PETALING JAYA, Oct 17 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) maintained its stand today that non-Muslims can refer to God as "Allah", despite the Court of Appeal ruling otherwise on Monday.
The opposition pact, represented by PKR's Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP's Lim Kit Siang and PAS' Datuk Mustafa Ali, said that it upheld its support for non-Muslims, as previously declared in January this year.
"We remain consistent with what we said earlier," Anwar told reporters at a joint press conference with Lim and Mustafa at the PKR headquarters here today.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said last January that there was nothing wrong with non-Muslims describing God with the Arabic word "Allah".
The Islamist party leader noted that Islam does not forbid other creeds from using the word "Allah" in their religious practices.
"Say, 'O People of the Scripture, come to a word that is equitable between us and you — that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah.' But if they turn away, then say, 'Bear witness that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]'," Hadi was quoted as saying by PAS organ Harakah Daily, citing verse 64 of Surah 3 of the Qur'an.
Anwar also said in Penang yesterday that non-Muslims with good intentions could call God "Allah".
He added that Umno has misled some Muslims into thinking that Christians want to use the word "Allah" to intentionally confuse Muslims and to convert them.
On Monday, the Court of Appeal ruled against a 2009 High Court decision allowing the Catholic Church to refer to the Christian god with the Arabic word "Allah" in the Bahasa Malaysia section of its weekly paper, the Herald.
The court adjudged the usage of the word "Allah" as not integral to the Christian faith and said that allowing such an application would cause confusion in the Muslim community.
The ruling was censured in several international publications, such as Indonesian daily Jakarta Post, which wrote an editorial yesterday saying that "those who claim exclusivity to God undermine their own faith, and inadvertently or not, preach polytheism".
International current affairs magazine The Economist pointed out yesterday that Christians in the Middle East commonly refer to God as "Allah", and called the court verdict an "unhelpful contribution" to religious discourse between Muslims and Christians.