Thursday, January 21, 2010

Prof Syed Naguib Al-Attas on ALLAH......

{...Excerpt from Rauyanfikir }

Prof. Al-Attas' view on the polemical usage of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims

On December 13, 2009, during the Worldview of Islam Seminar organized by the Assembly of Muslim Intellectuals or Himpunan Keilmuan Muda (HAKIM), there was a question being posted to Professor Al-Attas regarding the polemical usage of the word "Allah" by the non-Muslims.

Below is the transcript of his brief-but-yet-concise enlightening remarks. As a word of caution, though, one must not only rely on this brief transcript alone to understand the whole spectrum of Prof. Al-Attas' view about this theological matter. Further thorough elucidation of his thought can be found in numerous works of this great Muslim scholar of this age, such as Prolegomena to the Metaphysics of Islam, Islam and Secularism, Islam dalam Sejarah dan Kebudayaan Melayu and A Commentary on Hujjat al-Siddiq of Nur al-Din al-Raniri.



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Question: The using of kalimah “Allah” by other people in this country
Answers by Prof. Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas:

Well I have been talking about this long time ago. I remember about this in ISTAC, when we first established ourselves (late 80’s and early 90’s), I think the Arcbishop of Penang was asking this question. And I have answered that.

And then we had a meeting with the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur and about all the representatives of Christianity, including the ministers, we had a meeting at ISTAC.

And I said, “Why you want to use the word ‘Allah’ for yourself?”

They said “we going to pray in Bahasa Malaysia”

That’s the way they put it. So my answers to them, “Why you have to change praying into Bahasa Malaysia. You have been praying in English all the time. Why suddenly change into Bahasa Malaysia?”

Ok, so they said they want to change so that it more patriotic. Then in that case I’m saying that “why don’t you use Tuhan while praying in Bahasa Malaysia? Because you are talking about God isn’t it?…God is not just a name…”Allah” is a name of this Being whom you called God… and in fact a Being whom even higher than what you called to be God”

And then I said, “ …and “Allah” is not from Bahasa Malaysia. It is not a national language. It belongs to the language of Muslim all over the world. Therefore your argument using this for the word “Allah” does not fit into your idea of God. Because “Allah” does not have a son, It is not one of three (Trinity), that is why out of respect to Allah we can’t allow you to use this.“

But when we Muslim, when we write in English we say God, or when we talk to people we say God but we mean “Allah”…but they cannot say when they speak about God it means “Allah” as they don’t mean it.

So in this particular respect, we have to be clear about this, not was-was (hesitate)...whomever responsible in our governing, they have to be clear about this and to explain to others.

We agree you want to use God, then use Tuhan as we also use that…but we understand in the Malay language that Tuhan is not a translation of Allah..that is why we say “tiada Tuhan melainkan Allah” not “tiada Tuhan melainkan Tuhan”. We don’t say “there is not God but God”..at least the ulama’ among the Muslim Malays, we understand what is the meaning of that (word “Allah”).

So “Allah” cannot be translated as no language has translated Allah. The Arabs themselves they only use that after Islam..although the word existed (before)..the Christians Arab they also did not use Allah (in theological, epistemological and ontological sense in the same manner as the Muslim)..if they say that it is just a language..they talking about language..because they say “Allah” like the Muslim when they (melatah)…

So it appears they want to do that in order to confuse the Muslim into thinking that all the same..that is why I say one of the problems about religion is the nature of God..about who Allah is..that is why in Arkanul Iman (The Pillars of Faith), the first thing is “amana billah”.

“Who is this Allah?” and that need to be explain at higher institution in a proper way…

So we have answer the question. It is not proper to allow them using this, since they asking us and there is no point bringing this to court since this is not a matter of court to decide it whether they have the freedom to use it or not. It is up to the Muslims.

But then if they used it and said “in Indonesia they have use it, why can’t we?”…but it is because of the Muslims..if Muslims don’t care they will go on and use it..and in Indonesia they are using not only that, other things they even call it “choir” as “selawat”. Choir is not a “selawat”, as “selawat” is for Prophet..it’s not singing hymn..

