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UNNECESSARY FUSS OVER A WORD



18 April 2021

by Amde Sidik


I talked on the subject of "Allah" recently as an invite (guest speaker) of a group known as Wisdom Foundation in Kota Kinabalu via Webinar. But the internet connection was bad even before I began.


The good things was, the organizer did not expect me to climb a tree in order to get internet reception that night. I was left on my own early as both ends of line neither could be seen nor heard. I must say a thousand apologies.



I was asked to give my view, a statement send to me via Whatsapp earlier.


Rata-rata umat miskin di Sabah tidak rasa gelisah dengan saudara mara atau sahabat handai Kristian yang berdoa kepada Allah. Pada pendapat anda, apakah sebabnya ketenangan ini?


The statement (in Malay) was not properly constructed linguistically I would say, not much better than my Malay.


But most of us knew what it meant, that is why I did not bother to improvise. Here, I am just making a passing remark.


Let me say contextually briefly, I provide some common words to describe why Muslims in Peninsular are furious as if that word Allah is exclusively for Malays, it has nothing to do with Muslims but I'm also mindful to say not all Malays in Peninsular agree.



While Sabahans are indifferent, find nothing troubling, nothing to be concern about, nothing to be upset about.


Our previous speaker Ustaz Wan Ji Wan Hussin gave a valuable translation of the Quran and himself was asking where in the Quran mentioned that word of Allah belongs to Muslims only let alone saying it belongs to Malay.


No such thing. Thank you Ustaz Wan. I would just like to add to this, my old friends during schooling time at university said to me that their views (three of them) are just like orang Sabah, but said their number is small negligible in the eyes of many.


Thus, no one hears - pitiful state of affairs.


For Muslims in Sabah they have been hearing their Christian families and relatives using the word "Allah" just as often as their Mulims families.


In other words, it has been in our ears since time memorial. Both in culture and in history of the country, we must not forget Malaysia was only formed 58 years ago.



As far as Sabah and Sarawak are concerned I can say, Islamic culture adopted by Muslims here is slightly different.


The degree of tolerance is obvious as compare with some Malays in the peninsular in general sense. If Sabah is not part of Malaysia I can briefly say Sabahans way of adopting Islam is akin to Indonesia of Javanese in the mainland of Java.


While Muslims in Peninsular akin to Islam that is practice in Acheh autonomous province. Thus not suprising to know that Acheh is practicing Syriah law.


If this is to mean to Sabahans Muslims are less Islamic then that of Muslims in Peninsular I would like to know who created this syllabus. I would reserve this topic for the next forum.


My personal view I thought with the present Ministry in Jabatan Perpaduan Negara under its armpit - cultural, custom and religious difference should have been bridged but obvious now the only times that multi cultures and multi ethnics are good for the country is for money making machine to lure tourists.


Mission to integrate people of the nation has not really been accomplished sometimes it leads to intricacy and complication such as religious issue.



Since I can only dwell in ten minutes or so, in summing up I consider it fair to say that people in Sabah and Sarawak know more about the Malay Peninsular than many Malays in Peninsular know about people in Borneo Malaysia.


Since my experience is needed to illustrate why Sabahans have different view and why they do not participate in the brouhaha over the use of word of Allah, I briefly mention below.


My grandpa is a Lunbawang or Lundayeh by origin (Lunbawang in Sarawak and Lundayeh in Sabah) I would live it to others to explain this minor terminology difference.


Sabah and Sarawak each has no less than thirty (30) recorded local ethnics and the whole Borneo has around hundred (100).


Compare this with Peninsular which largely comprised of foreign ethnics. My grandpa had six siblings.


He was the last of the six and the only male. The family of my grandpa was joyful but scared like hell the only son could be a bad omen and the son might not survive. Survival during birth includes miracles in those days.


My guess is, my great great grandfather and family had no specific belief about God meaning no religion at that time.



The only way to insure the baby boy survived, in their belief at that time, was to let others adopt the boy.


It didn't matter who, race and religion was not an issue. Gave the baby to a Kadayan couple.


The methodology of giving was equally mysterious and was not like giving Hari Raya or Christmas presents. What they did was, the couple left the baby on the roadside but visible enough for people that follow the trek to see.


My guess also the family knew who the passerby were, who they saw the baby first as they wanted the Kadayan to look after the baby.


The Kadayan couple likewise mystified, when they saw a baby crying at the roadside and found no one around, feeling absurd or fortunate perhaps to have found a baby boy. They picked it up and brought it home.


A couple of days later the parents of the baby went to see the Kadayan couple.


Imagine in todays scenario what they would say to each other.


From Lunbawang's name Pedian Asur to Bahar bin Hakim. Bahar married a Kadayan women. My father married a Kadayan Brunei. I have three ethnics in my blood.


If only we pay attention- they were more integrated in the true sense compared to today, where ethnic and religion were not an issue as illustrated by this.



Many Sabahans are like me and more to it, even today where the father and mother are not Muslims but children are or some Muslims stay under the same roof.


This is what I call blood is thicker than water if I said thicker the religion many would raise their eyebrows or even unnecessary uproar.


Let me give you an example if I were asked to put up a night, given the choice between my Christians relatives and Muslims whom I do not know especially from a conflict region. I will definitely choose my non Muslim relatives to put the night because I am pretty sure I will still be able to wake up the next morning.


As a result of mixed ethnics, I have many aunties, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins alike, endless numbers to mention.


By culture and tradition this group of people are historically close knitted people so long as you traceable from the same root you are a cousin to them.


Number in the lineage does not matter, you are part of the family. We know fairly well even among brothers or sisters one cannot sit down together now the concept of brotherhood of man is more desirable than ever.



Religion cannot be used as a device to segregate families. Nowadays millions of Muslim in troubled countries like Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Libya, alike are fleeing to non Muslims countries.


I am not saying all Christians behave like angels but in the context of Malaysia who else are the most privileged other than Malays.


Yet they are the ones who feel threatened and afraid of losing their faith over things like the use of "Allah" which to Sabahans and Sarawakians is an non issue. - Daily Express



Haji Amde Sidik