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Malaysian Church loses legal battle to use to word ‘Allah’

Muslim women pray outside court in Putrajaya, Malaysia (PA)

The Federal Court in Malaysia has ruled that the Catholic Church has no right to use the term “Allah” which means God.

The decision follows the Church’s five year-long legal battle for their constitutional right to use the phrase.

Isma president, Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman welcomed the Federal Court’s decsion saying that it was in accordance with the Federal Constitution and necessary to preserve peace in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

He told Malay Mail Online via text message: “The ‘Allah’ polemic should end now with the court’s ruling. I hope the church abides by the decision for the sake of the country’s harmony.

“Stubbornness will not benefit anyone.”

The legal dispute began in 2007 when the Home Ministry banned the publication of the word “Allah” in the Catholic Church’s weekly paper Herald’s Bahasa Malaysia section in 2007.

People from all religions use the word Allah in Malay to refer to their deity. Christians have used the word to refer to God for centuries.

According to the BBC, Malaysian authorities have claimed that its use by Christians could confuse Muslims and lead some to convert to Christianity.