January 5, 2010 — A new Facebook group has recently been launched aimed at clarifying issues concerning the recent High Court judgement regarding the use of “Allah” by a Christian publication at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=235811509099&ref=ts
Called “MENENTANG PENGGUNAAN ISU ALLAH UNTUK TUJUAN POLEMIK ATAU POLITIK” (Opposing The Use of the Allah Issue for Polemical or Political Purposes), the group was formed by a Malaysian Muslim internet activist and student of comparative religion after realizing that the issue has been polemicised by several groups aimed at furthering their own political agendas and whipping up religious sentiment among those who are unaware.
Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi, the Facebook group founder, presents the information on this group as part of his ongoing mission to educate people about the issue of “Allah” and its use by non-Muslims from an Islamic perspective. He also believes that the reaction of the Muslims in Malaysia to this issue has been misused by several groups for their xenophobic propaganda, under the guise of "defending the faith" of Islam and the Muslims.
“Our stance is that although the use of “Allah” is generally allowed by the Abrahamic religions apart from Islam, we do fear that allowing for this will cause it to be misused or polemicised for certain purposes, taking into account the context of Malaysian society. For this reason, we certainly would like to see a clear solution to the issue, for the good of the Muslim ummah in Malaysia and for the well-being of society as a whole. However, we reject the extreme attitude and unruly behavior by certain groups, who seek to humiliate or attack other religions that are most certainly unfounded and does not stay true to Islamic principles.” Mohd Elfie stated about his reasons for putting the group together.
The group aims to gather 1,000,000 online members as a show of support for this moderate position concerning the issue of “Allah”. It will provide its members with informative links and the latest updates concerning the issue. At the same time, it will allow for free debate and open space for members to air their opinions in the Facebook group, without censorship.
According to Mohd Elfie, “Social networking has opened up a vast variety of opportunities, and Facebook is one of them. Unfortunately, some groups do take advantage of its features in order to play up issues which they have no knowledge about. Fortunately, it is also a level playing field where it provides the other side an opportunity to speak up and counter these sort of negative opinions.”
Further, he adds that, “Consulting the opinion of several ulama and religious scholars, we have come to the understanding that the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims is not prohibited. We do understand, however, that this is an issue that is close to the heart of Malaysian Muslims and we show concern that the usage may be abused by those who wish to evangelise to the Muslims. However, we feel that spreading racist rhetoric and hateful messages contrary to the right of non-Muslims and lack of understanding about basic Islamic rules concerning relations of Muslims vis-à-vis non-Muslims is something that should not be ignored without countering.”
With the release of this new Facebook group “MENENTANG PENGGUNAAN ISU ALLAH UNTUK TUJUAN POLEMIK ATAU POLITIK” (Opposing The Use of the Allah Issue for Polemical or Political Purposes), this group is certainly a new key resource for Muslims who are concerned about the issue and yet would like to see a peaceful resolution without resorting to ugly polemics or politicking for their own ends.