Is it wrong to use “Allah” for God in Malaysian Bibles?



With the general election just around the corner here in Malaysia, many issues are being used as fodder including the issue of the use of the Arabic word for God in Malay translation of the Bible being used among native congregations. While this is not prohibited by any existing laws, the same issue is being used by some right-wing nationalist groups to fan hatred for Christians. The same people allege that the word in the translated Bible will then be used to confuse and subsequently proselytize the majority Malay-Muslim populace, a crime under the Malaysian civil law.

Equally unhelpful to the situation are calls by church leaders to continue using the word "Allah" instead of alternative translations to refer to God; citing our constitutional right to do so. I can't help but find that quite [rightly or wrongly] hardline. I understood from your article Are Allah and Yahweh the same God? and elsewhere that these words are not the same.

With regards to this matter and also in a general sense, how far are Christians to push or fight for their rights to do something simply because it is their "rights"?

I've read your response to the question "Why don't Muslim believing governments allow their people to break Islamic law?" you've highlighted the need for people to not do as they please (Romans 13:1-5) but also to know God's words take precedence if there's a conflict (Acts 4:18-19).

Do you have any suggestions as to how one should respond when asked "Why don't Christians obey the law prohibiting the sharing of the gospel?" without sounding too much like the religious fanatic who says he obeys a more supreme law and does things in the name of God.

Thank you for taking the time to read and for all your articles on the website.


The answer given by Peter when the apostles were told by the government to stop teaching about Jesus is still the appropriate response. "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20). Peter also said, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

If Christians speak calmly and reasonably before others, pointing out they do not fear discussing their religion openly with others, then it may shame those who oppose the teaching of Christianity. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16). The fact that Muslim-based governments have to enact laws stating that it is illegal to convert Muslims is a simple admission that Isalm is in a weaker position. It has to use force and threats to keep people from making up their own minds about what is true.

"Allah" is the Arabic word for God, just as "Elohim" is the Hebrew word for God. From what I understand "Allah" was the name given to a moon god thousands of years ago. Whether there is a more generic term for God still in Arabic, I do not know. I could not find what the Malaysian word for God is, but I assume that Arabic is not the native language of Malaysia. Cultures will absorb words from other languages and make them a part of their own. Perhaps that is what happened with "Allah." Thus, if "Allah" is the Malaysian word for God, then that is what needs to be used. If these people are only using "Allah" because it is what the Muslims use, then they did so for the wrong reason. Allah of Islam is not the God of the Bible.


Got it! Thank you!

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