Prohibiting non-Muslims from using the word "Allah" is ridiculous, says Kuwait's Muslim Brotherhood leader Dr Tareq Suwaidan.
He said this was because there was no law or ruling within the Islamic realm which prevented the use of the word by non-Muslims.
"I have been following this development in Malaysia, this use of the word 'Allah'... there is no law in Islam that says so," he told a forum organised by PAS international committee last night.
He noted that there were many instances in Islamic history where non-Muslims had been encouraged to use the Arabic word "Allah".
"Do not be confused, this is just wrong, I have hundreds. No, thousands of proof on this," he said, in front of a crowd of 100.
His comment came after an Indonesian scholar Dr Ulil Abshar Abdalla waded into the “Allah” controversy, saying Muslims who believed the word was exclusive to Islam were “confused”.
Ulil, who was denied entry into Malaysia this month for allegedly opposing its Islamic stand, said Muslims did not have a monopoly of the word “Allah” as it was a general term to refer to God.
“The term ‘Allah’ comes from two words which are ‘Al’ ‘and ‘Ilah’ which means God.
“If we mention the word ‘Allah’, it is translated as God. The people of Mecca also used the word ‘Allah’ before Islam came,” he had said.
Tareq and Ulil's view of the “Allah” controversy echoes that of Muslim scholars and clerics, both locally and worldwide, who have criticised the ban of the use of the word among non-Muslims here.
Even the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, had said that many Muslims were of the view that the court ruling undermined the credibility of Islam, in a reference to the Federal Court decision that the word “Allah” could not be used in the Catholic publication, Herald, on grounds it was not an integral part of Christianity.
Earlier this month, evangelical denomination Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) obtained leave from the Court of Appeal to seek a declaration that the word “Allah” could be used in Christian publications.
A three-man Court of Appeal bench, chaired by Datuk Rohana Yusof, said the Federal Court held that the September 14 finding that “Allah was not an integral part of Christianity” was a mere passing remark.
Among the groups which have defended “Allah” as exclusive to Muslims are Malay rights group Perkasa and Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma).
The “Allah” row started in 2008 when the Home Ministry threatened to revoke the Herald’s newspaper permit, prompting the Catholic Church to sue the government for violating its constitutional rights.