Malaysian Muslims and Christians Ponder the Use of Allah in the Bible

Ya allah cry outHere we go again… Every now and then, this matter will see the light of day. This time around, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng brought it up in his Christmas message. I personally agree with his sentiment. We should all share the word Allah and make it the universal name for God. As far as the Quran is concerned, this verse explains the universality of Allah clearly.

They are those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right, – (for no cause except that they say, “our Lord is Allah”. Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause); – for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will) – Quran 22:40

Then what is the real issue here? As I have written in my book ‘Can we use Allah’ in the Bible?, it is about trust. Below is the excerpt of the conclusion of Chapter 2 from my book that can be downloadedhere

“It is clear that it is only permissible to use the term Allah to refer to God in the Bible, it is exactly what the Quran wants us to do. What an irony. I would like to thank my Christian brothers and sisters in their effort to make Allah the universal name of God and wanting the name to be the preferred reference to God in the Bible. But, you must not stop there.

You must also strive hard to ensure that not just the Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia Bibles use the term Allah but all the other translations in the world regardless if they are in Japanese, English, Russian or Hindi uses the same term. Malaysian Christians can lead the world of Christianity to make Allah the universal name of God with the solid support of their Muslim brothers and sisters. Anything that can bring us closer together must be supported. A shared universal name to call our God Allah seems a most appropriate place to start.

Failing to do so will create mistrust because the correct term for God in Malay is Tuhan. The Muslims will question your consistency and sincerity. Because the real issue here is Trust. Not the technicality of the term Allah, Tuhan, Elohim, Elah, etc. This is where we need to focus. This is what we need to pay attention to.


Humbled by the Muslim response to Christians at Christmas time

happy christmasEach Christmas, my family receives more greetings and gifts from Muslim friends than from fellow Christians.

We treasure handmade cards by Muslim children who do not celebrate Christmas. We cannot dismiss these efforts as tokenistic as they are annual and original. They are not five-second, to-from cards but well-worded peace messages in English and Arabic.

I only wish we took the time to reciprocate this goodwill gesture at the two Islamic Eids, their religious festivals, annually.

Throughout my childhood, we would be visited by Lebanese Muslim friends laden with generous gifts. This did not mean they had suddenly elevated the prophet Issa, as Jesus is known, to the son of God.

Their faith was not compromised and we felt humbled and honoured.

As I write this article, there is a knock on the door. Ahmad, my late father’s carer when he had Alzheimer’s, arrives looking like a bearded, smiling Santa bearing gifts.

When people say to him ”You do this but you are a Muslim?” he replies ”I do this because I am a Muslim”.


Jews, Muslims support Christian neighbors

christmasVolunteering on Christmas day brings a double reward for Nancy Welber-Barr of West Bloomfield.

Not only is she receiving the joy of giving back on Mitzvah Day, a community-wide day of volunteering, she also receives the gift of giving back.

“It’s a real bonus. I like to be able to help other people, and I also get the chance to help people enjoy their holidays,” she said.

Sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Mitzvah Day combines efforts of local volunteers who step in to help local charities on the holiday and provide the opportunity for Christian volunteers to take the day off to celebrate the tradition of Christmas.

“It’s a chance to give Christians a chance to celebrate without feeling like they have neglected their volunteering duties,” Barr said.

The Jewish community has been sponsoring Mitzvah Day in the Metro Detroit area for some 20 years and this is the fourth year that area Muslims will join with them in an effort to relieve their Christian neighbors of their volunteer responsibilities on Christmas.


Muslims in Conneticut Mourn Rampage Victims

Muslim Prayer Vigils Mourn School VictimsCAIRO – Muslims joined fellow Americans Sunday, December 16, in mourning 20 children slaughtered by a gunman who forced his way into their school in the northeastern state of Connecticut.

“The Muslim Community at the Al Hedaya Islamic Center in Newtown CT and at other area Masajid in Danbury CT (Danbury Masjid & Baitul Mukarram) share in the grief of the families of the children in today’s tragedy,” the center said in a statement on its website.

“This is an especially painful time for all of us across the Greater Danbury Region.”

– US Muslims Pray for School Victims– Children Massacre Shocks America

At least 26 people, including 20 children aged 5 to 10 years old, were killed when a heavily-armed gunman stormed into their school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday.


Man Walks Into California Mosque And Threatens to Kill Everyone Inside

Islamic_Center_FremontThey were wrapped up in peaceful prayer when the man walked into the mosque and claimed he had a gun. The imam leading the prayer at the Ibrahim Khalilullah Islamic Center in Fremont told police that the Caucasian man, believed to be in his 30s, shouted that he was going to kill the four people inside.

It happened just before 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Islamic Center on the 43,000 block of Osgood Road, just a couple blocks away from the Fremont Fry’s location. When the imam approached the man, he reportedly drove away in a gray, 90s model Camry.

Mosque leaders are working closely with Fremont police and say they’ve already handed over footage from some of the seven surveillance cameras inside the building, which is located in the very back of an industrial area.  The motive is still unclear, although many mosque board members told NBC Bay Area they did not believe it was a botched robbery attempt. Still, Mohammed Zarabi, IKIC Board President, was reluctant to draw any connection between the threat and his religion.


Jewish settlers vandalise Islamic and Christian sites in Jerusalem

vandalsMore than 70 Jewish settlers broke into the sacred courtyard of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Wednesday morning, performing Talmudic rituals and writing racist phrases on the walls before they left. According to Al-Aqsa Association for Religious Endowments and Heritage, clashes erupted between the Jews and Muslim worshippers who tried to stop them.

