KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Tuesday (May 23) that the government will streamline conflicting regulations regarding the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.
This is so that the regulations will be in line with the Malay rulers’ earlier decision that “Allah” cannot be used by non-Muslims in the Peninsula while conditional use is permitted for non-Muslims in the Borneo states.
“What needs to be done … is for the government to streamline (the rules) so that there are no regulations that are seen to be in conflict with the decisions of the Malay rulers,” said Mr Anwar in parliament during the Minister’s Question Time (MQT).
He added that the government “fully (complies) with the decisions” of the Malay rulers.
He was responding to Mr Idris Ahmad, the Bagan Serai Member of Parliament (MP), who asked for clarification regarding Mr Anwar’s comments that the use of the word “Allah” can be used by non-Muslims in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak.
Looking ahead, Mr Anwar also told parliament that the streamlining process, which was presented to and approved by the king, involves amending or removing parts of the old regulations.
A proposal to improve the regulations relating to the use of the word by non-Muslims will be presented at the Conference of Rulers meeting in July, he added.
Mr Anwar also explained: “What was decided by the court (in 2021), whether it is the court in Borneo or the high court here, is based on two conflicting rules which are the Ministry of Home Affairs rules that were made before (in 1986).”
On Mar 10, 2021, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that Christians can use the word ‘Allah’ and the three other Arabic words – Baitullah (house of God), solat (pray) and Kaabah (the building at the centre of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, which is the direction of prayer for Muslims around the world) – in the publication of their religious material for learning purposes.
The ruling reportedly came after Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, a Christian woman from Sarawak, applied for judicial review on Aug 20, 2008, for the return of eight compact discs (CDs) with titles containing the word “Allah” which were confiscated from her on May 11 of the same year.
She had also applied for a declaration of her constitutional rights to use the word “Allah” in her Christian publications.