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A Daniel come to judgment!

Posted: 27 Oct 2013 07:15 PM PDT

The danger with this is you have just handed the matter over to a 'middleman' to settle. And you never know what decision the middleman is going to take. The middleman might agree with you. On the other hand, the middleman might disagree with you. But whatever decision the middleman makes you are bound by it because you have agreed that you will hand the matter to the middleman to decide.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel!

O wise young judge, how I do honour thee!

The Merchant of Venice: Act 4, Scene 1


Britain is currently being hit by the worst storm in ten years. And they are calling this storm 'St Jude', a most apt name to give a storm if you know who St Jude was.

St Jude, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus chosen to spread the word of the Gospel, is the Patron Saint of Lost Causes. Hence Britain is telling its citizens that any attempt to avoid the storm is a lost cause. Hence, also, you had better just brace yourself for the storm about to hit and pray to God, whatever His name may be, and hope that He hears you.

Yes, just pray to God, whatever His name may be. And that is the storm that hit Malaysia a week or so ago and appears not to be letting up one bit -- the issue of God's name.

And what Dr Chandra Muzaffar said in his piece below is very true. Why in the first place take this matter to court? First of all, the court rules according to the law. And the law is supposed to be guided by the Constitution. But most times the law is interpreted according to one's understanding of what it is supposed to mean. And many times, also, the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law prevails.

Hence it is a great risk taking this matter to court when the court comprises of humans who think like humans and who interpret things the way humans would. Furthermore, humans interpret things with prejudices and biasness and based on how they have been conditioned and brainwashed into thinking.

In other words, Muslim judges would think like Muslims first and lawyers second, even though this may be a great departure from what the Constitution says and, as some constitutional lawyers such as Tommy Thomas have said, is an unconstitutional ruling.

Let me put it another way. Religion is unconstitutional. Religion violates your civil liberties. Religion denies you free choice. Religion has no respect for democracy. Can you, therefore, expect the Constitution to rule in matters such as religion when religion itself breaches your civil rights?

Anyway, back to St Jude, whose feast we are celebrating today -- The Feast of St Jude. St Jude was one of the Apostles or 'trustees' of Jesus entrusted with the job of spreading the word of the Gospel. And when we talk about the Gospel here, we are, of course, talking about the Old Testament, because at the time of the 'appointment' of these 12 Apostles the New Testament had not been written yet.

When we discuss the Gospel we have to refer to Genesis followed by Exodus. Genesis starts with the story of the creation of humankind (the story of Adam and Eve and their descendants) and ends with the story of Yusuf (the Grand Vizier of Egypt). Exodus then continues (after a gap of about 400 years of no story) with the story of Moses (the Father of Judaism) and the creation of the nation of Israel.

Hence, St Jude, whose feast we are celebrating today, was tasked with the job of spreading the word of the Old Testament, not the word of the New Testament.

Okay, now back to my statement of praying to God, whatever His name may be.

In Genesis, it is mentioned 48 times that God's name is 'El Shaddai'. It mentions 250 times that His name is 'El'. And it mentions 2,570 times that His name is 'Elohim', which means 'Shining Ones'.

Exodus starts with the story of Moses and it relates how Moses 'met' God at the 'burning bush'. And at the burning bush God said to Moses, "I am El Shaddai, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

And this is the message that St Jude was asked by Jesus to deliver to us, one of the 12 Apostles whose feast we are celebrating today, the Feast of St Jude.

So, if we were true followers of Jesus, then we would want to call God 'El Shaddai' or 'El' or 'Elohim', as what the Gospel tells us and according to what Jesus told St Jude and the other 11 Apostles to tell us. Jesus never said that God's name is 'Allah' and neither did the Gospel.

So why have we changed the word of the Gospel and the word of Jesus?

Okay, we may argue that the Gospel has been translated into Bahasa Malaysia and is not in Aramaic (the language that Jesus spoke) or Hebrew (the language of the Jews) or Latin (the language of the Roman Christians).

Well, Malays, too, have translated the Quran into Bahasa Malaysia. And while the Quran may have been translated into Bahasa Malaysia from its original language, Arabic, the name of God has been retained in Arabic, which is Allah.

The Christians, however, translate the original Aramaic or Hebrew Gospel into Bahasa Malaysia but instead of using the original Aramaic or Hebrew name of God they want to use the Arabic name.

This is what puzzles me. It is like translating my name, Petra, into English (which would be 'Rock') or into Bahasa Malaysia (which would be 'Batu' -- although they do call me 'kepala batu' or 'stubborn-headed'). My name, in any language, is still 'Petra'.

Anyway, the problem here is the Christians decided to take this matter to court. In other words, the Christians want the court to be the judge or referee in this argument.

Once you have thrown this matter to a judge or referee to decide, this means you have agreed that the judge or referee will make the final decision. And this also means you have agreed to abide by the decision of the judge or referee.

The danger with this is you have just handed the matter over to a 'middleman' to settle. And you never know what decision the middleman is going to take. The middleman might agree with you. On the other hand, the middleman might disagree with you. But whatever decision the middleman makes you are bound by it because you have agreed that you will hand the matter to the middleman to decide.

When I was sued a number of times in the past, I refused to make an appearance in court to defend myself. That was because I refuse to subject myself to the jurisdiction of the court.

