FROM MAULANA’S DESK
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognized as one of its most influential Muslims . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.
MAKE IT A STARTING POINT
ON October 13, 2013 a Malaysian appeals court upheld a government ban against the use of the word 'Allah' by Christians. This verdict has nothing to do with Islamic teachings, however. It was the result of a demand from some extremists.
Historically, the word 'Allah' has never been the monopoly of Muslims. This word was prevalent among the idol-worshippers of pre-Islamic Mecca. The Quran itself certifies this fact, as the following Quranic verse indicates:
If you ask them who it is that has created the heavens and the
earth and subjugated the sun and the moon,
they will certainly say, ‘Allah.’
(THE QURAN 29:61)
If early Muslims were right in adopting this word from the pagans of the pre-Islamic period, the Christians of Malaysia, too, are justified in using this word.
This ongoing issue need not be seen as a problem for the Malaysian Muslims. Rather, they can take it as a good opportunity. They can use it as a starting point for dialogue with their Christian countrymen.
They can tell their Christian fellow Malaysians that 'Allah' is not simply a name; it involves a whole religious culture, that is, the culture of tawheed or monotheism. And so, with reference to this event, they can introduce to them the Islamic teaching of tawheed.
This wise approach was also adopted by the Prophet of Islam. Addressing the Prophet, the Quran presents this principle:
Say, ‘People of the Book, let us come to a word common to us
that we shall worship none but God.'
(THE QURAN 3:64)
The willingness on the part of Christians in Malaysia to use the word 'Allah' for God actually gives Muslims a common ground (kalima e-sawa) with them. In this case, the Malaysian Christians have themselves provided this common ground. Malaysian Muslims should welcome it and avail it as an opportunity for spiritual exchange.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Those who are conscious only of their own rights
will always make demands upon others.
Their slogan is:
"Others have to give to us!"
The duty-conscious person will always think
in terms of self-construction.
He will always try to fulfil his own duty.
The slogan of a rights-conscious person is:
"They must do this for me!"
A duty-conscious person, on the other hand, will say :
"I will do it!"