And they also talk about..in Indonesia they are also confuse..Muslims..that is why this thing happen. Sometimes the language when you come across English words like “Prophet of Doom” in Indonesia they said “Nabi celaka”. How can there be “Nabi celaka”? What is meant by the “Prophet of Doom” is…even the word Prophet in English does not mean “Nabi” only…it means “yang meramalkan malapetaka”..that what it means…so the “Prophet of Doom” means “yang meramalkan malapetaka”, not “Nabi celaka”.

They (the Muslims in Indonesia) seem not to bother about this. What we can say is that ultimately well they say “God is not Allah”...well if you want to use the word God, we are saying we also use the word God, we refer to Allah as we know and we are not saying that your God ultimately will not refer to Allah. You can’t run away from Allah. You can only escape Him and so in the Qur’an (surah An-Naas) says: “Qul aAAoothu birabbi annas, Maliki annas, Ilahi annas”. He (Allah) is saying “ I am the real Ilah (God) of naas (mankind)”, although mankind (non-Muslim) does not interpret it that way.

13 comments:

Pearls & Gem said...

Al-Ikhlas
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Say: He is Allah, the One! (1) Allah, the eternally Besought of all! (2) He begetteth not nor was begotten. (3) And there is none comparable unto Him. (4)

........
He is certainly not your "One in Three" or your "Three in One".
He is Allah

Pearls & Gem said...

Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear. Then those who believe in him, and honour him, and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: they are the successful. ( Quran , 7 : 157)

...on the other hand if they want to call Him, Allah, go ahead.Insyaallah, with His help, they nay be properly guided, and some of them may be brought back to The Straight Path.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong Doc, are not the Christians especially those of the Orthodoxy closest to islam such that one can marry a Christian woman without having her to convert to Islam? Am I right or not? With all due respect for the learned like Al-Attas, I stand to differ simply because it is my personal belief that Allah is not miserly especially in the use of His name even among the ignorant and non believers. t may even be seen as s tep towards getting closer to Him, what do you think he stands to loose by it? That he is incapable of handling such a trivial situation a minor fault of liguistic created by man. The elite or socalled thinkers and movers of this humanity a far few compared to the ignorant and lost to govern what is right and wrong as what is black and white... the ignorant lay man understands by the gray areas somewhere between right and wrong and nothing carved in stone. If the Prophet of Allah can be tolerant towards the non Muslims of his time who are we to set rules and regulations simply because we have the command of knowledge more so than the lay person.
Come down from the high horses and try to think from the perspective of the genuiely devoted spirits still looking for answers in simple terms and if the word Allah seems most comforting, who has the right to say no: only He knows best and it is for Him to judge on this matter it is His Name.

Pearls & Gem said...

Anon,
Yes. The Christians are closest to the Muslims as alluded to in one of the 'Ayats'.
A Muslim male can marry a Christain lady.Alhamdullillah.! And that is a mercy
Legally, the Catholics can call God by any name they like.Accepted.

There are 3 billion Catholics out there and only the 3 millions in Malaysia are clamouring NOW to call Him Allah...No problem with me either, even though I know fully well that their perception of God is different from mine....and that they have an ulterior motives down the lane...

I am just quite worried about my children and children's children who may not have the same understanding and knowledge of Islam [ however meagre as it is now with respect to myself ].Legally they are right but I would consider they are not good neighbours any more.And please you do not have to ask me why. If they want to draw "lines in the sand", I can do so as well on multiple other issues.

You may say I am not being rational but good neighbourliness in a plural and multi religious society such as ours often times cannot be just based on 'rational' thinking, legality and rights.

You can try living in Australia or the US if you think they can treat you better.

In Switzerland, the land of the free, they are even planning to ban the mosque....not in tune with the natural surrounding.On papers and legalistically the West is very tolerant but this is all bullshit.Where in the world can you build a temple any where you like, in whatever number you like and whatever land you like , if not in Malaysia.

Where in the world would you find a Lord President who would choose a judge who is a non Muslim to decide on a very important issue affecting Muslim's sensitivity to the very core?

Where in the world would you find a whole group of indigenous people who are willing to share the country even at the detriment of themselves.

.... I am getting irrational....

Anonymous said...