No doubt those who sued me 'won in default' since I did not make an appearance to contest the suit. But I did not subject myself to the court so that means I do not accept the court's 'decision in absentia'.

That was the same when I was charged for a criminal offence. Since I was under arrest I had no choice but to appear in court as I was handcuffed anyway. But I refused to enter any plea and the court, at its own discretion, took this 'no plea' as a plea of 'not guilty'.

I shouted at the court that I did not plead 'not guilty'. Instead, I refuse to enter any plea, which means I did not recognise the court. The court, however, insisted that I had pleaded 'not guilty' and insisted that I face trial on a plea of 'not guilty'.

And you know the rest of the story. I then left the country and never made any appearance in court and the court eventually was forced to drop the charges.

So you see, once you accept the court's jurisdiction, you are forced to accept the court's decision. But if you do not accept the court's decision then do not take the matter to court. Boycott the court, like how I did. Then you can defy the government and continue to use 'Allah' as the name of God since you never agreed to hand the matter to a middleman to decide.

Now, I am not saying I do not agree that Christians can use the name of Allah. I am saying you can no longer make that decision since you have forfeited the right to decide by handing it to a third party to decide.


The Allah controversy: a ten-point solution

By Prof Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

The Controversy over Kalimah Allah should never have gone to Court. An adversarial system of adjudication which pits one side against the other cannot resolve satisfactorily complex disputes that intersect notions of religious and ethnic identity.

In fact, the controversy, which has burdened us for almost three decades, is more about protecting identity than about preserving the sanctity of a hallowed term. It is fear about how identity would be undermined if what is perceived as an exclusive religious symbol is usurped by others that has triggered a strong reaction from the Muslim majority. Christians and others who have taken a position against Muslim sentiment are also motivated to a great extent by the prevailing ethnic divide in the country.

Expectedly, the stances adopted by some politicians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, have exacerbated the situation. Because issues of identity are at the centre of politics and power in our multi-religious, multi-ethnic nation, they are hoping to reap a harvest from the Kalimah Allah controversy. In the process, society is becoming even more polarised along religious lines.

This is why politicians and religious leaders should desist immediately from misconstruing the Court of Appeal decision on the use of Kalimah Allah in the Catholic weekly, The Herald, which has no bearing upon other Christian publications or the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible.  It is wrong of them to demand that the ban on the term in the Catholic weekly be extended to Sabah and Sarawak where it has been used in daily prayers in churches for more than a hundred years. Since the Catholic Church is appealing against the decision in the Federal Court, all individuals and groups should allow the judicial process to take its course.

More important, Prime Minister, Dato Sri Mohd Najib should assure everyone that he is determined to uphold the letter and the spirit of the '10-point solution' that he had signed on 11 April 2011 in which he spelt out his commitment to the exercise of the freedom of religion of the Christian minority within the context of the Malaysian Constitution. It is a significant document in the shape of a letter to the Chairperson of the Christian Federation of Malaysia because it provides guarantees to a minority that resonate with the tradition of Muslim Rulers protecting the position of Christian and other minorities that harkens back to the Prophet Muhammad's (may peace be upon him) celebrated treaty with the Christians of Najran.

Christians in Malaysia should at the same time see the 10-point solution as an arrangement which expects them also to understand and empathise with the feelings of an extraordinarily accommodative majority community which has genuine concerns about its identity. For these reasons, highlighting the 10-point solution at this juncture would help considerably to reduce the prevailing mistrust and suspicion between the majority and minority communities.

In the ultimate analysis however what really matters is not who uses the term Allah but whether all of us are willing to strive to the utmost to perform those good deeds, which alone demonstrate our love for Allah.


A call for compassion

By Loshana K. Shagar

A Christian friend said he had always been taught that the Bahasa Malaysia version of God was referred to as 'Tuhan', therefore he questioned The Herald's insistence on using the word 'Allah' when they could easily use the more acceptable term, 'Tuhan'.

Since my childhood years in a Muslim majority area some 50km from Kuala Lumpur, I had been indoctrinated to believe that terms like 'Allah' were exclusive to Muslims, not just here but everywhere else.

Yet, frequent interactions with Muslim friends led me to unwittingly use such terms in conversation, and for the longest time I remained oblivious to the looks I was eliciting.

I vividly remember the first time I hosted the weekly school assembly nearly 10 years ago, where the script included Assalamua­laikum (Peace be upon you).

Thinking nothing of it, I promptly greeted the assembly with the term, leading to the headmistress taking me aside afterwards to 'clarify' that only Muslims were allowed to use the greeting.

Fast forward to 2008 and I was in university, seeking answers to the many questions in my head.

When the 'Allah' issue cropped up, I naturally burrowed into available resources to trace its usage in other places.

Imagine my surprise when I found that the word 'Allah' itself pre-dates the birth of Islam in the sixth century, with non-Islamic Arabs using the term before the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.

The word has also been used by Christians and Jews in Arab countries for generations, but it is interesting to note that a Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research poll early this year revealed 83% of Muslims interviewed had agreed that the usage of 'Allah' is their absolute right.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal's common finding was that 'Allah' was not an integral part of the Christian faith and that using it could cause confusion.

The court also said it granted the Government's appeal in the interest of public safety. 

For the record, I am neither Christian nor Muslim.




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