A lot of my friends here in the UK have been asking me about the recent controversy over use of the word 'Allah' by Christians in Malaysia. I was not actually sure what it was all about myself and did some research.
It all started when the Government of Malaysia banned the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims. Apparently this issue was raised up by a few people who objected to the words being used in Bibles - most of them printed in Indonesia. Then recently Malaysia's high court overturned the ban following a lawsuit filed in 2007 by The Herald - a Catholic newspaper.
It then became a political issue and the debate even spilled onto the Blogosphere. A number of Christian bloggers blogged in support of the court's decision while other bloggers were against it - some claiming it to be a attack on Malay rights.
Following the court ruling, several churches in Malaysia have come under a spate of fire-bombings and vandalism attacks - nine at last count
Initially, I was wondering why Christians would want to use the word "Allah" - which is God in Arabic (not restricted to Muslims) when the Bahasa Malaysia word for God is actually Tuhan. However, I later found the word has been in use in Christian publications and church services for a number of years before this whole controversy and violence.
I totally disagree with people who claim that this would lead to confusion among Muslims and encourage them to convert to Christianity. Burning houses of worship is definitely not a very religious activity.
A lot of people don't see the positive side - everyone in Malaysia regardless of faith should be encouraged to use the word Allah to refer to God. Hopefully people will then come to realise that we are all praying to the same "God". Thus one less reason to fight over.
Just my opinion and you may disagree.