ASIA/MALAYSIA - The Bible in Malay language celebrates 400 years, but the use of the word "Allah" remains a challenge

Monday, 5 March 2012

Kuala Lumpur (Agenzia Fides) - The Christian community in Malaysia celebrates in 2012 400 years since the first publication of the Bible translated in the Malay language (the "Bahasa Malaysia", the official language in the country). As sources of Fides report, at a convention held recently in Seremban by the "Bible Society of Malaysia", numerous Christian scholars recalled that, although the first edition of the Bible is dated 1612, the use of the word "Allah" to denote God, in the Bible and in Christian publications, remains a challenge.
The controversy between the Catholic Church and the government, in fact, is still open and remains "pending", though Christians won in 2009 the first court case, which established their right to use the term "Allah" in the Catholic newspaper "The Herald". The government lawyers appealed and are still awaiting a definitive solution of the question.
During the convention in Seremban, prominent Christian scholars and of international provenance examined the historical and theological perspectives on translating the Bible into Malay, and the legal picture for the printing and distribution of Bibles in Malaysia.
In recent months, in fact, protests erupted when the government of Malaysia limited the circulation or confiscated Bibles in Malay language that came from abroad. Malaysian Christians note that, although in July 2011, the government had officially established diplomatic relations with the Holy See, currently there is no progress in resolving the controversy associated with the use of the word "Allah", or clarifications on the right to distribute Christian publications or copies of the Holy Scripture. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 05/03/2012)