I am not too worriedabout my children Doc, they were born in the land of 'Shaitan' raised as kids in the house of 'The House Of Rising Sun' and have survived their teen years in Malaysia land of the True Believers. Where they will go from here on Wallah-wa Allam! No Doc, it is me and my sense of intelligence my hard earned rights of passage to be a man, my pride and dignity as citizen of this country that I am worried about; for they are all getting stomped over by the elite few who runs things in this country. Creating rules and laws as they move along catering to their needs regardless if at times these seemed to defy common sense let alone intellegence. I detest those who claim superiorirty over the rest of us who has been silent all these while simply out of respect and the spirit of natinallism towards those who the people chose to vote into office and this i mean on both sides of the filthy fence. Thid nation has come to a point where one cannot put trust much less faith into anyone or system for that matter and hope for Justice except in that of the Allah's.
No, Doc being worried about our kids' future is a cope out an excuse not worthy of a man of high calibre like yourself! We should be worried right here and now! or our children will hold no respect for us in the future.
Give you and example.. this minister Nazri? in the PM office who tried to sell the idea that Christians in Sabah and Sarawak can use the word Allah while others in Mainland malaysia cannot except those in Penang or something like that, this is a Minister for crying out loud! Where do they comeout with these cocka ninny ideas? OOps sorry, you are in Wilayah now you cannot use the word, nope you are non Muslim!!
There will never seize to be Jack asses and arseholes in this life Doc and a few even lives round the corner from you and they are thinking the same of you! So why sweat the little things when you are destined to be instrumental in solving heart cases and the saving of lives!
Dont mean to preach Doc, but we have become friends even if we have never crossed each other's path and i feel I can lay it on you just as i know you will let me have it if and when I cross the line.
You take care and dont give up the fight for all our childrens' sake!
Sam

Pearls & Gem said...

Well Cheeseburgher,
That is one angry man there! Nazri is a nut case. Najib,he weaves and wane like the lallang, being born with a golden spoon and all that.I wonder whether he really has a spine at all.How long this present government will last with individuals like these manning the posts we will have to wait and see.Some of us do not put much hope on the opposition as well....and we do not have a great durable 'system' in place...all ad hoc-king along the way...In short we as a nation is in deep shit!....That is a pessimistic way of looking at things.This is is a digression no doubt.

But back to the issue of "Allah". I met Dr Rosli Yaacob and his wife last night at my daughter's wedding do.He is now head of Bangladesh Tabung Haji and exporting the concept of Tabung Haji to the World at large. He came very late in the evening at the tail end so we have to discuss politics etc and etc.He has a different outlook on the issue.And I hope he is right , just just towing the " party' line[ spiritually who likes Nik Aziz, if you know what I mean]:

"Let them have "Allah" if they want to very badly.Does not matter if they mean "Allah" to be "3 in 1" or that '1 in 3' or that Tok Pekongs down the end of your streets.

If the Buddhists or Hindus also want to call their gods ' Allah' they are also welcomed.

We just go on preaching that, 'Allah' is the One, He begets not and nor is He begotten.
And all are depend on Him!

Let them all have 'Allah' and if one day a
paderi' or two finally got the real insight of Him, insyaallah, all of them will SUBMIT TO HIM!..."

That was Dr Rosli...an occasional economic adviser to PAS...that make me wonder whether this is the unofficial PAS thinking on the issue...Sounds plausible.

He added .." All those conversions in Sarawak and Sabah are not Muslims going to Christianity but animists having some light on matters of religion and we have to salute the Catholics for bringing them 'light' to the people of the forest while we sit quietly at home watching TV.

Talking about that I also met Dato Dr Abdul Razak bin Kechik whom i wrote some time ago under 'Personalities'. This is the chap who does a lot of missionary work on this side of Malaysia amongst the Orang Asli....If you want to make your money do work for you in the ' here and hereafter ' while you can still stay comfortably in your homes and still be able to watch TV please contact him at...0135840070.

He is a short man, a retired ex medical director of Kelantan but a giant of a man!The Sultan of Perak finally recognised his contribution to Islam and gave him the honorific Dato'.This is a real Dato' here....

Anonymous said...

