The Bishop of Breda, Tiny Muskens, wants people to start calling God Allah. He says the Netherlands should look to Indonesia, where the Christian churches already pray to Allah. It is also common in the Arab world: Christian and Muslim Arabs use the words God and Allah interchangeably.I understand what this bishop is saying, and why he is saying it. I understand the "what" but I cannot agree with the "why".
Speaking on the Dutch TV programme Network on Monday evening, Bishop Muskens says it could take another 100 years but eventually the name Allah will be used by Dutch churches. And that will promote rapprochement between the two religions.
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I come from a background where the word "Allah Taala" is used to refer to God Almighty. And I do not refer to God as "Allah" because I want to promote rapprochement between Islam and Christianity.
What needs to be emphasized here is that the word "Allah" has been in existence long before Islam. The word "Allah" when referencing to God cannot be exclusively used by Islam even though Islam would like to claim the word for their own. In Malaysia, the bible in the Iban language was banned for a time because of the use of terms that are found in the Qu'ran. The reason for the ban was that the Iban Bible might confuse the Muslims, which in my view, is a ridiculous claim.
When Christians in the Middle East, Indonesia and Malaysia use the word "Allah" to refer to Almighty God, they are most definitely not referring to the Muslim God. This is where I dissent with Bishop Muskens. He makes no distinction between the Christian Allah and the Muslim Allah when he encourages people to start calling God Allah.
When I use "Allah Taala" to refer to Almighty God in my mother tongue I know which Allah I am referring to. I am referring to Allah the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt. I am referring to Allah who is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I am referring to "Allah" the God who is the redeemer of my soul, the pioneer and perfecter of my faith.