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Title: Allah Absent
Issue: May-June 2009

Allah Absent

Allah is missing. The Indonesian Bible, "Kitab Suci Indonesian Literal Translation" has replaced the word with the Hebrew word "Elohim".

The Bible is distributed by a group called "Yayasan Lentera Bangsa" which claims that every sentence is directly translated from the Hebrew-Greek-English Bible and is therefore a more literal translation to the original manuscript.

It was promoted at the recent international bookfair in Kuala Lumpur, which was organised by the Government, as a way of resolving the current "Allah" conflict between the Church and the Government.

According to the group, the word "Allah" is not found in the original Greek and Hebrew Bible. This is obviously a non-statement and there is no need to go further on this point.

In assessing Kitab Suci, NECF Malaysia wish to categorically state the following:

  1. That the usage of the word "Elohim" is not wrong in itself as at least one English Bible uses the word "Yahweh" in place of "God";
  2. However, we strongly oppose the offer of using the Kitab Suci to resolve the "Allah" ban issue and we continue to maintain the right to use "Allah" as it has been so used for over 300 years in Malaysia.

The core issue is our fundamental right to practise our faith in whatever language, for languages are universal properties and no one has any right to claim exclusive use of any one language.

We also wish to highlight the numerous inaccuracies in translation in Kitab Suci. For example, in Kitab Suci's Job 2:9, Job's wife was reported as telling him to "Berkatilah Elohim, dan matilah!" ("…bless Eloshim and die"!") In the approved Lembaga Alkitab Indonesia, the phrase used is "Kutuki Allahmu dan matilah" ("Curse Allah and die").

Another example of inaccuracy is found in Gal. 3:22 where the Kitab Suci says, "Tetapi kitab suci telah menutup segala sesuatu di bawah dosa, supaya janji itu dapat diberikan kepada mereka yang percaya atas dasar iman Yesus Kristus (based on Jesus' faith)."

The approved Lembaga Alkitab Indonesia reads, "Tetapi Kitab Suci telah menugurung segala sesuatu di bawah kekuasaan dosa, oleh karena iman dalam Yesus Kristus (because of faith in Jesus), janji itu diberikan kepada mereka yang percaya."

The Catholic Church has also opposed the Kitab Suci. In its April 26 Catholic Herald issue, the newspaper pointed out that Kitab Suci had not been approved by the Indonesian Bible Society.

"The new Malay Bible (Kitab Suci) weakens the argument for using the word Allah because some groups are trying to substitute God with a foreign name, whereas Allah is the Malay word for God and has been the accepted translation for centuries," the paper's editor Father Lawrence Andrew told AFP (malaysiakini, April 26).

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has been granted leave by the High Court to quash the Home Ministry's decision prohibiting the use of "Allah" in the Herald Catholic Weekly. The Ministry had told the Weekly that its publication permit for 2009 was subject to the condition that it did not use the word.

The Government had argued that "Allah" should only be used by Muslims and had banned non-Muslims from using the word.



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