Following ratification of the ruling by the Malaysian Court of Appeals that the name “Allah” can only be used by Muslims, Prime Minister Najib Razak once again defended the decision. What first needs to be said is that in the same way that this ruling is incompatible with the friendship of Christians and Muslims - who have lived together in Malaysia for many years - it also conflicts with understanding of Islam itself.
Non-Muslims constitute some 40% of the population of Malaysia. The fact that copies of the Bible published in the Malay language 400 years ago used the term ‘Allah’ gives us a better idea of the problem to which this ban will lead. Alongside the question of social peace and understanding, there is no logic in religious terms in telling someone who uses the name ‘Allah’ that he must not do so. There is nothing troubling about a non-Muslim using the name Allah in prayer and worship; on the contrary, it is a cause for rejoicing for a Muslim.
While this is going on in Malaysia, more interesting things are happening in Iran. No matter how much I say that there can be no solution until the deep state in Iran and Shiite extremism are eliminated, I still support all the initiatives, since the election of President Ruhani in Iran indicates a positive step forward for the region that will lead the way to peace and brotherhood.
Following the election of Ruhani, major steps have been taken toward the dream of a freer Iran. Language denying the Holocaust is being abandoned, moderate messages from President Ruhani via Twitter on the occasion of his U.S. visit, the telephone conversation between President Obama and President Ruhani, and President Ruhani ending his address to the U.N. by emphasizing the common values found in the Torah, the Gospels and the Qur’an are some of these strides forward. Another instance was added to these just the other day.
President Ruhani hosted Archbishop Leo Boccardi in his office. The message, accompanied by a photograph, that was published on Twitter following that meeting was exceedingly important. President Ruhani said:
“Today we have common objectives and enemies. Extremism and terrorism are our common enemies and, based on the divine teachings, human interactions and cooperation for the elimination of poverty and injustice are common objectives,” We need to have a deeper knowledge of each other’s beliefs and cultures, because nowadays, most of the gaps and enmities are rooted in unfamiliarity and lack of knowledge about each other’s cultures.”
President Ruhani’s words are actually a reflection of the moral values recommended by Islam. According to Islam, Christians and Jews are the People of the Book, and Muslims’ relations with the People of the Book are based on love and understanding. The faithfulness to the Prophet Jesus or the Prophet Moses of the People of the Book, and their loyalty to the Torah or the Gospels, are delightful things for Muslims.
Another important matter shaping Muslims’ relations with the People of the Book is that it is lawful in Islam for Muslims to eat food prepared by them, and Muslim men are allowed to marry women from the People of the Book. The fact that Allah encourages Muslims to engage in such social relations is clear proof that He wishes us to establish warm and high-level human relations with the People of the Book. Sitting down at the same table and raising children together by marrying and spending a lifetime together is a fine and appropriate response from Islam to those who strive to create division and sow disagreement between the two communities.
There may have been various conflicts and disagreements between members of the three divine faiths in the past. However, these did not originate from the essence of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but from mistaken ideas and opinions on the part of nations, communities and individuals, and from expectations of political or economic gain. Otherwise, one of the common aims of the three divine faiths is for all people to live in peace, tranquility and security, and all opinions that reject that aim and encourage conflict are mistaken in the eyes of all three faiths.
The responsibility of sincere and sensible Christians, Jews and Muslims of good conscience is to assist one another against wickedness and wicked people, and to work together in union and togetherness. That union must be built on the basis of the principles of love, respect, affection, compassion, understanding, harmony and cooperation.
So let us be united and work together to eliminate all the causes that might lead to conflict and fighting. Let us strive together against the bigotry that hinders such an alliance. Let us love and watch over one another. Let us not make differences of belief into pretexts for conflict. Let us build upon our common beliefs for unity and togetherness.