CHRISTIAN leaders in East Malaysia said they were determined to continue to use the word ‘Allah’ in their daily worship even as they hoped the government would come up with a solution to the vexed issue soon.
 
Speaking to media persons recently the church representatives said that the word ‘Allah’ would still be used during Sunday services.
 
Pastor Danil Raut, president of the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) church in Peninsular Malaysia, said: “Before this, there was no problem with using the word for our daily worship. Of course, the Christians in East Malaysia are not happy with the tussle, but we will wait and see what the court decides.”

In the recent spate of attacks by Muslims on churches, an SIB church in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan was also targeted. Firebombs were thrown at some churches.
 
The Muslim-majority country has been gripped by a raging debate over the word since the High Court ruled on Dec 31, 2010 that the Catholic weekly The Herald’s Bahasa Malaysia edition had a constitutional right to use the word ‘Allah’ in the Christian sense.
 
The ruling sparked protests from Muslim groups and has been linked to a series of firebombing and arson attacks against at least eight churches in the recent past.
 
Asked what they thought of isolated suggestions from a few Christian laymen to stop using the word ‘Allah’ in order to defuse the escalating tension, Raut said since it has been used for a long time, they would not stop using it.
 
“I am from Sarawak, of the Lumbayang tribe, and we have been using ‘Allah’ for a long time. It is used in our mother tongue. ‘Tuhan Allah’ is our God.
 
According to Raut, there are currently 10,000 SIB church members in peninsular Malaysia and 250,000 members in Sabah and Sarawak. Out of the 10,000 in the peninsula, about 1,000 members are Orang Asli Christians.
 
“There are 36 congregations in peninsular Malaysia. 31 are conducted in Bahasa Malaysia, three in English and two in Chinese,” Raut added.

The Christian Messenger