So much for everyone worshipping the same god

The Vatican’s first envoy to Malaysia (a country that is 60% Muslim) has created a controversy by saying that he saw nothing wrong with Christians using the word Allah to describe god. Some Muslims are protesting, saying that this is a way to convert Muslims to Christianity which, incredibly, is a crime in many Islamic countries. They have called him an ‘enemy of the state’ and asked that he be recalled.

This follows another ridiculous controversy when the Malaysian government banned the use of the word Allah to describe non-Muslim gods. The High Court, sensibly enough, overturned the government and said that it was legal for non-Christians to do so.

I wish these religious people would decide whether there is just one god worshipped in many different forms or there are competing gods. If the latter then, have some sort of god-off to decide which one is the true one. Inquiring minds want to know.


  1. slc1 says

    As a very much no-expert on this subject, the Christian god (at least for the Raping Children Church) is a triune (the concept of the Trinity, father, son, holy ghost), while the Muslim god is a single entity. Therefore, they are not the same entity as the Trinity is rejected by Muslims, although Yeshua of Nazareth is considered a prophet in Islam. Yeah, I know, it’s all bullshit but people take this stuff seriously.

  2. Divizna says

    I thought “al-Lah” simply means “the God” in Arabic, so it should work for other monotheistic religions as well. What puzzles me is that I didn’t think they speak Arabic in Malaysia.

  3. khms says

    I’m pretty certain every Christian sect has claims about how their religion works that are incompatible with the other sects’ ideas. Does that mean it’s the same god, or a different god? Do Sunnis and Shiites have the same, or different gods? That should allow you to get to an answer. (I neither know nor care, but I also wish those people would decide on one version of their ideas … of course that is impossible, that would mean being consistent, and they don’t do that.)

    Anyway, I’m a fan of those concepts of our “western” societies that we acquired with great effort against the powers of Christianity, and that Christians regularly claim as Christian concepts that show how their religion is better. Stuff like democracy, tolerance, and so on.

    Religion poisons everything. (But if you’re afflicted with it, that doesn’t absolve you from trying to make the best of it … so long as that doesn’t include trying to infect others with it.)


  4. MNb says

    “I wish these ….”
    Why? Really, I don’t care. It’s their problem, not mine.
    Did you know the Maltese word for god is allah?

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Arabs have told me that “Allah” means “God” and that Arabic-speaking Christians worship Allah; it means as little or as much as Spanish-speaking Christians praying to El Dios.

    What business has Malaysia dictating the meaning of a word from a foreign language? (Which should be read as, what outrage does the government want to distract everyone from this week?)

  6. steffp says

    @ Divizna
    In Malaysia 137 living languages are spoken. The official language is Malay, while at elementary school pupils learn three languages; Malay, Chinese (Mandarin), and Tamil. The only Malay word for god is allah, while in Mandarin it’s 上帝 Shàngdì, and கடவுள் Kaṭavuḷ in Tamil.
    It is claimed by the religious Right in Malaysia that, unlike Mandarin or Tamil, Malay has no general word for gods, following Muslim tradition that there is only one god. A bit like Orwell’s newSpeak: “false” things cannot be said. The Government, pandering pre-election to the fundamentalists, joined that opinion, forbidding the sale of Malay bibles because the word Allah was used in a generalized sense.
    That was pretty stupid, as the Qur’an himself states that there is only one god behind all the abrahamic religions, with Jews and Christians often misunderstanding god’s clear words. Well, they lost in court.
    @ slc1
    You’re right about the Muslim theological opinion that Christianity is a kind of polytheism. It may sound a little strange, but the Qur’an states that the Christian trinity consists of Father, Mother and Son, which Allah rejects because he never married and never had a son, being truly unique. The complex triune identity problems developed ad nauseam by scholastic theology were rather lost on Mohammed.
    But indeed both mother Marīam and Isa feature prominently in the Qur’an, “both born without the touch of satan” , usually in the pre-Mecca Surahs, when the Prophet (pbuh) tried to forge a Christian/Muslim front against the Jewish tribes. Isa is proclaimed a prophet of Islam, the gospels are mentioned as “given by Allah”, but none of the core features of Isa’s teachings are given much weight.

  7. Aliasalpha says

    God-off sounds like a cleaning product

    “Tired of theism buildup? Just can’t shift those stubborn stains? Then try god-off. Guaranteed to clear up 99% of all theism related stains thanks to the power of Rational9(tm). God-off by Atheismo, you’ve never felt so clean!”