Well CONGRATULATIONS is in order Doc, for getting a son in law, my Heartiest wish for a bright and prosperous future for the bride and groom. Soon you'd be teaching a grandchild or two how to ride horses.
Than you for sharing these individuals friends of yours with me, they seem like my kind of guys who think far and deep, walk the talk and act with a low profile. Luck you to have such acquaintances to sit and shoot the breeze with. Can you elaborate a little on the "making your money work for you" part if you dont mind I am curious.
I like what Dr. Rosli had to say on the Allah matter, however, still a litlle tainted by attatchemnt to we are right and they will never be...a little egocentric on our part i guese for being the chosen ones of Prophet, lucky us! Like i said I highly doubt the Allah has any problem with anyone using His name for good or bad intentions, they will all be met with and mattered out at the end of the days.
An example i may be wrong in this too...Shaitan was cursed by the AlMithy for not wanting to Kow Tow to man in the story of Genesis. Cast out of heaven forever and given respite to be a pain if His side till the day of reckoning? Man is mere pawns in this divine game of good vs. evil...why?
In my opinion The Creator was not pissed because the bad dude did not want to bow to man upon his inception but because the dude questioned His authority, His Will, His Intelligence, the dude succumbed to his ego, his pride and prejudice just like we are doing in a manner of speaking. Allah is the Tester and we are being tested collectively and right now I think we are failing with royal colors! (punt intended).
Well Doc I think I will let to rest this subject for now no more from as it is getting to become a bore. Enjoyed it while it lasted and better quit while I am ahead (with the law). Gotta take car3efull steps these days one never knows when the gestapo will knock at your door for sharing your thoughts with the world...Big brother is ever watching...
take care my friend and Again all the best to being a Father in law!
sam

Pearls & Gem said...

A reluctant one at that Anon. Belum puas manja dengan anak lagi, they have decided they have grown up and want to leave the proverbial 'nest'.

Dato Dr Addul Razak [and his band of volunteers ] does a lot of work amongst the orang Asli in Kelantan and Perak spreading the good words on 'Allah'.On very thin mearge budget compared to the established missionaries dari Gereja, which has unlimited budget.His work survived on derma and the commission he gets from collection of zakat harta and pencarian which he channelled to Majlis Ugama Perlis. The little he get as commission for the said collection, that is for daawah amongst the jungle people.

In a broader perspective, if we look at where Islam is lacking...this is it...We are losing the PR job.Daawah kita kurang.Duit tak ada....Yang pandai dan berada would rather play to the gallery[ MM, SIS etc etc]and be politically correct.Yang dudok atas2 dan berkuasa tak kisah pasal hal2 ugama,perkara2 yang remeh kata mereka,[masaalah aqidah is personal, masaalah dunia dan negara lebih besar ]hanya interested in maintaining the status quo walaupun at the end of the day...it all become a matter of the perut...If it is the perut we are all interested in,what we get is what comes out of it....

Ishak said...

The Muslim religious scholars should explain it further to the Christians and the Muslim about the way the two religions understand the almighty God. The way the Muslim understand the almighty God is very specific and clear, and any misconception thereof is further explain in alquran and hadith. To the Christian the understanding of the almighty God is totally different from the way the Muslim understand the Almighty God - Allah. The meaning is so enormous as in the alquran. The concept 3 in 1 is not clear to the Christian also, thats why they continue to say Jesus is the son of God and Mary is the mother of God. This statement is not the statement of the prophet Jesus nor the statement of God. Christ never admit he is the son of God. The people to be blamed were the religious leader who deceive the followers of the trinity concept, after thousand of years, people take it for granted whatever stated in the so called bible, amended in the old and new testiment from is genuine original testiment. I dont really know the purpose of the Christian friends to change the word now, may be to confuse the Muslims who are nor clear about Islam and Christian may believe Islam and Christian are the same believe the same God. So for Muslim who cant abide by the strict rule of Islam, can remain sitting on the fence, the two relion are the same. But casually I discuss with Christian friends and I ask why your God has no name. They can answer. Well the fact is there is only one religion. The language of religion are hibro and arabic only, english is foreign to religious language, thats the reason when it come there are lots of wrong intrepretation that can confuse lot of people. To all friends Christians and Muslim, have an open heart look back into the history of thousand years and find the truth, you don have to defend your faith, one day you find the true answer.

Pearls & Gem said...

