Sunday, 4 May 2014

Allah is for All - A Sabah Perspective

 Allah is for All 
 - A Sabah Perspective 
~ Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan ~

[Editor’s note] This article is full text written by Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, specially for "Krisis perkataan Allah • Hak berperlembagaan • Kebebasan beragama" forum jointly organised by Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee and Lajnah Perpaduan Nasional (LPN) PAS Johor held on 4 May 2014 at Auditorium JOTIC, JB. Dr. Jeffrey is the President of STAR Party in Sabah, a Roman Catholic and leader of the Kadazan-Dusun ethnic community.

I. Introduction

Religion has never been an issue in Sabah until recently. So, is the word"Allah" for God. It is not an issue.

Religion is between God and the individual. It is a personal thing; a personal choice. Many families in Sabah have family members professing different religion and religious belief; even in my family, we have Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. There is no problem because we respect each other's beliefs.

II. Religious Freedom

We believe in religious freedom which has been enshrined in the Fed Constitutions (Article II)

"Tiap-tiap orang berhak menganuti dan mengamalkan agamanya....."

Article 3 (1) also states that...
"Islam is the religion of the Federation but other religion maybe practised in peace and harmony in any part of the federation..."

The restriction or ban on the use of the word "Allah" to Christians is, we believe, against the tenet of the federal constitution on religious freedom and is tantamount to religious persecution and against human rights.

III. Sabah/Sarawak Have No Official Religion

Sabah & Sarawak have no official religion during the formation of Malaysia, infact the first point in the 20/18 points minimum conditions for the Borneo States agreeing to form Malaysia is on religion.

Point # 1 : Religion
"while there was no objection to Islam being the national religion to Malaysia, there should be no State religion in North Borneo and the provisions relating to Islam in the present constitution of Malaya should not apply to North Borneo (Sabah)....."

This provision is also carved in stone in the "Batu Sumpah" in Keningau as "Ugama Bebas" in Sabah. (pix)
Thus, the confiscation and seizure of the Christian Bibles in the Iban and Bahasa Malaysia languages is considered a provocation to non-Muslims, especially Christians.

We, in Sabah, do not understand why the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia is disallowed and now there is a call from a certain group to disallow Bahasa Malaysia in Churches just because of the word "Allah". What's the fuss? We have been using the word all this while. According to an Islamic Scholar (Tariz), the word "Allah", which means God, is an Arabic, not a Malay word. It is not the name of God.

IV. Mixed Marriages Common in Sabah

As religion is considered a personal thing it doesn't come in the way to personal relationship. It is, therefore, not unusual to see mixed marriages in Sabah, even between Muslims and Christians. Each person respects the other person's religion. I know of a friend and work-mate who sends his wife to Church on Sundays and the wife sending him to Mosque on Fridays. I find this uniquely Sabahan. But today the non-muslim is forced to convert before marrying. This condition no longer creates the same atmosphere of respect as before. This means, religion, when forced upon, creates psychological barriers and tension between individuals which eventually spills over to the community at large.

V. Foundation of Peace and Harmony is Respect

No one can claim the exclusivity of "Allah" or God. "Allah" belongs to all. If you respect God/Allah then we should respect one another as children of God. If we truly practise freedom of religion and freedom of choice there should be peace and harmony. I believe religion should promote peace, love and understanding among humans, not hate or misunderstanding. The problem is when religion is politicalized and religious extremists are allowed to grow their ugly heads.


Religion should not be politicised. Freedom of religion in the Federal Constitution should be respected and practised. Religion and religious beliefs is a personal choice. It should also be respected. Sabah & Sarawak are excellent examples of religious accommodation, respect and harmony, even within a family.

Below are the links to Chinese and Malay renditions:


通告 Notification


作为坚守“独立自主”和“与民同在”的立场的一个民间组织,人民之友在上个月对即将来临的第14届全国大选投票,发表了一篇以华文书写的意见书,题为:投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!。



The English and Malay renditions of Sahabat Rakyat’s opinions about next election will be published here consecutively

As an NGO which upholds “independent and autonomous” position and "always be with the people" principle, Sahabat Rakyat had released a Chinese-written statement of views with regard to the voting in the upcoming 14th General Election, entitled “Vote for candidates who are against State Islamisation: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent the return to power of Mahathir’s faction!”

The English rendition of this statement will be published in our blog in the near future whereas the Malay rendition will be published next month (November). Please stay tuned!

We hope that our position and views pertaining to the next General Election expressed in the statement will be accurately and widely disseminated and also examined by the popular masses of various ethnicities and social strata through their involvement in the struggle of the next General Election carried out by various political parties and their practices in all fields in future.

Akan datang: Penerbitan penterjemahan pendapat Sahabat Rakyat mengenai pilihan raya ke-14 dalam Bahasa Inggeris dan Bahasa Melayu

Sebagai sebuah pertubuhan masyarakat yang berpendirian teguh tentang prinsip "bebas dan berautonomi" dan “sentiasa berdampingan dengan rakyat jelata”, Sahabat Rakyat telah menerbitkan kenyataan tentang pandangan kami terhadap Pilihan Raya Umum ke-14 yang akan datang yang bertajuk "Undilah calon yang menentang Pengislaman Negera: Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Jangan benarkan puak Mahathir kembali memerintah! "

Penterjemahan Bahasa Inggeris kenyataan tersebut akan diterbitkan dalam blog kita dalam waktu terdekat manakala penterjemahan Bahasa Melayu akan diterbitkan pada bulan hadapan.

Kami berharap pendirian dan pandangan kami berkenaan pilihan raya kali ini yang dinyatakan dalam kenyataan tersebut dapat disebarkan dengan tepat dan meluas untuk diuji dalam kalangan rakyat semua bangsa semua strata sosial melalui penglibatan mereka dalam amalan pelbagai parti politik dalam pertempuran pilihan raya umum kali ini mahupun masa depan.

Malaysia Time (GMT+8)