  8. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    The only Malay word for god is allah

    Are you sure?
    A lot Malays now seem to think that “Allah” is the name of god.
    It’s a long time since I knew Malay but I remember a Malay muslim using other terms to denounce the “false gods” they supposed I followed. Apart from anything else, what did Malays worship before the word “allah” was imported?

  9. Jockaira says

    Just so there is no Malayan confuscion [intended] about Allâh being a bachelor and sonless, this is the same guy who has three presumably illegitimate daughters, Al-lāt, Al-‘Uzzá, and Manāt. I understand that they claim 1400 years of child support. No word from Mom yet, I guess she is just too embarrassed about the whole three affairs.
    The three girls (but not Mom) are mentioned in the Qur’ân, so it must be true even though Allâh won’t take a paternity test to deny the claims. Many feel that Allâh is steadfast in his denial in order to prevent the girls from being able to inherit any of his vast wealth when he dies at the end of time and everything else. In the meantime Allâh has placed an infinite number of ads in Lonely Muslim dating sites, likely hoping to generate a male heir. So far there have been no takers due to Allâh’s Divine reluctance to provide a photograph.
    Thus is the world’s longest playing soap opera.

  10. steffp says

    @ sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d
    The word you remember vaguely may have been Tuhan palsu, which has the derogatory meaning of “false god”. As I said, Orwell’s newspeak, or if you like, standard US practice when referring to the Muslim god as “Allah”. Another example of subconscious privilege: Christians insist to use the Arab word Allah when talking about Islam (because they believe to own the word God), but feel discriminated when the same ridiculous copyright claim is directed against them…
    As for your second question, Malaysia is a cobbled-together region with great ethnic and religious varieties. In general, there are about 23% ethnic Chinese, usually Buddhist or Taoists, 6% ethnic Indians, usually Hindu, and 9% Christians. All ethnic Malays are regarded born Muslims, they may not marry members of other religions, and apostasy is difficult. There are pretty strict sultanates like Terengganu, where even sightseeing has to be done in total gender-segregation, and you are not allowed to hire a guide of the opposite sex, and more liberal-minded regions like Sabah and Sarawak.
    Islam arrived in the region in the 9th century, and was the dominant religion since the 14th century. Before that time, Hinduism, Buddhism and animist religions seem to have coexisted.

  11. steffp says

    Whoah, the satanic verses!
    Al-lāt, Al-‘Uzzá, and Manāt, before Mohammed (pbuh) were Yathrib goddesses revered in Mecca, especially the third, Manat. The pilgrimage to Mecca, hadj, stems from that time and cult. The prophet, who in his early times tried to get support from other religions, especially Christians, tried to incorporate the three as daughters, submissive to Allah, whom some scholars say was a moon god in Yathrib tradition. Later, after the conquest of Mecca, the destruction of sacred places of Manat and the other two was ordered, and the verses were purged. Remains the interesting fact that of all Yathrib deities only these three are mentioned at all. No trace was left of the others….

  12. CaitieCat says

    Thanks for that, very interesting detail about a country I know very little about. Doesn’t sound like a place I’ll hurry to tour, any more than any other country which genuflects before the Abrahamic sadist. The rules for women are too onerous for my liking, and the risks of ending up in jail for a crime against me too high.

  13. Aliasalpha says

    Couldn’t hurt, just sell it as bottles of water then you can also claim its homeopathic

  14. steffp says

    I lived and worked in Singapore for a decade, and recently moved to neighboring Thailand. So Malaysia has always been close to me. I must say that I love (and recommend) all of South East Asia, its incredible landscapes, wonderful food and harmony-loving people. The only exception being mainland Malaysia, and the southern provinces of Thailand. In that parts righteousness rules, religion-based legal inequality is common, and the number of local taboos to avoid at all costs is high. As in many former British colonies, the legitimate search for an un-colonial identity has led to a rise of a rather backward form of Islam. Strange, because it’s the culture of the former occupiers since 900 CE, but the existing religious structures filled the power vacuum after independence 1963.
    Nevertheless, the Jungle Railway” from Gemas to Tumpat in Malaysia, which passes through tropical rain forest and touches two National Parks is an incredible experience… and safe most of the time.

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