authoritah!"
Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali has called on Muslims to seize and burn copies of Bibles which contain the term “Allah” or other Arabic religious words. Stressing that he was not instigating communal tension, the Pasir Mas MP insisted that it was the only way to stop non-Muslims from stirring the sensitivities and sentiments of the majority of population in the country.
“Muslims must unite to protect their religion. They must seize those Bibles, including the Malay editions, which contained the term Allah and other Arabic religious terms, and burn them. This is the way to show our anger against disrespect to our sensitivity,” he told a press conference after delivering his presidential speech at a Perkasa convention here today.
Oh, the poor dears and their sensitivities.
At first, like the rantings of most insecure, right wing nutters, this nonsensical hogwash comes across as quite comical to those of us who are confidant in our own faith and the ability of both Allah and God to take care of themselves. But, of course, this sort of nonsense leads to the more malevolent forms of religious oppression that have dominated the Islamic cultures of the Middle East since the birth of Islam and which are now infiltrating the post-Arab Spring governments of North Africa.
From FOX NEWS (ironically):
The 15-year prison sentence given to a woman and her seven children by an Egyptian court for converting to Christianity is a sign of things to come, according to alarmed human rights advocates who say the nation's Islamist government is bad news for Christians in the North African country.
A criminal court in the central Egyptian city of Beni Suef meted out the shocking sentence last week, according to the Arabic-language Egyptian paper Al-Masry Al-Youm. Nadia Mohamed Ali, who was raised a Christian, converted to Islam when she married Mohamed Abdel-Wahhab Mustafa, a Muslim, 23 years ago. He later died, and his widow planned to convert her family back to Christianity in order to obtain an inheritance from her family. She sought the help of others in the registration office to process new identity cards between 2004 and 2006. When the conversion came to light under the new regime, Nadia, her children and even the clerks who processed the identity cards were all sentenced to prison.
In our present age Christians can claim the moral high ground when it comes to matters of religious tolerance. We just don't execute or imprison people who convert to other religions. We just look down on them with disdain in the way that only Christians and Jews are capable of. However, we must not be complacent. The Russian Orthodox churches are becoming increasingly Stalinist about imposing their way on those who do not accept their oligarchical view of the world as the Pussy Riot ladies found out at the cost of their freedom. The Papal State is becoming more involved in the politics of other sovereign nations and is using both money and threats of ex-communication to get their way. Evangelicals, and not just the usual suspects in the U.S.A. are now confident enough to start dictating the decisions of their host denominations and even their own national governments with a complete disregard for the religious sensibilities of those who don't believe in the inerrancy of their magic book. Christianity even now totters on the edge of the precipice that descends into the sort of religious partisanship that ends up negating any claim to godliness or allahness that they religions may have originally possessed. It was not that long ago that the English were murdering Jews on the streets of York for being Jewish and executing the ministers of denominations other than the one adhered to by the monarch at the time. We could return to that state of affairs tomorrow if the wrong people get into positions of power. One thing is for certain, if we remain reluctant to call out the sins of people of other faiths because we don't want to offend them, then it is more likely that we will fail to see the same sins gaining hold in our own religious institutions.