A recent row in Malaysia has caught the attention of Christians and Muslims around the world. A Malaysian court ruled that it is ok for a non-Muslim to use the word Allah for God. This is causing a panic in the majority Muslim nation, as it is feared that Christians might use the word Allah as a tool to convert Muslims to Christianity. In Malaysia it is illegal for a non-Muslim to proselytize a Muslim, even though freedom of religion is guaranteed in the country.
The federal government of Malaysia filed an appeal to the controversial ruling of Madam Justice Datuk Lau Bee Lan. It has been noted that the judge in this case is a Baptist and a member of the secular court system. There have been demands that this case be handed over to the Syariah Court system, a separate judicial entity created to enforce sharia law.
In a corner of the world all too familiar with the dark specter of suicide bombings and honor killings, this new linguistic problem might seem a trite bit of news. However, this spectacle may cause serious problems for the coalition government currently in power. Support of the non-Malay community brought the current government into existence. If these same voters perceive that the government will betray them on something as simple as using the term Allah instead of Tuhan, that same government might find itself out the door come the next election cycle.
The best part of this whole fiasco is that it is literally impossible to correctly refer to God in the Christian sense in Malaysian without using the term Allah.