Ishak,
Now that I come to know and understand the official PAS position, as explained by Doc Rosli Yaacob, on this Allah issue, I can tolerate your position better......This neccesitate us to increase our Daawah activity on a higher plane: The Christians are wooly wooly on the issue of the nature of Allah even though they want people to call Him Allah.Let them be. We , Muslims can be oK with that.The Hindus see Allah reincarnate everywhere and everytime:Big molehills,white horses, specific junctions, tall mountains, big rivers, etc etc. We are also OK with that. The Buddhists avoid the issue of Allah altogether. We are also OK with that.

Knowledge, without faith, does not necessarily lead one to enlightenment. We have seen too many examples of that around us. John Esposito et al know everything about the Qur'an, hadith and some of them even delve in the exoteric form of Islams, studying the intricacies and minds of great sufi writers, but at the end of the day, they remain like lost sheep!

It remain for us, the faithfuls, to continue with our study of the Qur'an and sirah and hadith so that we , and ourloved ones remain on track....In this years and age, an Eskino can no longer feigned IGNORANCE for not knowing Islam....And at the end of time even he is answerable for that.

Obama knows Islam. That former Argentinian president was Muslim before he renounced Islam for this world and power.

"Already have We urged unto hell many of the jinn and humankind, having hearts wherewith they understand not, and having eyes wherewith they see not, and having ears wherewith they hear not. These are as the cattle - nay, but they are worse! These are the neglectful. ( 7 :179)"

"That is because Allah never changeth the grace He hath bestowed on any people until they first change that which is in their hearts, and (that is) because Allah is Hearer, Knower. ( 8 : 53)"

Ishak, I think I, otherwise Anon will say I have gone 'catatonic' again. It is difficult in the case of the Quranic verses to not go 'catatonic'. So beautiful and raw , even in translantic English. I am not surprised that it once melted Sayyidina Omar's heart when he was a 'non believer, in the early days of Islam in Makkah.

Anonymous said...

salam, we saw, we heard many-many time US soldier trowing Al Quran into toilet bowl, shooting at it and surely they know theres hundreds of
'ALLAH' word in it, big company producing shoe and sandal with imprinted 'ALLAH' word to step on, they also put 'ALLAH' word on the car tyre, and many more in intention definitely to disparage 'ALLAH'. Only Muslim all over the world stand togather fight and keep busying to condemn every time this matter arrised. Never heard from those who want to use 'ALLAH' as one of their god joint the fight. In english 'a' is singular/not more than one/tunggal. 'ALLAH' is tunggal.in arab 'ALLAH' start with 'Aliph'-'I', and same as number one. renungkanlah

Pearls & Gem said...

Anon,
Let us not get hyperexcited with what they do. They can do what they like with the Qur'an...all these are a reflection of their 'lost souls'...at the end of time truth will prevail...

" Lo! those who disbelieve spend their wealth in order that they may debar (men) from the way of Allah. They will spend it, then it will become an anguish for them, then they will be conquered. And those who disbelieve will be gathered unto hell, (36) That Allah may separate the wicked from the good, The wicked will He place piece upon piece, and heap them all together, and consign them unto hell. Such verily are the losers. ( Al A'raf , 8 :37)

...........The wicked will He place PIECE BY PIECE, and heap them all together......Let them be...

Pearls & Gem said...

At the risk of being labelled catatonic I will repeat this beautiful piece from Surah Al Furqan [ The Criterion ], 25 : 20-21 , which I stumbled upon today:

"We never sent before thee any messengers but lo! they ate food and walked in the markets. And We have appointed some of you a test for others: Will ye be steadfast? And thy Lord is ever Seer. (20) And those who look not for a meeting with Us say: Why are angels not sent down unto us and (Why) do we not see our Lord? Assuredly they think too highly of themselves and are scornful with great pride. (21) "

...messengers are just people like you and me. They have to earn a living in the market place, they have families and children, they eat , they got sick etc etc...if they are born with pots of gold and able to talk to birds and bees[ like Solomon],had staff that can cut oceans[ Mosses ], or can bring the dead to the living or cure leprosy[ such as Jesus ], that were Allah's gift to them. Did not make them any special to Allah to the point he has to be Allah's son.

Your Brother Packiam, John Esposito Double PHD or all the Bernard Lewisis of this world can surmise what they like, but a wrong cannot be called a right and at the end of time all of us will be told the ABSOLUTE TRUTH!

By the time of Muhammad, Allah just gave him the Quran. It is up to us Muslims to read and understand it's content and live by it. The rest can go and fly kites.