Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ng Kam Weng's responses to Muslim scholars

The problem over the use of 'Allah' by non-Muslims generated by the UMNO government in Malaysia is still persisting.

There have been a number of Muslim scholars from local Muslim institutions (mostly are funded by the State) who produced resources to support the case to ban non-Muslims from using the word 'Allah'.

Ng Kam Weng has recently wrote three responses to some of these resources. He has previously done so earlier this year. His latest triune responses deal particularly with the arguments tabled by the Muslim scholars.

Kam Weng's first response is directed to Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas and Mohd Sani b. Badron from the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM). The response shows how these two Muslim scholars misuse the great Christian theologian, Thomas Aquinas, in their attempt to deceive the public by stating that Christians should not use 'Allah' because that would go against Aquinas' advise.

After quoting Aquinas's work at length and giving the context of Aquinas' engagement, Kam Weng wrote, "Tawfik and Mohd Sani both read Aquinas carelessly when they rely on partial quotations of Aquinas that violate his precise balance. It is an illegitimate attempt to co-op Aquinas for their argument [...]. Aquinas is talking about maintaining balance between unity and trinity; he is not in anyway disqualifying Christians from referring to the one God."

In Kam Weng's second response, he pointed out the word 'Allah' is not a personal name as some of these Muslim scholars have stated. Some Muslim scholars who acknowledge that the word 'Allah' has been in used before the rise of Islam. Yet they argued that Islam has since 'purified' the word.

On this point, Kam Weng replied, "Such an assertion is intellectually dubious. It is evident that there is no such thing as a pure language which would presuppose a self-contained and self-sufficient linguistic community, hermetically sealed from interaction with neighboring linguistic communities – a historical impossibility by any account," before he went on to further make his case by referring to Andrew Rippin's article 'Foreign Vocabulary' in Brill's Encyclopedia of the Quran.

After that, Kam Weng wrote a point-by-point refutation over the arguments made by Mohd Sani Badron and Khadijah Mohd Hanbali. He built the case that 'Allah' is not a personal name.

Kam Weng cleared the confusion over translation issue that some Muslim scholars have in his third response. After a long technical argument over the issue, Kam Weng concludes with these words,
"The Islamic Department has no ground, whatsoever, to regulate Christians in how they use Bahasa Malaysia. It should concentrate on matters related to the Islamic community and their welfare. It has neither the authority nor competence to interfere with the internal matters of other communities.

Malaysian Christians are not pretending to be another Islamic sect. They have no desire and have no obligation to conform to Islamic teaching. By the same token, there is no justification to demand Christian usage of Malay words conform to Islamic theology. Christians have full rights to profess and practice their faith in accordance to their beliefs. In particular, Christians are merely expressing their religious liberty enshrined in the Federal Constitution when they use Malay words of Arabic origin like Allâh, Wahyu, Injil, Nabi, Iman, Al-kitab etc., words which were used by Christian monotheists centuries before the Malays turned to Islam."
If Muslims demand non-Muslims to respect their theology, then they should not deny others what they demand from them. Muslims have their rights to their own theology in as much as Christians have ours to our theology. What these Muslim scholars, along with the UMNO government, are doing is demanding something which they deny others.

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