A well-known New York-based Muslim scholar and community leader has urged Putrajaya to seriously look into the ruling prohibiting Christians from using the word Allah, saying that it is against the teachings of the Quran.
Imam Shamsi Ali told The Malaysian Insider that as a Muslim, he could not accept the Court of Appeal ruling as it "reduced the greatness of God".
"I cannot accept it because for me, it is a matter of faith.
"It (the ruling) is reducing the authority of God as the powerful, the creator, the God of All, to being the God of only 1.5 billion people in the world," said Shamsi, adding that the ruling was unfortunate as it had the tendency of limiting God to Muslims.
He was speaking to The Malaysian Insider on the sidelines of the 2013 Global Peace Convention.
Some 500 participants from 40 nations are attending the four-day convention titled, "Unity in Diversity: Building Social Cohesion for Sustainable Peace through Universal Aspirations, Principles and Values".
The topics of the convention include "Global ethic for inclusive and moderate societies", "How young people today shape the world tomorrow" and "How globalisation impacts the institution of family".
Commenting further, Shamsi said the first chapter of the Quran does not say the Lord of the Muslims, or the King of Muslims, it says the Lord of the Universe and the King of Human Beings.
"So when the government limits god to God of Muslims, basically that contradicts the teaching of the Quran, which is universal," he explained.
Shamsi said that in a previous interview with FoxNews where the topic was over the use of the word Allah by Christians, he had advocated that God can be called by any name as long as it was the proper name to refer to the Almighty God.
He added that during his time living in other Muslim countries, he had never come across attempts by Muslims to limit the use of the word Allah by other religions.
Shamsi also pointed out that the Allah issue in Malaysia was not merely a legal question, but one that was related to faith.
The Muslim scholar was commenting on the Court of Appeal ruling on October 14 where a three-member bench led by Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali allowed Putrajaya's appeal on the banning of the word from the Catholic weekly, Herald, as there was a 1986 directive by the Home Ministry which prohibited non-Muslim publications from using four words – Allah, Kaabah, Solat and Baitullah.
Apandi, in his judgment, said the prohibition was to protect the sanctity of Islam and prevent confusion among Muslims.
The decision sparked an outcry among Christians and other non-Muslims in the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak.
On Thursday, Putrajaya and seven Muslim organisations said they are opposing the Catholic Church's leave application to appeal against the Court of Appeal ruling.
The eight respondents maintained that the Court of Appeal ruling was correct and that it was not worthwhile for the Federal Court to determine the question of law outlined by the church. - The Malaysian Insider