Malaysia, Allah, and God, Part II
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
Malaysia is a model in any ways, including respecting minority rights, so why is the Supreme Court being asked to adjudicate whether Christians may use the word Allah for God, the way the Arabic-speaking Christians in the Middle East have always done? The court’s final ruling is expected on December 30th.
Unfortunately, the field of theology is rarely taught in Muslim countries because in Islam it is so simple, yet any fatwas or judicial rulings on the subject should respect the extent to which Christian and Islamic scholars agree. In Chapter One, “The Universal Spiritual Paradigm of Natural Law”, on page 23 of my book which goes on sale next month, entitled The Natural Law of Compassionate Justice: An Islamic Perspective, I quote the homily of Pope Benedict XVI for February 25th in Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI, who concluded with the following message for all faiths: “Christian faith ... comes about in a state of obedience that places us at God’s disposition wherever He calls. It is the same obedience that does not trust one’s own power or one’s own greatness but is founded on the greatness of the God of Jesus Christ.”
In the first endnote of Chapter One, “The Spirit of Islam,” in the 550-page college textbook, entitled simply Islam and Muslims, prepared by Ali Chaudry and me, which is now in page proofs for publication next month, I deal with the relevant issue of Christian theology as follows in order to highlight the importance of subjective intent which governs the deepest prayer of all Christians: “The classical scholars referred to in the mainline Qur’an commentaries distinguish true polytheists from the Christians who say Jesus is God in an observable form as a divine manifestation. As Muhammad Asad puts it in his commentary, ‘Although, by their deification of Jesus they are guilty of the sin of shirk (“the ascribing of divinity to anyone or anything beside God”), the Christians do not consciously worship a plurality of deities inasmuch as theoretically their theology postulates belief in One God, Who is conceived as manifesting Himself in a trinity of aspects or “persons”, of whom Jesus is supposed to be one. Their shirk is not based on conscious intent, but rather flows from their “overstepping the bounds of truth” [Surah al Ma’ida 5:77] in their veneration of Jesus’. In reference to the next surah, Surah al An’am 6:23, Asad says, ‘The mystical doctrine of the “trinity,” in the Christian view, does not conflict with the principle of God’s Oneness inasmuch as it is supposed to express a “three-fold aspect” of the One Deity’. He quotes the Great Commentary, Tafsir al Kabir, by Razi (Muhhamad Fakhr al Din Razi, died 606), who explains that, ‘The person concerned does not subjectively visualize [ascribing divine qualities to a being or force other than God] as denying God’s Oneness’. After all The Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam, said that every person is made in the image of God.”
As a two-decades-long Associate Editor of http://www.theamericanmuslim.org I strongly back the recent article, “Malaysia, Allah, and God,” in this ezine by its Founding Editor, Sheila Musaji, to do whatever we can to marginalize those Muslim extremists who feed the propaganda mill of their Christian counterparts. Too often, Muslims, out of ignorance, are our own worst enemies. If we are to build a peaceful plurality of civilizations in the modern world, we must try to bring out the best of each other and of the past in the present in order to build a better future of peace, prosperity, and freedom through compassionate justice, in sha’a Allah.