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Datin Fazar Arif speaks during the webinar session hosted by Wisdom Foundation.

25 March 2021

By Ilona Andrew

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahan activist Datin Fazar Arif believes that the emergence of the issue pertaining to the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims all goes back to one’s lack of knowledge and confidence in the Islam religion.

She said, Muslims in the Malaysian peninsular would not claim the exclusivity of the Arabic word for “God” if only they educated themselves enough and had more faith in the religion.

The situation is indeed saddening, she said, because the nation chose to fight over who is more Islamic instead of competing against each other on the development of science and technology.

With a heavy heave of sigh, she asked: “If you are convinced about what you know and who Allah is, why are you so afraid?”

Fazar discussed the subject of the continuing nationwide controversy over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims during a webinar session with fellow panellists Uztaz Wan Ji Wan Hussin (Founder of Pusat Pengajian Maqasid Quran), Dr Faizal Musa (Fellow Associate of Global Sh’ia Diaspora at Weatherhead Centre, Harvard University), and Haji Amde Sidik (Chairman of Progressive Institute of Public Policy).

The policy talk titling “Kalimah Allah: The Borneo Muslim Perspective, Bahasa Malaysia and Universal was moderated by Wisdom Foundation’s chief operating officer Zila Fawzi, recently.

Fazar who is also the founder of Pergerakan Orang Wanita – Empowerment and Revolution (POWER) opined that the Islam religion last time was different than how it is today because people used to have confidence in what they believed in.

She told a story of her experience which shows that the Muslims during these days simply care more about the form than having enough knowledge and self-esteem about the religion.

“I used to send my three-year-old daughter to an Islamic nursery when I lived in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (in Semenanjung). One day when I picked her up, the owner of the nursery told me that my daughter acted like a Christian for using the phrase ‘oh my God’.

“I was shocked by her statement. It was because we used English to speak at home, that was why she knew the phrase. She was just a three-year-old, what does she know about religion?” she lamented.

Compared to last time, she indicated that she had no issue mingling with the Christian community, and she recalled a friend’s aunt who told her that all religions teach one to be good. “That was all I needed to know,” she said.

“Allah is great, all-knowing and all-loving, so we must have the confidence (in our faith). Don’t be like a frog under a coconut shell, where there are just too many prohibitions as if Malaysia is the only one in the world when in fact, it is just a tiny part of the universe. There are so much that we do not know, so many things to learn.”

Fazar also mentioned that Sabahans and Sarawakians residing in Semenanjung should not be afraid of praying to Allah just because they feel they need to respect the religious sensitivity of the Semenanjung people.

“Let’s reverse this situation: What would Sabahans feel? In the Malaysia Agreement (MA63), it was stated that freedom of religion applies in Sabah, but what happened now? Who is at fault?

“And if the word ‘Allah’ should only be exclusive to Muslims, then why did Allah allow other religions to exist?

“The Islam religion is professed by most of the population in the world, but there has never been an issue for the use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims anywhere else in the world,” she asserted.

She also expressed disappointment as the nation chose to bring up this issue instead of the many other issues that should be addressed in the first place.

“There are so many things that we are so way behind in Malaysia, yet we chose to fight over this issue. Allah created us and does not need defending because He is greater than everything else in the world. No matter if we are in Sabah or Semenanjung, Allah is always with us.”


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