The Association also noted that settlers slashed the tyres on three cars and wrote slogans insulting Jesus Christ on the walls of Al-Mosalabeh Monastery in Jerusalem. The monastery has been attacked several times this year, as has Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Islamic-Christian Commission for Protecting Jerusalem and Holy Sites condemned the settlers’ attacks on Islamic and Christian sites. The Commission called for the continuous violations by the Israeli settlers against placesof worship such as mosques, churches and monasteries to be stopped by the authorities. “Such holy places have special sanctity,” said the Commission, “and this must be respected and protected from all kinds of aggression.”


‘Muslim Bias’ Investigation Instead Finds Christian Bias In Texas District’s Curriculum

Unused world history books sit behind students  in class at Manor New Tech High School in Manor, TexasA chain email sent to Dallas-area school board members and district officials thatprompted an investigation into alleged Islamic bias in the system’s curriculum turned up perhaps unintended results.

The email, titled “IRVING ISD INDOCTRINATING ISLAM,” warned: “Christians are going to have to stand up against the pro Islamic teaching in our public schools with CSCOPE curriculum.”

CSCOPE is a nonprofit offshoot of the Texas Education Service Centers, established in 1965 across the state’s school districts, and helps develop curricula and implement school reform. The agency is reported to have received about $25 million in funding last year.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the resulting 72-page report — compiled by a former social studies teacher described by CSCOPE’s director as a “very socially and fiscally conservative” woman who “watches Glenn Beck on a regular basis” — found quite the opposite of any Islamic bias: If anything, Irving schools have a Christian bias.

The teacher was told to “look for anything she would consider the least bit controversial,” by reading every textbook used for kindergarten through high school and record any bias in the CSCOPE curriculum, according to the Morning News.

Among the findings:

  • Christianity got twice as much attention in the curriculum as any other religion. Islam was a distant second.
  • The Red Crescent and Boston Tea Party reference mentioned in the email were nowhere in CSCOPE’s curriculum, although they may have been in the past.
  • If there was any Islamic bias in CSCOPE it was “bias against radical Islam.”


Christiane Amanpour: Retracing Bible’s ‘Story of a Family’ (with video clip)

christine aFor most of my career, I have covered one religious conflict after another. From the Middle East to Sarajevo, Afghanistan, to Iraq, Rwanda to Somalia, the bloodshed often had something to do with religion. Jews, Christians and Muslims in some combination would fight one another to the death.

But the three Abrahamic faiths mean more to me than war and suffering. Judaism, Christianity and Islam have come together during some of the happiest and most important moments of my life. In fact, my son Darius is the embodiment of these three faiths in one. You see, I grew up in Iran, the child of a Christian mother and a Shi’ite Muslim father. I attended Catholic church in Tehran right up until the Islamic Revolution. The man I married is Jewish-American, and we were wed by a priest and then under a Jewish chuppah. And now, the blood of these three great peoples runs through the veins of my son.

And it turns out, all three of these traditions trace their stories back to the biblical patriarchs. That’s why I spent this year exploring the history and the mystery behind some of the oldest stories ever told and traveling to places where Abraham and Moses, King David and Jesus are said to have walked. We tried to learn what these stories likely meant to the ancient peoples who took such care to pass them down through the generations, and what they mean to us now. We searched for actual evidence of these stories and discovered that though they have, at times, divided us, they nevertheless still have the power — as our ancestors surely hoped they would — to heal us and to guide us today.


High Court Rejects Case Against Girl in Pakistan

PAKISTAN_-_Rimsha-Masih-ReleasedqokISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Pakistani court ordered the police to withdraw blasphemy charges against a Christian teenager on Tuesday, lawyers said, bringing an end to a contentious case that had gripped the country and sown fear in its Christian minority population.

The girl, Rimsha Masih, who comes from an impoverished family of sweepers, was arrested in August after Muslim accusers said she had been holding a burned copy of the Noorani Qaida, a religious textbook used to teach the Koran to children.

Relatives and human rights workers have said that the girl, 14, has Down syndrome and should therefore be exempt from the blasphemy laws.

On Tuesday, Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rahman, who heads the Islamabad High Court, stated in his judgment that there was no evidence for the charges against Ms. Masih. In his 15-page judgment, he urged extreme caution in matters related to blasphemy and criticized the practice of fake blasphemy accusations against non-Muslims.

“The case against Rimsha Masih is finished,” said Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, one of her lawyers. “Justice has been served.”


In Egypt the Amateurs are in Charge


By Rami G. Khouri

The tumultuous road to a stable democratic system of government in Egypt is passing through one of its most decisive stages these days, with most of the main political actors revealing their amateurism more than anything else. This is a hard but necessary learning process, as the main protagonists refuse to accept that hard-line and absolutist positions are inappropriate during this delicate transition.

For all the heartening talk about their shared commitment to democratic pluralism, the dominant Muslim Brotherhood and most of the other leading Egyptian political groups are demonstrating the problems arising from a fast transition from autocracy to democracy, without a transition period in which people and organizations learn how to function in a democratic system. Personality has much to do with this.

The Muslim Brotherhood leaders who have spent much of the last 25 years in and out of jail were catapulted into the presidency without any previous experience in managing national politics. President Mohammad Mursi is revealing his inability to act as the president of all Egyptians and the shepherd of a historic constitutional transition in which basic governance institutions are being built. Unlike Nelson Mandela who spent decades in jail and then showed his compassion, flexibility and statesmanship when he became president of South Africa, Mursi seems focused on pushing through his agenda (presumably also the Brotherhood’s) and is unable at this stage to act as the magnanimous leader of all Egyptians.