Clearing the Misunderstanding on the use of Allah in Bahasa Bibles

by Dr SK Teoh

Many Muslims and even some Christians have misunderstood the use of “Allah” in Bahasa Bibles.   To clarify some of the confusion:

1)     The BM Bible or the Alkitab is not translated from the English Bible but from the original languages, ie  Hebrew and Greek.

2)     The Hebrew word for God is El or Elohim (similar root as Ilah in Arabic) and YHWH or Yahweh for LORD. The Greek words are Theo for God and Kurios for Lord.

3)     Biblical translators all over the world have used the local language terms for Elohim and Yahweh eg God and LORD in English; Dios and Senor in Spanish, Shangti and Zhu in Chinese

4)     For 15 centuries, Arabic Bibles have used Allah for God and Rab for Lord (predate Islam)

5)     The first Malay translation of the Bible was made in 1612, and Allah was used for God and Tuhan for Lord in this and all the subsequent translations till today.

6)     Malay-speaking (and Iban) Christians have used the term Allah for more than a hundred years in Malaya and the Borneo states in worship, prayers and reading their holy scriptures.

7)     Twenty million Christians in Indonesia have used Allah for years without any misunderstanding or objection.

8)     English Bibles nor Bibles of other languages obviously do not use the Bahasa terms

9)     Forbidding the use of the term “Allah” by Christians, not only infringes their rights to practise their faith but also lead to confusion.  For example, is the “Tuhan” in Negara-Ku and Rukun Negara not the “Muslim God” or can Christians sing the Selangor Anthem where “Allah” is used?

10)  Theological  meanings between Christianity and Islam  will always be different whether the term used is “Allah” or “Tuhan” or “God”.

*This letter from a contributor first appeared in Harakah Daily.

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