There's been a lot of talk recently on the use of the word "Allah" by non Muslims. In fact the talk even led to the burning or part burning of a church in Taman Melawati last week. How can this happen in Malaysia I ask myself. What have we become that we cannot even think of an act that could harm not just the peace that we have had all these years but also made fools of our ownselves? I had always thought that at least here in Malaysia we were more tolerant of other religions, we lived harmoniously and in peace with each other. All Places of worship should be places of reverence, no matter what the religion. Are we becoming more and more intolerant, more like the extremists we say we are not? By burning churches, we are acting just like the Taliban who destroyed the huge statues of Buddha in Afghanistan,
I remember a time, when I was growing up when I could visit my friends in the Portuguese Settlement in Malacca, eat and sometimes even sleep with Patricia or Joan, daughters of my father's best friend Uncle Donald. Auntie Jeanne would make me dresses for Hari Raya, not just one but sometimes 3 or 4. Come Christmas Day we would all visit them and have a delicious lunch with them - complete with Rendang, Roast Turkey (which is a must) and Devil curry. There would be crackers to pull and presents to get under the Christmas tree.
Other times I remember going with Joan to the small chapel there - the Chapel of our Lady Fatima and sitting with her as she prayed for the fishermen. Both her uncles - Joseph Sta Maria and Phillip were fishermen and she said that we had to pray for them because going to sea was dangerous. So I would pray too - in my own way.
Both my parents were stauch Muslims, yet my dad didn't bat an eyelid when I told him I wanted to read the Children's bible that I had borrowed from Joan. To me they were just stories, full of colourful pictures, like any story book I enjoyed reading. My father sat with me and explained that our beliefs about the infant Jesus were basically the same but that we think of Jesus as Isa and that like our own beloved Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) he was a messenger of God. I read about Moses and about Cain and Abel, about Jonah who went into the stomach of the whale and also about Noah who built the ark - all from the bible. The stories were similar to the ones I had heard told to me by my grand mother.
Like so many other children of my time I learnt to sing Jingle Bells, Silent Night, I saw Santa Claus kissing Mummy and many others. After all, if our own faith and beliefs were strong, what can singing these songs do? They were just songs. And if our own faith and beliefs were true and deep, what harm does it do to hear other people, Non Muslims, say Allah? Why should there be any confusion? To me confusion only arise if we do not understand our religion or our belief in it is only skin deep. I think those people who protested against this were themselves unclear of what they understand. It is true that the word came from the Arabic. Its been used for thousands of years not just by Muslims but also by CHristians before Christianity became Anglicised. Like Islam, Christianity began in the Middle East. So what is all the fuss about?